After a sprinkling of conference games amidst numerous non-conference games in recent weeks, the Pac-12 campaign starts in earnest this week, with 5 conference contests.
After a flood and a planed weekend off, Colorado (2-0) returns to action, and pays their first visit ever to Corvallis, to take on Oregon St. (3-1, 1-0) at Noon PDT, and the Pac-12 Channel has the coverage.
The Buffs have had 20 days to prepare for Oregon St., after having their game against Fresno St. cancelled due to flooding on campus and in the region, and a bye that was already on the schedule.
Connor Wood eventually won the quarterback competition, and immediately took advantage of the opportunity, completing 56 of 82 passes in the Buffs' first 2 games for 741 yards and 6 touchdowns in just 2 early season games. 21 of them have gone to Paul Richardson, for 417 yards, and 2 touchdowns in each game. Richardson has been a game changer, returning after season ending knee injuries in each of the last 2 seasons.
The Beavers pulled out their second cliff-hanger in as many weeks, defeating San Diego St. 34-30, with a pair of touchdowns and a pair of interceptions, one for a pick-6 that earned Steven Nelson the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week, all in the last 3 minutes of the game in San Diego.
This game has all the earmarks of another old-west shootout.
Arizona (3-0) visits Washington (3-0) at 4 PM, in the only other game in the daylight, and being that its the only game between still unbeaten teams in the conference, FOX picked it for their national east coast prime time game.
The 'Cats had the week off, after breezing to 3 commanding non-conference wins, all by at least 4 scores. But the caliber of the competition was suspect, with UT-San Antonio the relative heavyweight of the bunch.
Arizona obliterated Washington 52-17 last year in Tempe, as the Huskies had no answer for the "RichRod" version of the spread offense. Wildcat coach Rich Rodriguez has a new trigger man in B.J. Denker, who is still settling into the offense, but the 'Cats still have Ka'Deem Carey, the leading rusher in the nation last season. Carey has 299 yards and 4 touchdowns in just 2 games, and has support and relief from Daniel Jenkins, who has run for 239 yards as well. Arizona enters the game 5th in the country in rushing, averaging over 322 yards per game on the ground.
The Huskies humbled FCS Idaho St. 56-0, and it could have been much more lopsided, as Washington was up 42-0 at halftime.
Keith Price completed 16 of 21 passes, for 213 yards, but 3 touchdowns, against the Bengals, and also ran for an additional score.
Bishop Sankey romped for 77 yards and a touchdown on just 4 carries. His early exit to allow Deontae Cooper, Jessie Callier, and a host of others to get bulk of the 370 rushing yards Washington rolled up, but dropped him to #2 in the nation in rushing yards per game.
This could be the game with the highest total rushing yards in the country this week.
#5 Stanford (3-0, 1-0) takes on Washington St. (3-1, 1-0) at 7 PM PDT at Century Link Field in Seattle, with at least a share of first place in the Pac-12 North Division at stake, and with those stakes, its the ESPN evening game.
The Cardinal dominated Arizona St. early, building a 29-0 halftime lead, and a 39-7 edge in the 4th quarter, before the Sun Devils rallied with 3 touchdowns to pull within 11 points, before finally falling 42-28.
Tyler Gaffney led everyone in rushing, with 87 yards, and 2 touchdowns, but overall Stanford rolled up 240 yards rushing, and the Cardinal defense allowed Arizona St. only 50 on the ground. As a result, Stanford had the ball almost 11 more minutes than Arizona St., limiting the opportunities the Sun Devils had to mount a comeback.
The Cougars crushed their neighbors from across the border, burying Idaho 42-0. Connor Halliday threw for 4 touchdowns, and 346 yards, and Washington St. actually managed a running game as well, picking up 71 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
But it was once again the Cougar defense that was solid, holding the Vandals to 253 yards, despite Idaho having the ball more than an extra quarter in the game.
Stanford will run to pass the ball, which may be more difficult, with o-lineman David Yankee out, and Washington St. will pass to pass the ball, something the first half of the game suspension of Ed Reynolds for targeting may make easier. But this one will probably go to whichever defense plays better, and the fact that which defense that might be is in doubt is something no one thought would be the case before the season started.
The Trojans again had trouble throwing the ball, and wasn't overly effective on the ground either against the Utah St. defense, with only 118 yards rushing, 93 of them by Tre Madden.
But the USC defense again won the game. The Aggies' Chuckie Keeton threw for 2 touchdowns, but only 179 yards, and was held in check on the ground.
It'll take yet another solid defensive showing to keep coach Lane Kiffen's seat from becoming as scorching as the 100 degree plus temperatures awaiting them in Tempe, even that late at night.
The Sun Devils appeared over-matched for much of the game at Stanford, but Taylor Kelly finally found his range in the 4th quarter, albeit against a relaxed Cardinal defense, and threw for 3 touchdowns. Kelly completed only 30 of 55 passes, and suffered 2 interceptions to go with the td tosses. Marion Grice got only 50 yards on 17 carries, so there wasn't much ground support either.
Against an arguably even tougher Trojan defense, Arizona St. is going to have to get their offense in gear earlier if they intend to keep their Pac-12 South division hopes alive.
The Bears took a break after being blasted by Ohio St. 52-34. Jared Goff threw for 371 yards and 3 touchdowns, and leads the nation in total yardage per game as a result, but only completed 31 of 53 attempts, just 58%.
And California was out-rushed by the Buckeyes by 200 yards. So the Bears are 97th in the country in rushing yards per game. And their defense is 121st in points allowed per game, a stat that could get worse after going to Oregon.
The Ducks also took the week off after they took Tennessee apart to the tune of a 59-14 win. Ironically, the Vols still came closer than any non-conference opponent of the Ducks since Fresno St. last year.
Oregon enters the game #2 in the nation in both scoring and rushing, and #18 in passing, per game in the country, and their defense isn't bad either, being 5th in the country in points allowed per game.
Week Night Football Will Be Back In A Week
UCLA (3-0) and Utah (3-1, 0-1) have the weekend off to get ready for their showdown in Salt Lake City next Thursday night, to start off October.
The Bruins obliterated New Mexico St., racing out to a 45-0 lead, and cruising to a 59-13 win. UCLA honored WR Nick Pasquale, who was killed in a traffic accident, by running their first play with only 10 players. They might have been able to win playing that way all night. Brett Hundley completed 23 of 35 passes, for 280 yards and 3 touchdown, and Jordan James ran 164 yards and 2 more scores on 19 carries.
The Utes won their 4th consecutive "Holy War", beating BYU 20-13 in Provo. Travis Wilson completed 24 of 35 passes, for 273 yards and 2 touchdowns in an overall defensive struggle, earning him Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors in the process.
Here's the national tv schedule, with times adjusted for east coast bias.