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Pac-12 the good, the bad and the unknown week 11: Cougar train keeps rolling

Washington State looks more and more like a legit CFP contender each week.

Washington State v Colorado Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Good

Cougar Gold - The Cougars danced right past a major land mine in Boulder and now get to finish out the regular season in the friendly confines of Martin Stadium. The Cougars don’t even have to win a tough game over Arizona Saturday to still make the Rose Bowl.

Utah pulls through - An already painful November for Utah got even more dark when it was announced that star running back Zack Moss would be out for the year. Their key home game against Oregon looked a lot less winnable with that news, but they used tough defense and an improved Jason Shelley at QB to beat a rebounding Oregon team and put themselves in great position to win the South.

Cal’s defense - Justin Wilcox has built a defensive monster in Berkeley and it has the Bears poised for their first bowl game in years. They’ve held the Washington schools and USC to a combined 43 points the past three weeks and have pulled off two of the school’s biggest wins in the past few decades against Washington and USC in just three weeks.

Benjamin & Wilkins on the ground - The Sun Devils pulled out a tight one again in the South because of the legs of Eno Benjamin and Manny Wilkins. The two combined for nearly 250 yards on the ground and scored three TDs.

Colby Parkinson - Stanford’s an afterthought in the conference at this point, but the 6’7 tight end who had four touchdown catches for the Cardinal should be scary for the rest of the conference going forward. The big man could easily be the best tight end the Cardinal have ever had if he keeps putting it together.

The Bad

The slow death of USC - It appears Sam Darnold and a Pac-12 that lacked elite teams may have kept the Trojans and Clay Helton afloat the past two seasons, but those days are gone and the Trojans are fighting to just make a bowl in a mediocre conference. The scary part is that the Trojans aren’t just underachieving either. They lack the talent that used to set them apart from other teams in the conference.

Colorado’s swoon - No one expected the Buffs to win the Pac-12, but I think a bowl game was a realistic expectation when they jetted out to 5-0. Is Mike MacIntyre in trouble if they close with seven-straight losses?

Oregon on the road - The Ducks have mostly been a disaster this season on the road, especially coming out of the gate and particularly Justin Herbert. They got down 13-0 early against Utah (and were lucky it wasn’t worse) and it ended up costing them the game against an offensively-hobbled Ute team.

The Unknown

Who’s next at USC? We’re here again. The Trojans need to find a new head man and it’s about time they hit a home run. Jack Del Rio is an early name, but I honestly don’t see that happening? The next head coach at USC seems like a mystery right now.

Is Cal on the verge? The Bears have really impressed the past few weeks, particularly on defense and now get a chance to finally take down Stanford. The Bears can’t win the conference, but they will likely close very strong and come into 2019 as a ranked team. Are the Bears ready for primetime?

What is Oregon? The Ducks nearly beat Stanford and home and beat Washington at home, in overtime, but other than that, they haven’t impressed in what was supposed to be their breakout season. It’s not all a wash for Oregon though as they are definitely improved from 2017 and are recruiting exceptionally well. Still, the Ducks are staring down a season that could legitimately end with six wins and the loss of their quarterback and best player (Dillon Mitchell) to the NFL.