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Pac-12 the good, the bad and the unknown week 10: the plot thickens

Stanford and Utah inched up in the Playoff chase, Oregon stays alive and Utah stays ahead in the South.

Jennifer Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

Stanford and Utah's help - The Cardinal and Utes took care  of business  on the field and they finally got some help in the Playoff chase with some teams losing. Both still need a lot of help, but they have moved closer to striking distance.

Gionni Paul & Jared Norris - Norris and Paul were bash brothers against Washington that made the difference in the game for the Utes. Paul had a key interception that almost went for a TD, had a fumble recovery for a touchdown off of a Norris-forced fumble. The two combined for 19 tackles, three for-loss, two sacks, a forced and recovered fumble and an interception. There isn't a better one-two linebacker punch in the conference.

Cougs! - I maybe went too far by saying the Cougars Couged It last week, but the good news in Pullman is that they bounced back in the best way possible with a convincing win over Arizona State to grab bowl eligibility.

Luke Falk & Mike Leach - Falk is really starting to look like the record-breaking QBs Leach had at Texas Tech and Leach deserves serious kudos for sticking to his plan, righting the ship and turning Washington State into a program that is starting to look a lot like his Texas Tech teams.

Oregon's offense - Don't look know, but Oregon's offense is heating up NBA Jam style. They aren't quite what they used to be, especially in look, but after putting up 777 yards  on Cal, they sure look like an offense that can once again outscore any opponent.

Oregon's defense - Just as important to Oregon's turnaround has been the improvement of their defense. They held a good Cal offense to under 500 yards and under 30 points and while that might not sound like anything special, that is a major improvement for what they were giving up earlier in the season.

UCLA - I was a little wary of UCLA heading up to Corvallis. A week after nearly losing at home to Colorado they really looked like the kind of team that might not show up for a game like that, but they did anything but sleepwalk against the poor Beavers.

The Bad

Pac-12 refs - The officiating in this conference is an inexcusable mess week-after-week and something needs to be done about it. My solution, either  commit to almost never throwing flags, or just start throwing the shit out of them and go with it, at least it will be predictable.

The Arizona schools - Arizona and Anu Solomon showed a lot of fight by showing up at USC and really challenging the Trojans when many expected them to fade away this season, but the bottom line is the Arizona schools are really struggling right now. The state hasn't won a game since mid-October and the two have a combined one win over Pac-12 teams that aren't Colorado or Oregon State. Both of these teams could realistically miss a bowl game.

Cal - I don't know exactly what happened, but the Bears slowly went from feel good story to sad sight. I know that the schedule got tougher for them, but even with that considered, they don't look like the team they were  a month ago. They have to get a win over Oregon State this week to avoid potentially somehow maybe not making a bowl.

Oregon State - I knew the Beavers would not be good this year, but I don't think I saw them being this bad. They need to find a way to win a game down the stretch to try and avoid shellshocking the young players on their team.

The Unknown

Is this the season of resilience? Stanford stumbled out the gate and now is a favorite to make the Playoff, Oregon once looked like they weren't going to make a bowl game and now are a Pac-12 title contender, Washington State opened with a loss to Big Sky team and now are already bowl eligible, USC fired their coach a month into the season and now are almost the favorite to win the South. Has their ever been a more resilient season in the Pac-12?

Is Utah really a Playoff contender? Sure the Utes have only one loss and are hovering just outside of the Top 10, but with the Playoff committee's apparent non-enthusiasm for the Pac-12, can the Utes make the Playoffs even if they win out?

South race? It seems like USC has become the favorite, but they don't even control their own destiny. Utah is alone at the top, but they haven't looked very impressive since they since September. UCLA is lurking and controls their own destiny, but are the least-predictable team in the conference. I still don't know what to make of this race?

Can Oregon win the North? The Ducks scratched, clawed and prayed and somehow emerged from their darkest depths  with wins at Washington and Arizona State to save their season and now after a dominating win over Cal, still have an  outside shot at winning the North heading into a showdown with Stanford. Can the Ducks bomb Stanford's national title hopes the way they did in the Andrew Luck days and keep their North hopes alive Saturday in Palo Alto?

USC? Just when it looked like the Trojans were taking off again, they won, but looked sluggish against a struggling Arizona team. Are the Trojans truly a rejuvenated team oozing with talent that could win the South or are they once again just waiting to let everyone down and fade in late-November.

What happened to Cal? I, like everyone else I assume, expected the Bears to fall off a little bit when their schedule strengthened, but I didn't expect them to suddenly start looking like a team that shouldn't play in a bowl. I myself can't really pinpoint a reason why either. What the hell happened to Cal?

What happened to Jared Goff? In just a month, Goff went from surefire first quarterback taken, Heisman candidate, Pac-12 Player of the Year to Christian Hackenberg. Cal has asked him to do a lot this season, but regardless, he still doesn't look like the player he was and can be and I don't know why.

Can  Oregon State get a win? I feel bad for the Beavers. They could end up being the best team to go without a Pac-12 win I can ever remember. Can they find a way to grab an upset in their final games at Cal, vs. Washington and at Oregon?