“And then there were none.” Arizona’s reign as the sole unbeaten in the Pac-12 conference lasted just one week, as USC knocked them off their perch in a tight encounter, and out of the Top Ten too. In a reverse of last season’s game, Oregon showed they were still a force by blowing away UCLA, then sat comfortably and watched as the Bruins tried in vain to come back. In the other two games, Stanford throttled Washington State a week after they were breaking records, and Washington did a similar number on Cal.
Game of the Week
USC Trojans @ Arizona Wildcats
With Arizona coming in high off a win over Oregon, and the Trojans suffering a heartbreaking last-second defeat at the hands of Arizona State, how each responded would be a key factor in the game. USC had given up 510 yards passing in their loss, and were facing exciting freshman Anu Solomon. The Trojans gave up 395 yards to Arizona, but this time didn’t give up the big plays (well, maybe one) that hurt them last week, as Solomon needed to complete 43-of -72 attempts to attain his yardage.
With the Wildcats not expecting to make much headway on the ground against USC’s tough defense with Nick Wilson out, they came out passing on the opening drive, chipping away with short passes, before coming up empty when kick Casey Skowron missed from 48-yards out. USC went nowhere, and a 43-yard punt return by DaVonte’ Neal put Arizona in good field position, but could only manufacture a field goal.
On the ensuing drive, Javorius Allen – as would become the case for the game – did most of the work, before scoring untouched from 34 yards. Arizona hit back with another nice drive, mostly passes by Solomon, but another redzone field goal was the result. A bevy of punts followed, but Allen gave the Trojans a 14-6 lead when he scored from 48 yards this time, again untouched.
After trading punts, Terris Jones-Grigsby coughed up the ball at the USC nine yard-line after getting flattened by Leonard Williams. The Wildcats drove down the field quickly with the first half running out of time, but Skowron had a 34-yard attempt blocked by Claude Pelon, who had sacked Solomon a play previously, preserving the score at 14-6.
Trojans’ quarterback Cody Kessler came out firing in the third quarter, leading the Trojans down the field that ended in his TD pass to Nelson Agholor. The Wildcats were forced to punt again, and things were looking bleak, but Justin Davis handed the ball back to them in great field position. This time Arizona wasted little time, running on three consecutive plays, and punched it in by Jared Baker from the six.
With the help of a big facemask penalty at the beginning of the drive, the Trojans marched right back down the field, with Allen scoring his third touchdown of the day, barreling in from a yard out. The defense stepped up, and after a couple of punts, Arizona faced a fourth-and-three at the Trojan 41. Solomon hit a wide-open Baker who had slipped up the sideline and ran untouched for six. The PAT brought the Wildcats within eight.
Both teams punted again, but Arizona got a last shot with 3:27 left in the game. Hitting passes to Cayleb Jones and Trey Griffey, Solomon moved the Wildcats down the field, with Baker dragging a tackler in from the one. The two-point run went nowhere, and Arizona were forced to try an onside kick, which they recovered. A quick pass moved the Wildcats into scoring range, but consecutive incompletions forced Skowron to take the field again. Skowron, who made just 2-of-5 field goals, sliced the ball right, ending their winning streak and allowing the Trojan faithful to breathe an immense sigh of relief.
Offensive Player of the Week
Javorius Allen, USC Trojans
A couple of good performances dotted throughout conference play, but Allen probably stands out more for being the primary impetus of the Trojan attack. Kessler put together a couple of nice drives, but he misfired often too. Allen, on the other hand, ran roughshod through the Arizona defense, rushing for 205 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries, including scoring runs of 34 and 48 yards. The Wildcats certainly didn’t help with some shoddy tackling, attempting to strip the ball instead of securing tackles, and Buck made them pay. He also caught four passes for 28 yards.
Defensive Player of the Week
Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington Huskies
When you’re facing a productive passing attack, usually the best way to slow them down is to try and get to the quarterback. The Huskies took that approach against Cal, and it worked like a charm as Washington shut them down 31-7. Kikaha was a major part of the pass rush, and had a monster game. The senior linebacker came up with nine tackles, four and a half of them for loss, with three of those being sacks. Two of his sacks came on third-down to kill drives, and he also forced a fumble.
Special Teams Player of the Week
Cole Leininger, California Golden Bears
The Cal defense may have struggled to shut down the Husky attack, but it could have been worse if not for the efforts of Leininger, who regularly pinned Washington deep. Leininger punted six times, averaging 44.7 yards per attempt and dropping three inside the 20. He also booted a touchback, but we can let that one slide. The Huskies returned three of his punts, but for just nine yards.
Team of the Week
Want to know the best way to recover from a disappointing loss? How about blowing out one of the other top teams in the conference? The Ducks came to Pasadena and blew the Bruins out of the water, rolling to a 42-10 lead before UCLA made the scoreline a little more respectable over the last ten minutes of the game.
Marcus Mariota was the key to the Ducks’ offense as usual, throwing for 210 yards, two touchdowns, and also rushed for 75 yards and two more scores on seven carries. Running back Royce Freeman chipped in with 121 yards and another two TDs on 18 carries.
The defense did a good job for three quarters, giving up some yards but ultimately blunting the Bruin offense before they could get into scoring range. The final quarter scoring burst was benefitted by an onside kick recovered by UCLA, but the final result was never in doubt.
*Section Photo credit to Jonathan Ferrey, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Mark J. Rebilas, USA Today Sports