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Pac-12 the good, the bad & the unknown week 9: The Cougs "Coug it"

Instant classics in Pullman and Tempe highlight the weekend.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

The Duel in the Desert - Okay, that's what I will call Oregon vs. Arizona State. A lot of bad defense and poor officiating, but regardless was a thrilling game that should have kept Pac-12 fans' hearts racing even after the near-midnight West Coast final whistle. I thought this one would never end.

Stanford's luck - I thought Stanford was ready for their annual road Pac-12 upset, but then Washington State bailed them out by committing a late turnover and missing a tough but  in-range field goal. We may have seen that miraculous win that just about every championship team needs to get go their way for the Cardinal.

Washington State's defense - The Cougars may be known for their air raid offense, but it was their defense that stepped up and gave them the chance to grab their biggest win in more than a decade. They reverted Kevin Hogan back to his previous form, slowed Christian McCaffrey and stymied the previously rolling Stanford offensive attack all night.

USC's defense - The Trojan D played their best game of the season against Cal and was the difference for the Trojans in a big win at Cal. The Trojans could make a run in the South if their defense can maintain this level of play.

Washington - The Huskies played a complete domination against Arizona while the rest of the Pac-12 was watching the action in Pullman. The proven Husky defense snuffed Arizona's high octane offense and the Huskies' moribund offense came alive to score 49 points to grab a huge win for Chris Petersen and the Huskies.

The Bad

Pac-12 refs - The Pac-12 officials took center stage again, tarnishing a great game in Tempe. THIS HAS TO STOPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!

Oregon/Arizona State late play-calling - Why the hell did Scott Frost keep taking the ball out of Vernon Adams' red-hot hands at the most-crucial times in bizarre and disastrous attempts to have Bralon Addison do some quarterbacking? Why the hell did Mike Norvell call two dangerous passes into traffic (especially after the first damn near got picked) from the two he had a dominate run game, a more than gassed defense on the other side and four downs? WHY?

Couging It - The Cougars are sadly predictable so often. They somehow had a chance to grab the North lead heading into November, but let it all fall apart. It's a cliche for a reason.

The return of Kevin Hogan - It looked like Kevin Hogan was wearing a 2013/14 Kevin Hogan costume for Halloween in Pullman. (With that said, his running saved  the game for the Cardinal)

Cal against better competition - The Bears are starting to look like a team that isn't ready to win games against the top of the conference. They are in serious danger of losing six out of their last seven.

Arizona - The Wildcats were so bad it was scary on Halloween. Speaking of serious danger, the Wildcats are in very serious danger of not making a bowl even though they got to five wins in mid-October.

Colorado in crunch time - The time for moral victories in Boulder is over. They need to start being able to win games when they have the chance down the stretch.

The Unknown

Stanford exposed? We had yet to see the Cardinal truly taken down to the wire in Pac-12 play, but they got lucky to escape Pullman with a win.  Did the Cougars show that the Cardinal are very vulnerable  in November, or was it simply that off game every great team is going to have once or twice a season?

Can Washington State recover? The Cougars came within inches of taking the North lead into November and that has the potential to destroy a teams psyche down the stretch. Can they recover and finish the season near the top in the North?

Is USC a contender? The Trojans have strung together two nice games in a row and still probably have the most healthy talent in the conference. Can they keep it together and make a late run?

Is Oregon a contender? The Ducks might actually be the more dangerous pre-season favorite that started slowly. They stayed on their feet by grinding out must-wins at Washington and Arizona State, found their quarterback and still have an outside shot in the North. They at least look like a great candidate to snag the best non-New Year's  Pac-12 bowl when that seem impossible just a few weeks ago.

Are Cal and Jared Goff regressing? The Bears looked like legit North contenders just a few weeks ago, but three-straight losses have them reeling and they face a tough test at Oregon Saturday. Plus, Goff looks have fell off a touch after probably being asked to carry too much weight. Can the Bears get back on the right track?

Can Arizona make a bowl game? Not making a bowl game seemed near impossible when the Wildcats got to five wins in mid-October, but they looked as bad as any Pac-12 team has all season Saturday against Washington and have to win either at USC, at Arizona State or at home against Utah to make a bowl now.

Has Washington's offense come to life? The Huskies exploded for 49 points against Arizona after previously averaging less than 20 per-game in Pac-12 play. Did the Huskies put some things together against Arizona, or did they simply get a free pass against a bad defense that rolled over?