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Pac-12 football roundup: USC, Washington reach bowl eligibility

A thrilling week out east still produced fun action in the Pac-12, despite no ranked conference teams playing

NCAA Football: Southern California at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

On the national stage, November 9, 2019 might go down in the history books as one of the greatest Saturdays in recent memory. Two incredible and nail-biting matchups of undefeated teams combined with tons of silly B-stories dotted throughout the day made for one of the most entertaining days I can remember.

Of course, for college football fans in Tucson, Saturday might have been a bit sleepy. Arizona was on a desperately needed bye, and the two best teams in the west, Oregon and Utah, were also resting.

Despite that fact, the four Pac-12 games that did take place all finished within two possessions, and one game in Tempe was one of the more underrated games of the weekend. Here’s the roundup of those four Pac-12 games in Week 11.

Washington Huskies 19, Oregon State Beavers 7

In an ugly, ugly game that was never really in doubt despite the close score, Washington got its sixth win and survived an always dangerous Friday trip to Corvallis.

Washington’s offense only put up 19 points, and didn’t look fantastic at any point in the game against a weak OSU defense. You can’t blame Salvon Ahmed though. The UW running back was almost the entire offense for the Huskies, rushing 25 times for 174 yards and two scores, including the game-clinching 60-yarder in the fourth quarter. He had almost no help from an uncharacteristically inaccurate Jacob Eason. Eason went just 16-for-32 for 175 yards, and threw two picks, with one of those being returned for OSU’s only points.

Oregon State just put up 56 points on Arizona on the road. While Washington’s defense is in a different galaxy than Arizona’s, nobody could have expected an offensive shutout. The Beavers managed just 119 total yards. Senior quarterback Jake Luton went 19-for-28 for 88 yards and a pick, and neither Jermar Jefferson nor Artavis Pierce could add more than 40 yards on the ground. Their stiff redzone defense and pick-six by Jaydon Grant kept the Beavers in the game, but this was a thorough domination by the Huskies.

Washington jumps to 6-4 (3-4) heading into a bye week. They will then head to Boulder to face Colorado. Oregon State remains in second place in the North but falls to 4-5 (3-3), and will need two upset wins to get to a bowl. They host Arizona State next Saturday.

Colorado Buffaloes 16, Stanford Cardinal 13

An already reeling season for the banged up Cardinal got a lot worse on Saturday, as a rockfight of a game ended with a CU upset.

Colorado’s offense was full of stars entering the season, and their performance this year has definitely been a disappointment. They didn’t look great against Stanford either, but they did just enough. Steven Montez only managed 186 yards on 20-for-30 passing, and threw an interception. Eight of those passes went to Laviska Shenault Jr., who went for 91 yards. Of course, Montez also got Colorado their only touchdown, running the ball in in the first quarter. Along with a 3-for-3 kicking performance from Evan Price, including the game-winner as the clock ran out, CU managed to do just enough to win.

Stanford played almost the exact same game as Colorado on offense, but managed just three too few points. K.J. Costello went 18-for-29 for 245 yards, an interception, and a 79-yard touchdown that let Stanford stay in the game. Outside of that one long throw to Simi Fehoko, no Cardinal player could get yardage, with Cameron Scarlett going for 63 yards and nobody else contributing much more. Allowing two long drives to Colorado at the end of the game turned out to be the nail in the coffin, and Stanford left the Centennial State with a frustrating loss.

Colorado is now at 4-6 (2-5) before a bye week, after which it will host Washington. Stanford sits at 4-5 (3-4) with a road trip to Pullman coming up next weekend.

USC Trojans 31, Arizona State Sun Devils 26

It’s a shame that one of the greatest games of the decade was on at the same time as USC-ASU, as the two teams provided plenty of entertainment in a fun, close matchup.

It looked like this game was going to turn into a boatrace. USC’s Kedon Slovis had literally one of the greatest quarters in college football history in the opening period, throwing for 297 yards and four scores in the first 15 minutes alone. He finished the game 29-for-39 for 432 yards, those four touchdowns, and a pick. He briefly went down with an injury, but it didn’t appear serious. Either way, the Scottsdale native tore up the Devils in Tempe, and showed the potential he has, especially if USC keeps with the air raid offense.

After going down 28-7, Arizona State’s defense slowed down the Trojans in the final three frames, and managed to claw their way back into the game. Jayden Daniels was ruled out with a knee injury, and while backup Joey Yellen started a bit slow, he ended up putting up a solid performance. Yellen finished 28-for-44 for 292 yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Devils, he also threw two picks, with one ending the game in the fourth quarter. It doesn’t help that Eno Benjamin was throughly bottled up for just 2.6 yards per carry. Considering the awful start and lack of running game, ASU should be happy they almost stole the game from SC.

USC has now hit 6-4 (5-2) and will head to Berkeley next weekend to face California. ASU, losers of three straight, are now 5-4 (2-4) and will play at Oregon State on Saturday.

California Golden Bears 33, Washington State Cougars 20

In a battle of two teams with one great unit and one terrible unit, great defense and a surprising offense won out, as Cal got their first win in a month by beating Washington State.

Devon Modster had been one of the most futile quarterbacks in the Power 5 since coming in for the injured Chase Garbers. Modster finally looked competent, and honestly looked pretty good against a struggling Coug defense. He finished 16-for-24 for 230 yards and three scores, and not turning the ball over once. Combined with some help on the ground from Christopher Brown Jr., the Cal offense looked good for the first time in a long time, going for 426 yards and getting those 33 points.

I would like to award Anthony Gordon this year’s Patrick Mahomes Award for best player stranded on a mediocre team. Any quarterback will look good in the air raid, but Gordon’s numbers are still great and Washington State just can’t get it going on defense.

Gordon went 45-for-58 for 406 yards, but threw for only two touchdowns, ultimately keeping Wazzu short of their goals. One of those touchdowns also came at the very end of the game, and the score should really be treated as 33-14. Wazzu’s poor defense combined with wasted drives after Gordon racked up yards to get them in Cal territory cost them the game. It didn’t help that the Cougars got only 16 rushing yards.

Washington State falls to 4-5 (1-5) before hosting Stanford next Saturday. Meanwhile, Cal gets above .500 again, reaching 5-4 (2-4). They host USC next.