What did we learn from Week 5 of Pac-12 action?
Hope in Pullman: Washington State's visit to Colorado was a must-win. And guess what? The Cougars not only produced that victory, they did so by overcoming a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit on the road. And with their backup quarterback. There have been strong suggestions that the talent is better in Pullman this season. But this is the first suggestion that this team might be mentally tough. That matters almost as much as talent.
There are reasons for cautious optimism over the Washington defense: Sure, the Huskies again gave up big passing numbers -- Utah threw for 305 yards. But the Huskies also held a team that wants to run to just 17 yards rushing. While the Utes' five turnovers speak of sloppy football, perhaps the Huskies deserve some credit for inspiring that sloppy play? And, really, the bottom line is Utah only scored 14 points, seven of which came in mop-up time during the game's waning moments.
This Pac-12 isn't going to be that easy for the new guys: Colorado and Utah are now a combined 0-3 in conference play, and that doesn't include the Buffaloes' loss to California, which was a pre-scheduled nonconference game that doesn't count in the standings. While Colorado was expected to be down, the Utes' 0-2 start is more of a surprise. They face Arizona State on Saturday -- potentially without quarterback Jordan Wynn -- which makes 0-3 a strong possibility. And Colorado is at Stanford.
Arizona State can win ugly: Winning ugly is better than losing pretty. Recall that Arizona State last year had a handful of impressive losses. So even though Oregon State is struggling, and it's not good for your QB to turn the ball over four times, what is good is winning. And, by the way, winning by 15 points. And being 4-1 and ranked.
Stanford wears you down: The Cardinal have scored 56 fourth-quarter points in four games. It might seem sometimes like Stanford is struggling. It seemed, for example, like UCLA was in the game Saturday at various times. But a 45-19 final really isn't that close, is it? What the Cardinal do in the first and third quarter sometimes isn't that sexy. But it leaves its opponent ripe over the final frame to be smushed and eaten up.