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What we learned from Week 6 in the Pac-12

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Rick Bowmer / Associated Press
Utah QB Travis Wilson showed some of his inexperience against UCLA on Thursday, throwing six interceptions.

1. Stanford survives a classic

There's no other way to say it: Stanford scratched and clawed and still barely hung on for a 31-28 win over Washington in a game that will be hard to top for sheer excellence. These were two evenly matched opponents loaded with future NFL players on both sides of the ball.

Things we learned
From Georgia's thrilling Aaron Murray-led overtime win to Jameis Winston's throttling of Maryland, here are the things we learned from college football's sixth weekend. More ...

The Huskies showed they could compete with a legitimate BCS title contender on the road, and the Cardinal again showed the toughness that characterized its Pac-12 title run last season.

The difference was wide receiver Ty Montgomery's kick returns, which allowed Stanford to overcome huge performances from UW quarterback Keith Price and running back Bishop Sankey. Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov, A.J. Tarpley, James Vaughters and Trent Murphy also came up big, combining for seven tackles for loss with 4.5 sacks and one interception.

Based on the sheer drama Saturday, Stanford's Nov. 7 home game against Oregon has the potential to be legendary.

2. Kasen Willians reminds us all of his value

When talking about the Washington offensive triumvirate, wide receiver Kasen Williams had been pushed out of the equation by the emergence of running back Bishop Sankey. Instead of quarterback Keith Price, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Williams, it was Price, Seferian-Jenkins and Sankey.

But against Stanford, it was Williams who made key plays to keep UW alive, including his 40-yard catch late in the fourth quarter that set up the touchdown that brought the Huskies to within 31-28. Williams, who finished with five receptions for 89 yards, is never going to be confused with Usain Bolt. But his hands and body control make him a compelling prospect in the right system, perhaps in the same vein as Anquan Boldin.

3. Arizona State still isn't ready for prime time

It wasn't exactly "same old Sun Devils," but the 37-34 loss to Notre Dame was a reasonable facsimile. Arizona State couldn't stop the run, couldn't generate pressure and couldn't block that talented Fighting Irish defensive front, ceding the lines of scrimmage to Notre Dame.

Marion Grice was held in check, putting the burden entirely on quarterback Taylor Kelly to lift ASU.

Head coach Todd Graham's team is still in contention for the Pac-12 South title but is squarely entrenched in the conference's second-tier.

4. Oregon rolls again

Boy, that Sept. 14 win over Tennessee looks even better, doesn't it?

The Ducks corralled Colorado, 57-16, with quarterback Marcus Mariota throwing for five touchdowns and running for two to bolster his Heisman campaign.

Best of all, the ground game had 349 yards, even with running back De'Anthony Thomas unavailable. Byron Marshall paced Oregon with 122 yards, but freshman Thomas Tyner showed a bit more juice and could be in line for a larger role as the season goes on.

5. Paul Richardson gets back on track

Colorado's top offensive weapon was a non-factor in the loss at Oregon State last week. And while the result was the same on this Saturday, the redshirt junior wide receiver showed he belonged on the same field with the Ducks' stellar assortment of athletes.

Richardson made his share of plays against corners Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Terrance Mitchell, solidifying his status as one of the premier skill players in the Pac-12.

6. California's defense could be historically bad

Looking at what new defensive coordinator Andy Buh inherited, there was reason for some optimism in Berkeley. Sure, everyone had to adjust to a new 4-3 scheme, but the pieces were there. Defensive linemen Brennan Scarlett, Chris McCain and Deandre Coleman; linebacker Nick Forbes; and defensive backs Stefan McClure and Avery Sebastian were all legitimate NFL talents.

So much for that. The Golden Bears have been gutted by injuries and attrition, with linebacker Jalen Jefferson (head/neck) and McClure (knee) the latest to go down in a 44-22 loss to Washington State. Cal, left with only three defensive players who were projected to be starters going back to spring practice, allowed 570 yards of total offense.

Every Cal opponent this season has scored 30 or more points this season, a trend that won't change with UCLA and Oregon State up next. Only USC or Colorado seem like potential candidates not to hit that barrier.

Check out the top 10 images from the sixth weekend of college football play.

7. Say hello to Myles Jack

If you want to sound smart at the bar or tailgate, drop these two lines.

»"Anthony Barr is going to be the first non-quarterback taken in the 2014 NFL Draft."

»"Myles Jack is going to be the next great UCLA linebacker after Barr graduates."

8. Travis Wilson is still a young quarterback

The Utes' sophomore signal-caller has the skill set to be special. Wilson has a quick release, good arm strength and can move well despite his 6-foot-7, 240-pound frame. But Wilson's inexperience gets him in trouble. He makes dangerous throws, and UCLA capitalized with six interceptions, though a handful were bad bounces that can't be blamed on the quarterback.

Oregon State's Sean Mannion struggled with interceptions before taking a major step forward this season. Wilson could see a similar career trajectory, but given Utah's limitations in the running game and on defense, it will need to be accelerated to make a bowl game this season.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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