What we learned from Week 8 in the Pac-12

Here is what we learned in the Pac-12 on Saturday:

1. Stanford gets back to basics

After getting ripped all week for throwing the ball on the last two plays of the loss at Utah, Cardinal head coach David Shaw did what everyone had been demanding and ran the ball. Shaw called 50 runs and gashed the middle of the UCLA defense for 192 yards.

It wasn't flashy, fancy or entertaining, but it delivered a season-saving 24-10 win over the Bruins. The approach rendered UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr a non-factor, while holding the ball for 37 minutes kept the defense fresh and allowed linebackers Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov to keep bringing the heat on quarterback Brett Hundley.

It was the very same game plan that took Stanford to a Pac-12 championship and Rose Bowl win last season, and the very same needed to upset explosive Oregon in less than three weeks.

2. Brett Hundley can be great, but needs a running game

When UCLA and Stanford played twice in six days last season, it was not a surprise that the game that was close had running back Johnathan Franklin rush for 194 yards. The Bruins' version of the spread offense needs the run to be effective. Otherwise, the opposing defense can focus on defending the perimeter, especially if they have a punishing front seven.

Stanford definitely meets that criteria, so the absence of Jordon James put the game entirely on Hundley, and he was not able to meet the challenge. Under a constant barrage, Hundley was never able to set his feet and drive the ball with authority.

Hundley has the tools to be an elite quarterback at this level and the next, but still needs seasoning to reach that potential.

3. USC's offensive line gets manhandled in South Bend

Stephon Tuitt is a man, brutally overpowering USC left tackle Chad Wheeler for two sacks in an ugly slog that saw the Fighting Irish end their five-game home losing streak to the Trojans.

Louis Nix also qualifies, so it isn't a surprise that USC committed four holding penalties and plenty more that weren't called. Whoever takes over for interim head coach Ed Orgeron next season will have to find the next Matt Kalil and Tyron Smith to set the edge so the likes of wide receiver Nelson Agholor have time to operate.

4. Marqise Lee aggravates his knee injury

The fantastic USC junior wide receiver didn't play in the second half against Notre Dame after aggravating the left knee injury that forced him to miss last week's game. Lee's absence allowed the Irish to focus their coverage entirely on Agholor and force the other inexperienced Trojan pass-catchers to try and win the game.

If this knee injury continues to be a lingering issue, at what point would Orgeron, wide receivers coach Tee Martin or even athletic director Pat Haden step in and advise Lee to shut it down for the season?

Lee loves and appreciates his teammates to the utmost and is desperately needed with the limited number of scholarship skill players, but there is no reason to risk his future if the season is spiraling out of control.

5. Empty numbers abound around the Pac-12

Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday tied the FBS record for completions in a game and set the mark for pass attempts by going 58 of 89 for 557 yards and four touchdowns.

The Cougars lost by 24 to Oregon, powered by another sensational performance from quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion (481 passing yards and four touchdowns) and wide receiver Brandin Cooks (career-high 232 receiving yards and one touchdown) decimated a California secondary that allowed 931 yards and six touchdowns in its previous two games.

Mannion and Cooks will have a chance to legitimize themselves and the Beavers' credentials in the Pac-12 North next week against Stanford.

6. Marion Grice knows the end zone

Not that it was a vintage year for Pac-12 basketball last season, but Marion Grice would have ranked eighth in scoring at 15.4 points per game.

That's pretty good in college basketball, but just ridiculous in college football, as Grice leads the FBS, including kickers and position players, after scoring three more touchdowns in a 53-24 rout of Washington.

Grice looks to be the true three-down back that NFL teams will be looking for, especially with his outstanding receiving skills in mind.

7. Will Sutton finally shows up

After being blasted for his offseason weight gain and poor play, Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton erupted for three tackles for loss with one sack against the Huskies.

Perhaps Sutton had to play his way back into shape or really as close to having the impact his head coach Todd Graham kept saying the 2012 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year was offering, but this is the dominant defender everyone expected after last season's breakout season.

With the Pac-12 South back in play after UCLA's loss, Sutton can redeem himself and put ASU in position for the Rose Bowl with a dominant second half of the season.

8. Washington takes a step back

The Huskies' offensive and defensive line looked bad at Arizona State, like Tyrone Willingham-era bad.

Now certainly not a reflection on the upgraded personnel Steve Sarkisian has brought in, but that's how an emotionally drained Washington played after coming up on the wrong end of its two-game gauntlet against Stanford and Oregon.

Games against California and Colorado should allow UW to get back on track, but the last thing this team wants is another seven-win season. Sarkisian has to regroup and rally this program to be in position to upset UCLA or knock off Oregon State and finally breakthrough with an eighth regular-season victory.

9. Ka'Deem Carey carries the mail

The Arizona running back had a career-high 40 carries, finishing with 236 yards and one touchdown in the 35-24 win over Utah. Those same Utes held Stanford to 143 yards on the ground in an upset win just seven days ago, one more reminder that Carey is more than the product of head coach Rich Rodriguez's spread offense.

The bigger concern for Utah will be the health of starting quarterback Travis Wilson, who suffered a hand injury.

10. Colorado has its backfield of the future

The Buffaloes' game against Charleston Southern was the lay-up they were looking for when seeking a late replacement for Fresno State. Colorado cruised in a 43-10 demolition of an FCS opponent that keeps bowl eligibility on the table. It also provided a sensational launching pad for freshman running back Michael Adkins II, who rushed for 137 yards and a school freshman record with four touchdowns.

Paired with quarterback Sefo Liufau, who was 14-of-20 passing for 198 yards and one touchdown in his first career start, Adkins and Liufau should give Colorado a solid foundation on which to rebuild the program over the next few seasons.

Add freshman linebacker Addison Gillam into the mix and it is clear that new head coach Mike MacIntyre's eye for talent is already producing immediate results.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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