Saturday night, Arizona turned a boring blowout by USC into a near-miss comeback. That was one of five Pac-12 matchups and seven overall games involving league teams during Week 5.
Here’s what went down across the conference in Week 5.
Colorado 38, UCLA 16
After a rough first half, Colorado (4-0, 1-0) asserted its dominance in the second half, making its case as a Pac-12 South contender and making UCLA (0-4, 0-1) look even worse.
Steven Montez has proven himself as a capable leader of this Buffs squad this season. That trend continued on Friday night, as Montez was as accurate as ever, completing an impressive 22 of 26 passes for 237 yards. His favorite target Laviska Shenault is quickly becoming one of the top young receivers in the country, racking up 126 yards and a touchdown. Montez also scored two rushing TDs, showing his surprising mobility for such an accurate quarterback.
For UCLA, the story is still trying to develop young talent. Dorian Thompson-Robinson showed signs of a bright future, but still looks like a freshman surrounded by less-talented players. DTR went 17 of 35 for 138 yards and a TD. Thanks to a very slow start by Colorado, the Bruins actually led for most of the first half and had a brief 16-14 lead in the third. Pretty soon after, the UCLA offense completely shut down, and Montez and Shenault starting lighting up the Bruins, with the help of running back Travon McMillian.
Colorado has moved into the Associated Press poll at No. 21 and continues to look like it will play a factor in the Pac-12 race this year. UCLA still looks like it’s building towards a breakout in the next two years under Chip Kelly.
Washington State 28, Utah 24
In the most thrilling game of the day, WSU barely escaped Utah.
As has been the case all year, the story of the game for the Cougars (4-1, 1-1) was quarterback Gardner Minshew. Minshew was electric, going 31 of 56 for 445 yards and three scores. The most notable of those touchdowns was the game-winner, a strike to Easop Winston, who made two guys miss and then ran the rest of the way for an 89-yard TD.
Undoubtedly the best stat of the game was the fact that Minshew accounted for 100 percent of Wazzu’s yardage. The Cougars rushed for exactly zero yards.
Utah, who entered the season a somewhat trendy Pac-12 South pick, now sits at 0-2 in conference play. Its offense worked much differently than Wazzu’s, with 204 total rushing yards and 118 through the air from quarterback Tyler Huntley. The teams essentially played to a draw, with both offenses going off in the first half and slowing down in the second. The Utes (3-2) still have serious problems with their offensive efficiency, and with a trip to Stanford looming they need to fix it now.
Notre Dame 38, Stanford 17
After defeating two of its biggest rivals for the Pac-12 crown in USC and Oregon, Stanford finally broke down on the road in South Bend.
The Cardinal (4-1) kept pace with the Irish for most of the first half, with Bryce Love finally looking like himself on a 39-yard touchdown scamper in the first quarter. JJ Arcega-Whiteside also kept the huge plays coming, with an amazing TD catch on a 50-50 ball in the second quarter. Nevertheless, Notre Dame (5-0) was wearing down Stanford by the third quarter, and once the fourth quarter hit, the game was in control, thanks to two TDs in 14 seconds by ND.
Washington 35, BYU 7
The weekend’s other ranked out-of-conference matchup went much better for the Pac-12, as Washington easily dispatched BYU.
This game was an utter domination on the part of the Huskies, and most of that is because of Jake Browning. Browning was a stellar 23 of 25 on passes, missing the NCAA record for completion percentage by just one dropped pass. Nevertheless, Browning showed his worth on Saturday, leading the team to an easy victory.
BYU (3-2) was outgained 464-194, and only scored in the waning seconds against Washington’s backups.
Overall, Washington (4-1) still looks alive for a playoff bid if it can run the table in a loaded Pac-12 North. BYU is now 1-2 against the Pac-12, with a rivalry game against Utah left on the docket.
Arizona State 52, Oregon State 24
It was a pretty clean game in Tempe for Herm Edwards, as ASU (3-2, 1-1) went back above .500 overall and got its first Pac-12 win on the season.
The big star of the game, without question, was Sun Devils running back Eno Benjamin. Benjamin had 30 carries and picked up an astounding 302 yards with three scores. With Manny Wilkins and the ASU passing game still looking iffy, Benjamin was huge. When Wilkins did manage to get the passing game going, N’Keal Harry was his favorite target, catching five passes for 84 yards and a TD.
Oregon State (1-4, 0-2) was actually able to keep this one close throughout the first half thanks to a heroic effort from freshman phenom Jermar Jefferson. Jefferson almost matched Benjamin’s production, with 254 yards and two scores on 31 carries. Nonetheless, Arizona State simply had too much firing for the Beavers to keep up, and a dominant fourth quarter put the game to rest.
The Devils will need another Herculean performance from Benjamin next week, with a visit to Boulder and a surprising Colorado squad.
Oregon 42, California 24
After one of the most brutal losses in recent memory, Oregon (4-1, 1-1) got back on track with a key road win in Berkeley.
Justin Herbert certainly couldn’t be blamed for last week’s debacle against Stanford, with a stellar passing performance being marred by some key late mistakes that mostly weren’t his fault. He picked up where he left off this week, throwing 16 completions on 22 attempts and 225 yards, plus two touchdowns. The Oregon running game kept up the great work as well, with both Travis Dye and CJ Verdell reaching 100 yards.
Cal (3-1, 0-1) still hadn’t completely committed to quarterback Chase Garbers coming into this game, and that was evident early, with Garbers being benched for sophomore Brandon McIlwain. Unfortunately for the Bears, McIlwain was disappointing, going 11 of 21 with just 128 yards, one TD and two intetrceptions. McIlwain also fumbled the ball in the second quarter, leading to a scoop n’ score. After the fumble TD, the game was 27-10 and basically over.
Despite the tough loss, Cal put up a fight for a while, and if it can find a QB, Justin Willcox’s rebuild may be over sooner rather than later.