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The good, the bad and the unknown week 5: Party on the Palouse!

Washington State took a bite out of USC’s Playoff hopes and created their own.

USC v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

The Good

Cougs - Washington State has reached the point Texas Tech did in Mike Leach’s prime in Lubbock where they are far from a decent team with a scheme that can give opposing defenses headaches. The Cougars are a balanced, talented and scary good team capable of beating anyone in the Pac-12, and they just proved it in a big way.

Luke Falk - This is why Falk came back. His senior tour is going to frustrate the rest of the Pac-12 and could push the Cougars over the edge and into a division or conference champion.

Washington State’s Defense - The Cougars offense and Falk are still great, but it’s WSU’s defense which has them taking the next step and was the key to them scoring a win over USC.

UCLA survives South showdown - The Bruins had their backs against the wall at home and responded. Their close win against Colorado keeps them, and Jim Mora alive, and keeps them near the top of the heap for the chase to be USC’s challenger in the South.

Oregon bounces back - The Ducks got an ugly wake up call last week in Tempe, but they showed that they are still on track to a recovery season and a bowl game with their 20 plus win over Cal.

Bryce Love, dear God - I can’t remember a Pac-12 player as scary every time he touches the ball as Love has been this year. He looks like he is close to bursting for a touchdown with every carry. He is going to obliterate record books unless Pac-12 defenses figure out a way to slow him down.

Washington’s M.O. - The Huskies aren’t lighting up powerhouse teams, but they are developing an impressive routine where they control opponents in the first half and then punish them in the second with an offensive line that blows open massive holes and a defense that wears teams down with a massive front and punishing hits.

The Bad

USC’s injuries - The Trojans are a ward, especially up front. They can grind out wins against decent teams even with their injuries, but they are going to lose to tough opponents the way they did Friday if they can’t get healthy.

USC’s elite status - There was high talk of the Trojans returning to the elite status they carried during the mid-2000s and in the glory days before. Losing by three at Washington State is nothing to be embarrassed about, but it kind of confirms the Trojans are not yet the powerhouse they hoped to turn back into this year.

Sam Darnold’s turnovers - I love Darnold’s gunslinger style of play, but his turnovers are really hurting the Trojans in close games and they aren’t good enough to constantly recover from the momentum and point swings his risks cause. He needs to find a way

Colorado’s Pac-12 showdown loss - The Buffs have a very challenging start to their Pac-12 schedule and are 0-2 right out the gate. They have almost no margin for error now if they want to repeat as South champs.

Oregon’s injuries - The Ducks nice bounce back win may have come at a cost. Losing Justin Herbert, Royce Freeman and Dillon Mitchell for any period of time will be painful for the Ducks. Especially Herbert as they have very limited options at QB after him.

The Unknown

Can USC rally again? The Trojans likely still get a Playoff spot if they win out from here, but they pretty much have to win out from here. It will be an incredible challenge as they don’t have a bye week until the last week of the regular season and are loaded with injuries. Can they pull it off and rally down the stretch the way they did last year?

Is Washington State a true Playoff contender? The Cougars have proven themselves to be a major North and overall conference title contender? Can they avoid losses until the Apple Cup and turn themselves into a major Playoff contender?

Who challenges USC in the South? The Trojans are still the unquestioned South leaders, even with their loss. Who provides the best challenge down South though? Undefeated Utah? UCLA and their dangerous offense? Or Colorado once they start getting some less-challenging games?

How bad are Oregon’s injuries? It sounds like Herbert will be out with a broken collarbone for a while, but just how long, and how healthy will he be win he returns? Freeman’s status isn’t quite as damaging or clear yet, but it will definitely play a factor in how easily the Ducks continue to recover this season.

Can Love and Stanford or Falk and Washington State take out Washington? Bryce Love and Stanford and Luke Falk and Washington State look like tough teams in the North who are going to get their shots at prying the division away from Washington in November. Does either have the ability to do that though?