Separation weekend for Pac-12

Separation weekend for Pac-12
October 7, 2011, 4:11 pm
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PROGRAMING NOTE: Watch Stanford take on Colorado Saturday on VERSUS. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m.
All-righty then. Were done with the events in Eugene on Thursday night and now we can focus on the rest of the Pac-12 on a weekend that could begin to sort the wheat from the chaff in this conference.

Stanford continues to cruise through its early season schedule and it would be a shock to see things change this weekend when Colorado comes calling. The Cards still have not been tested and continue to be a work in progress on the defensive side of the ball -- albeit one that still has a chance to be very good.

I dont think the answer to, Can the Cardinal stop a good teams offense? will be forthcoming against a Colorado team that has mustered just one victory this year. Colorado is simply outmanned in its first year of play in the conference.

PREVIEW: Colorado vs. No. 7 Stanford

Andrew Luck is everything expected of him, the Cardinal has three tight ends who will all play on Sundays, and the offensive line is coming together nicely. The question of how much the loss of Shane Skov will affect the defense is still probably weeks away from being known. But for this week, all is well in the land of wishful thinking.

Two games of interest in terms of whats real and whats not in the Pac-12 this year are ASU at Utah, and WSU at UCLA. Arizona State is good -- with a chance to be very good -- but every time you start to think the Sun Devils have it all together, they step on their own body parts. This is a real test for the Sun Devils theyve been much better at home than on the road and they have to travel to Utah. The Utes have a backup quarterback starting and that bodes well for the Devils defense. Like Cal, I think Utah is trying to figure itself out. I think ASU survives -- but dont say I didnt warn you.

PREVIEW: No. 22 ASU vs. Utah
I never thought Id be talking about Washington St. playing a game of any meaning five games into the season but if the Cougars beat UCLA Saturday, theyll be 4-1 -- and its not out of the question.

Dont get me wrong, I dont think WSU is headed for national prominence, but I do think this is a winnable game for them. And, I just cant help rooting for them -- its like cheering for Bambi against Godzilla. Only this Godzilla (UCLA) is bruised and battered and is no threat to Tokyo -- or maybe even to Pullman, Wash.

And finally, the futility bowl: Arizona and Oregon State. The Wildcats are living proof of what happens when good skill position players dont have the big uglies up front to keep them out of harms way. The Cats lost their offensive line and much of their defense and despite a very good quarterback and an all-star receiver they are mired in mediocrity. In fact, mediocrity would be a lofty goal at this juncture.

As to the Beavs -- I dont know what to say. This is a team that has always thrived because of the system, but this year there seems to be a system failure in Corvallis. This game falls into the dreaded must win category for OSU. For Arizona, after this game its either, How bout those Cats, or Whens hoops start?

Thats the good and the bad in the Pac this week. And you can rest assured therell be some of the ugly too.

Barry Tompkins is a regular contributor to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and Chronicle Live.