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What we learned in the Pac-12: Week 11

Some things we learned this week in the Pac-12:

Sun Devils keep playoff hopes alive: It was a strange road to get to a 55-31 win against No. 10 Notre Dame, but ultimately No. 9 Arizona State sent a strong message that it should be taken seriously as far as the College Football Playoff is concerned. Last week, the selection committee vaulted the Sun Devils over Notre Dame based on the Sun Devils’ more convincing win against Stanford, a common opponent. That rationale makes Saturday’s win significant because of the Fighting Irish’s close loss to No. 2 Florida State. With games at Oregon State and home against Washington State the next two weeks, the Sun Devils will expect to be 10-1 headed into the Territorial Cup against Arizona on Nov. 28.

No. 4 Oregon living a charmed existence: The Ducks ran away with a 51-27 win against No. 17 Utah, but if not for the bizarre 14-point swing that came after Kaelin Clay celebrated too early, who knows what would have happened? Of course, that doesn’t matter. The Ducks were clearly the better team and that was the type of break teams with national-title aspirations tend to get. It'll get remembered as a Utah miscue, but Oregon also deserves credit for staying alert.

Turnaround continues for No. 18 UCLA: The Bruins won their fourth consecutive win-or-forget-the-Pac-12-title game with a sound 44-30 win at Washington and now have a bye week to prepare for USC on Nov. 22. It was probably the Bruins’ best performance since their 62-27 win at Arizona State and QB Brett Hundley, who threw for 302 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two more, had an efficient night. The win could propel the Bruins -- who finish the regular season 6-0 on the road -- into the top 15 of the selection committee’s rankings, which is a decent takeaway considering they fell from the AP Top 25 after a 4-2 start.

Arizona offense bounces back: A week after sputtering to just seven points in a loss to UCLA, No. 19 Arizona got back on track with a 38-20 win against Colorado. It took a while to separate -- as has been the case for a few teams against Colorado -- but QB Anu Solomon finished with four touchdown passes, no interceptions and ran for 105 yards. It was an expected result headed into games against No. 17 Utah and No. 9 Arizona State to finish the regular season.

Some Pac-12 South clarity: Strike Utah from the list of teams in contention to win the Pac-12 South. The Utes' third loss in conference play removes them from a group that still includes Arizona State (5-1), UCLA (5-2), USC (5-2) and Arizona (4-2).

Falk impresses in debut: Luke Falk threw for more yards (471) and more touchdown passes (five) than any quarterback making his first career start in Washington State history, getting the Cougars a 39-32 victory over Oregon State. That’s in large part in due to Mike Leach’s offense, but Falk, a former walkon, looked like he’s been running the Air Raid for years. Without a bowl game in the picture, the redshirt freshman gives WSU fans something to look forward to the last two games as they prep for life without Connor Halliday.

Shaq Thompson is Washington’s leading rusher: Not just on Saturday ... for the season. Thompson ran for 100 yards on 16 carries against UCLA. Now with 456 yards rushing on 61 carries, the “linebacker” is now in front of Lavon Coleman (106 carries, 438 yards) as the Huskies’ leading rusher. Thompson is a phenomenal talent -- one of the best in college football -- but when your leading rusher is a defensive player by trade, that’s never going to be a good sign for an offense, especially one without much of a passing game.

Foundation is there in Boulder: This isn’t exactly a new revelation, but even though Colorado is winless in the Pac-12 (0-7) you can tell that second-year coach Mike MacIntyre has built a solid foundation for the program to grow from. No one wants to be the best 2-8 team in the country, but Colorado is that team. Every week, the Buffaloes seem to start competitive, only to fall off as the game goes on. Chalk that up to inexperience. They have a long way to go, but the progress is apparent -- even if it hasn’t resulted in wins.

Oregon State’s bowl hopes in trouble: It wasn’t technically a must-win game, but it might as well have been. The Beavers’ home loss to Washington State leaves three games to find two more wins to become bowl eligible. And with games against No. 9 Arizona State, Washington and No. 4 Oregon remaining, that’s very unlikely. QB Sean Mannion just doesn’t have the talent around him to make the Beavers much of a threat.