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Pac-12 Football: Week four in review

The biggest concern, biggest surprise, and more after week four in the Pac-12.

Colorado v Oregon
Defensive end #92 Jordan Carrell and the Colorado Buffaloes celebrate after their road victory against the Oregon Ducks.
Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

BIGGEST CONCERN: THE LA SCHOOLS

Southern California football has historically dominated the Pac-12, as UCLA and USC have won 55 of the 99 conference championships dating back to 1919. In 2016, not only are both teams 0-1 in conference play, but have made it almost impossible to compete in the College Football Playoff. USC hasn’t been in a national championship game since 2005, and with a three loses already they will have to wait another year.

Since head coach Jim Mora joined the Bruins, the goal in Westwood has been to win a national championship. He couldn’t do it with former Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley and is will likely have only one more season after 2016 with sophomore QB Josh Rosen. The Bruins haven’t been close to a national championship since their 1998 10-2 season and haven’t been in a national championship game since they won it in 1954.

The Bruins and Trojans have not had the friendliest of schedules. All five losses combined have been acquired against Top 25 opponents. The LA schools have an easier route this week as they take on the Arizona Schools.

ESPN has favored UCLA with an 82 percent chance at beating Arizona, who just gave No. 10 Washington an overtime scare. USC is facing just their second unranked opponent this season in Arizona State. Though the Sun Devils are 4-0, the Trojans are favored by 71.2 percent to win at home.

These two teams stand at the bottom of the Pac-12 South, but both have the talent to creep into the Pac-12 championship game and put a So. Cal team in the Rose Bowl for a 56th time.

Stanford v UCLA
#3 quarterback Josh Rosen of the UCLA Bruins walks off the field after a 22-13 defeat against the Stanford Cardinal.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

BIGGEST SURPRISE: COLORADO BEATS OREGON 41-38

No fourth year starting quarterback and no wins since 1998 against Oregon did not faze the Colorado Buffaloes. Redshirt freshman quarterback Steven Montez shined in his first ever start for the Buffaloes. He completed 72 percent of his passes for 333 yards and scored two TD’s. Running the ball, Montez scored a touchdown as well and led the team with 135 yards on the ground.

The Oregon Ducks, who primarily run the ball, were outran by the Buffaloes as Colorado picked up 260 yards on the ground. Oregon was without high-powered junior running back Royce Freeman for the second week in a row. The Ducks defense is the biggest unit to blame in this loss as they have given up 1024 total yards in their last two games. If Oregon wants to compete in a stacked PAC-12 North, their defense that ranks at 105th in nation will have to improve.

GAME OF THE WEEK: WASHINGTON SURVIVES ARIZONA IN OVERTIME

The Washington Huskies were finally put to the test against a power five conference team on the road as they just barely squeezed past Arizona in Tucson, 35-28. The Husky defense that hadn’t given up a touchdown in the first half all season let up two against the Wildcats. Washington had a run first approach against Arizona’s weak rushing defense. The Dawgs ran for 352 yards and threw for just 160.

Sophomore quarterback Brandon Dawkins kept the Wildcats afloat as he accounted for three total touchdowns. The QB threw for 167 yards and led the team with 176 yards rushing. With just 17 seconds left in the game, Dawkins scrambled out of the pocket and found senior tight end Josh Kern for a three-yard touchdown pass to send the game into overtime.

The Huskies struck first in overtime and Arizona could not answer. Washington will be at home next week against No. 7 Stanford. It will be a nationally televised top 10 matchup that will either give the Huskies all the recognition they need to look like college football playoff contenders or pretenders.

Washington v Arizona
Running back #22 Lavon Coleman of the Washington Huskies races down the sideline against the Arizona Wildcats
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

THREE TEAMS RANKED FROM THE PAC-12

No. 7 Stanford, No. 10 Washington, and No. 18 Utah are the only teams ranked in the Pac-12 in the week five AP Top 25 poll. The SEC has seven, Big Ten has five, ACC has four, and the Big 12 has three. A Pac-12 team has not won a national championship since USC won it back-to-back in 2003 and 2004.

It’s been 11 seasons since then and a team from each power five conference has won a national championship. The SEC has captured eight since 2005, while the ACC, Big 12 and the Big Ten all have just one. It is easy to see why the SEC have earned their respect in the rankings and why the PAC 12 struggles to crack spots into the top 25.

All three teams ranked from the Pac-12 are undefeated, but that will change this Friday when Stanford and Washington face off in Seattle. This game will have national playoff implications as well as PAC-12 championship game implications and will likely kick the loser out of the top 10. Utah stands at a respectable ranking, 18, and will have a chance to bounce up a few spots with a big game at California on Saturday.

Arizona State, 4-0, failed to join the 17 other undefeated teams in the top-25. Though the Sun Devils haven’t faced a ranked team this season, they have beat California and Texas Tech whose offenses rank at second and 12th in the nation. If ASU can steal a win at USC this weekend, the Sun Devils should find themselves in the top 25.