Welcome back to the Pac-12 CFB Notebook! Week 2 has come and gone, and the season rolls on.
As week 3 gets ready to roll, so do we. We are back with our top headlines and power rankings.
What to Watch For...
The New Kids on the Block
So Kevin Sumlin and Chip Kelly are 0-2, and Herm Edwards is 2-0 and the Sun Devils are ranked in the top 25. Just like we all thought would happen (NOT).
In all seriousness, one of the more intriguing storylines has been following the new coaches as they adjust to their new teams. Chip Kelly took over one of the more depleted teams after this past NFL draft, while Sumlin and Edwards took over fairly strong rosters. Edwards has had his team humming along, while Kelly and Sumlin are floundering with their new squads. All of these coaches should get a win next week for their teams, but each of these coaches are going to have a unique path throughout the rest of the year that will be worth watching.
Heading into the season, the Pac-12 boasted several Heisman candidates; specifically, Bryce Love, Khalil Tate, and Jake Browning. To this point in the season, each of these 3 candidates have failed to post Heisman worthy numbers. Browning has been inconsistent, throwing about 300 yards in each game but throwing 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions total at this point in the season. Bryce Love struggled in the first game, but broke through against USC with over 130 yards this past week. And Khalil Tate has been outright poor in both games this season. The conference will either need big turnarounds from one of these athletes, or a new player breakthrough altogether, to get the Pac-12 back in the Heisman discussion.
Last Week of Non-Conference Play
Outside of Stanford and USC, we have seen mainly non-conference games for the Pac-12 teams so far this season. These fun match-ups give Pac-12 fans the opportunity to see teams outside the conference go at it with our guys on the west coast. This week will mark one of the last weeks for most teams to play non-conference games. This means no more cupcake games like Oregon versus Bowling Green State, but also no more fantastic match-ups such as Washington versus Auburn. Now, we will still have a couple more non-conference games sprinkled in throughout the season such as USC versus Notre Dame or Stanford versus Notre Dame. But, after this week, it’s time to get ready for the return of Pac-12 after Dark.
Pac-12 Power Rankings
1. #9 Stanford Cardinal (2-0 Overall, 1-0 Conference)
The #1 and #2 spots stay the same as Stanford turned in a strong performance against a quality, ranked team in USC. Though the Cardinal offense didn’t have quite the showing it did in week 1, Bryce Love finally got things going on the ground. The Stanford offense looked good against a tough Trojan defense, while the Cardinal defense shut down USC completely. The Cardinal have raced out to an impressive 2-0 start, and should go to 3-0 after this week vs UC Davis.
Up Next: UC Davis
2. #10 Washington Huskies (1-1 Overall)
U-Dub got back in the win column with a big win against UND. The biggest takeaway was the offensive outpour from the Huskies. The team totaled over 600 total yards, with 313 yards passing and 2 TDs from QB Jake Browning. The 2 turnovers from Browning are worrisome, as he still hasn’t put together a complete game yet. But this was still a strong showing from Washington. The Huskies will get no rest, however, as they have another tough challenge this coming weekend from the Utes in Sack Lake City.
Up Next: @ Utah
3. #23 Arizona State Sun Devils (2-0 Overall)
The Sun Devils are the biggest risers this week after a tremendous upset against the Michigan State Spartans. Manny Wilkins turned in a massive performance for ASU with 380 passing yards and a TD. The Sun Devil defense has been better than advertised to this point in the season, and they kept the game close which allowed the game-winning field goal in the closing seconds to knock off the 11th ranked Spartans. ASU has been the biggest surprise of the Pac-12 this season so far, and they will hope to keep it rolling this next week versus SDSU.
Up Next: @ San Diego State
4. Utah Utes (2-0 Overall)
Utah remained in the same ranking this week after receiving an early season test from Northern Illinois. The Utes managed to hang on to the win, but never managed to put the NIU Huskies away for good in the 17-6 victory. Tyler Huntley turned in a solid game with just under 300 yards passing, and the defense never gave up any big plays to NIU. The Utes will face their first major test this season as they take on the #9 ranked Washington Huskies in their next matchup.
Up Next: versus Washington
5. #20 Oregon Ducks (2-0 Overall)
The Ducks climb 1 spot this week after taking care of business against Portland State. Justin Herbert looked much improved from last week as he threw for 250 yards and 4 TDs. The Ducks defense performed well against the Vikings, and this win was never really in doubt for Oregon. They faced an opponent they should have beaten and did so soundly. The Ducks will look to go 3-0 next week as they take on the San Jose State Spartans.
Up Next: versus San Jose State
6. #22 USC Trojans (1-1 Overall, 0-1 Conference)
USC never managed to get things going on offense against Stanford. They had flashes of a great rushing attack, but JT Daniels and the passing game failed to complement the run game. The Trojan defense performed as well as anyone could hope for against a potent Cardinal offense, but they couldn’t receive any support from the offense. The 3 turnovers certainly didn’t help the Trojans cause, neither. Still, the Trojans have a ton of talent and can’t be overlooked. But they could be facing another tough rivalry game against the Texas Longhorns this weekend.
Up Next: @ Texas
7. California Golden Bears (2-0 Overall)
Cal followed up their tough week 1 win against UNC with another hard fought win against BYU. The Golden Bears look like they settled their QB controversy as freshman Chase Garbers took the majority of the QB snaps and played decently enough to get Cal the win. The defense forced another 2 turnovers and kept the Cougars offense in check. Cal’s defense has been a pleasant surprise against 2 teams that boast respectable squads. Cal will look to get to 3 wins as they face Idaho State this weekend.
Up Next: @ IDST
8. Washington State Cougars (1-0 Overall)
The Cougars handled the SJSU Spartans in a 31-0 win. Gardner Minshew threw for over 400 yards in the win, but also threw several picks as well in the winning effort. The most surprising part of the win was how the Cougar defense allowed 109 total yards of total offense. Aside from 3 turnovers, the Cougars played a complete game, and are firing on all cylinders as they take on Eastern Washington this weekend.
Up Next: versus EWU
9. Colorado Buffaloes (2-0 Overall)
Colorado pulled off perhaps the most exciting win in CFB this past weekend as they spoiled Scot Frost’s debut with Nebraska. Steven Montez threw the game-winning TD in the closing second of the game to steal the win from Nebraska. Now there is some cause for concern as the Buffs defense allowed 565 total yards. The 3 forced turnovers is a bright spot for this team, but serious improvements from the defense will be needed.
Up Next: versus UNH
10. UCLA Bruins (0-2 Overall)
UCLA got smoked in their first road game against the Oklahoma Sooners. Sure, we all saw this coming, but UCLA will have to improve quickly before conference play begins. The Bruins offense offered some bright spots as it seemed freshman QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson had a better grasp of the Kelly offense this week. Even though the offense looked improved, there was no way UCLA could keep up with the Sooners’ scoring. UCLA will have another opportunity to get back in the win as they take on Fresno State this weekend.
Up Next: versus Fresno State
11. Oregon State Beavers (1-1 Overall)
We aren’t in last this week!!! I can’t recall the last time I turned off an Oregon State game because WE were the ones blowing out the other team. The Beavers lethal rushing attack delivered another masterful performance, as the team combined for 360 rushing yards on the day. Artavis Pierce was impressive, but the real standout was true freshman Jermar Jefferson; who stepped up for an injured Pierce and rushed for 238 yards and 4 TDs. By the time Southern Utah started scoring some points, Oregon State had already pulled all the starters. All fans of Oregon State should be excited after this win.
Up Next: @ Nevada
12. Arizona Wildcats (0-2 Overall)
Arizona has not looked good in their first 2 games. Like, really, really bad. After a tough loss to BYU last week where they never got ] footing on offense, the Wildcats looked outright awful this weekend as they got run out of the stadium by the Houston Cougars. Khalil Tate’s Heisman hopes took another massive blow as he threw 2 picks and contributed 0 touchdowns in the losing effort. The Wildcats have had about as bad of a start as possible to start this season, but they should start picking up some wins soon.
Up Next: @ versus SUU
Week 2 is finished and week 3 is upon us. What will you be looking for this weekend? Agree or disagree with the new Power Rankings?
Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below!