Pac-12 Biggest Surprises and Disappointments Thus Far
You could say that the Pac-12 has had a quieter year than some of the other BCS conferences to this point.
No real surprising upsets to speak of, no huge match-ups that could shake up the rankings—until now with Stanford/Oregon this weekend—and teams just going about their business as they should.
That doesn't mean it hasn't been an eventful season thus far. The conference still has two teams in the BCS race and the Heisman candidate front runner.
The conference has it's fair share of disappointments and surprises, and there could be even more to come. Let's run through some of them as to this point.
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Surprise: Matt Barkley
He has had a great season for the Trojans at quarterback.
Colorado was never going to be a great team, but only have one win, and none in the Pac-12.
Surprise: Chris Polk
Polk doesn't get enough credit for the amount of work he does for Washington.
Utah was thought of as the team to maybe challenge ASU in the South.
Disappointment: Zach Maynard
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Zach Maynard was supposed to be the quarterback to come in and bring the Cal program back near the top of the Pac-12.
So far that hasn't happened. Cal, who has an overall record of 5-4—just 2-4 in the Pac-12—will go to a bowl game this year, but more was expected from this team.
Maynard, a transfer from Buffalo, was the guy who was going to come in and get the Bears offense back on track. Instead, Maynard is only completing 54 percent of his passes and is near the bottom of the league in QB efficiency (122.2).
To go along with that, he has only thrown 13 TD's and is tied for second with 10 INT's.
Although not a terrible season for the Bears, a better Pac-12 performance was expected and when things don't work out the quarterback will get a lot of blame.
Surprise: Keenan Allen
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For as bad as Zach Maynard has been, Keenan Allen for the Bears has been a pleasant surprise.
Sure we all knew about Robert Woods and Juron Criner coming into the season, but did anyone expect this from Allen?
He had a solid freshman campaign last year, with 46 catches for about 500 yards. This year however, he has gone off.
He's second in the conference in both catches and yards, right behind Woods, with 75 for 1,074 yards. This is all with a QB who has only completed 54 percent of his passes.
The Bears have been a bit of disappointment to this point in Pac-12 play, but Allen has done all he can to make sure they have a chance.
Disappointment: Arizona State Defense
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The Arizona State Sun Devils (6-3, 4-2) were supposed to be the team to beat in the Pac-12 South this year, with all the returning talent and USC still on suspension. So far things haven't panned out.
The UCLA Bruins control their own fate in the South, and the Sun Devils will have to wait and see what the rest of the season has in store for them. Much of the problem has been the defense.
The ASU defense was to be the driving force behind the team this year, however, key injuries and bad play have held them back.
Vontaze Burfict at linebacker has had a big drop-off in production from last year, as he is only 21st in the conference in tackles at 51.
The pass defense has been pretty good, but in their two Pac-12 losses—Oregon and UCLA—the defense gave up 327 and 220 yards rushing.
They still have a chance in the South, but need some help and their defense to step up.
Surprise: Keith Price
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One of the biggest questions coming into the Pac-12 this season, was how would Washington replace Jake Locker at quarterback?
The answer has been Keith Price.
Price has been a brilliant surprise for the Huskies this season leading them to a 6-3 record, with the Huskies sitting at 4-2 in the Pac-12. In the process, Price has looked better running the offense than Locker ever did.
Price has completed 67 percent of his passes and is third in the conference in passing efficiency, only trailing Andrew Luck and Darron Thomas.
He should get more praise, because at times, he has had to direct the offense even further due to poor play by a defense that was suppose to be the bright spot of the team.
Washington is finally having a breakout season under Steve Sarkisian, and much of the credit goes to Price for leading a well balanced offense.
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The Arizona Wildcats are having a terrible season after it looked like the program was maybe turning the corner the past three years.
The Wildcats (2-7, 1-4) have looked bad all season.
No one would argue that the schedule was brutal to begin the season, but the Wildcats barely showed up for any of those games, getting blown out for a three-game stretch. Then after an ugly loss at Oregon State a change had to be made, and that meant Mike Stoops was out as head coach.
They played great in their next game at home against UCLA, but that may have been in part due to the fact that UCLA looked like they were sleepwalking.
The defense ranks at or near the bottom of almost every single category in the Pac-12 and is near the bottom in the entire country.
The one bright spot has been Nick Foles and the passing game. Foles lead the conference and ranks in the top five in the country.
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I believed that people thought Stanford was going to be a good football team again, but this good?
Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal have pretty much been rolling all season by just overwhelming opponents with a balanced offense and a hit you in the mouth defense.
Stanford is first in the conference in scoring offense and defense, total defense and is second in total offense, behind Oregon.
Luck is the Heisman front-runner, putting up even better numbers than last year—see a 26-5 TD-INT ratio—while the defense is smothering offenses with their physical play.
They got by in triple overtime in their most difficult game of the season to this point , at the Coliseum against USC, and can solidify themselves at the top of the conference with a home victory this weekend against Oregon.
At No. 4 in the BCS standings, the Cardinal still have a real possibility of playing for the national title come January.