After six weeks of the college football season, Utah stands alone as the only undefeated team in the Pac-12. The Utes knocked off the league's other unbeaten team, Cal, 30-24 on Saturday night.
Utah has the resume of a No. 1 team in the nation. The Utes are the only team to beat surprisingly-good Michigan, doing so 24-17 in the season-opener. Consider this: The Wolverines' five other opponents have scored a total of 14 points.
Utah (5-0) is also the only team to beat Cal, which has a win at Texas on its resume (and that win looks pretty good after the Longhorns beat Oklahoma on Saturday). And while a victory over Oregon doesn't carry as much weight as would have in previous seasons, the 62-20 annihilation still speaks loudly about the Utes' talent and potential.
Utah is fourth in the AP poll, picking up 16 of 60 first-place votes.
Meanwhile, around the league, Oregon has three losses. USC has two losses, both at home to double-digit underdogs. Neither team is coming back in the College Football Playoff chase, despite such preseason predictions. Arizona State has two losses. UCLA has just one defeat but it has a true freshman quarterback and injury issues that curtail hopes of running the table.
Stanford has bounced back smartly from an opening loss at Northwestern and could end up battling Cal for the North title.
But everyone in the league will be chasing Utah for at least one more week. The Utes go from the Cal fire to the Arizona State frying pan this Saturday.
"We made a statement," Utah defensive back Boobie Hobbs said after the win over the Bears. "This team doesn't feel pressure. We know what type of team we have and we just want to show the world. We can play with Alabama and LSU. We have a great team with great talent and a lot of heart."
ARIZONA (4-2, 1-2)
Game: Arizona 44, Oregon State 7. Sophomore quarterback Anu Solomon passed for 276 yards in his return from a concussion, completing 17-of-30 passes in three quarters of work before being able to take a seat in the easier-than-expected win. The Wildcats led 34-7 at halftime and then mostly ran the ball at will in the second half. Second-string RB Jared Baker ripped off a 73-yard run and finished with 123 yards on 10 carries. True freshman RB Orlando Bradford rushed 19 times for 83 yards and three scores. Starting RB Nick Wilson sat out the second half as a precaution after suffering a shoulder injury. He carried 12 times for 78 yards and two scores.
Takeaway: The Wildcats got their confidence back after suffering lopsided losses to UCLA and Stanford. Beating Oregon State doesn't prove they can hang with the Top 25 teams left on their schedule, but the coaches did make some lineup tweaks that could continue to pay dividends. Left tackle Freddie Tagaloa moved to left guard, with redshirt freshman Layth Friekh becoming a starter at left tackle. Safety Paul Magloire moved to weakside linebacker, and Jake Matthews went from outside linebacker to the middle. He is the fifth player to start at middle linebacker for Arizona, but the injury-ravaged position might have some stability now.
Next: at Colorado, Oct. 17.
ARIZONA STATE (4-2, 2-1)
Game: Arizona State 48, Colorado 23. Quarterback Mike Bercovici tied a career-high with five touchdown passes, and the Sun Devils gained 491 total yards while rolling over visiting Colorado. Bercovici completed 20-of-31 passes for 260 yards. ASU got an early break when tight end Kody Kohl picked up a fumble and ran it into the end zone from 28 yards on ASU's first possession. The ASU defense gave up pass plays of 42, 68 and 67, but also came up with eight sacks and 12 tackles for loss.
Takeaway: The Devils were a bit sloppy but mostly took care of business in advance of a big game at Utah this Saturday. The one position to keep an eye on during the week will be running back, as starter Demario Richard left the game with a leg injury and was later on crutches. Coach Todd Graham didn't have an immediate update. With Richard out, wide receiver D.J. Foster dabbled a bit at his old position and finished with 80 yards on the ground, the bulk of which came on a 63-yard burst.
Next: at Utah, Oct. 17
CAL (5-1, 2-1)
Game: Utah 30, Cal 24. The Bears suffered their first loss of the season in a highly-anticipated showdown at Utah. Cal turned the ball over six times, including five interceptions from the arm of Jared Goff, regarded as the top quarterback prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft. Still, the Bears hung in there, pulling within 30-24 early in fourth quarter. Goff was picked off at the Utah 18 on Cal's next drive, and the team's last chance ended on an incomplete pass on fourth-and-5 from the Utah 21 in the final minute. Goff was 25-of-47 for 340 yards and two touchdowns, but he said it was the worst game of his life.
Takeaway: There's no need to worry about Goff. The junior is too talented, and his long track record of success suggests he will bounce back just fine. "We will look at the tape and talk to him a little bit," coach Sonny Dykes said. "I think we all wanted to win really badly, especially Jared. Sometimes when you want to win really badly you might try to do a little too much." Cal's defense held up pretty well in its biggest test of the season, so that was encouraging, especially with a brutal schedule ahead. Cal next plays a Thursday night game at UCLA on Oct. 22, then is home to USC and plays at Oregon.
Next: at UCLA, Oct. 22
COLORADO (3-3, 0-2)
Game: Arizona State 48, Colorado 23. Quarterback Sefo Liufau passed for 389 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown pass to Devin Ross in the third quarter, but it wasn't enough. Liufau was sacked eight times and didn't get help from a running game that managed just 49 yards, which includes the yards lost by the sacks. Buffs receiver Shay Fields caught five passes for 103 yards. Colorado has lost 13 consecutive conference games on the road.
Takeaway: The Buffs need four more wins in their 13-game season to get bowl eligible, and it's not easy to come up with scenarios in which that could happen. But to have anything resembling a chance, that path has to start Saturday at home against Arizona. "It's definitely a dangerous time," Liufau said. "If you don't come out of this game with a chip on your shoulder, you don't belong on this team. This should hurt. Everybody in this locker room has to be accountable. We all made mistakes and it's time to stop talking about them and fix it."
Next: vs. Arizona, Oct. 17
OREGON (3-3, 1-2)
Game: Washington State 45, Oregon 38 (2 OT). Oregon's season continued to spin out of control with the Ducks' second home loss of the season. Oregon scored a touchdown to open the first overtime, but WSU matched it and also got into the end zone to begin the second extra period. The game ended when Oregon quarterback Jeff Lockie, on fourth-and-9 from the 24, was intercepted by safety Shalom Luani. Oregon running back Royce Freeman ran for 246 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, but Lockie was just 13-of-22 passing for 123 yards and two touchdowns. WSU tied the game with one second left in regulation on an 8-yard TD pass from Luke Falk, who passed for 505 yards.
Takeaway: So, this is what Oregon looks like without a quarterback. Vernon Adams Jr., expected to the graduate transfer savior, has missed three of the past four games (and barely played in the blowout loss to Utah) because of broken finger. Jeff Lockie is simply not getting it done, despite the best efforts of running back Royce Freeman, a sophomore who ran for a career-high 246 yards vs. Washington State. Perhaps Adams can return soon, but there would still be the matter of a porous defense. "You have two choices: You can go downhill from now and give up, or you can refocus," Freeman said. "We'll see what this team has Monday."
Next: at Washington, Oct. 17
OREGON STATE (2-3, 0-2)
Game: Arizona 44, Oregon State 7. The Beavers got within 13-7 with 10:59 to go in the second quarter, but then was outscored 31-0 the rest of the way. Oregon State was never really competitive, allowing 385 yards in the first half and unable to stop Arizona's running attack, which produced 368 yards. Quarterback Seth Collins missed about the final eight minutes of the first half, limping to the training room to get treatment, but he returned to start the second half. The true freshman completed 8-of-24 passes for 56 yards with an interception. He also rushed for 56 yards.
Takeaway: This wasn't a competitive effort, which is the minimum that coach Gary Andersen wants to see from his young team. The OSU rebuild appeared to be further along after the Beavers at least made a game of it for a while against Michigan and Stanford. "It's not fun to be part of a game like that, let me just tell you," Andersen was quoted as saying in the Oregonian. "For any of us. That's very tough to sit there. And I understand (it's) everybody involved. And I'm talking about everybody in the university. It's unacceptable."
Next: at Washington State, Oct. 17
SOUTHERN CAL (3-2, 1-2)
Game: Washington 17, USC 12. For the second time this season, the Trojans suffered a home loss while being a double-digit favorite. The Huskies entered the game with the top-ranked defense in the Pac-12, but it still figured to be no match for an explosive USC squad. But ultra-efficient Cody Kessler threw two early interceptions, setting the tone for the struggles to come. Washington pulled off a flea-flicker for a touchdown for a 10-6 lead early in the second half and went up 17-6 in the first minute of the fourth quarter. USC cut the deficit to 17-12 with 12:02 left but did not get any closer. The Trojans missed a 46-yard field goal with 3:44 left and, with only one timeout, failed to get the ball back.
Takeaway: The Trojans, man for man, probably have the most talent in the Pac-12 but the season has already gone sideway with the two home losses, and now coach Steve Sarkisian is on a forced indefinite leave of absence after not showing up for Sunday's practice, the school announced. USC offensive coordinator Clay Helton will take over for now. This is a tough spot for the Trojans. Will they come out and show fight this week against the Irish? Or have the losses and coaching situation splintered the team?
Next: at Notre Dame, Oct. 17
STANFORD (4-1, 3-0)
Next: vs. UCLA, Oct. 15
UCLA (4-2, 1-1)
Next: at Stanford, Oct. 15
UTAH (5-0, 2-0)
Game: Utah 30, Cal 24. The Utes came up with six turnovers -- including five interceptions of Cal star quarterback Jared Goff -- to hold off the Bears in a battle of the final two unbeaten teams in the Pac-12. The game was still in doubt in the final seconds, when defensive back Boobie Hobbs broke up a fourth-down pass from Utah 21. Running back Devontae Booker did the heavy lifting on offense, leading the way with a season-high 222 rushing yards and 267 all-purpose yards. Utah quarterback Travis Wilson finished with 170 passing yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions. Cornerback Dominique Hatfield had two of Utah's interceptions.
Takeaway: Utah moved to No. 4 in the AP poll, its highest regular-season ranking ever. A big part of Utah's success is the nation's best turnover margin, at plus 2.0 per game. Is that sustainable? That's the question. The schedule seems too tough to imagine a perfect run (vs. ASU, at USC, at Washington, at Arizona, vs. UCLA and more) but a Pac-12 South title would be nice, and this week's game against the Sun Devils looms large in that regard.
Next: vs. Arizona State, Oct. 17
WASHINGTON (3-2, 1-1)
Game: Washington 17, USC 12. The Huskies' asserted their defense all game, including coming up with two late stops after the Trojans had cut the margin to five early in the fourth quarter. And the offense came up with a flea-flicker for a 27-yard touchdown in the third quarter and iced the game with a third-down conversion after USC missed a field goal with 3:44 left. Running back Myles Gaskin carried 22 times for 134 yards, and the defense sacked USC's Cody Kessler five times and picked him off twice.
Takeaway: Hard to believe Washington has the top defense in the Pac-12 -- No. 1 in total defense (326 yards per game) and scoring defense (15.0) -- after sending four players into the top 44 of the 2015 NFL Draft. Chris Petersen can coach, and although his rebuild in Seattle looked more on track to blossom in 2016, the Huskies are plenty competitive right now, as long as true freshman quarterback Jake Browning stays reasonably efficient and lets his defense keep the team in games. Next up is a reeling Oregon team, so this looks like a chance for the Huskies to end an 11-game skid in the series.
Next: vs. Oregon, Oct. 17
WASHINGTON STATE (3-2, 1-1)
Game: Washington State 45, Oregon 38 (2 OT). Quarterback Luke Falk threw for 505 yards and five touchdowns, including one that tied the game with one second left in regulation and another that ended up being the game-winner in the second overtime. Falk, who ran for a 1-yard score to tie the game at 38 at the end of the first overtime, connected on a 4-yard pass to Robert Lewis. Then, WSU safety Shalom Luani preserved the win by picking off Jeff Lockie on fourth-and-9 from the 24. Falk completed 50-of-74 passes. Wide receiver River Cracraft had a team-high nine catches for 85 yards. Wide receiver Gabe Marks had eight catches for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
Takeaway: The Cougars have been playing well after that opening loss at home to lower-division Portland State. Now, Washington State will be aiming to win consecutive games in the Pac-12 for the first time since 2006. It will have a good chance to do just that as it returns home to play Oregon State. "I thought we played extremely hard the whole time," Leach said after the win in Eugene. "I thought we were tough 'til the end. We could have made it easier than we did, but all sides of the ball rose up -- offense, defense and special teams."
Next: vs. Oregon State, Oct. 17
--USC coach Steve Sarkisian will be on an indefinite leave of absence, the school announced Sunday afternoon, after Sarkisian did not show up for practice. Athletic director Pat Haden reached Sarkisian by phone and later said that the head coach is "not healthy."
Haden did not specify the issue, but Sarkisian is known to be dealing with a potential problem with alcohol. He announced in August he would be getting treatment after displaying erratic behavior at a rally for the team; he blamed a mix of alcohol and medication for his conduct.
Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will take over as interim head coach.
"I think it's the right thing for our team, and I've always got to do what's right for our team and for our school," Haden said about Sarkisian's leave of absence.
Sarkisian was already under fire for a 3-2 record this season that included home losses to Stanford and Washington, each of which was a double-digit underdog. Sarkisian is 12-6 in his second season as head coach of the Trojans.
"I'm very fortunate to have a group around me as a staff that is as first-class as they get," Helton said.
--UCLA has already lost three key defenders for the season -- linebacker Myles Jack, defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes and cornerback Fabian Moreau. Now, the Bruins have also lost versatile sophomore Mossi Johnson, a receiver who also has been helping out as a defensive back. He suffered a torn ACL in the team's most recent game, against Arizona State.
--Oregon plays at Washington this Saturday, trying to extend its 11-game winning streak over the Huskies. Based on last week, the teams are going in opposite directions right now, with Washington coming off a win at USC while the Ducks lost at home to Washington State. This is the earliest Oregon has lost three games since the 2004 season.
--Utah running back Devontae Booker has 267 yards from scrimmage against Cal, the most for a player against a ranked team this year. He rushed for 222 yards and became the 13th player in school history to reach 2,000 for his career. He transferred in from junior college before last season.
Said Cal coach Sonny Dykes: "He's really hard to tackle. He's a big, strong runner."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think if you were to ask, would we want to switch the situation we are in right now, I would say no, because we have dealt with adversity. We are excited about the situation. We are more hungry now that we do have those two losses. We have already moved passed it and the mentality is 1-0. You may laugh about that because every single rep, every single thing that we do, it's 1-0. That is the mentality that our brotherhood has adapted to." -- ASU coach Mike Bercovici, on the Devils being 4-2 at the midpoint of the season.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FIVE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM WEEK 6 IN THE PAC-12:
1. The league is short of Heisman candidates. USC quarterback Cody Kessler and Cal's Jared Goff each took losses last week. There's nobody from Oregon in the mix. Same for UCLA. May we nominate running back Devontae Booker from unbeaten Utah? The problem there is no running back is likely to catch LSU's Leonard Fournette.
2. Feel free to rank Utah No. 1. The Utes beat Michigan, won at Oregon (OK, that might not be a huge deal this season, but the complete demolition was still impressive) and dispatched a ranked Cal team on Saturday night. That resume is about as good as it gets.
3. Oregon will have its worst season since 2006. That was the year in which the Ducks went 7-6 under Mike Bellotti, the season before he hired an unknown coordinator from New Hampshire named Chip Kelly. The Ducks are 3-3, and it wouldn't be a shock now to see them split the back six of the regular season with games against Washington, ASU, Cal, Stanford, USC and Oregon State.
4. There's life in the Arizona defense. The Wildcats' outlook looks brighter after a couple of personnel moves -- Paul Magloire from safety to weakside linebacker, and Jake Matthews from outside linebacker to middle linebacker -- paid immediate dividends against Oregon State. The competition will get tougher, but the Wildcats are also close to getting back four or five key players who weren't available Saturday.
5. It's no time for jokes. USC and coach Steve Sarkisian are easy targets right now, but if the coach needs treatment and time to get himself healthy, then the only thing to do is wish him the best.