Washington is among the Pac-12 teams whose seasons hinge on how October goes.
In a marathon, sometimes a few ambitious souls will sprint out ahead of the pack in hope of being able to build up a big enough lead that they can somehow overcome their lack of stamina down the stretch.
In college football terms, the sprint portion of the race—September—is over, and now it's time to dig in and put together some consistent results to pace oneself through to the end.
It can't all be kisses and roses for everyone in the Pac-12, though. As we enter October, there's still plenty of teams with a realistic chance to make the title game—especially in the South Division, where everyone who has played a league game already has a loss—and even more that can justify a potential bowl berth.
That won't be the same when the calendar rolls over to November in four weeks. At least five Pac-12 teams could see their season ruined by what goes down this month.
UCLA (3-0) has risen to No. 12 in the AP rankings, and could find itself in the top 10 after a vicious 1-2 gauntlet later this month when it visits Stanford (Oct. 19) and Oregon (Oct. 26) in back-to-back weeks.
The Bruins are one of only two Pac-12 schools that have to face both powers on the road—the other is California. Having that happen in consecutive weeks will likely be the backbreaker on what those in Westwood were hoping would be a magical season.
Losing both of those won't likely affect their chances of getting into the Pac-12 title game, but losing this week at Utah could.
Washington's October starts off as tough as it comes, with a trip to Stanford this weekend followed by an Oct. 12 visit from Oregon. The Huskies (4-0) will probably lose both, then be staring at the prospect of a devastating, three-game losing streak when it travels to Arizona State on Oct. 19.
Being able to win road games is essential for the middle-tier Pac-12 teams to have all-around success, and the next few weeks is when Washington is going to find out if 2013 is truly going to be a great year.
Utah (3-1) already squandered the chance to get a leg up on the Pac-12 South competition when it dropped an overtime shootout to Oregon State last month. However, the Utes have several chances to impress in October, though it's more likely they'll fall short more than come out on top.
Utah's October schedule is, based on all four games, the toughest in the league. After hosting UCLA this week, it gets Stanford at home on Oct. 12 before visiting Arizona (Oct. 19). That's followed by a trip to USC on Oct. 26.
Going 2-2 during that stretch would be a big-time achievement for Utah—1-3 or 0-4, though, is much more likely.
When Washington State (3-2) slipped into Los Angeles last month and squeaked out a 10-7 win over USC, the result was looked at as both an indictment of the Lane Kiffin era at USC and also the turning point in Mike Leach's rebuilding job in Pullman.
Wazzu fell back to earth last week in a hard way, getting walloped by Stanford. However, the Cougars have some winnable games coming up and could get back on track, starting on Saturday at California and then on Oct. 12 versus Oregon State.
After that, though, it's probably all downhill. October finishes up with a trip to Oregon (Oct. 19) followed by a Halloween visit from an Arizona State team that could be 6-1 and into the top 15 in the polls.
At least some of how Colorado (2-1) looked in last week's blowout loss at Oregon State could be attributed to rust—the Buffaloes hadn't played in three weeks after having its game against Fresno State washed away by flooding.
There won't be any schedule- or weather-related excuses for Colorado's next two games, though, which will probably both be similarly bad losses.
After hosting Oregon on Saturday, Colorado travel to Arizona State on Oct. 12. The Buffaloes are 0-4 all-time against ASU, never scoring more than 17 points in any of those contests.
After starting 2-0 by Sept. 7, Colorado very likely won't get its third win of the season until six weeks later, when it hosts FBS fill-in Charleston Southern on Oct. 19. The game was just added to the schedule to replace Fresno, and could be the only game the Buffaloes win between now and November.