For a fan of the upset, Week 11 in the college football world was not a notable week. No major upsets took place in the top 25, and the Pac-12 was not much of an exception.
Perhaps the most exciting result came from Cal (6-4) at USC (5-5), a matchup between two schools that came in with identical overall records. But for USC to be 5-4 at this point was a major shortcoming of what was expected of the squad, while Cal was fired up at the prospect of bowl eligibility.
The first half in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum strongly signified that this game would end no differently from how the last 14 games between the two teams have ended — with a USC victory.
USC’s true freshman quarterback, J.T. Daniels, and a talented receiving score moved the ball well against a Cal secondary that has been tough all year.
The Trojans were up 14-0 and had moved to the Cal 15-yard line with just under a minute to go in the first half. With a fumble on the ensuing play, a complete USC implosion would begin.
To start the second half, the Trojans saw a poor snap fly into their own end zone, leading to a safety. The Bears took the ball and scored a touchdown on the subsequent drive, making it 14-9.
On the next USC possession, nickelback Traveon Beck expertly picked off Daniels. Cal proceeded to score another touchdown, though it failed to complete the 2-point conversion, to take the lead 15-14. Though they achieved fewer first downs (11-18) and fewer total yards (277-207), the Bears won the turnover battle, which proved critical in this defensive struggle.
USC turnovers and penalties gave the game away, knocking the Trojans out of Pac-12 South contention, and Cal clinched bowl eligibility for the second time in seven seasons.
Clay Helton’s seat is getting hotter.
Meanwhile, Utah (7-3) collected a big 32-25 win over Oregon (6-4) to keep its Pac-12 Championships hopes alive.
The Utes overcame major injuries, including losing both their starting quarterback Tyler Huntley and stud running back Zack Moss, who has run for 1,092 yards this year.
But Utah had little difficulty filling those spots with backup quarterback Jason Shelley, who threw for 262 yards and no interceptions while also leading his team to a go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
Armand Shyne filled in for Moss seamlessly as well, rumbling to 174 yards on 26 carries.
Arizona State (6-4) also remains in contention for the Pac-12 South with a close win over UCLA (2-8). The Sun Devils were led by running back Eno Benjamin, who set a single-season school record in rushing yards during the game. Benjamin picked up 182 of his team’s 281 rushing yards on the day.
Even with stellar play from UCLA’s Wilton Speight, who threw 26-35 for 335 yards, and a pick six, the Bruins offense simply could not catch up with Arizona State’s rushing attack.
No. 8 Washington State (9-1) used rock-solid defense to crush Colorado (5-5), a team that has now lost five straight games as its bowl game continues to slide.
The Cougars continue to linger in the top tier of teams and look like strong candidates for at least a New Year’s Six bowl.