Search for an in-depth assessment within the Weekend Wrap, which shall be revealed Monday morning.
For now, 5 fast classes …
1. Washington is the staff to beat.
Overlook USC’s moments of brilliance and Washington State’s undefeated begin; overlook the hopes and goals of Oregon and Utah and Cal and anybody else.
The Huskies are the workforce to beat. They have been the group to beat when the season began and re-affirmed that standing, in unmistakable trend, Saturday in a 37-10 victory at Colorado.
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The running game, erratic against the early-season cupcakes, fueled the win as Myles Gaskin rushed for 202 yards.
The defense allowed a 75-yard scoring drive on CU’s first possession, then shut down the Buffs.
The Huskies should go unchallenged through October and will be undefeated when the stretch run arrives (Oregon, Stanford, Utah and Washington State).
2. UCLA’s defense is unimaginably bad.
Yes, the Bruins lost several high-level players to the NFL, but that attrition does not explain the turnstile the unit has become under Jim Mora and Tom Bradley:
They’re yielding 50 points per game to teams not named Hawaii.
The latest meltdown came Saturday night, when a Stanford offense that had been struggling — and was relying on a rookie quarterback — rolled for 58 points and 553 yards.
All that talent within a 90-minute drive of campus, and UCLA is ranked 100-something in every defensive category that matters.
3. Arizona State has some fight left.
With so much negativity swirling — thanks, in part, to comments by the university president and the athletic director — the Sun Devils appeared to be inching toward freefall.
They were thoroughly outplayed at home by San Diego State, then lost at Texas Tech. But #ForksUp stood up against Oregon with a 37-35 victory.
Key stat: 142 rushing yards for the Devils.
It might not prove to be the launch point for sustained success. But the performance at least quiets the critics and nudges the distractions aside until the next loss … which will come next weekend at Stanford.
4. The conference has to target targeting in the offseason.
It’s a difficult, complicated issue, but the current situation is unsustainable.
The onus is entirely on the defense, and it should be. But there must be a means of accounting for nuance — both the movement of the offensive player and the intent of the defensive player.
Even then, it wouldn’t be called right every time, but the punishment would fit the crime more frequently.
Also, the rule must be applied consistently. And that must come from the top — from the conference office, which has had its own issues.
5. Cal just might be the second-best team in the North by November.
Given the product in Berkeley in recent years, that concept is difficult to process and obviously far from a given.
But the Bears are playing well at the line of scrimmage (both sides), and that gives them a chance. From what I’ve seen, Cal has the second-best defense in the division, a nice mix of speed and playmakers on each level.
At this point, the race for second is wide open — just as it is in the South — and each contender has enough flaws to create a window of opportunity for the Bears.
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