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What we learned from Week 3 in the Pac-12

Here's what we learned from Saturday's Pac-12 action:

1. They're supposed to be SEC

Tennessee has four elite offensive linemen and plenty of talent elsewhere along the roster. Oregon made them look like Nicholls State with quarterback Marcus Mariota putting up video-game numbers in a 45-point pummeling, the Volunteers' worst loss of the modern era and biggest defeat since 1905.

Turns out when Ducks offensive lineman Jake Fisher was delivering those sarcastic remarks about Tennessee's pedigree, he was accurately describing his own team. Oregon is "big, strong and fast" and looks like a real threat to end the SEC's run of BCS titles.

2. Pac-12 refs deliver the "ultimate Pac-12 refs" moment

I don't even know where to begin with the utterly bizarre ending to Wisconsin-Arizona State.

Take 36 seconds, watch how it unfolded and come back here.

What do you think? Was it a kneel down? Was it a fumble?

Whatever it was, the officials did the worst thing possible by doing nothing in response. They allowed the Sun Devils to burn time by sitting on top of the ball. They didn't allow the Badgers to try and spike the ball by not declaring the ball ready for play. They didn't review anything. They didn't signal anything. They didn't do anything.

Pac-12 refs have done plenty to earn their terrible reputations -- the endless flags, the unnecessary explanations, the Oklahoma-Oregon onside kick, the review of the review with Oregon and USC, the fumble that wasn't in a Washington-Oregon State game -- but this takes the cake.

Can't wait to hear the explanation the Pac-12 office comes up with for this debacle.

3. UCLA delivers an emotional win

UCLA could have thrown in the towel after falling behind 21-3 at Nebraska. Instead the Bruins rallied for a 41-21 win, the perfect way to honor fallen teammate Nick Pasquale.

4. Stanford is rough around the edges

The circumstances -- a cross-country flight, a 9 a.m. Pacific start, Army's triple-option offense -- make it difficult to glean any real understanding from Stanford's closer-than-expected 34-20 win over the Black Knights.

Focused on shutting down those fullback dives up the gut, the Cardinal defense struggled with some of Army's edge runs, a shock considering the overwhelming edge in athleticism. If it somehow becomes more than a one-time problem, it would not bode well for Stanford's hopes of containing speedy Oregon for a second-straight year.

5. USC back on track, for one week anyway

The Trojans looked like a real offense, getting rid of the endless screens and horizontal nonsense in their 35-7 win over Boston College. Marqise Lee finally got loose with an 80-yard touchdown catch.

6. Colorado shows life is bigger than football

The Buffaloes' game against Fresno State was canceled because of the intense rainstorms and flash flooding that has killed at least four in that state, with hundreds of others unaccounted for.

But food that was going to be served Saturday had already been delivered to the stadium, so the team provided meals to 800 first-responders and families displaced by the weather.

At a time when college football seems to be detached from the larger mission of universities in a way that seems irreparable, kudos to Colorado for doing the right thing on several fronts!

7. Mamba strikes

That is a fast, fast man. Some enterprising NFL offensive coordinator is going to have a lot of fun figuring out how to create mismatches with De'Anthony Thomas sooner than later.

8. Oregon State is that team in 2013

Every year there is always one team in the Pac-12 that becomes a magnet for close games and wild plays -- appointment television because anything can happen. After three weeks, Oregon State had officially claimed the crown with a shocking 49-46 loss to Eastern Washington and the wild 51-48 overtime win at Utah.

Quarterback Sean Mannion now has thrown 12 touchdowns against only one interception, with junior Brandin Cooks (nine receptions for 210 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner) playing as well as any wide receiver in college football.

9. Cal misses Avery Sebastian

Everyone knew going into the season it was going to take an incredible set of circumstances for Cal to upend Ohio State. But any scenario went out the window when safety Avery Sebastian, an emotional leader of the defense and the Golden Bears' top player in the secondary, tore his Achilles in the opener. In his absence, Cal was just abysmal, taking bad angles against the run and allowing receivers to run free.

Up next? Oregon.

It's going to be a long season in Berkeley.

10. Damante is the man

Damante Horton now has two pick sixes in as many weeks, adding a 72-yard score in Washington State's home opener against Southern Utah after delivering the Cougars' only touchdown to shock USC.

If the Washington State pass defense can remain this opportunistic, a bowl bid is in play for a rebuilding program that is making strides under Mike Leach's leadership.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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