If you can make sense of the Pac-12 season, by all means takes yourself to the desert and place a few wagers. Because in the league where there’s no elite program at the moment, just about anything could happen and it wouldn’t be surprising at all.
Case in point came Saturday night on the Farm, where Stanford’s one-time dormant offense came alive in a 23-13 win over No. 15 Washington that is bound to shake up the Pac-12 North further than it already is.
The Cardinal set the tone early with three straight scoring drives to open the game and jump out to a lead they would never relinquish. Despite injuries to key offensive linemen and starting quarterback Davis Mills (293 yards, one touchdown), David Shaw’s group still kept ticking in one of their most impressive games of the season when they were pretty much backed into a corner at 2-3 coming into the weekend.
Cameron Scarlett rushed for 151 yards and a touchdown to help take the pressure off third string QB Jack West, who entered down the stretch in the second half after Mills was relegated to the sidelines for an undisclosed injury. Up to that point the offense was averaging nearly eight yards a play and putting up their best numbers of the season despite facing off against one of the best defenses, statistically, on the West Coast.
While that unit let Chris Petersen down with occasional penalties, blown coverages and third down conversions, it was the offense that seemed to be unusually stuck in neutral all night. Jacob Eason threw for just 206 yards with a touchdown and an interception but was under 50% passing and moved the sticks on third down just twice. Tailback Richard Newton rushed for 64 yards but left with a significant injury and Salvon Ahmed seemed limited as well (six carries, 28 yards) on the ground.
Aaron Fuller did have nine catches for 171 yards as one highlight for the purple and gold but that was balanced out by top threat Hunter Bryant standing on the sidelines with one catch for eight yards as the team remains winless on the Farm dating back to a rare victory in 2007.
Add it all up and the Pac-12’s already thin College Football Playoff hopes are basically down to a Hail Mary that Oregon, which struggled against Cal and their own backup QB earlier in the night, running the table. The Ducks and Huskies still have to play in Seattle in two weeks but that once marquee matchup is not quite as big on the league slate after this loss.
As for Stanford, they badly needed a victory to even their record at 3-3 on the year. While they still seem tough to truly take serious in the North Division race, their chances of making a bowl game have improved significantly after looking a little questionable after blowouts to USC and UCF. They’ll be able to rest up on an off week before hosting a lackluster UCLA squad and then play Pac-12 South leading Arizona after that at home.
Up is down and down is up sometimes in the Pac-12 and that appears to be the case again this weekend as yet another bizarre result shakes things up after dark on the West Coast.