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Pac-12 the good, the bad and the unknown week seven: Washington State holds strong

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Pac-12 teams toughed out wins in a lot of low-scoring affairs while Colorado and USC ran away with things.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

Washington State - Saturday was the kind of game the Cougars might lose in recent years, but held on and solidified themselves as at least the top challenger to Washington in the North. The schedule is pretty favorable for till late-November when they play at Colorado and then host the Apple Cup.

Washington State’s defense - The Cougar defense is stepping up for the second-straight year and keeping them a contender. They won the game against UCLA on a bad weather night where their aerial attack was grounded. The Cougars have quickly turned from an all offensive team that had to outscore everyone to a balanced squad which can out-tough someone in the rain.

USC - The Trojans are improving each week now that the schedule has lightened up and now that Sam Darnold appears to be the man. I wouldn’t be shocked if they are the conference’s best team by the end of the season.

Sam Darnold & JuJu Smith-Schuster - I’m starting to wonder why Darnold wasn’t the starter to begin with. He had a breakout game at Arizona and could be the catalyst that wins the South for the Trojans. JS-S had the game we were all anticipating he could have each week with season with 100 plus yards and three scores. These two could become the conference’s most-deadly QB-WR combo.

USC’s run game - The Trojans beyond gashed Arizona’s defense, without Justin Davis. A number of USC backs ran behind a USC offensive line that finally looked dominant and racked up 300 plus yards.

Colorado - Simply put, Colorado is for real and could easily win the South. They got their second-straight home blowout win against a Pac-12 opponent since well...ever.

Phillip Lindsay - The Buff speedster at running back had 219 and three scores. He might get my first-team All-Pac-12 mid-season vote over Freeman, Gaskin and McCaffrey.

Joe Williams - The guy came out of retirement and carried the Ute offense on his back like he was Devontae Booker to give them a tough win to keep Utah atop the South.

Solomon Thomas - He made a major case for Pac-12’s best defensive lineman against Stanford after a rough couple of weeks for the Stanford defense.

Stanford finding a way to win without McCaffrey - It couldn’t have been more ugly, but the Cardinal defense sucked it up and Stanford scored 17 points in strange fashion to get a win which could at least help them build back some morale before they head back into Pac-12 play.

Mike Faufel - Gotta give this guy credit after looking like a trainwreck last week at Arizona State. He stepped in on the road, in bad weather, with no run game and outplayed Luke Falk.

The Bad

QB injuries - About half the conference is ailing at quarterback, particularly Arizona and Oregon State who can’t seem to keep anyone on the field at QB.

UCLA’s run game - The Bruins are about as bad at running the ball as possible despite having an offensive line and backfield loaded with blue chippers. Obviously starting a back of QB didn’t help, but regardless, the Bruins still can’t move the ball on the ground.

Arizona - The Wildcats showed a lot of promise by taking Washington to overtime in their Pac-12 opener, but it has been all downhill since. The Wildcats are 0-4 in the Pac-12 and have lost their last three games by around an average of 20. They need this bye week bad.

Oregon State/Utah offenses - That was an ugly day in some ugly weather in Corvallis. Obviously weather played a big factor, but all the quarterbacks who three passes combined for just nine completions.

The Unknown

USC? Are the Trojans slowly and quietly building a monster which could scare the Pac-12 in November, or are we setting up for another letdown?

Washington schools? Washington and Washington State still look like the class of the Pac-12, but there is a long ways to go. Can the Huskies and Cougars truly become the Pac-12 powers for at least a year, or will they slip up in games they should win before the Apple Cup.

Colorado/Utah? Vice versa down in the South. The mountain schools control their own destinies and look the part of leaders, but you have to wonder if they can avoid the week-to-week minefields which seem to take down teams in the Pac-12 in recent years.