A few things we learned about the Pac-12 this week:
Stanford will only be as good as its offense: No arguments here -- Stanford's defense is nasty; one of the best in the country. But the inconsistencies on the offensive side of the ball continued despite the Cardinal's 34-17 win over Washington State. After missing two more red zone opportunities Friday night (5-of-7), the Cardinal are scoring on just 68 percent (19-of-28) of all red zone appearances and have only scored touchdowns 46 percent of the time. The field goal game continues to be an adventure as well. But that defense will keep the Cardinal in games. After throwing for an FBS record 734 yards the previous week on 49-of-70 passing, Connor Halliday needed 69 attempts to reach 292 yards.
The Cougars probably aren't bowling: Washington State hasn't been officially eliminated, but at 2-5, it would have to win four of its final five games to reach bowl eligibility. Of the Cougars' remaining five opponents, four are either ranked or have been ranked, and Oregon State is 4-1. WSU has had plenty of bummer moments this year. But ask yourself this: Is the 2014 Washington State team better than the 2013 group? The Pac-12 blog thinks so. (At least this sliver of the blog does.) Of course, that brings up all sorts of metaphysical conundrums of Coug-on-Coug Couging. Still, this team is going to spoil someone's season.
Jake Fisher for Heisman? Too much? It's pretty obvious what happens to the Ducks when at least one of their tackles is healthy. The result was a 42-30 thumping of UCLA in Pasadena that was much more of a blowout than the score would indicate. His presence made an impact to the tune of zero sacks allowed and the Ducks' first 100-yard rusher of the season, with Royce Freeman going for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Since 2007 (Chip Kelly's first year as OC), the Ducks are 57-0 in games in which they run for at least 240 yards. Marcus Mariota also looked a lot more Mariota-esque, throwing for two scores and running for two. It's a very, very solid bounce-back for the Ducks to be able to win on the road against a ranked team.
UCLA couldn't match the hype: The Ducks did exactly what they needed to do this week -- which is play like the team people thought they were. The Bruins didn't do that (or maybe they did?). Penalties (seven for 81) and turnovers (a fumble and an interception) doomed the Bruins. The Ducks were able to turn both turnovers into points -- and that ended up being the difference. Here's a troubling stat: Opposing teams have converted all six of Brett Hundley's turnovers into points this season -- five touchdowns and one field goal. Jim Mora has done some wonderful things reviving the Bruins, but his teams are 0-5 against Stanford and Oregon. The road to the conference title still goes through them.
Shaq Thompson is the first-half defensive MVP: He added his fourth defensive touchdown of the season when he returned Jared Goff's fumble 100 yards for the first points of the game. Thompson and the rest of the Washington front seven simply dominated California up front, limiting the league's No. 1 scoring offense (50 PPG) to just a touchdown in their 31-7 win. They sacked Goff three times and forced a trio of Cal turnovers. Oh yeah, and John Ross is really, really fun to watch, too.
Playing at home stinks: Pac-12 home teams are now just 4-14 in conference games. Not much more to say about that one.
Cal comes back to earth: Sonny Dykes called his team's performance "the worst offensive performance I've been a part of in a long time." After the fumble, the Golden Bears never looked like they got into a comfortable rhythm. Part of that is the aforementioned Washington front seven. The Bears had scored 119 points in the previous two weeks, but looked out of sorts. Dykes said his players didn't respond well to adversity, another part of the growing process.
Javorius Allen should never not be running the football: Saturday was another monster performance from the back who was grossly underused by the previous administration. The Pac-12's rushing leader became the first USC back in four years to break the 200-yard mark when he carried 26 times for 205 yards and three touchdowns in the Trojans' 28-26 win over Arizona. In a league dominated by quarterbacks, he's making a strong argument for offensive MVP halfway through the season.
No perfection: There will not be an undefeated team in the Pac-12 this season. Arizona was the only one left. The Wildcats had been playing with second-half fire all year, and this time they finally got burned. The stage was set for yet another thrilling fourth-quarter finish, right up until Casey Skowron missed a game-winning 36-yard field goal. Of course, that came after Arizona scored late, missed a two-point conversion (twice) and recovered an onside kick. Because, ya know, it's the Pac-12.