Week 2 brings the first conference game of the season, and once again, 2 teams have byes in this extra week long season, which will sprinkle byes into the schedule all year long.
Arizona St. (8-5, 5-4 last year), one of two teams that took opening weekend off, gets their season started Thursday night at 7 PM AST (7 PM PDT), hosting Sacramento St. (0-1) from the FCS Big Sky Conference. The Pac-12 channel inherited the coverage.
The Hornets did what FCS second tier teams are supposed to do against decent FBS teams, and San Jose St. is one; put up a fight but gradually get out played in most aspects of the game. The Spartans pulled away to a 24-0 win, with a sprinkling of big plays making most of the difference against a Sacramento St. team that couldn't come up with any of their own.
However, Sacramento St. has upset a Pac-12 team in each of the last 2 seasons, Oregon St. in 2011, and Colorado last year.
The Sun Devils have questions to answer in the secondary and at receiver, but have one of the best defensive fronts in the Pac-12, and a good line in front of QB Taylor Kelly. This should be just the tune up type of game Arizona St. needs before beginning an early season of 4 games against currently ranked teams the next 4 Saturdays.
Utah (1-0) kicks off Saturday, with a Noon MDT (11 AM PDT) start against another in-state opponent, Weber St. (1-0) from the FCS Big Sky Conference. The Pac-12 channel kicks off a marathon of coverage of 5 games with the coverage.
Utah and Weber St. continue the Salt Lake Valley tournament in this one. There are 4 teams, with Utah St. and BYU, located within about an hour of each other, none of whom are in the same league with each other, yet except for Weber St.-BYU, every other combination of these 4 teams will be contested this season.
The Utes got the tournament and the season off to a good start, with a come from behind, 30-26 win over Utah St. last Thursday night, after jumping to an early lead, only to see the Aggies' Chuckie Keeton lead a 20 point run to take command.
Travis Wilson was up to the challenge, though, and so was Andy Phillips, who delivered 3 field goals, and a critical 3rd quarter on-side kick, to deliver the win.
The Wildcats served notice that they are going to be a threat this season, especially offensively, going wire to wire in an opening weekend 50-40 win over Stephen F Austin. And they did it in an unusual way, rushing for 315 yards. No one for Weber St. had a 100 yard day in that, but 3 different backs topped 75 yards.
Oregon St. will be in Salt Lake City next week, so this is a good one to catch before the Beavers game to get a look at what's coming up next.
#2 Oregon (1-0) goes on the road, visiting Virginia (1-0) at 3:30 PM EDT (12:30 PM PDT), and its the regional ABC game in the early afternoon slot except in the Big Ten and northeast areas, with ESPN2 picking up the out of market markets. Interestingly for Beaver fans, the mirror game on ESPN2 locally is San Diego St., whom Oregon St. visits in 2 weeks, at Ohio St.
The Ducks demolished FCS Nicholls St. 66-3 on opening weekend, with a school record 3 players all topping 100 yards rushing. Marcus Mariota kicked off his Heisman Trophy campaign, throwing for 234 yards and a touchdown, and also rushing for 113 yards and 2 more scores.
Meanwhile, DeAnthony Thomas made his debut as a most downs back with a game high 18 carries, for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Byron Marshall added another 124 yards, and yet another touchdown, as the Colonels offered little resistance.
About the only minus coming out of Mark Helfrich's debut at head coach was the first quarter suspension of Terrance Mitchell for targeting.
The Cavaliers pulled out a 19-16 comeback upset win in a defensive struggle over visiting BYU when Kevin Parks, who got only 65 yards on 20 carries, got the most important 13 of them for the winning touchdown with 2 1/2 minutes left.
Oregon ran for an even 500 yards, nearly as much as the Cavaliers and Cougars combined for in total offense, 585 yards, and the Ducks rolled up 772 yards from scrimmage, despite Nicholls St. holding more than a 2-1 time of possession advantage.
Virginia is obviously a better defense than Nicholls St., but can they slow down Oregon? And can the Cavaliers crank up their offense anywhere near enough to fly with the Ducks?
The Bears put up an impressive fight against #22 Northwestern, before falling 44-30. Cal had the game tied in the 4th quarter, and pulled within 7 points with less than 5 minutes to go. And freshman Jared Goff threw for 455 yards and 2 touchdowns, as new coach Sonny Dykes introduced the "Bear Raid" offense.
But so far, these are the same old Bears. Goff was inaccurate, completing only 60% of his passes, and threw 3 interceptions, 2 of them pick-6s to the Wildcats' Collin Ellis. The "Bear Raid" also couldn't crack the end zone when it mattered, twice having to settle for field goals in the 4th quarter after reaching the edge of the red zone.
Cal also couldn't run the ball, or stop the run. Brendan Bigelow ran for 65 yards, but almost half of that came on 1 32 yard run, which would wind up being the Bears' net rushing yards for the night, after Goff's sacks were subtracted.
Meanwhile, Northwestern rolled up 209 yards on the ground, 129 by Treyvon Green, who had 2 touchdowns for the Wildcats.
And the Bears had 10 penalties called against them, continuing yet another of the trends that got former coach Jeff Tedford fired.
Cal will have to correct at least some of these problems, and will begin to try against a Vikings team that bombarded Eastern Oregon 57-17. The Mountaineers are admittedly from another level down (FCS teams play games against lower level schools looking for a payday just like FBS teams do), but Portland St. still ran for over 400 yards, and amassed just shy of 700 yards of total offense.
And we have seen how dangerous Big Sky teams with potent offenses can be.
Oregon St. (0-1) hosts Hawaii (0-1) at 5 PM PDT on the Pac-12 channel unless you live in the Colorado/Utah area, and your provider only provides 1 Pac-12 channel. (Assuming your provider even carries the Pac-12 channel.) The Central Arkansas-Colorado game is in the same time slot; see below, and will carry the Buffs' game. The problem for Oregon St. fans in the area that gets only the Pac-12 Mountain channel is there won't even be a replay, other than the condensed 60 minute version.
Both teams badly need to rebound after opening day efforts that were good on one side of the ball, and a disaster on the other.
The Beavers got a career day from Sean Mannion, who completed 37 of 43 passes, for 422 yards and 3 touchdowns, and without a sack or interception, in bringing Oregon St. from behind 4 times. 13 of the catches were by Brandin Cooks, for 196 of those yards, and 2 of the touchdowns.
It wasn't enough though, as FCS Eastern Washington got 411 passing yards, and 4 touchdown passes, plus another 107 rushing yards, and 2 more scores, from Vernon Adams, including the game winner with 18 seconds left, as the Eagles also came from behind 4 times to upset the formerly 25th ranked Beavers 49-46.
The Rainbows hung with USC until late in the first half, taking a 5-3 lead, and not falling as much as a touchdown down until Taylor Graham threw one of his 4 interceptions to the Trojans' Josh Shaw, who took it back for a touchdown.
But Hawaii didn't find the end zone until Graham hooked up with Keith Kirkwood for a 60 yard scoring strike with only 30 seconds left in the game, and USC won 30-13. Graham did out-throw the Trojans Cody Kessler-Max Whittek quarterback combo, completing 16 passes for 208 yards.
It should be a lower scoring game than the Oregon St.-Eastern Washington shootout, given that Hawaii's defense might be able to harass Mannion a little, but the 1 dimensional Rainbow offense won't be nearly as challenging for the Beaver defense.
Colorado (1-0) hosts Central Arkansas (1-0) at 6 PM MDT (5 PM PDT), and the Pac-12 Mountain channel will have the coverage, with other Pac-12 channels showing a full replay of the game at 12:30 AM Sunday morning. Oregon St. fans may want to set the recorder, since the Buffs will be in Corvallis at the end of the month, to get a scouting video.
This embarrassment of coverage reflects the pre-season impression of the Buffs, which might be unfounded, given their (relatively) impressive 41-27 win over Colorado St. last Sunday in the Rocky Mountain Rumble.
Colorado has got WR Paul Richardson back, after an ACL tear cost him the entirety of last season. Richardson opened the game with an 82 yard touchdown bomb on the Buffs' second play of the game, and closed the scoring with another 75 yard scoring strike from Connor Wood to seal the win with just over 3 1/2 minutes left in the game.
In between, he had 8 other catches, and Wood completed 33 passes for 400 yards, and 1 other score, and without any interceptions. Richardson's speed makes what was one of the worst offenses in FBS football last season instantly a lot more effective.
The Bears, from the FCS Southland Conference, demolished the Incarnate Word, a fledgling FCS independent, racing out to a 51-0 lead before coasting to a 58-7 win. That told everyone about as much as Oregon's win over Nicholls St. did, but it is worth noting that Central Arkansas has run off back to back 9 win seasons, and could be something of a challenge for Colorado.
The conference race kicks off at 7:30 PM PDT when Washington St. (0-1) visits #25 USC (1-0), and Fox Sports 1 will be there, for the latest episode of the most lopsided rivalry in the Pac-12. The Trojans hold a 58-8-4 edge in the series, and Washington St. has lost the last 8 meetings.
The Cougars "Couged it" again, blowing 3 different leads, and came up short in a 31-24 loss at Auburn, in a game where the extreme heat and humidity caught up with both teams. There were 43 points scored in the first 24 minutes of the game, but then only 4 field goals the rest of the night.
Connor Halliday threw for 344 yards and a touchdown, and Washington St. even ran the ball relatively effectively, for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns. But Halliday misfired on almost half his throws, completing 35, but missing on 30 others, less than 54%. Worse, Halliday threw 3 interceptions, and the Cougar special teams also gave up a 100 yard kickoff return to the TIgers' Tre Mason.
Trojan coach Lane Kiffen still hasn't decided between Kessler and Wittek, and didn't have last year's leading rusher RB Silas Redd available. But the rushing game wasn't bad without him, as Tre Madden ran for 109 yards, and Justin David delivered another 74. Redd's return is still uncertain, but a continued absence due to his knee injury this week shouldn't be a problem.
USC's defense allowed only 23 rushing yards in Hawaii, to go with the 4 picks, and allowing less than 150 yards in the air until the last minute of the game, after the outcome was already decided.
But their passing game problems caused USC to fall 1 spot in the poll this week.
The Trojan defense will be more severely tested by the "Air Raid", but is sound enough that when supplemented by a good rushing attack, should be able to buy some time for the quarterback competition to get sorted out.
With a trip to Pullman in early October on Oregon St.'s schedule, and the visit from the Trojans on Nov. 1, Beaver Nation should find plenty of things of interest in this one.
Arizona (1-0) takes their first road trip of the season, visiting UNLV at 7:30 PDT, and CBS Sports Channel has the coverage. Interestingly, despite their relatively close proximity, its only their 2nd meeting ever.
The Wildcats cruised to a 35-0 victory over cross-state FCS rival Northern Arizona, and they did it without Ka'Deem Carey, the nation's leading rusher last year. Carey was suspended for the game by Coach Rich Rodriguez, even though he was absolved of all charges from an off-season domestic dispute, but will make his return in this game.
Meanwhile, Dan Jenkins filled in more than adequately, running for 139 yards, including a 91 yard touchdown run, and catching a B.J. pass for another.
The Rebels suffered a 51-23 loss at Minnesota, despite Nick Sherry completing 35 of 50 passes, for 226 yards and 2 touchdowns. The problems included Sherry also throwing a pair of interceptions, one of which was taken back 89 yards for a touchdown, and the UNLV defense allowing a half dozen Gophers to combine for 221 rushing yards, and 3 touchdowns.
The Rebels also had trouble on special teams, allowing a 98 yard kickoff return by Marcus Jones to start the second half, and subsequently allowing a field goal to not only be blocked, but have than taken for another score.
As a result, UNLV went from down 3 at the break to behind 30-13 before the 3rd quarter was half over without their defense surrendering a single point.
#5 Stanford (12-2, 8-1 last year) has the distinction of being the last team in the country to start their season, hosting San Jose St. (1-0) at 8 PM PDT in the Bill Walsh Legacy Game. The Pac-12 channel concludes their marathon with the coverage of this one.
The Cardinal handed the Spartans 1 of only 2 losses their neighbors from South Bay last year, but it was a close, 20-17 contest. And long before Kevin Hogan took control of the Stanford offense, running off 4 straight wins over ranked opponents, and then leading the Cardinal to a win in the Rose Bowl.
The Spartans lost coach Mike MacIntyre to Colorado as a result of their 11-2 season, but got new coach Ron Caragher off to a good start with a 24-0 win over Sacramento St. last week.
It was something of an odd win, given that quarterback David Fales, who led the nation in accuracy last year, was only 16 of 32 against the Hornets, and Sacramento St. had a more than 12 minute time of possession advantage
Washington and UCLA are both taking the weekend off, after two of the most impressive wins of opening weekend, and in preparation for notable road trips to BCS AQ opponents next week.
The Huskies dominated the second half against then #19 Boise St., pulling away to a 38-6 win, after holding only a 10-3 halftime advantage over the Broncos, to reopen newly renovated Husky Stadium. They moved into the top 25, landing at #20 as a result. Washington will take on Illinois at Soldier Field in Chicago next Saturday.
The Bruins moved up to #18 after their own strong second half, as Brett Hundley led UCLA to a 58-20 win, after leading visiting Nevada only 17-13 at halftime. Hundley completed 22 of 33 passes, for 274 yards and 2 touchdowns, and without any interceptions, and ran for another 63 yards and 2 more scores. UCLA, who will visit Nebraska next week, also identified a solid replacement for Johnathan Franklin, as Jordan James ran for 155 yards and a touchdown.
It's one of the weakest week's schedules the conference has had in a long time, and the fact that the Pac-12 channel had 6 of 9 games relegated to them, with 2 of the others picked up by other conference's tv deals. The underwhelming nature of the non-conference opposition also has every Pac-12 team going against a non-conference opponent as a double digit favorite, with 6 teams favored by 20 or more points.
Having 2 of their better teams, from 2 of their larger markets taking the week off doesn't help either, audience attraction wise.
As a result, its likely to be a frustrating weekend for Pac-12 fans, at least those who even have the Pac-12 channel available, as the conference is trying to pack games into 3 hour windows. College games are almost never completed that fast, and this scheduling is almost guaranteed to cause much to most of the 1st quarter of all but the first game of the day in the 4 game marathon to be missed. Even given that most of the games are likely to be decided quite a while before they end.
Here's hoping Commissioner Larry Scott and his minions figure out what they are doing with scheduling some time soon; this weekend won't do much to create the impression the Pac-12 is the second best conference in football in the country, on or off the field.