It's an even fuller Pac-12 TV Schedule in Week 2, with all 12 teams in action, beginning with the battle for Utah on Friday night, and ending with 3 Saturday night games, as 9 of 12 conference teams have home games.
Utah didn't get it in gear until the second quarter against Northern Colorado, but the Utes then reeled off 3 touchdowns on their way to a 41-0 shutout of the Bears. John White IV ran for 119 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, and big Joe Kruger capped the night with a 24 yard pick-6.
But is was Jordan Wynn who really torched Northern Colorado, completing 19 of 27 passes for 200 yards, and he did so by spreading the ball around, and despite only getting 2 catches from DeVonte Christopher. Jake Murphy had 6 catches for 78 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Dres Anderson added 53 more yards on 4 catches.
Utah St. in contrast wasted no time, jumping to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter over Southern Utah, and thundered to a 34-3 win over the Thunderbirds. Chuckie Keeton completed 22 of 26 passes, for 304 yards, and 2 touchdowns, both of which came in the first 9 minutes of the game. Joe Hill added 116 yards and 3 touchdowns on his 11 carries. The Aggies have the firepower to challenge the Ute defense.
It's the 110th renewal of this rivalry, but the first in 3 years. The Utes have owned this series, winning the last 12 meetings, and 20 of the last 22, and hold a 77-28-4 overall edge. That said, this could be the Aggies' best shot at a win in at least a generation.
Saturday's action starts at noon, with 3 Big Sky FCS teams visiting Pac-12 stadiums. All 3 games are on various Pac-12 channels, creating the biggest coverage collision yet for the conference broadcast schedule.
The Eagles have already upset one Palouse neighbor, beating Idaho 20-3 in the Kibbie Dome. Kyle Pardon completed only 13 of 33 passes, but still out threw a pair of Idaho quarterbacks, and the Eagle ground game also had the edge on the Vandals, as the Eastern Washington defense allowed only 237 total yards.
Eastern almost beat Washington last year, and would love nothing more than to stake a claim to everything between Spokane and Boise. Small potatoes in the overall college football world, but it would be a significant step for a Big Sky squad, and Washington St. best be prepared, or their Pirate ship could find itself sinking.
The Crimson Cougars Couged it in Provo because they couldn't find the end zone, as BYU belted them 30-6 behind a 25 of 36 night by Riley Nelson, who sliced up the Wazzu backside for 285 yards and 2 touchdowns. It was only the third time in new head coach Mike Leach's career that a team he has coached didn't score a touchdown.
Leach's "Air Raid" offense wasn't totally ineffective,as Jeff Tuel completed 30 of 45 passes for 229 yards, but with no effective rushing game at all (Washington St. had a minus 5 net yards against a stout Blue Cougar defense), any inconsistency at all meant the end of a drive.
Tuel took a number of shots, but many came when he had time to do something, except there was nothing available to do, as the BYU defense gave a clinic on coverage sacks. This is a must win game for Washington St., and suddenly not an automatic one. How much progress the Cougs make from week 1 to week 2 will be of interest well beyond the Palouse.
The Hornets fought back from a 21 point deficit midway in the second quarter, and a run of 16 straight points had Sacramento St. within 9 points of New Mexico St. at the start of the 4th quarter. Beaver nation knows all to well that the Hornets are a fiesty bunch.
But the lack of depth that often is the real difference between FCS and FBS teams saw them wear down, and the Aggies pulled away with 3 touchdowns in the final period for a 49-19 win in Las Cruces.
Sacramento St. struggled to run the ball, but Garrett Saffron was effective in the air, completing 23 of 35 passes, for 308 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Buffs came from behind twice in Denver against Colorado St., but so did the Rams. Colorado St. drove into range for field goals twice in the 4th quarter, and their defense only yielded 3 first downs in the final period, to pull out a 22-17 win.
Colorado's inability to establish a running game, amassing only 58 yards on 29 carries, and a mix of inexperience and lack of depth had a lot to do with their demise in their instate rivalry game. New Buffs quarterback Jordan Webb, who transferred from Kansas, posted Jayhawk-like numbers as well, completing just 22 of 41 throws, for only 187 yards, though he did deliver 2 touchdowns.
It's a must win that isn't an assured victory in Boulder in the Buffs' home opener as well, and another game where the progress from week 1 to 2 needs to be significant.
The Thunderbirds, as noted, were down by 3 touchdowns at Utah St. in the first quarter, and never mounted much of a challenge. Because going to Logan doesn't yield the greatest of payouts, even by FCS standards, a second such exercise in Berkeley was called for.
Southern Utah posted a 6-5 season last year, but that was in the Great West Conference, which was absorbed mostly into he Big Sky. This is the FCS equivalent of the Pac-12 or the Big-12 absorbing the Mt. West or the WAC. That upgrade alone is going to make things challenging for the Thunderbirds, so the upgrade to multiple FBS teams is trading losses in what's likely a losing season anyway for dollars and exposure that will help with recruiting down the road. These games are so that other players might be able to win more Big Sky games in 2014 or 2015.
The Golden Bears experienced a variety of problems, many self inflicted, in their return home to renovated Memorial Stadium, and the results were memorable for all the wrong reasons. Nevada jumped to a first quarter 14-0 lead while California's usual starting quarterback Zach Maynard sat out most of the opening period as a result of missing a summer tutoring session. Bear fans calling for Allan Bridgford as the quarterback got a look at their alternative, and it wasn't pretty. Brigford completed only 1 of 8 passes, for just 8 yards.
Maynard oversaw a gradual rally, and the Bears eventually caught up by the middle of the 4th quarter. But the Wolfpack put together a 9 play, 61 yard drive, finished off by a 19 yard completion from Cody Fajardo to Brandon Wimberly, and then Stefphon Jefferson's game winning 2 yard touchdown run with 36 seconds left in Strawberry Canyon.
After a pair of Maynard completions, Cal's second fumble of the game ended it, giving Nevada a sweep of the Bears over the last 3 seasons.
Maynard completed 17 of 30 passes once he got into the game, for a pair of touchdowns, but he had very little infantry support, as the Bears only ran for 110 yards. 33 of those and one touchdown were on reverses ans sweeps by wide receiver Keenan Allen. Isi Sofele inexplicably had only 5 carries, and gained more yards as a receiver than he did running.
Meanwhile, the balanced Wolfpack Pistol Offense was able to keep the ball away from the Bears enough for a time of possession advantage of more than 10 minutes. Fajardo completed 25 of 32 passes for 230 yards, and ran for 97 more, on 21 carries, while Jefferson added 145 yards and 3 touchdowns on his 34 carries.
Southern Utah probably won't answer any questions about California's season, but there suddenly are plenty of them.
Five games have staggered starts across the afternoon, and 4 have true national distribution. With the exception of USC, that's due to the profile of the ranked opponent, and not the Pac-12 participant.
#2 USC (1-0) vs. Syracuse (0-1) at East Rutherford, NJ, at 3:30 EDT (12:30 PDT) on ABC, in a game the Orangemen moved to next door to New York City to reach and draw a larger audience for the nationally marketable Trojans.
The Trojans jumped ahead of Hawaii on the first play of the game when Matt Barkley connected with Marqise Lee for a 75 yard touchdown, and USC never looked back. Lee also added a 100+ yard kickoff return that netted him the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week honor.
Building a 35-0 halftime lead on the way to a 49-10 win apparently wasn't impressive enough, though, as USC was passed up by Alabama for first place in the AP Poll.
It was the first time a No. 1 ranked team won by more than 35 points and allowed 10 or fewer and still fell from the top spot since 1974, when Notre Dame beat Northwestern 49-3. Ohio St. leaped over the Irish from No. 2 to No. 1 after a 51-10 win over Oregon St. (Not that Beaver fans wanted to be reminded of that.)
And though Barkley threw for 4 scores, 2 to Robert Woods, he did complete barely over 60% of his passes, connecting on only 23 of 38 throws. And though the game's leading rusher, transfer from Penn St. Silas Redd ran for 56 yards on 9 carries, the Trojans only ran for 81 net yards.
Redd was also stripped of the ball after a 41 yard catch and run. So there still plenty for the Trojans to improve on.
The Orangemen rallied from a 35-13 deficit against Northwestern midway in the third quarter in the Carrier Dome with 28 consecutive points on 4 touchdown passes by Ryan Nassib to take a 41-35 lead with 2:40 left. But aided by a controversial pass interference penalty, the Wildcats drove for the game tieing touch down with 44 seconds left, and took the lead for good with the conversion kick.
Nassib completed only 2 of 7 passes as Syracuse attempted to drive for a game winning field goal, and Northwestern claimed the 42-41 win in one of the most exciting games of opening weekend. Nassib is a serious threat, having completed 44 of 65 passes, for 470 yards and the 4 scores. Nassib also spread the ball around, fining 9 different receivers, and each of them multiple times.
There's essentially no chance of a 12-9 game here.
The Badgers survived a stern challenge from FCS Northern Iowa, as the Panthers took Wisconsin down to the wire before Montee Ball picked up 21 yards and 2 touchdowns in the final minutes to run out the clock, and preserve a 26-21 win.
The runs capped a 120 yard performance by Ball on 32 carries. Meanwhile, new Wisconsin quarterback Danny O'Brien, a transfer from Maryland, completed 83% of his throws, connecting on 19 of 23 throws, for 219 yards and 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions in the turnover free game.
The Badger defense didn't allow Northern Iowa across midfield until well into the third quarter either, but despite having a nearly 2 to 1 edge in time of possession, and 16 mores plays, Wisconsin didn't put up a touchdown until less than a minute before halftime, and could never put the surprisingly pesky Panthers away.
The Beavers had their opener against Nicholls St. cancelled when the Colonels decided not to chance the trip in the wake of Hurricane Isaac, and spent the time getting an early start on trying to prepare for Wisconsin, with the intent of avoiding a repeat of anything close to last year's 35-0 disaster at Camp Randall.
Last year, Sean Mannion didn't know he was going to be the every down quarterback when the Beavers went to Madison, and neither did the rest of the team. This time around, Oregon St. should have their entire offense on the same page for a change.
The Bulldogs jumped to a 21-0 lead by less than a minute into the second quarter, and cruised to a 37-10 win over the FCS Weber St. Wildcats of the Big Sky Conference.
Fresno St. got a balanced attack, as Derek Carr, the younger brother of the 49ers' David Carr, who was also a Bulldog quarterback, completed 20 of 25 passes, 80%, for 298 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Robbie Rouse was running for another 123 yards, and 2 more touchdowns, on his 22 carries. Rouse also picked up an additional 22 yards on 3 catches.
The Bulldogs will need all of that and more to try to keep pace with Oregon, though.
The Ducks ushered in the Super Mario(-ta) era with a 50 point outburst in the first 23 minutes of the game, as Marcus Mariota connected on 16 of his first 17 throws, on his way to completing 18 of 22 passes for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first college game before getting benched before halftime, along with the rest of the starters. Bryan Bennett, whom Mariota beat out for the starting qb job, actually played more minutes that Mariota,
The only negatives for Oregon is that Arkansas St. beat the third and fourth string Ducks 31-7, which meant they only lost 57-34, and the Red Wolves rolled up 530 yards, not that much less than the 605 the Ducks flew to.
Bank on Oregon springing an "explosion" play on the ground in this one. In the "Age of Chip" (since Chip Kelly became the head coach) the Ducks lead the nation in running plays that go for 30+ yards. During that same time, Fresno St. leads the nation in such runs allowed.
The Huskies jumped ahead of San Diego St. with a pair of first quarter touchdowns, but the offense lost some steam after that. Had it not been for a defensive touchdown by Will Shamburger, who returned a fumble after a completion 44 yards for the score, former Oregon St. quarterback Ryan Katz might have really made Washington sweat. As it was, the Huskies held on for a 21-12 win.
Keith Price completed 25 of 35 passes, for 222 yards, but the Huskies weren't as effective on the ground, rushing for only 106 yards, 66 by BIshop Sankey on 22 carries.
Washington lost starting running back Jesse Caillier almost right off the bat to a knee injury, and then lost right tackle Ben Riva to a broken arm before halftime. The Huskies also had defensive end Haouli Jamora go down with a knee injury. MRIs on Monday revealed that both Caillier and Jamora suffered torn ACL's and are done for the season, so Sankey will have to continue to carry almost the entire responsibility for replacing Chris Polk.
The real news was the Washington defense, the worst in the history of the program last year, held Katz and the Aztecs to only 327 yards for new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. The Huskies will need an even better effort to keep up with LSU, though.
The Tigers mauled North Texas 41-14, rolling up 508 yards in the process. Washington's run defense will be tested the most in this rematch of head coach Steve Sarkisian's first game with the Huskies, which Washington was quite competitive in back in 2009 in Seattle, losing only 31-23. Against the Mean Green, LSU got 141 yards and 2 touchdowns on 13 carries from Kenny Hilliard, and another 123 from Alfred Blue on his 16 rushes.
Odell Beckham relieved at least some of the concerns in Death Valley about the suspension for the season of Tyrann Mathieu, aka the Honey Badger, with a 70 yard punt return, on his way to 101 yards on kick returns. Special teams, which wasn't the strongest part of Washington's effort against San Diego St., will need to not let the Huskies down in their attempt to re-insert themselves into the national limelight.
The Huskers used a spectacular day by Taylor Martinez, who completed 26 of 34 passes for 354 yards and 5 touchdowns, to blow by Southern Mississippi 49-20. The Black Shirt defense was good as well, allowing the Golden Eagles only 260 total yards, and just 75 in the air.
Nebraska could well be without running back Rex Burkhead, though, against UCLA. Burkhead, who ran for over 1,300 yards last year, is questionable for the Bruins game. Burkhead left the Southern Mississippi game in the first quarter, and an MRI on his knee confirmed he has suffered a mild sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
The Bruins' new quarterback Brett Hundley ran for a 75 yard touchdown on the first play of the game in Houston, and Johnathan Franklin added 74 and 78 yard touchdown carries, which earned him the Pac-12 offensive player of the week award, as UCLA rolled past Rice 49-24.
But the Bruin defense allowed the Owls 17 consecutive points in an 8 minute stretch midway in the first half, and UCLA suffered several special teams miscues as well as 8 penalties for over 100 yards, in new coach Jim Mora Jr.'s debut. The mission for the Bruins in their home opener in the Rose Bowl is to clean up their act. They will need to in order to hang with Nebraska.
Evening sees three games going head to head, including the Arizona games that have to be played at night during the first half of the season, and its the first time the Pac-12 "Network"'s lack of coverage impacts FBS teams from outside the conference's footprint.
The Blue Devils piled up 30 points in the second quarter alone on their way to a 46-26 win over Florida International. Sean Winfree completed 21 of 30 passes, for 290 yards and a pair of scores, and both Connor Vernon and Jamison Crowder had huge nights receiving.
Vernon had a 49 yard reception as well as one for a 28 yard touchdown, on his way to a 10 catch, 180 yard night. Crowder came up with 102 yards on 6 catches, including the 60 yard scoring strike that started a run of 24 consecutive Duke points in the middle of the game.
The Blue Devils also got a boost from their special teams and defense, which provided both their second half scores. A 75 yard return for a touchdown off of a blocked field goal and a 98 yard interception for another score assured that the Golden Panthers would never get close again.
The Cardinal struggled to put San Jose St. away, barely beating the Spartans 20-17, who had rallied from 2 different 2 touchdown deficits. Josh Nunes completed just 16 of 26 passes for 125 yards and 1 score in his debut as the replacement for Andrew Luck, and needed every bit of Stepfan Taylor's 116 yards on 26 carries, and his touchdown, to pull out the win.
A slow start was to be expected as the Cardinal transition in not only Nunes to replace Luck, but also replacements for a pair of All-American offensive linemen, but with games against USC and Washington following the visit from the Blue Devils, lots of people will be watching to see if there's substantial improvement this week.
#18 Oklahoma St. (1-0) at Arizona (1-0) at 7:30 AST (7:30 PDT) on the Pac-12 National Channel and all but the Bay Area regional channels.
The Cowboys scored early, often, and relentlessly in destroying FCS Savannah St. 84-0. The game was over after a 35-0 first quarter by Oklahoma St., but there's no mercy rule, or running clock rule, in NCAA football, and the result was the most lopsided win involving an FBS team in decades. This despite the fact that the Cowboys' starters didn't even complete that 5 touchdown first quarter.
The country will learn a lot more about the Cowboys in their trip to Tucson, though a decision by the Pac-12 Network's cable partners to not show the game in Oklahoma might mean most if their fans are even more in the dark about this team than they were, having learned nothing from the mismatch against the toothless Tigers.
The Wildcats needed overtime to pull out a 24-17 win over Toledo. Matt Scott scrambled and threw a 10 yard touchdown pass to Terrence Miller that salvaged what could have been a disaster in new coach RIch Rodriguez's debut in the dessert, after a potentially game winning field goal attempt as time expired in regulation by John Bonano missed. It was Bonano's second miss of the game.
"Rich Rod"'s spread run offense suited Scott perfectly, as the new 'Cat quarterback threw for 387 yards and 2 touchdowns, on a 30 of 46 effort, and he also ran for another 74 yards on 14 carries. Running back Ka'Deem Carey is content with the new offense as well, after rushing for 147 yards, including a 73 yard scoring jaunt, on 20 carries.
Meanwhile, Arizona linebacker Jake Fischer was busy recording 13 tackles, 2.5 of which were for a loss, and forcing a fumble to frustrate the Rocket offense, and earn the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week honor in the process.
Oklahoma St. has beaten Arizona soundly the last couple of years, and that contributed considerably to Rodriguez replacing former coach Mike Stoops in Tucson. There's still a lot to learn about both teams, and this game should provide some answers.
The Illini overcame the loss of quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who had completed 11 of 18 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown, as well as running for 21 yards and another score, to a left ankle injury in the third quarter, to down Western Michigan 24-7.
Scheelhaase hasn't done much in practice, and is questionable for Saturday night in Tempe. If Scheelhaase can't go, or can't finish, both Riley O'Toole and Miles Osei might see action. Illinois could also count on a ball control system that resulted in their having the ball for more than 10 minutes more than the Broncos.
The Sun Devils got the Todd Graham era in Tempe off to a fast start, racing out to a 42-0 halftime lead over FCS Northern Arizona, and cruised to a 63-6 crushing of their Big Sky Conference little brothers.
It was Taylor Kelly's debut with Arizona St. as well, and he proved highly accurate, albeit against questionable competition, completing 15 of 19 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown. Cameron Marshall only ran for 14 yards on 9 carries, but got a pair of touchdowns in the process, producing an early end to his evening.
It allowed Marion Grice to have a career best night, piling up 107 yards and 3 touchdowns on 14 carries.
The visit from the Illini, who beat the Sun Devils 17-14 last year in Champaign, will provide a much better read on both Graham and Arizona St.