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The good, the bad and the unknown week 12: Pac-12 elites passed close tests

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Recapping the second-to-last week of Pac-12 regular season action.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Southern California Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

USC’s position - The Trojans got to play a logistically meaningless game at home against UCLA, get a week off and then get either Stanford or Washington State six days off of brutal rival games with great opponents. They are set up pretty well.

Stanford getting it done - It wasn’t pretty, but the Cardinal got the win they needed to keep their North hope alive and keep their streak over Cal intact. They did all they could to give themselves a chance to get back to the Pac-12 Championship Game and have to cheer on the Huskies now.

Washington’s rally - It was fitting time that the Huskies put together a miracle rally to shock Utah in a somewhat meaningless game as it seems the Huskies haven’t been able to come back on anyone in the entire Chris Petersen era. Other than just giving us some entertaining #Pac12AfterDark action, it also showed the Huskies are still into this season, even knowing their conference championship hopes are dashed.

Oregon’s defense - The Ducks bottled up Khalil Tate in a way no one has all season in one of the better defensive performances by an Pac-12 team all year. Really shows how far they have come under Jim Leavitt and gives a lot of hope for the future.

Oregon with Justin Herbert - We all knew the Ducks are a much better team with their starter at quarterback and Saturday just proved it as they blew out a red hot Arizona team, locked up a bowl and look in a good place to bring momentum into 2018.

Cal, UCLA and Utah’s fight - The Bears, Bruins and Utes didn’t have much to play for Saturday all on the road, but all damn near took down the conference’s best. All three of these underdogs easily could have won because of their effort.

Washington State’s timing - The Cougars get a bye week going into another massive Apple Cup. It’s on the road, but the week off should give the Cougars a great shot at knocking off Washington and getting to Santa Clara.

The Bad

The end of the Jim Mora era - Mora has had a bizarre career and fizzled out at UCLA quickly after a great start. I genuinely thought for a while that Mora had finally solved the UCLA conundrum and had the program about to fulfill its potential, but then they didn’t.

Conference elites - The conference’s top name programs (USC, Stanford, Washington - WSU had a bye), all struggled to beat five-win teams. Tough games and good opponents, but all games showed the issues the conference’s top teams have.

Arizona’s thud - I genuinely thought Arizona was turning into a team that might be the second-best team in the conference. They’re not. Oregon exposed their defense and showed that Khalil Tate can be stopped.

The Unknown

Washington State ready for the Apple Cup? The Cougars again have the Huskies standing between them and a trip to the P12CG and the Huskies have rocked them for the past few Apple Cups and been a very bad matchup. Will this be the year they break through against a Husky defense that has suddenly started to struggle?

Will Stanford or Washington State have in gas in Santa Clara - USC gets to sit and wait for whoever make the championship from the North to fight out rivalry games this week. Will either of these teams be able to truly fight it out with a well-rested USC team on six days of rest?

Who coaches UCLA? The Bruins job will be the top job open out West this year. Interesting names are already popping up, particularly Chip Kelly...who will replace Mora in Westwood?

Are the other Pac-12 coaches safe? Mora was the only obvious hot seat coach, but Todd Graham at ASU is definitely at least on the warm seat and Mike MacIntyre is heading in that direction just a year after winning the South. Will Graham survive the season?

Is Oregon back to turning the corner? The Ducks looked like a very different team with Justin Herbert, but not just on offense. Their defense put together an amazing game against Arizona. They have what should be a win in The Civil War and then a bowl game. Are they setting up for a big 2018?

Willie Taggart? Rumors came out last week that Taggart might not be happy in Eugene and an open position like Florida could be attractive. Will there be any mutual interest?