Whew. Was this close to going 6-0. But as I've said over and over again, OSU continues to surprise me. Hip hip hurray!
Two good back to back weeks bring me back up to 36-18. I can live with a 2:1 ratio with my picks. On to the game!
Arizona State 51 Colorado 17
First off, no one can say that the Buffaloes aren't trying out there. That team's playing hard and trying to get what they can, but they simply don't have the personnel right now to be consistently competitive in the Pac-12. CU kept it close with an inspired performance in the first half, down just 17-20. It was almost as if the Sun Devils had to remind themselves at halftime that their upcoming game against Oregon wouldn't mean much if they didn't show up with a 5-1 record.
But it was all ASU in the second half. The Sun Devils scored 34 straight points while playing shutout ball on defense. ASU has done just about everything most fans could have hoped for and more, but all eyes are on their big test next weekend against Oregon. This could very well be a preview of the Pac-12 Championship game, but we're going to learn a lot more about who the Sun Devils really are in the next month. ASU's next four games? Oregon, UCLA, Oregon State, and USC. If they go 3-1, you could be looking at the Pac-12 South Champs. I could just as easily see the Sun Devils go 1-3 however. Let's see how next weekend goes.
UCLA 21 Utah 14
UCLA rebounded from a disappointing loss to UCLA, but it probably wasn't the type of explosive performance that would have reinstilled excitement in this team. Speaking of which, that Rose Bowl looked absolutely empty throughout the game. Talk about some fairweather fans. Those who did stick around though, saw an efficient game on both sides of the ball from the Bruins, who improve to 5-2 before going into their bye.
Utah started true freshman Travis Wilson at quarterback in the hopes of finding answers on offense. The result was just one offensive touchdown late in the game to bring the game to within a TD. Utah's lacking any real big play potential right now, and they've shown an inability to overcome small mistakes to string together successful drives.
The Utes fall to 2-4 on the season, and 0-3 in the Pac-12. Their defense is going to keep them in nearly every game moving forward, but until that offense gets things going, the Utes have a tough road getting bowl eligible this season. Stanford 13 Notre Dame 20
Wow, let's start with wildest finish. Notre Dame held Stanford on a 4th down goal line stand. While Stepfan Taylor was ruled as being stopped short of the endzone, he kept his legs moving and made an effort to sneak the ball in on a second effort. Boy I've got to say, it sure looked like he might have gotten the ball across, but none of the replays were conclusive enough to overturn the call, and the Fighting Irish snuck away with the win.
It goes to show you that football really is a game of inches. As for the rest of the game, it was either a case of bad offenses or really tough defenses. I'd wager a bit of both. The rough weather prevented either offense from ripping off big plays, while both defenses looked about as good as advertised.
In the end, it's got to be a bitter pill for a Stanford team that showed about as much toughness on defense as I've seen in a while, only to fall short. It'll be really interesting to see how the team responds as they head into the Big Game. I'm still think the Cardinal finish 8-4.
Oregon State 42 BYU 24
The game wasn't nearly as close as the score might indicate. OSU took a slim 28-24 4th quarter lead, before blowing it open in the closing minutes with a TD on an end-around and another Jordan Poyer pick six. How many does the guy have on the year?
I've got to say, the Beavers just continue to surprise me. I really thought that OSU didn't have enough in the tank without a healthy Sean Mannion to go into Provo and battle a really tough BYU squad. However, a Mannionless offense was still better than BYU's starting offense, and the Beavers made plays when it counted the most.
With Cody Vaz filling in nicely for an injured Sean Mannion, the Beavers are easily the other team to watch in the North other than the "other" Oregon team. OSU's undefeated and looking to be ranked inside the Top 10 for the first time in years. Whew boy.
USC 24 Washington 14
Despite the Trojans beating the Huskies by two scores, the game wasn't decided until late in the game. The deciding play might have come midway through the fourth quarter, when a scrambling Keith Price had the ball stripped on a scramble. In fact turnovers were the real kicker in doing the Huskies in, with each critical drive late in the game seemingly being undone by some type of turnover.
The Trojans have yet to take it up to the next level as I predicted they would by now, and seem to be doing enough just to get by. Still, they're likely to be back in the Top 10, and aren't completely out of the national title picture just yet.