clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pac-12 the good, the bad and the unknown week five: Washington and Oregon prove themselves against ranked opponents

We’re one week closer to a huge showdown between the Ducks and Huskies in Eugene.

Oregon v California Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Good

Justin Herbert - Herbert’s stats were great against Cal, but the true beauty of how good the Oregon signal caller is shows in how defenses have to defend (or not defend) the Duck offense as a hole. A player with his mobility, instincts, speed, and accuracy is simply a nightmare and opens things wide open for the Ducks speedy backs to rack up yards and touchdowns.

Oregon’s defense - The Ducks defense had one of their best game against a ranked opponent probably since they took down Florida State in the Rose Bowl. They scored 14 points, caused five turnovers, and put together a goal line stand that kept Oregon in control in the second half.

Washington as a whole - The Huskies showed how good they can be when all aspects of their offense and defense click, even against a ranked opponent. The Huskies almost shut out and could do whatever they wanted on offense for most of the game against a team that won at Wisconsin earlier this year.

Jake Browning - Browning takes his criticism (rightfully so) as Washington’s QB quite a bit, but he showed what he can Saturday night with protection and a young receiver group that’s coming into its own each week. He had one of his best games as a Husky and they could be almost impossible for any team it the Pac-12 to beat if he plays the way he did against BYU the rest of the season..

Mike Leach and his Cougars - The Cougars showed they’re the Pac-12’s most-underrated team going into the season yet again by getting a clutch win over Utah. Leach has set the Cougars up to where they are a tough out for any team in the conference and a dark horse North title contender yet again. They could easily be undefeated had they got a LEGIT TARGETING CALL late against USC.

USC’s start - For a while there, it looked like USC was going to start doing what they should do the rest of the way, and what should set them up for an easy South Division crown, comfortably handle a struggling in-division opponent and dominate on the ground. Things looked good when they jumped out 24-0 on Arizona in Tucson.

Eno Benjamin - Benjamin destroyed Oregon State’s awful run defense for a hilarious amount of yards (312) and four touchdowns in one of the greatest rushing displays in conference history.

Colorado taking care of business - The Buffs did what they needed to do to stay undefeated and beat a bad UCLA team at home. This isn’t a major accomplishment, but a big score for them early in the season.

The Bad

The conference - Stanford getting destroyed at Notre Dame really confirms that the Pac-12 is not good on a national level this year. The Pac-12 really just doesn’t look like it can compete with the top level of other major conferences at the moment.

Stanford’s showing at Notre Dame - The Cardinal were simply beaten in every facet of the game against Notre Dame and have gone from Playoff contender to national afterthought in just one game.

Larry Scott on targeting - I’m a little late on this one, but Scott’s weigh in on the targeting situation in the USC-Washington State game was outrageous. I get that he doesn’t want to sell out his officials, but then just don’t say anything. I don’t know how that Porter Gustin hit on Gardner Minshew was not targeting.

Cal’s execution - The Bears had a chance to at least make a game of it against Oregon, but stumbled, giving up a fumble for a touchdown right before the half when they could have just ran the clock out and been fine, ending with a pick six, and failing to punch it in from the goal line. The Bears probably aren’t ready for the prime time.

USC’s finish - The Trojans had to hang on for dear life against Arizona Saturday night to keep things afloat. This was the second-straight game the Trojans went down to the wire against an opponent they should have been able to handle at least by double digits.

Utah’s start - The Utes were a darkhorse pick to win the Pac-12 going into the season and a regular pick to at least win the South. Now they’re 0-2 in conference play staring down a second-straight road game, this one at Stanford. What could have been a break out season for Utah has started in rough fashion. They will likely start 0-3 with a passing game that looks dead in the water.

Oregon State’s run defense - Has there ever been a worse run defense in the conference? Maybe not.

UCLA, continued - The Bruins’ nightmare start keeps going. I don’t think anyone expected them to win at Colorado, but they got blown out by the Buffs in the end and getting a win this season isn’t going to be easy for Chip Kelly and company.

The Unknown

Who wins the triangle in the North? Oregon, Stanford and Washington look evenly matched and with Washington traveling to Oregon in October and Stanford to Washington in November, could we see a three-way tie a top the division?

Can Washington run away? Stanford getting blasted at Notre Dame has nothing to do with in-conference, but it probably confirms the Cardinal are not an elite team and Oregon, by proxy. The conference’s only bet right now to make a national statement appears to be Washington, but they have plenty of issues they have to figure out. Can the Huskies get it all together and be the conference’s flag bearer?

How good is Colorado? The Buffs are undefeated and ranked, but that might not mean anything this early in the year? Still, the Buffs are in a good spot and have some impressive pieces. Are they at least a South title contender? A team that could sneak up on people nationally?