As soon as you think the Pac-12 division races were starting to shape up, days like Saturday come along and totally ruin it.
Heading into week 7 of the season, it appeared that Washington and Colorado were the clear front runners in the Pac-12 North and South divisions. Both entered undefeated in conference play, yet by the time Saturday was over, both were no longer the clear front-runners in their divisions.
No. 17 Oregon’s 30-27 overtime victory over No. 7 Washington didn’t knock the Huskies out of first place in the Pac-12 North, but it allowed the Ducks to control their own destiny in the conference.
Likewise, USC had been struggling of late but its 31-20 over visiting Colorado, the 19th ranked team in the nation, was no fluke. It knocked Colorado out of first place in the Pac-12 South and vaulted USC into the driver’s seat.
A dark horse in the south division is Utah, especially after its 42-10 stomping over visiting Arizona. The Utes appeared written off in conference play after losses to Washington and Washington State early in the season, but back-to-back wins over Stanford and Arizona have them right in the thick of things.
UCLA got its first win of the Chip Kelly era, absolutely decimating Cal 37-7.
Here’s how the four games featuring conference teams played out this weekend.
*(previous week’s AP rankings depicted in scores)
No. 17 Oregon 30 — No. 7 Washington 27 (Overtime)
The 111th meeting between the hatred rivals lived up to its billing as this game became an instant classic. The teams exchanged shots like heavyweight fighters, but it was Oregon and running back CJ Verdell who came out on top in OT. Verdell (29 carries, 111 yards and two scores) scored from six yards out on 3rd down in overtime to lift the Ducks. Quarterback Justin Herbert threw for two scores while receiver Dillon Mitchell stayed hot with eight catches for 119 yards and a score. Washington, who was led by running back Salvon Ahmed with two scores, had a chance to win in regulation but a missed 37-yard field goal sent the game into overtime. Oregon now travels to Washington State (5-1) in a huge North showdown.
Utah 42 — Arizona 10
Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley had four total touchdowns (two passing and one each running and catching) as the Utes dominated the Wildcats on Friday night. Utah finished with 230 yards rushing as three players all had over 50 yards and a score. Led by a ferocious defense, the Utes held the Wildcats to 2.3 yards per rush and knocked out Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate in the first quarter. Arizona turned to third-string quarterback Rhett Rodriguez, who finished 20-of-38 for 226 yards and a score. The Utes now host USC on Saturday in a game that will have huge South division implications.
USC 31 — No. 19 Colorado 20
The Trojans picked up a huge win at home against the Buffaloes to take over first place in the South division. Quarterback JT Daniels overcame a rough start (two interceptions) to finish the game 17-of-34 for 272 yards and three score. Wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr had five catches for 144 yards and two scores. The Trojans defense held Colorado offense to 265 total yards, 3.2 yards per play and 7-of-23 on third down — limiting the Pac-12’s leading receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. to nine catches for 72 yards. USC now gets Utah while Colorado travels to Washington in a game that will impact the Pac-12 division races.
UCLA 37 — Cal 7
In the most shocking result of the weekend, UCLA picked up its first win of the Chip Kelly era with a resounding 30-point victory over Cal. Running back Joshua Kelly was superb, finishing with 30 carries for 157 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson was efficient, throwing for 141 yards on 13-of-15 passing and adding 27 yards on the ground. The Bruins had two interceptions and one pick-six in the game while Keisean Lucier-South finished with 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack. Cal running back Patrick Laird was the lone bright spot offensively for the Golden Bears, finishing with 94 rushing yards and a score while middle linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk had 22 tackles and two tackles for loss.