Taking stock of the second week of games in the Pac-12.
Team(s) of the week: We refuse to make a distinction between Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona, teams with losing records in 2011 -- two with new head coaches as a result -- that beat ranked teams on Saturday. So this is a tip of the cap to the troika. And, yes, Kevin and I believe it worthy to note that we both wrote about the Beavers and Bruins pulling upsets, but we were lame in our inability to pull the trigger on upset predictions.
Best game: UCLA's win over Nebraska had the most impressive moments on both sides of the ball, as well as a defining play: Maligned defensive end Datone Jones' thunderous sack of Taylor Martinez for a safety that gave the Bruins a 29-27 lead, one they would never relinquish. There's plenty of new to the Bruins -- coach Jim Mora, quarterback Brett Hundley, etc. -- but UCLA fans should be happy that older guys -- Jones, running back Johnathan Franklin, etc. -- who have suffered through a period of extended mediocrity are making a huge impact with improved play.
Biggest play: Arizona cornerback Jonathan McKnight, who missed the 2011 season with a knee injury, returned an interception 48 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to give the Wildcats a two-touchdown advantage over Oklahoma State. Coach Rich Rodriguez called it the biggest play of the game, and it is the moment when Arizona Stadium embraced the idea of an impending upset of the 18th-ranked Cowboys.
Offensive standout: It might be time to at least start considering a Heisman Trophy campaign for UCLA's Franklin, who presently leads the nation in rushing by a wide margin with 215.5 yards per game and a stout average of 10.5 yards per rush. Yeah, 10.5. After rushing 214 yards last week against Rice -- "It's just Rice!" everyone said -- he followed up with a career high 217 rushing yards against Nebraska. He also caught three balls for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Defensive standout: Stanford safety Ed Reynolds grabbed two interceptions, returning one 71 yards for a touchdown, in the Cardinal's dominant win over Duke. He's tied for the national lead with three picks and has 144 return yards.
Special teams standout: Washington State kicker Andrew Furney booted a 60-yard field goal in the Cougars' win over Eastern Washington, second longest in school history.
Smiley face: Going 6-1 versus other automatic-qualifier conferences -- Washington was the lone loser at No. 3 LSU -- provides a major boost to the conference, particularly the three wins over ranked teams. Will any other conference be able to say it beat three ranked teams from other AQ conferences this regular season? We'll see -- the SEC has a chance.
Frowny face: The newest members of the Pac-12, Colorado and Utah, turned in the worst performances of the weekend. At least Washington was playing on the road against a national power. The Buffaloes lost at home to an FCS team, and the Utes went down to a Utah State program that it had owned before it jumped from the Mountain West to the Pac-12.
Thought of the week: Washington plays host to USC on Oct. 13. Know what that means? It means that we'll hear lots of "transitive property of college football." If the Trojans don't thoroughly dominate the Huskies, as LSU did in a 41-3 win, then we'll hear lots of crowing about how USC is overrated. What that means, of course, is Pac-12 fans should point out that every SEC team that Arkansas beats this year is worse than Louisiana-Monroe.
Questions for the week: A conference wants two things: national title contenders and depth. The Pac-12 had the first to begin the season. No one doubts USC or Oregon. Now there are five ranked Pac-12 teams and two others getting votes. That's a show of respect for what transpired this past weekend. The key now is maintaining. Can the Pac-12 finish the regular season with five ranked teams and one playing for the national title? That would be the ideal scenario.