While everyone knew the first half of the Sun Devils' schedule would be difficult, this weekend was further proof that Arizona State really doesn't have any breaks on the back side of the docket.
Even though three of the five teams the Sun Devils have left on the schedule lost and another team was on bye, each opponent flexed its muscle in a different way.
Let's take a look at how each team fared in week 10 of Pac-12 play.
Oct. 31 Washington State: Like the Sun Devils, the Cougars will come into Thursday night's Halloween matchup well rested after having a bye this week. It's a good thing Mike Leach's squad had time off, because quarterback Connor Halliday is probably still icing his arm after throwing 89 passes in a 62-38 loss at Oregon last week that wasn't as close as the score indicated.
Nov. 9 Utah: Utah's victory over Stanford a few weeks ago is proving to be one of the most puzzling results of the college football season. On Saturday, the Utah offense looked completely out of sync in a 19-3 loss to the USC Trojans at the Coliseum.
The Utes amassed just 13 first downs and turned the ball over four times in their loss. The Utah defense played well at times, holding USC to just 30 yards on the ground, but without an offense, this team had no chance of taking down mighty Troy. Fortunately for the Utes, they're a different team when they play at home and that's where they'll be taking on the Sun Devils.
Nov. 16 Oregon State: Oregon State proved to much of the country that it was for real on Saturday night with a 20-12 loss to Stanford that could have turned a different way in the final minute of the game. The Stanford offense struggled throughout the night against an improving Beaver defense, but Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks saw their comeback efforts thwarted.
A fourth down and goal play that would have put Oregon State in position to tie the game with a two-point conversion was broken up by Cardinal safety Ed Reynolds. The Stanford defense was on the field for more than 38 minutes in Corvallis, and to not break at the end proved the Cardinal can win even on an off day. Oregon State will drop out of the top 25, but this team can certainly give Arizona State a run for its money in Tempe.
Nov. 23 UCLA: The Bruins played the best half of football that the Oregon Ducks have faced this season in the first half of Saturday's contest. Heading into the break, the Bruins and Ducks were deadlocked at 14 and UCLA actually had the best chance to take the lead coming out of the locker room. But Oregon did what Oregon does, and the Ducks ran away with things in the second half.
UCLA was limited by starting three freshmen on its offensive line and the Bruins' play selection reflected that. At some point, Oregon decided to key in on the run and that rendered the game effectively over. Still, the Bruins are just a game behind the Sun Devils in the Pac-12 South and could enter the Nov. 23rd contest with a chance to unseat Arizona State atop the South.
Nov. 30 Arizona: A win's a win. Or is it? The Wildcats took what felt like forever to escape the clutches of the Colorado Buffaloes who kept things close well into the second half. Colorado trailed by just seven points with 9:53 remaining in the third quarter, but Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker enjoyed a breakout performance in the 44-20 win.
Denker threw for 265 yards and added another 192 on the ground while Ka'Deem Carey found the end zone four times on the ground. One of the more entertaining aspects of this game was Arizona's Marquis Flowers receiving an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for foul language, something you don't see very often. It's still hard to get a beat on this Wildcats team and it might be too early to know whether it can give the Sun Devils a real scare in the Territorial Cup. History says yes, this season says maybe.