Discounting the Arizona Wildcats being eviscerated by the Washington State Cougars in Pullman, the Pac-12 still had plenty of exciting action across the West.
Clarity is finally coming into a pair of chaotic divisional races with only one week to go, and this week’s games greatly contributed to that,
With the season approaching its end, here’s a recap of Week 12 in the Pac-12.
No. 18 Washington 42, Oregon State 23
On senior day in Seattle, the Huskies kept their Pac-12 North and New Year’s Six hopes alive against the still-struggling Beavers.
In their last game in Husky Stadium, longtime UW stars Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin had strong performances. Browning was as accurate as ever, completing 17-of-23 for 242 yards, while Gaskin racked up 135 yards on just 18 carries. The game was 28-3 in favor of Washington entering the second quarter, and after that the game went on a slow pace as this very successful UW senior class essentially had a victory lap.
For Oregon State, the solid performance in the second half has to be at least a glimmer of hope in a rebuilding season. Jermar Jefferson remained as explosive as he’s been all year, gaining 115 yards on 19 carries. Jake Luton played his second-to-last game in an Oregon State uniform, completing 18 of 32 attempts for 190 yards. Jonathan Smith may have had a rough debut in Corvallis, but it seems like there are solid players starting to pop up on the Oregon State roster.
Both OSU and UW close the season with their in-state rivals, with Washington traveling to Washington State and Oregon State hosting Oregon.
No. 19 Utah 30, Colorado 7
In a game that played a huge role in determining the Pac-12 South’s champion, Utah pulled away late to get to the clubhouse with a 6-3 mark in conference and clinch the division to boot.
After Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss were both injured in a short span, it appeared as though Utah was in bad shape. After two straight wins though, the Utes have officially clinched the Pac-12 South, and will face either Washington or Washington State in two weeks. Freshman quarterback Jason Shelley performed fine, especially considering the snow that was falling in Boulder. Shelly went 11-for-23, netting 221 yards and 2 touchdowns. Moss’ replacement Armand Shyne played well enough too, logging 55 yards on 17 carries.
For Colorado, this second half of the season continues to be a nightmare. After a 5-0 start led by Steven Montez and Laviska Shenault, Colorado has gone 0-6, including a devastating blown lead at home to Oregon State that may end up costing coach Mike McIntyre his job. Montez and Shenault still can’t rekindle their magic from September, with Montez throwing for a paltry 81 yards on 13 completions. This is despite the fact that Shenault caught nine of Montez’s 13 completed passes, and accounted for 64 of the 81 passing yards.
For Utah, they end the season with a non-conference rivalry against BYU. Colorado heads to Berkeley next week, needing a win to reach a bowl game after a 5-0 start.
UCLA 34, USC 27
In one of the lowest-stakes editions of this rivalry in history, the Bruins won in an exciting upset to claim the Victory Bell.
After an 0-5 start and some of the worst offense a Chip Kelly team has ever produced, UCLA has slowly improved as the season has gone on. Part of that was the return of graduate transfer Wilton Speight from injury. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 166 yards. The real reason for all of UCLA’s success, both against USC and throughout the season, was Joshua Kelley. The stud running back tore the Trojans apart, rushing for 289 yards on 40 carries and scoring twice.
For the Trojans, this loss is a crushing blow on an already hugely disappointing season. JT Daniels has often looked overwhelmed despite flashes of brilliance, and that continued in the Rose Bowl on Saturday, putting up an impressive 20-for-34, 337-yard performance but undercutting it with two interceptions. The Trojans went down early, but took a lead in the second quarter. Unfortunately, the USC offense completely shut down after halftime, and UCLA was able to score just enough to upset their rival.
USC now sits at 5-6 and needs to upset hated rival Notre Dame next weekend to make a bowl. UCLA is at 3-8 and welcomes Stanford to Pasadena to finish their season.
Oregon 31, Arizona State 29
With Arizona State still controlling their own destiny, they couldn’t complete a comeback against the Ducks, giving the division to Utah.
After a start to the season that had UO thinking they could make the Playoff, the Ducks have seemingly fallen off the map since their loss to Wazzu. Still though, this team has pro prospect Justin Herbert, who performed well against the Devils. Herbert completed 19 of 34 passes for 262 yards, including two touchdowns. Herbert did throw two picks, as Oregon racked up four turnovers, allowing ASU to remain in the game.
The Sun Devils, meanwhile, had trouble finishing drives even after they were gifted to them by Duck turnovers. Manny Wilkins and N’Keal Harry continued their strong connection, with Harry picking up 105 of Wilkins’ 182 yards. Eno Benjamin continued to be the main workhorse, gaining 149 yards on 29 carries. Unfortunately, ASU was outgained by over 100 yards, and three different drives ended in field goals. The Sun Devils never led, but were never truly out of it. The comeback couldn’t be completed though, and the Devils lost their Pac-12 South chances.
ASU will travel to Tucson for the Territorial Cup matchup, with the winner likely heading to the Cheez-It Bowl. Oregon travels up I-5 to Corvallis for Civil War next week. It’s also worth mentioning that all six members of the Pac-12 South now have at least one division title in just eight years of divisional play.