10 Things We Learned About the Pac-12 in Week 13

Jonathan IrwinContributor IINovember 26, 2012

10 Things We Learned About the Pac-12 in Week 13

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    From fired coaches to exciting—and boring—rival games, things have been busy in the Pac-12.

    We're recapping those events with 10 things we've learned from Week 13.

    It was certainly an exciting week for conference games, with plenty of fourth-quarter drama. But drama didn't just revolve around games, with programs heading towards some big changes in the future.

    Here's all you need to know about the Pac-12's latest teachings.

Oregon State Is Still Young

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    Facing rival Oregon, Oregon State had the chance to make a huge splash in Week 13.

    The Beavers hung tight early, finding themselves within seven in the third. The defense started to look strong, and the opportunity was there.

    Then a series of flubs led to an unprecedented three Beaver turnovers in about five minutes.

    OSU had six turnovers on the day, which led to 21 points for the Ducks.

    While the Beavers have shown tremendous promise this season—especially since they were 3-9 this time last season—these kinds of miscues have haunted them all season long.

    It just proves how young they are, and how far they have to go.

Washington Still Isn't Ready

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    At 7-4 before Week 13—with huge wins over Oregon State and Stanford—Washington seemed on the cusp of returning to Pac-12 relevance.

    Coming into the Apple Cup against rival Washington State—who had yet to win a conference game on the season—8-4 seemed an inevitable conclusion for UW.

    Instead, the Dawgs fell to the Cougs 31-28, dropping to 7-5.

    The Cougars scored 18 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime. A WSU field goal and interception later, and it was all over.

    A series of turnovers didn't help Washington's cause, but their usually sound secondary was done in by Mike Leach's elaborate passing scheme.

    It showed that while Washington has some promise, the program still has a ways to go.

USC Was as Overrated as They Come

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    It was tough to find a preseason poll that didn't have the Trojans destined for the BCS Championship.

    Now you'll be lucky to find anyone who thinks they deserve to be ranked.

    With their loss to Notre Dame on Saturday, the Trojans fall to 7-5 on the season.

    USC put together just 13 points, marking the second time this season that that "devastating" offense was held under 20.

    The Trojans finish their season in third place in the Pac-12 South and are nowhere to be found in the polls.

    While dark horses like Arizona and Washington State have fallen short, USC remains the most overrated team in the Pac-12 for 2012.

De'Anthony Thomas Should Have Been Used More

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    Riding backseat to Kenjon Barner for most of the season, Ducks all-purpose machine De'Anthony Thomas was having a very quiet 2012.

    He came into this season's Civil War averaging just 51 yards rushing per game.

    But when Barner went down early with a rib injury, Thomas came alive. He finished the game with a season-high 122 yards rushing (averaging 7.2 yards per carry) with three touchdowns.

    When needed, Thomas rose to the occasion.

    And after Barner was a non-factor in the Duck's lone loss to Stanford, it makes you wonder if Thomas could have changed things.

Arizona State Needs More Consistency

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    Coming into the season as a dark horse in the Pac-12, Arizona State had plenty to prove.

    And while the Sun Devils showed flashes of brilliance, their 7-5 finish (5-4 in conference) is a telling tale.

    ASU closed out its season with a 41-34 win over Arizona, but they needed a 24-point fourth quarter to do so. This is how it's been all season, with the Sun Devils often times coming alive too early or too late.

    With a little more stability, there's no reason ASU couldn't have won the Pac-12 South.

The Championship Could Be a Boring Affair

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    It's a bizarre situation in the Pac-12.

    With their win Saturday, the Stanford Cardinal have clinched the Pac-12 North. As a result, they'll meet UCLA next week for the Pac-12 title.

    Only thing is, these two teams just played in Week 13.

    And Stanford dominated, winning 35-17.

    So not only will Week 14's match be a carbon copy of Week 13's, chances are it won't be much of a battle for the crown.

With Kevin Hogan, Stanford Is BCS Worthy

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    With Josh Nunes as Stanford's starting quarterback, the Cardinal were 6-2.

    With Kevin Hogan under center, the Cardinal are 4-0, with notable wins over Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA.

    Hogan has turned the Cardinal plug-and-play offense into a more balanced and dynamic attack. The freshman is averaging 202 yards passing and 37 yards rushing per game, with eight touchdowns to three interceptions.

    To put things in perspective, Nunes has 13 TDs and seven interceptions (he has eight starts, compared to Hogan's four).

    If Hogan had started the season, who knows what happens against Washington and Notre Dame?

    The Cardinal could be sitting on 12-0 with a trip to the BCS Championship in the bag.

Cal Is Ready for Change

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    It was announced this week that longtime Golden Bear's coach Jeff Tedford has been fired.

    The news didn't come as a surprise, after Cal finished with their third losing season in a row of conference play (2-7).

    It marks the fifth time in 11 seasons that Tedford has coached Cal to a .500-or-below record in the Pac-12.

    While Tedford has the most wins in Golden Bear history (82), the program's recent performance has led to a loss of faith in his system.

    The program now moves on, hoping the next coach will be as promising as Tedford was early on.

WSU Could Be Exonerated

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    Quick backstory to all this: After leaving a late practice earlier in the season, Washington State star receiver Marquess Wilson was suspended from the football team.

    Later that week, Wilson quit the program, stating reasons of abuse by first-year coach Mike Leach and his staff.

    The University and Pac-12 quickly launched investigations into the matter.

    It has been announced this week that the investigations are over, the only thing left to do being to file the reports.

    With such quick results, the chances are slim that anyone found evidence to back Wilson's claims. Both investigations finished incredibly fast, which generally means there was nothing to dig up or research.

    While nothing is certain, there's a good chance Leach and crew are exonerated of any wrongdoing.

Colorado Has Hit Rock-Bottom

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    Tied 35-35 against Utah in the fourth quarter, Colorado made the bizarre decision to kick normally to the Utes.

    What came next was a Reggie Dunn (pictured) return for the go-ahead touchdown, capping a 22-point quarter for the Utes.

    Dunn is one of the best returners in Pac-12 history. His touchdown return Saturday was the fifth 100-yarder of his career.

    Which begs the question: why did the Buffs kick to him?

    With the loss, Colorado falls to 1-11 on the season. It is by far their worst season ever, with a lone win coming by one point against Washington State.

    Buff fans can only hope this is rock bottom for CU, and that a zero-win season isn't around the corner.