Pac-12 determined to eat itself alive after wild week nine

Amanda Ramirez/Staff

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Five out of six Pac-12 underdogs this weekend recorded an upset against their respective opponents.

USC was favored by a field goal to defeat Arizona State, which sits at the bottom of the Pac-12 South, but fell flat at home, 38-35.

Vegas predicted that No. 24 Stanford, with its home-field advantage, would edge out Washington State by an identical margin heading into Saturday’s game. No. 14 Washington State, led by Heisman dark horse Gardner Minshew, ultimately came back from an 11-point halftime deficit. The Cougars’ 41-38 victory means that they hold their position as the only team in the FBS that’s perfect against the spread.

On Saturday night, No. 19 Oregon was slated to take down Arizona on the road by 9.5 points. The Ducks’ typically high-flying offense came out totally flat with four of their first seven drives resulting in three-and-outs and two more resulting in turnovers.

Arizona put up 44 points behind running back J.J. Taylor’s 212 rushing yards. The Wildcats’ defense held the Ducks to 3 of 16 on third down, and it was clear that Oregon had not recovered from its back-breaking loss under the big lights in Pullman last week.

Cal (11.5-point underdogs) ground down No. 15 Washington in Berkeley, 12-10. The Bears showed what they could do in the absence of offensive turnovers that have been afflicting them at key points throughout the season.

Jake Browning and the Huskies offense recorded a dreadful performance against a focused Cal defense. Washington only surrendered 6 points to Cal’s equally ineffective offense, but the Huskies could not overcome two big turnovers, including a pick six by defensive captain Evan Weaver.

While Cal’s upset may have big ramifications for the rest of its season, the biggest upset of the weekend in the Pac-12 belongs to Oregon State.

Heading into the weekend, the Beavers occupied the Pac-12 North’s lowest position, and it wasn’t even close. Oregon State had not beaten an FBS team since 2016 and had not won on the road in 22 games. Thus, the Beavers were 24-point underdogs for their trip to Colorado.

When the Buffaloes’ Travon McMillian took it to the house on the opening play of the second half, Colorado relaxed with a cool 31-3 lead. Yet Oregon State did not throw in the towel. The Beavers responded with a 30-3 run to finish regulation and finally claimed victory, 41-34, in overtime.

Week in and week out the “Conference of Champions” proves that nothing is out of the realm of possibility — no wins are guaranteed and no leaders are meant to stay. The Cougars are now the fourth team to lead the Pac-12 North at some point this season, and the Pac-12 South has been a roller coaster as well with the rise and demise of Colorado, USC’s underperformance and Utah’s surprise ascension.

At its current rate, the Pac-12 is going to destroy any chance it has to make the College Football Playoff, but for now, Washington State is its only hope.

Armen Aprahamian writes for Bear Bytes, the Daily Californian’s sports blog. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @armnhammer_.