No. 9 Notre Dame (6-1) humiliated No. 21 USC (6-2, 4-1) last Saturday to pretty much put a stake in the Pac-12’s playoff dreams. The conference has no notable non-conference win, while the loss to the Irish significantly weakened No. 15 WSU’s strength of schedule — No. 12 Washington’s SoS is hot garbage, but gets better starting this week.
The Trojans defensive front seven was pushed around all game by a physical Notre Dame offensive line. As a result, the Irish had two running backs top 100 yards…and neither of them carried the ball more than 20 times — Josh Adams carried the ball 19 times, for 191 yards with three touchdowns; Brandon Wimbush was second on the team in carries, 14 attempts for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Notre Dame knew that Southern California wasn’t going to stop them on the ground, so it relied on its ground game to win.
Sam Darnold was the lone bright spot for USC as he completed 71.4% of his passes while averaging 8.2 yards per completion with two touchdowns and one interception. It was a solid performance for the sophomore quarterback, but it wasn’t enough to carry his inefficient running backs (USC averaged 2.5 yards per carry).
1) Stanford Cardinal (+1 spot): Stanford had a bye week, but is coming off of an impressive 42-point win over Oregon. So the Cardinal get to move up to the No. 1 spot…for now.
2) Washington State Cougars (+2): The Cougs bounced back from an embarrassing loss in Berkley with a 28-0 victory over Colorado late on Saturday night. WSU always felt like it was in control of the game and it felt like the Buffs didn’t stand a chance.
3) Washington Huskies (-): Washington (like the Cardinal) had a by week in week eight, but (unlike the Cardinal) is coming off of its first loss of the season. That means that they get to stay put.
4) USC Trojans (-3): Wut happened?
5) Arizona Wildcats (+1): The Khalil Tate Show was a huge success for the third straight week as he carried the ball 17 times for 137 yards and one touchdown — while adding in two more passing TDs and another 166 yards through the air. What’s concerning for Arizona is the fact that the secondary was torched by Ross Bowers in a manor that no one else has been this season…with Luke Falk coming up next week, that could be a problem.
6) UCLA Bruins (+1): Jim Mora’s squad picked up its fourth win of the season with a 17-point victory over the Oregon Ducks on Saturday. The Bruins balanced offensive attack kept Oregon’s defense of kilter, while their defense forced two turnovers to help with UCLA its comfortable win.
7) Arizona State Sun Devils (+2): ASU picked up its second straight win, and its third win in conference play, with a 20-point win over the Utes. The Sun Devils are arguably the hotest team in the conference right now as they’re still a half game back of Southern California in the South.
8) Utah Utes (-3): Utah got Tyler Huntley back, but he wasn’t able to do anything against the aggressive ASU defense. The freshmen sturggled with picking up the blitzes and working his way through his reads in an efficient manor; as a result, Huntley tossed four picks and no touchdowns on Saturday afternoon.
9) Colorado Buffaloes (-1): Colorado’s passing attack was ineffective in the wind and the rain as Steven Montez was bench at halftime. Because the passing attack was so bad, Phillip Lindsay was held to 3.4 yards per carry by WSU.
10) California Golden Bears (-): Bowers showed off some talent as he threw for over 300 yards against Arizona, but his two interceptions were costly in the one-point loss.
11) Oregon Ducks (-): UCLA was arguably the Ducks best chance at another conference victory until the Civil War. Unfortunately, Oregon was unable to stop the Bruins offense in Westwood and it led to a 17-point loss.
12) Oregon State Beavers (-): No game this week for the Beavers, but they get Stanford on Thursday night.