Five things we learned during the five games in Week 5.
1. Changing impressions? Maybe rumors of Oregon State’s demise have been greatly exaggerated ... maybe. Since losing the opener to Eastern Washington, the Beavers have run off four in a row. Granted, the combined record of the four teams they beat is 6-9 (five of those six wins coming from the two Pac-12 teams). Many expected the Beavers to start 7-0, or 6-1 at worst. While no one expected that the “1” would be from an FCS team, Oregon State is still on pace. And with Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks continuing to scorch stat sheets, you have to imagine they’ll stay competitive offensively. On the flip side of Saturday's game in Corvallis, the 2-0 start was nice for the Buffs, but they reverted against the Beavers. Going out of state for the first time -- and playing for the first time in three weeks -- the Buffs managed just 300 yards of total offense in the 44-17 loss.
2. Making impressions: People wanted to see what Washington looked like once the Huskies got into league play. Same for Arizona -- which hadn’t been tested after blowing through a vanilla nonconference schedule. The Huskies weren’t always clean, missing on a few opportunities especially in the first half of their 31-13 win over the Wildcats. But Bishop Sankey earned his 161 yards on a school-record 40 carries. Keith Price was good enough (14-of-25, 165 yards, two touchdowns, one interception). The Huskies are 4-0 for the first time since 2001. For what it’s worth, Arizona’s defense put up a gritty effort, keeping them in the game.
3. Impressive: Oregon, Stanford, Mannion and Arizona State’s offense. In a sloppy mess, the Ducks were still able to score 50-plus points for the fourth consecutive game. That’s a record for a program that doesn’t have many offensive records left to break. Stanford put on a dominating display on both sides of the ball. The offense looks explosive -- much more explosive than it did last season -- and deep threats are opening things up on the ground ... or is it the ground game opening up the deep threats? More importantly, the Cardinal put together a 60-minute game, which is what David Shaw had been preaching all week. Mannion’s monster season continues with six more touchdowns -- an Oregon State record. He now has 21 passing touchdowns on the year -- and that’s his career high for a single season. He leads the country in passing touchdowns, attempts, completions and yards. And the Sun Devils, who rolled up 612 yards of offense, received a dominating performance by quarterback Taylor Kelly, who accounted for more than 400 yards of total offense.
4. Unimpressive: Weather, obviously, had a lot to do with some of the offensive struggles for Arizona, Cal and Colorado. But there were also drops, fumbles, picks and flat-out bad reads and passes. Cal's offense was grounded with just 325 total yards and five turnovers. USC’s defense also falls into the unimpressive category. Give the credit where it’s due for ASU. Kelly was fantastic with some of his back-shoulder throws and Marion Grice just keeps finding the end zone. That said, the Trojans, who had been getting it done on defense, looked tired and beaten in the fourth quarter. And now they are 0-2 in conference play for the first time since 2001.
5. Northern impressions: With the Oregon State and Washington victories, the Pac-12 North moves to 5-0 against the South. In previous weeks, Oregon State beat Utah in overtime, Washington State beat USC and Stanford beat ASU. The average score of those five games is 36-23. Next week brings us only one North-South matchup when Oregon makes a trip to Colorado. Arizona, Oregon State and USC are on byes and UCLA and Utah play the only South matchup. Stanford hosts Washington, WSU is at Cal, and ASU takes on Notre Dame.