Pac-12: Stanford Cardinal
He admits he even allowed himself some extra time to savor the blanketing of white on black during a postgame film session with his players.
"I said, 'Look at this! There's nobody open for [Washington QB Keith] Price to throw the ball to!'" Aliotti said.
"That's total [bleep] that he threw the ball at the end of the game like he did," Aliotti said to reporters. "And you can print that and you can send it to [Cougars coach Mike Leach], and he can comment too. I think it's low class, and it's [bleep] to throw the ball when the game is completely over against our kids that are basically our scout team."
It might have been the most controversial moment of his 38-year career, and it cost him $5,000 after he was fined and reprimanded by the Pac-12. Aliotti apologized to Leach and called himself "embarrassed" in a release from the school two days later.
"It was probably an old guy who didn't understand the Internet, how the media can get going so fast," Aliotti said. "Just making an honest, simple statement about what I thought at the time. Obviously, I made a huge mistake by overstepping my bounds. I shouldn't have said those things. These days, you've got to be politically correct. Not one of my strong suits."
While, no, those comments weren't terribly smart coming from a veteran coach, it's not difficult to ascertain the source of Aliotti's frustration. While there typically have been hat tips to his defense during Oregon's rise to elite national power, most of the nation sees Oregon as being all about offense. That high-tempo, flashy offense is the big story when it rolls up eye-popping numbers, and it's the big story when it gets slowed down.
Recall the gloating from SEC fans about Auburn, with a middling SEC defense, shutting down the Ducks in their 22-19 victory in the 2010 national title game? Why was it not almost as notable that Oregon held Auburn to 18 fewer points than the Tigers averaged against SEC defenses?
Or when Stanford ruined Oregon's national title hopes last fall in a 17-14 overtime win, it was all about the Cardinal shutting down the Ducks with nary a mention of Aliotti's defense holding Stanford to 10 points below its season scoring average.
There's, of course, an obvious answer: The winning team sets the postgame agenda and analysis. Amid all the Ducks winning since 2009 -- 54-7 record -- the offense almost always leads.
That's apparently the big story again as No. 3 Oregon visits No. 5 Stanford on Thursday: Will the Stanford defense be able to thwart QB Marcus Mariota, the nation's leading Heisman Trophy candidate, and the Ducks again?
Yet here's a bet that the game won't turn on that. Here's a bet that Stanford's defense doesn't even approach its success from last year and that the bigger issue will be whether Stanford's struggling offense can score enough to keep it close.
Because, by the way, it's Oregon that enters the game with the Pac-12's best defense, not Stanford.
Oregon ranks first in the Pac-12 and seventh in the nation in both scoring defense (16.9 PPG) and yards per play (4.41). It leads the Pac-12 and ranks sixth in the nation in both pass efficiency defense and turnovers forced (23).
And this is happening after losing three All-Pac-12 linebackers, Dion Jordan, Kiko Alonso and Michael Clay.
Stanford coach David Shaw has noticed.
"They are missing three dynamic football players," Shaw said. "The crazy part is, without those outstanding players, the defense as a whole looks better. They are fast. They are big."
Shaw is one of more than a few Pac-12 coaches who frequently gush about Aliotti's defense, about how he maximizes his players' talents and puts them in position to be successful and how his perplexing, flexible scheme is both sound and sometimes baffling.
"It's a different scheme than most 3-4 teams," Shaw said. "It takes some getting used to, to prepare for it."
The enduring ideas about Oregon's defense, even when it is given credit, are quasi-dismissive compliments: scrappy, aggressive, quick, blitz-heavy. Those words are no longer accurate. The Ducks have comparable future NFL talent with many of the nation's top defenses, starting a secondary chock-full of future NFL starters.
Things have changed in part because winning has bolstered recruiting. The Ducks are no longer undersized. They are fast and big -- see eight defensive linemen in the regular rotation who are 6-foot-4 or taller, including three over 6-6. The secondary has become -- and will continue to be -- an NFL pipeline. And at linebacker, things are going fairly well for Alonso these days.
The improved talent has meshed with a good scheme, but Aliotti and his staff also are good at teaching and making sure each player understands what his assignments are. And trusts them.
"Our players believing in what they are doing," first-year Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "I think Nick and the defensive staff have done a great job of taking advantage of our overall strengths and maybe hiding our potential weaknesses a little bit. I think, collectively, it's a ton of guys playing hard."
Aliotti tweaks things every year. This season, the Ducks are blitzing less, due in large part to the myriad mobile quarterbacks in the Pac-12, a group that includes Stanford's Kevin Hogan, though their respectable 2.88 sacks per game suggest they are still getting pressure on the opposing quarterback.
We won't know if this turns out to be Aliotti's best unit until season's end, but it's certainly good enough to merit a spot on the marquee next to the Ducks' ludicrous speed offense.
And, yes, Aliotti wouldn't mind if he and his players received some credit.
"It's about winning games, but we do all take pride in our job," he said.
Murphy, who is battling UCLA's Anthony Barr for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, really didn't need to be reminded. As soon as the clock hit zero, his mind switched focus to the game upon which the Cardinal's season will be measured: Oregon.
"It was almost immediate for me walking off the field," he said. "Even the Oregon State fans as we walked off the field were going, 'OK, well at least go beat the Ducks.' You couldn't help but go right to that."
"Coach Shaw got on us after the game a little bit, saying that effort, making mistakes, won't be good enough to beat a team like Oregon," Murphy recalled. "We didn't have too much room for excitement after that game playing the way we did."
Monday afternoon, after a bye week to cogitate over the matter -- Stanford players do not merely think, they cogitate -- Murphy tweeted his thoughts on the Thursday night matchup: "Oregon is a good football team. But this week game plan is simple -- Hard Work, Trust, Discipline, and one mean S.O.B. attitude."
That about sums it up. It sums up the way Stanford approached the 2012 game, a shocking 17-14 overtime victory in Autzen Stadium that would be the Ducks’ only defeat. And it sums up Murphy.
Murphy, an AP third-team All-American and first-team All-Pac-12 pick in 2012, leads the Pac-12 in sacks (9.5) and tackles for a loss (13.5). He also has six quarterback hurries, an interception returned 30 yards for a touchdown and a blocked kick.
The 6-foot-6, 261-pound senior is playing his way into the first round of the NFL draft this spring. Mel Kiper ranks Murphy 25th on his big board, noting, "Murphy has shown me a little more quickness this year and I think it translates into a potential Round 1 selection. He can play standing up or with his hand on the ground, and can attack defenders with his eyes up, so he doesn't lose run leverage and will knock down passes. One of the country's top sack artists this season."
Shaw has several years of NFL coaching experience and he's fielded plenty of calls from former colleagues about Murphy.
"They are intrigued by his versatility," Shaw said. "Some of them are looking at him as a guy who can play open defensive end. Some of them look at him as a strong-side base end on the outside shoulder of a tackle. And some of them look at him as a 3-4 outside linebacker, like what we are doing, strong side or week side."
But first things first: Oregon.
The No.5 Cardinal are a 10 1/2-point underdog at home. The general feeling is the Ducks are looking for some style points against a highly rated foe in order to keep Florida State at bay in the BCS standings. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, who played his only poor game last year against the Cardinal, also could cement his status as the Heisman Trophy frontrunner.
Hardscrabble Stanford isn't adverse to dipping into the "disrespect" reservoir for a motivational angle when facing their flashy North Division rivals. After all, it worked last year when the Cardinal were a three-touchdown underdog.
"It's not a strange position for us to be in, having people betting against us," Murphy said. "We feel more comfortable when everyone writes us off."
Murphy almost certainly will play a key role if the Cardinal are going to duplicate last year's surprising result. Last year, he had two sacks against the Ducks, leading an inspired defensive effort.
Stanford even forced Mariota to throw an interception. That's notable because he hasn't tossed one since then, as he's set a new Pac-12 record with 293 passes without an interception. Mariota had a 77-yard run last year, but even that became more notable as a positive for Stanford, which caught him from behind and then held the Ducks on fourth down.
Of course, Mariota is a much more refined, mature player as a second-year starter. The Ducks passing game is significantly better, too. Mariota passed for 206 yards per game in 2012. This year, it's 285 yards per game.
"You have to respect Mariota and his ability to make plays," Murphy said. "He's a phenomenal athlete. It's typical Oregon. They have great athletes who can make big plays. They will crease you. The thing is you've got to limit the big plays and tackle the football."
Shortly before last year's game, Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason cryptically referenced "deep water" to the Pac-12 blog, which had no earthly idea what he was talking about. After the game, he clarified.
Deep water is the screws tightening in a high-stakes game late in the fourth quarter. Stanford is accustomed to deep water. It is willing to be uncomfortable because it believes its opponent is more so. Deep water is something Oregon rarely encounters, mostly because it blows opponents out.
Of course, part of that is Ducks swim well. Washington and UCLA got the Ducks into a close fourth quarter this year, trailing by just a single touchdown. They ended up losing by 21 and 28 points, respectively.
Still, deep water is where Stanford thinks it has an advantage.
"Deep water is always the plan," Murphy said. "We feel comfortable in close games, dragging our opponent into deep water in the fourth quarter. If we can get into that position again, we're in a good place."
Then maybe that "mean S.O.B. attitude" can take over and again stun the nation.
- Some Arizona news and notes.
- Taylor Kelly's running ability is giving the Sun Devils an added dimension.
- The Bears will try to send their seniors out with a bang in their final home game.
- Colorado's defense begins prepping for Bishop Sankey, Huskies.
- De'Anthony Thomas says Oregon should score at least 40 points against Stanford.
- Mike Riley hits on some of the issues surrounding the Beavers.
- Stanford's keys for beating Oregon.
- Anthony Barr has some thoughts on the Sefo Liufau shoving exchange.
- Ed Orgeron rewards his team with burgers and shakes.
- Travis Wilson says his hand is 100 percent.
- Washington doesn't want to be Colorado's first conference win.
- Checking in on some former Washington State players during the bye week.
- Some fun, obscure stats from the folks at Athlon.
Stanford had just torn the hearts out of Oregon and its fans inside Autzen Stadium. The Ducks' unbeaten season had ended in shocking fashion. National championship hopes had been kicked to the curb.
"It's such an honor to come into this stadium and beat a phenomenal team," the Stanford quarterback said after the victory.
A gracious, classy and perhaps rare take from a college player. But no, that was not Kevin Hogan talking about the Cardinal's 17-14 overtime upset of the Ducks in Autzen Stadium last Nov. 17 that ruined the Ducks' drive for a berth in the 2012 national title game. It was Stanford's backup quarterback, Chris Lewis, talking about the Cardinal's 49-42 win in Autzen Stadium on Oct. 20, 2001, that ruined the Ducks' drive for a berth in that season's national championship game.
Lewis' postgame quote, however, generally sums up the Oregon-Stanford series, which Thursday night again will be the Pac-12 game of the year. There appears to be little animosity and a good dose of respect between the Ducks and Cardinal, who both own road wins as underdogs against each other in the past three years.
Though they are very different institutions, playing football in very different ways and, well, dressing very differently while doing so, the rivalry between the Pac-12's top two teams in the past four seasons doesn't include much ill will compared to the rivalries between Oregon and Washington and USC and UCLA.
Perhaps it should, at least in terms of what Stanford and Oregon have taken away from each other through the years, and not just during their recent and simultaneous rise to join the nation's elite.
Nine times since 1964, Stanford has handed Oregon its first defeat of the season. Twice it was the Ducks' only defeat. Without a loss to Stanford in 1995, the Ducks would have played in a second consecutive Rose Bowl in Mike Bellotti's first season.
Oregon has returned the favor of late as Stanford became nationally relevant. The Cardinal lost just one regular-season game in both 2010 and 2011. To Oregon.
Stanford's win in Autzen Stadium last year was shocking in many ways. The Ducks had owned the Cardinal and Andrew Luck the previous two years, so much so that in advance of the 2012 season, Stanford coach David Shaw openly admitted his team had an "Oregon problem," though he reasonably noted that the entire Pac-12 shared the Ducks conundrum.
Yet, as stunning as it was to witness the Cardinal shut down the Ducks' offense last November, the 2001 game eclipsed it 20-fold in terms of sheer nuttiness.
While some of Oregon's younger fans might not remember 2001, the older ones surely slapped their foreheads upon seeing the name "Chris Lewis" again. In that contest, the unbeaten and fifth-ranked Ducks were seemingly cruising, leading 42-28 in the fourth quarter at home, with Stanford quarterback Randy Fasani knocked out of the game in the second quarter.
But things went haywire in the fourth quarter, particularly on special teams, when Stanford blocked two punts and recovered an onside kick. Still, it appeared the Ducks would prevail 42-41 when they blocked the potentially game-tying PAT.
Unfortunately for Oregon, quarterback Joey Harrington was turning in his only poor performance of the season. On third-and-1 from Oregon's 30, Harrington was hit by safety Tank Williams, and his throw was picked off by diving defensive end Marcus Hoover at the 33 (it was Harrington's second interception of the game). After Stanford scored the go-ahead TD, Harrington, who had led nine fourth-quarter comebacks in his career and was popularly known as "Captain Comeback," threw four consecutive incompletions from the Cardinal 37.
The normally straightforward Associated Press report noted that the game "had everything but aliens landing on the Autzen Stadium turf."
Oregon, one of the earliest victims of a BCS controversy, went on to finish No. 2. Bellotti showed up at the Rose Bowl, host of the BCS title game, to watch Miami stomp overmatched Nebraska, a team that was blown out in the regular-season finale by Colorado, a team the Ducks had crushed in the Fiesta Bowl.
Yes, there were a fair share of what-ifs from the Ducks, not unlike last year, though it's worth remembering that Miami team was one college football's all-time great squads.
Of course, things were much different for both Oregon and Stanford in 2001. Neither team had established itself as a consistent national power. In fact, both would go through significant downturns thereafter, particularly Stanford.
In 2007, both programs made inspired decisions that inspired initial befuddlement among media and fans: Bellotti hired Chip Kelly away from New Hampshire, an FCS team, to coordinate his offense, and Jim Harbaugh was plucked away from San Diego, another FCS team, by Stanford. Harbaugh brought along Shaw to coordinate his offense.
As isolated events, the Stanford-Oregon game on Oct. 20, 2001, and some buzz-less coaching hires in 2007 didn't resonate nationally. But from a long-term view, they are notable dots to connect for what has become one of the nation's best and most meaningful rivalries.
Even if the teams don't provide much cartoonish trash talk to foment the hype.
Oregon State reeled in two verbal commitments despite a Friday night loss to USC. UCLA hosted the nation's No. 21 overall recruit. An Arizona commitment authored a huge game in a blowout win. And all eyes will be on one colossal matchup in the Pac-12 this week.
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Florida State's win over Miami was enough to boost it past Oregon into the No. 2 spot behind Alabama in the BCS standings on Sunday.
No. 2, of course, guarantees a spot in the BCS championship game.
But the Seminoles, playing their last quality regular-season game, only lead the Ducks by .0090 points. The Ducks visit Stanford on Thursday. The Cardinal, at No. 5 in the BCS standings, are the top one-loss team.
Oregon remains ranked second in the two human polls that count in the standings, the Coaches and Harris polls, but ranks No. 3 with the computers.
The bottom line: If Oregon wins the rest of its games, including the Pac-12 title game, it will require a significant switch in the human polls for the Ducks to not end up at No. 2.
FSU, which ranks No. 1 with the computers, is .0272 behind No. 1 Alabama. No. 4 Ohio State is .0715 behind the Ducks.
As for the rest of the Pac-12, UCLA is No. 19 and Arizona State is No. 22 in the standings.
That's significant. At this point, the Bruins and Sun Devils look like the South Division favorites, and they play on Nov. 23. If the South champion is highly ranked, that almost certainly would give the Ducks a major boost -- if, of course, the Ducks win out.
Know what Ducks fans should be most rooting for, other than a win at Stanford and for Florida State (or Alabama) to lose?
Root for Miami to lose again. Maybe even twice, thereby making the ACC title game less compelling.
- Thursday night games make it even tougher to fill Martin Stadium in remote Pullman, writes John Blanchette of the Spokesman-Review.
- Arizona State prefers playing pass-happy offenses to those that run the ball, writes Doug Haller of azcentral.com.
- USC should see an upgrade to its passing game against Oregon State as receiver Marqise Lee and tight end Xavier Grimble are probable to play, writes Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.
- UCLA running back Jordan James (ankle) will be a game-time decision to play against Colorado, writes Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times.
- Is Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour's job in jeopardy? Jon Wilner of the Bay Area Newsgroup addresses the myriad of problems facing Barbour and the athletic department in Berkeley.
- Oregon coach Mark Helfrich rides his bike to clear his mind of football and other Ducks coaches have their own getaway techniques, writes Andrew Greif of the Oregonian.
- Patience isn't Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre's strong suit, but he's keeping his perspective, as the Buffalos prepare for UCLA, writes John Henderson of the Denver Post.
- Get ready for Oregon State vs. USC with a preview from Connor Letourneau of the Oregonian.
- From worst to first. After finishing last in the Pac-12 in pass defense a year ago, the Wildcats currently have the conference's top-ranked pass defense, writes Daniel Berk of the Arizona Daily Star.
- Former Stanford defensive lineman Brian Bulcke balances life in the Canadian Football League with his start-up business, FanTravel, writes Sam Fisher of the Stanford Daily.
The conference's two highest-ranked teams -- No. 2 Oregon and No. 5 Stanford -- are not only off this week, they square off next Thursday in what should be the Pac-12 game of the year.
That doesn't mean there aren't games worth watching over the next three days. Arizona State will try to prove it can beat a solid team on the road Thursday night at Washington State. USC's visit to Oregon State is intriguing on Friday night. And there are always upset possibilities as Arizona and UCLA are heavy favorites at California and Colorado, respectively.
Still, the primary focus for both teams was and will be more on themselves this week. There's recruiting calls to make and injured guys needing to get treatment. Both teams have banged-up players whose presence could be critical for the matchup, most notably Stanford with defensive end Henry Anderson and receiver Devon Cajuste. Stanford already announced that defensive end Ben Gardner is out for the season with a pectoral injury.
Earnest game preparation won't begin until the weekend, as both teams are trying to stick to a typical game-week schedule.
Even though both coaches want to keep the emotions contained and treat the matchup like any other, there's no question that the buzz started on their respective campuses not long after each dispatched a tough opponent last Saturday, with the Cardinal winning 20-12 at Oregon State and Oregon running away from UCLA in the fourth quarter for a 42-14 victory.
"We know that it's there," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "The guys know what the game is going to be about."
The teams have split their last four meetings, with Stanford winning in 2009 and 2012. Shaw is 1-1 as the Cardinal head coach against the Ducks and he was 1-1 as the team's offensive coordinator under Jim Harbaugh. This will be Mark Helfrich's first taste as the Oregon head coach; he was the Ducks' offensive coordinator under Chip Kelly the previous four meetings.
While the game will be heated and the stakes high, Shaw and Helfrich seem to get along well. They chatted frequently during the Pac-12 meetings in May. They certainly have a lot in common, as both replaced charismatic former head coaches credited with creating a national power before bolting for the NFL.
And, yes, they talked about exactly that.
"Mark and I talked about that a couple of times," Shaw said. "I think he's done it perfectly. You have to completely take your ego out of it. So many people say from the outside, 'How are you going to make this your program?' You look at it and say, 'This is not my program, it's the kids' program.' Every decision you make is what's best for the kids. And if the scheme is great, who cares if they call it Chip Kelly's scheme? Or Jim Harbaugh's scheme? Whoever, it doesn't matter. The things that work, you don't change. The things that don't work, you take them out."
However, they won't be chatting much over the next six days.
Both coaches subscribed to the notion of nameless, faceless opponents and every game being equally big. That's what elite programs do. Preparation is always the same. Every game is big when conference and national titles are the chief goal.
But the fact is the Oregon-Stanford game is bigger, and has been now for going on four years. We know this because all of the college football nation will be tuning in a week from now, just as it did last year, and in 2011 and 2010.
It's game day in Pullman, where the Cougars are looking to stay above .500 and get within one game of bowl eligibility, writes Chris Shaw of the Daily Evergreen.
Arizona State players insist playing on the road is no big deal, but the Sun Devils are looking for their first road win of the season at Washington State, writes Doug Haller of azcentral.com.
UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone isn't feeling the love after the offense struggled against Stanford and Oregon, writes Jack Wang of the Los Angeles Daily News.
Another former Oregon player wrote a letter expressing his displeasure with his school's fan base, shared by the Oregonian's John Canzano.
Stanford finding success with best 11 approach on special teams, writes Vihan Lakshman of the Stanford Daily.
Washington is tasked with replacing receiver Kasen Williams' production with the veteran receiver out for the season, writes Percy Allen of the Seattle Times.
Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion talks about wearing orange uniforms and facing USC in an interview with the Oregonian.
Arizona is seeking athletically gifted high school seniors. Another requirement? They must love football, writes Daniel Berk of the Arizona Daily Star.
Utah running back Kelvin York is looking to break out of his frustrating season, writes Lya Wodraska of the Salt Lake Tribune.
Previews and predictions for the week's slate of four games from Athlon Sports.
- Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez can relate to Cal's Sonny Dykes, who is struggling to find success in Year 1 at his new school, writes Luke Della of the Arizona Daily Wildcat.
- Arizona State co-defensive coordinator Chris Ball prepares for a return to Washington State where he spent two stints and his son is currently a student, writes Doug Haller of azcentral.com.
- Cal quarterback Jared Goff has turned to gloves to help his fumbling problem, writes Jeff Faraudo of the Bay Area Newsgroup.
- Wide receiver Paul Richardson (ankle) and running back Michael Adkins II (concussion) remain day to day as Colorado prepares for UCLA, writes John Henderson of the Denver Post.
- Oregon left guard Mana Greig went from walk-on to starter. Strong study habits and attention to detail helped Greig become the only starting offensive lineman for a BCS-conference school under 6-feet tall, writes Andrew Greif of the Oregonian.
- Oregon State right tackle Sean Harlow prepares to face his favorite childhood team and his father, former USC star Pat Harlow, is faced with split allegiances this week, writes Connor Letourneau of the Oregonian.
- USC interim coach Ed Orgeron continues to recruit with varying levels of success, writes Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.
- Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly will pose a tough challenge for Washington State, writes Jacob Thorpe of the Spokesman-Review.
- A shoulder sprain against Oregon left UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks in tears when he was forced to stay on the sideline, writes Andrew Erickson of the Daily Bruin.
- A look around the Stanford program including an injury report, the upcoming number-retirement ceremony for John Elway and David Shaw's take on linebacker Trent Murphy's omission from the list of Butkus Award semifinalists, from Andy Drukarev of CardinalSportsReport.com.
Number to the left is national rank.
2. Oregon, 55.6 points per game
6. Arizona State, 45.4
15. Oregon State, 40.1
2. Oregon, 632.1 yards per game
14. Arizona State, 509.1
15. Washington, 501.9
22. Oregon State, 487.4
30. UCLA, 469.1
2. Oregon, 331.5 yards per game
11. Arizona, 288.0
22. Washington, 218.1
1. Oregon State, 420.0 yards per game
6. Washington State, 373.1
8. California, 358.9
14. Arizona State, 332.0
20. Oregon, 300.6
24. Washington, 283.8
Note: The offensive numbers have been trending down. Why? Pac-12 defenses. You’ve got to respect the balance of Oregon and Washington, though the Huskies probably should be getting more than 34.5 points per game out of 502 yards of offense. By the way, Stanford ranks 10th in the Pac-12 in total offense with just 389.6 yards per game, but the Cardinal's 6.2 yards per play is just below Arizona State, Washington and Oregon State's 6.3 ypp, which is tied for second in the conference.
9. Oregon, 16.9 points per game
16. USC, 19.3
18. Stanford, 19.4
20. Arizona, 19.9
11. USC, 317.9
21. Arizona State, 349.3
25. Stanford, 353.4
Yards yielded per play (FBS foes only)
7. Oregon, 4.41 yards per play
11. Stanford, 4.69
16. USC, 4.79
23. Arizona, 4.89
25. UCLA, 4.97
26. Washington, 5.0
30. Arizona State
Note: Is this the year that defense eclipses offense in the Pac-12? As good as the top Pac-12 offenses are, the numbers for scoring and passing efficiency are better for defense than offense. Still plenty of football left, though. USC gave up 62 to Arizona State and 31 to Arizona, but when playing non-Arizona schools in its other six games, the Trojans have yielded 10.2 points per game.
1. Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona, 153.3 yards per game
3. Bishop Sankey, Washington, 145.3
17. Tyler Gaffney, Stanford, 110.8
18. Byron Marshall, Oregon, 109.9
31. Tre Madden, USC, 95.9
Note: Who will lead the Pac-12 in rushing, and will that total end up winning the top spot in the nation? And, if so, how does that guy not get invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony? Also, do both All-American running backs come from the Pac-12?
5. Marcus Mariota, Oregon
13. Sean Mannion, Oregon State
28. Keith Price, Washington
29. Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Note: Mariota is still No. 1 in the nation in ESPN.com's Total QBR. Arizona State's Taylor Kelly is 38th in the nation in the NCAA pass efficiency rating but he is 11th in QBR. Price climbed from 35th to 28th on his numbers against California. UCLA's Brett Hundley has fallen to 36th in the nation.
Receiving yards per game
1. Brandin Cooks, Oregon State, 157.0
3. Paul Richardson, Colorado, 130.6
21. Chris Harper, California, 99.5
25. Jaelen Strong, Arizona State, 97.9
4. Trent Murphy, Stanford, 1.90 sacks per game
T10. Tony Washington, Oregon, 0.9
T18. Anthony Barr, UCLA, 0.9 (Barr's played in fewer games than Washington)
21. Keenan Graham, UCLA, 0.8
Note: The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award looks like a battle between Murphy and Barr. Barr is fifth in the nation with 1.90 tackles for a loss per game, while Murphy is tied for seventh with 1.70 per game.
Random notes: Arizona State is the Pac-12's least-penalized team. Washington is the most-penalized team. Oregon leads the Pac-12 in turnover margin. It's plus-13 for the season, having forced a conference-high 23 turnovers. Arizona has the fewest turnovers with eight. Washington State has the most with 25, including 19 interceptions, which is nine more than any other team. California, however, is 12th in turnover margin at minus-12. Stanford, USC and Utah are tied for first in the conference with 27 sacks. Arizona and Colorado are last in the conference with just nine sacks. Stanford has yielded the fewest sacks --nine in eight games. Cal has yielded the most sacks -- 27 in eight games. Oregon State leads the conference in third down defense, with foes converting just 32 percent of the time. UCLA is still No. 1 in third down offense (51.9 percent).
See last week's Power Rankings.
1. Oregon: The Ducks have met all challenges with a dominant effort. No team has been able to end up within three touchdowns of them after four quarters. Can Stanford solve the Oregon riddle at home on Nov. 7?
2. Stanford: Stanford isn't as fancy-pants as Oregon. It doesn't win pretty. But, despite a slip at Utah, the Cardinal are clearly the No. 2 team in the Pac-12. Last year we typed the same just before they dispatched the No. 1 team, Oregon.
3. Arizona State: The Sun Devils had a week off to rest and figure out how to package the strong performances at home and bring them on the road. They'll test the efficacy of what they developed at Washington State, a team that is hungry to get bowl eligible. It's a Halloween showdown that might end up haunting one or the other.
4. UCLA: Just like Washington, the Bruins couldn't handle the Stanford-Oregon, back-to-back gauntlet. The good news for the Bruins is they get Colorado at home now, not Arizona State on the road. Still, the Bruins can't just show up and think things will be easy. That could lead to an embarrassing pratfall.
5. Oregon State: The Beavers' first loss since the opening disaster against Eastern Washington certainly was less painful. Or was it? The Beavers are going to watch Stanford game tape and they are going to have regrets over many, many missed opportunities. That goes for players and coaches, as Mike Riley noted after the game. No time to rest, though, as USC comes to town for a Friday showdown.
6. Washington: The Huskies healed in many areas against California, which is sort of the role the Bears have played this year. The offense -- QB Keith Price and RB Bishop Sankey -- put up huge numbers. Now they get a week off before playing host to Colorado. Then back-to-back road trips to UCLA and Oregon State, which will make or break the season.
7. USC: The Trojans, injury-ravaged though they are, played great defense against Utah, though the Utes had their own injury woes. They need two more wins on a 13-game schedule to become bowl eligible. Up next is a dreaded visit to Corvallis, where USC's fortunes have not been great in recent years.
8. Arizona: The Wildcats are operating under the radar, in large part due to their schedule. They will try to become bowl eligible at Cal this weekend. Then, however, the road tilts a bit uphill: UCLA, Washington State, Oregon and at Arizona State. We'll shortly find out if this is a six/seven-win team or an eight/nine-win team.
9. Washington State: The Cougars were off this week, just like their opponent on Halloween, Arizona State. They need to win two of their final four games to become bowl eligible. Wonder if Mike Leach has any special tricks or treats for the Sun Devils?
10. Utah: The win over Stanford was satisfying, but the bottom line is the Utes, after starting 0-4 in Pac-12 play the previous two years, are now 1-4 in conference play. The obvious key to turning things around? Getting QB Travis Wilson healthy and back to form, so it's a good time for a bye week. The visit from Arizona State on Nov. 9 has the potential to be a telling game for both teams.
11. Colorado: The Buffs put up a good fight against Arizona, but they were unable to get key stops on defense. Things don't get any easier, with back-to-back road trips to UCLA and Washington coming up.
12. California: The story wasn't much different against Washington. Will it be any different with a visit from Arizona? It feels like the Bears' best, perhaps only, shot at a conference win will be at Colorado on Nov. 16.