Arizona State apparently - I don’t think anyone saw this coming, but Arizona State is looking like the best team in the South, and possibly the conference right now. Todd Graham and company appear to have found some magic potion after their bye week. A week after locking down Washington’s offense, they proved they weren’t a fluke, went to Utah and dominated Tyler Huntley and the Utes.
Arizona State’s balance - The most-impressive part of ASU’s win at Utah was how they did it on both ends. Their offense put up points against a stingy Utah defense playing at home and their defense looked like one of the best in the nation for a second-straight week as they rarely gave up points and caused turnovers.
Washington State’s defense - The Cougar offense was steady against Colorado, nothing revolutionary, but their defense stepped up and pitched a shutout against a very good Colorado offense. This bodes well for them going into games against Arizona and Stanford.
Khalil Tate and Arizona - Tate is still unstoppable and the Wildcats are still in great shape in the South. They have a chance to make a huge splash with Washington State coming to town and set up a big November where they take on USC and their upstate rivals.
UCLA winning a game they should win - The Bruins win at home against Oregon was nothing spectacular, but it was the kind of win they need to have. They are far from dead in the South even though their schedule gets very tough from here.d
Oregon’s defensive improvement - Sure, the Ducks lost by 17 points, but they only gave up 31 to a high-octane UCLA offense on the road. IT may be dark for the Ducks right now, but they will be dangerous when they get Justin Herbert back because their defense is no long god awful.
USC - A hyped USC team has yet again arrived at thud. They’re beaten up and lost to a good Notre Dame team on the road, but there’s no getting around that this team was a preseason Playoff contender and is dead in the water in mid-October. A lot of pressure here on out for Clay Helton.
Pac-12 Playoff chances - The Pac-12’s faint Playoff chances pretty much rest on a Washington team that scored seven points the last time they were on the field and maybe a Washington State team that scored three points two weeks ago. The odds are pretty low at this point.
National respect - The Pac-12 simply doesn’t look that good right now and it’s not just about the upper-middle of the conference always knocking off the top teams again. You’re “top” team shouldn’t get rocked the way USC did at Notre Dame and the lack of an elite team is really dogging the conference.
Colorado - It’s crazy to think that Mike MacIntyre might be right back on the hot seat after winning the South last year, but the Buffs are in trouble. There’s no excuse for getting shut out the way they did this week.
Oregon without Herbert - I thought the Ducks would struggle without their starting quarterback, but I didn’t think it would be this bad. Again, it looks like the Ducks literally have no back up plan after their starting QB and may try to rush Herbert back too quickly just to try and salvage this season when they should maybe let him heal up.
The South is soup again - We’re on nearly year 10 of the South being an above-average stew of teams that beat up on each other where no one seems to want to win the conference. I can’t believe it is almost November and the Arizona schools are tied for first.
Can USC rebound? The good news is USC’s loss was out-of-conference, so they didn’t lose any traction in the South race. The bad news is that they are typically a very front-running team that rolls when they start winning games, but folds when they disappoint, and now their ultimate goal is completely gone. Will they be back and take a run at getting to New Year’s bowl and winning the conference?
Stanford, again? Stanford seems to have developed a routine of getting slow out of the gate and then fixing some teams while the rest of the conference slips up. It’s a week-to-week thing right now, but the Cardinal look to be in the best place right now as they only have four conference games left, with one against Oregon State, another at home against Cal and Washington coming to Palo Alto.
Can the Huskies get right? The loss at Arizona State doesn’t look as bad now, but the Huskies still seem off and face a tough road here where they can’t slip up and even likely win the North. Can they patch things up in their bye week and come back ready to save the conference’s Playoff hopes?
Arizona State vs. Stanford - Dear God, would anyone other than ASU and the small Stanford contingent watch this effin championship game rematch?