Clardy's Corner: Pac-12 Midterms

WR Devon Cajuste has strengthened the pass attack

Do not adjust your clocks: it's time for midterms! Which teams have sprung forward? Who has fallen back? Troy breaks out his red pen at the midway point of Pac-12 play…



cal (0-5 Pac-12; 1-7 overall)
Spring forward:
Though a true freshman, QB Jared Goff quickly proved that he can put up big numbers in Sonny Dykes' Bear Raid attack. As for other positives? Well…ummm…the views from the stadium still look really pretty on TV.
Fall back: In 20-plus years of following this conference, I've seen some pretty bad defenses. This one is the worst. And it's not even close.
What time is it?: Take this stat to the water cooler with you: in 480 minutes of football this year, the Bears have had the lead for 34:37. Against FBS competition, that number goes down to 7:17.
Grade: D-

Colorado (0-5; 3-4)
Spring forward:
New head coach Mike MacIntyre has sparked some life into the program, beginning with a season-opening win over Colorado State. WR Paul Richardson is probably the Pac-12's best receiver you've never heard of.
Fall back: Pac-12 competition have outscored the Buffs by almost 33 points per game. QB Connor Wood has fallen back to the bench.
What time is it?: Colorado may only go as far as Richardson's ankle takes them. And since that ankle has been acting up lately, it may not be far.
Grade: D+

Utah (1-4; 4-4)
Spring forward:
The Utes were responsible for the first major upset of the season, knocking off a sluggish Stanford squad on October 12. QB Travis Wilson has shown flashes. DE Nate Orchard made mincemeat of the Cardinal offensive line.
Fall back: Six INTs by Wilson doomed them against UCLA. The offense went nowhere and did next to nothing against U$C.
What time is it?: Until the Utes figure out how to win on the road consistently, life in the Pac-12 is going to be difficult. Their next tests come in Eugene and Pullman.
Grade: C-

Washington State (2-3; 4-4)
Spring forward:
Their defense led the way in a win over U$C that was shocking to most. QB Connor Halliday threw 89 passes against Oregon, an NCAA record that may stand until Mike Leach figures out a way to call exactly zero running plays in a game.
Fall back: On offense, the Cougs are completely one-dimensional. Halliday leads the league with 17 INTs, which often puts the defense in holes they can't dig out of.
What time is it?: Wazzu will need an upset to get to bowl eligibility this year. It couldn't possibly happen this week against the Sun Devils…could it?
Grade: C

U$C (2-2; 5-3)
Spring forward:
After dumping Lane Kiffin with the luggage at LAX, the Trojans played with renewed energy and purpose in a win over Arizona. Tre Madden has proven capable of pacing the running game. The defense has been solid, especially in the pass-rushing department.
Fall back: WR Marqise Lee started the year getting some Heisman run, but he got no help from his quarterbacks, made some costly drops of his own, then got hurt. For years, the Trojans could always boast one of the best offensive lines in the league. Not anymore. Aside from that Arizona game, Trojan football has been completely unwatchable.
What time is it?: U$C would feel a lot better about themselves with a win in one or both of their final two home games (Stanford, UCLA).
Grade: C

Arizona (2-2; 5-2 overall)
Spring forward:
There is no better workhorse running back in the Pac-12 than Ka'Deem Carey, who averages 26 carries and 153 yards per game. Veteran CB Shaq Richardson has put up another solid campaign.
Fall back: Ka'Deem can only Carey the Wildcats so far. (See what I did there?) If they have to throw the ball, they're in trouble. B.J. Denker is no Matt Scott, you know.
What time is it?: They're not exactly out of the Pac-12 South race, especially with UCLA and Arizona State still on the schedule. Oh, and the Ducks have to come to Tucson on November 23. That, my friends, is the definition of a trap game for Oregon.
Grade: B-

Washington (2-3; 5-3)
Spring forward:
When they're clicking on all cylinders, the Huskies are hard to stop. QB Keith Price and RB Bishop Sankey are as lethal as weapons can be in the Pac-12. LB Shaq Thompson has been impressive, too.
Fall back: Stanford slipped by them. Oregon outran them. And Arizona State creamed them. No matter what happens the rest of the way, this will be another season in which the Huskies have failed to make The Leap.
What time is it?: Time to book hotel rooms in El Paso.
Grade: B-. The Huskies are a better team than that, but it's hard to grade them any higher.

Oregon State (4-1; 6-2)
Spring forward:
QB Sean Mannion and WR Brandin Crooks form one of the best pitch-and-catch combinations in the country. After struggling early, the Oregon State defense got off the mat, with DE Scott Crichton leading the charge.
Fall back: They didn't just lose to FCS squad Eastern Washington at home, they got shredded. And their wins haven't exactly come against upper-echelon competition. Pass protection was a major problem against Stanford.
What time is it?: After U$C at home, the Beavers head to Tempe, host Washington, then go to Eugene. We'll learn a lot more about OSU in the weeks ahead.
Grade: B

UCLA (2-2; 5-2)
Spring forward:
They can hang with the Pac-12's big boys. QB Brett Hundley is making strides every week, and has proven to be one of the conference's better players. LB Anthony Barr may be the Pac-12's best individual defender.
Fall back: They can't beat the Pac-12's big boys. Hundley was inaccurate against Stanford, and a turnover machine against Oregon. The offensive line has showed its youth at the worst moments possible.
What time is it?: The Bruins have come a long way. But those losses to Oregon and Stanford still indicate they still have a ways to go.
Grade: B+

Arizona State (3-1; 5-2)
Spring forward:
When you average over 45 points per game, you're going to win your share of contests. RB Marion Grice has been a touchdown maker, both as a runner and a receiver. And they put the final nail in Lane Kiffin's coffin.
Fall back: They got lucky against Wisconsin, then sleepwalked through the first half against Stanford. DT Will Sutton hibernated the first few weeks of the season before finally blowing up against Washington. And if Oliver Luck takes over in Austin, their head coach will be blowing up Luck's cell phone.
What time is it?: The Sun Devils' biggest game will be at UCLA on November 23. But their trickiest games may be their next two road trips: to Pullman and Salt Lake City.
Grade: B+

Stanford (5-1; 7-1)
Spring forward:
Save for a slip-up in Salt Lake City, the defense has largely been as advertised, with Trent Murphy leading the way. Tyler Gaffney keeps pounding opponents by racking up yards after contact. Ty Montgomery has given the Card the explosive plays they were missing last year, on offense and on special teams. Devon Cajuste was a nice surprise, too.
Fall back: Kevin Hogan not looked as comfortable in the passing game of late. Injuries are starting to rack up on the defensive line. And despite getting to watch a top-five team almost every week, Stanford fans sure don't seem like they're having a lot of fun.
What time is it?: Time to get ready for Oregon. It all rides on November 7.
Grade: A-

Oregon (5-0; 8-0)
Spring forward:
As usual, just about everything. QB Marcus Mariota is the real deal, folks. For the most part, the defense plays better and gets stronger as the game goes along.
Fall back: I still can't believe they gave up 38 points to Washington State. That's got to mean they're vulnerable, right? Right?
What time is it?: Time to get ready for Stanford. It all rides on November 7.
Grade: A

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RANDOM PAC-12 THOUGHTS

Tough break for Ben Gardner, a fine player and, by all accounts, a great representative of the University...

Quote of the Week: Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, reacting to his players vowing to shut out the Bruins in the second half: "I love it when they talk dirty to me like that."

Aliotti's been quite quotable the past couple of weeks, hasn't he?

Not a Pac-12 thought, but… don't look now, but Duke is 6-2. Yes, that Duke. They beat Virginia Tech over the weekend to grab their first road win over a ranked team since (are you ready for this?) Stanford in 1971…

Not a Pac-12 thought, but… everybody knows that the most powerful man in the Big 12 is not commissioner Bob Bowlsby; it's the athletic director at the University of Texas. If the reports are true, that man could be Oliver Luck. And it would be a slam-dunk hire…

Not a Pac-12 thought, but… the Kansas City Chiefs? 8-0? Seriously?…

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PAC-12 PICKS

Arizona State @ Washington State. (Thursday) A night game in the Palouse. On a Thursday. You better believe I'm on Upset Alert. After all, in a similar situation a couple of years ago, the Cougars shocked the Sun Devils. Still, to be safe, I like Arizona State by 10.

U$C @ Oregon State. (Friday) The Beavers are in a little danger here, because U$C can get after the quarterback. But since this game is in Corvallis, I like Oregon State by eight.

Arizona @ cal. At least the Bears covered last week. I like Arizona by 22.

Colorado @ UCLA I don't really have much of a reason to pick Colorado here. So, I like UCLA by 20.

Last week: 4-0 (straight-up), 1-3 (ATS).
This year: 18-4 (straight-up), 12-10 (ATS).
Last year: 36-9 (straight-up), 25-20 (ATS).

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Troy Clardy is in his 21st year of following the Cardinal as a columnist, broadcaster, and announcer. In its 12th season of Cardinal commentary, Clardy's Corner appears Wednesdays during the college football regular season on TheBootleg.com. You can also check him out online at TroyClardy.com, hear him on Pittsburgh's Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan, or e-mail him at troyc@thebootleg.com.






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