Welcome, back to the Pac-12 CFB Notebook! College Football is officially back, and week 1 was everything we hoped for.
But all that week 1 talk is behind us. Now, it’s time to get prepped for week 2.
(Please Note: All team rankings are the listed AP Poll ranking from the week prior. Rankings are subject to change upon/after reading this article.)
What to Watch For...
Pac-12 Playoff Hopes
Washington served as the Pac-12’s best hope to get into the CFP. However, after this past weekend’s loss to the Auburn Tigers, the Huskies suffered a serious blow to their playoff chances. Now it’s not impossible for the Huskies to get in, but they would almost certainly have to run the table and win out the rest of the season for a chance. As it stands, the conference will look to other teams as possible contenders, the main two that stand out being USC and Stanford. Ironically, these two teams play one another this weekend, so perhaps we’ll eliminate another contender after week two.
Quarterback Conundrums Around the Conference
This past weekend saw a revolving door of quarterbacks around the conference. Most of the rotation at QB was a result of injuries. Oregon State and UCLA went through multiple quarterbacks due to injuries, with the Beavers trying three different quarterbacks while the Bruins used two. In addition, Cal utilized three different, healthy QBs in an attempt to figure out their starter in the coming weeks. Oregon State and UCLA are fairly certain of their starters. But, due to injuries, they will be joining Cal in having to wait and see who will be anointed QB1 this coming week.
Khalil Tate Bounce-Back Performance?
Kevin Sumlin’s tenure at Arizona got off to a rocky start with a loss to BYU. The loss wasn’t the worst part, however. The Wildcat offense and star QB Khalil Tate looked flat and never turned it on during the game. Sumlin is a revered QB-whisperer and a quality offensive mind, so this sluggish start is somewhat alarming for the Wildcats. Arizona will have an opportunity to right the ship against Houston, so watch for Khalil Tate and company to try and bounce back after a tough start.
Pac-12 Power Rankings
1. #13 Stanford Cardinal (1-0 Overall)
Stanford came out sluggish against San Diego State for one half of their game, but they quickly righted the ship. This change largely came from JJ Arcega-Whiteside and KJ Costello turning in big days. Stanford showed the entire nation that even when Bryce Love can’t get anything going, “the other guys” on the offense are still plenty lethal with an excellent passing offense. That should scare the rest of the conference. In addition, the Cardinal defense played well, holding a quality San Diego State squad to just 10 points.
Up Next: versus USC
2. #6 Washington Huskies (0-1 Overall)
The Huskies drop this week mainly due to the fact that Stanford was able to show they were a complete team this past weekend. The Huskies easily played the toughest opponent of any Pac-12 team this weekend and they very easily could’ve come away with the win against Auburn. It can’t be emphasized enough how great UW’s defense looked. Still, the red zone woes and turnover problem that struck the Huskies this past weekend were quite troublesome to watch. It is something UW’s will have to fix quickly in the coming weeks
Up Next: versus University of North Dakota
3. #15 USC Trojans (1-0 Overall)
USC had a rocky start against UNLV, but managed to find their footing after halftime and put the throttle down. JT Daniels played well and the Trojans rushed for 219 total yards. The offense for USC seems to be legit and will be a key this season. However, the final score of 43-21 may be slightly deceptive. The Rebels were never entirely out of the game until a charity touchdown with just under 2 minutes left in the game. The rush defense for USC was sloppy and they allowed the Rebels to rush for 308 yards. The Trojans may want to fix that issue quickly, considering the fact that they play Bryce Love next.
Up Next: @ Stanford
4. Utah Utes (1-0 Overall)
Utah took care of business and rolled Weber State this weekend. Sure, this result should’ve been expected, but Utah played a complete game. Don’t believe me? Listen to this stat; Weber State finished with 59 TOTAL yards of offense. Like, rushing and passing yards combined. That is the definition of a lockdown defense. The Utes offense also tallied almost 600 total yards in a 41-10 win. Now, take all these stats with a grain of salt, as this came against Weber State. Yet, this is still an encouraging showing for Utes fans.
Up Next: @ Northern Illinois
5. #24 Oregon Ducks (1-0 Overall)
Oregon looked strong in their game against BGSU. The Ducks overcame an early 10-0 deficit and proceeded to score 37 unanswered points en route to a 58-24 thrashing of the Falcons. Star QB Justin Herbert had a mixed opening game. He completed only 10 passes and finished with a completion percentage less than 50%, but 5 of those passes went for touchdowns. He also finished with 281 yards passing, but also threw 2 interceptions in the process. It seems Herbert is shaking off some offseason rust, but it appears the Ducks will have a dangerous offense this season.
Up Next: versus Portland State
6. Arizona State Sun Devils (1-0 Overall)
The Herm Edwards era opens with a solid win versus UTSA. The Sun Devils tuned up the Roadrunners 49-7, and had a good showing from Manny Wilkins and the rushing offense. Wilkins finished with 237 yards passing and 4 TDs, while the team rushed for 266 yards and 2 TDs. The defense played sloppily at times, but they forced 3 turnovers and only limited UTSA to 7 points. We will truly see how good the Sun Devils are when they take on #11 Michigan State this weekend.
Up Next: versus Michigan State
7. Arizona Wildcats (0-1 Overall)
While one Arizona school got off to a good start with their new head coach, another Arizona school was not as fortunate. Kevin Sumlin was meant to come in and reinvigorate the Wildcat offense, yet they came out flat in the first game and never found a groove. Khalil Tate finished with less than 200 yards passing and didn’t top 15 yards rushing. In addition to a poor offense, the BYU O-line bullied the Wildcat front 7 the entire game. Sumlin and co. will have to work quickly to find a spark for this team, or it could get ugly quickly for the former Texas A&M head coach.
Up Next: @ Houston
8. Washington State Cougars (1-0 Overall)
Wazzu came out to a fast start and rolled Wyoming 41-19. The Cougs had a solid offensive showing that came mostly through, surprise, the passing game. Graduate transfer Gardner Minshew completed 38 passes on 57 attempts (!!) and accrued 319 yards and 3 TDs. The defense played well enough to let the offense do their thing and even forced a takeaway. Mike Leach has found a way to keep the offense rolling, and they should have another big performance against the San Jose State Spartans this weekend.
Up Next: versus SJSU
9. California Golden Bears (1-0 Overall)
Cal was a pleasant surprise this past weekend as they managed to hold onto a narrow victory against the UNC Tar Heels. Patrick Laird played well enough for the bellcow role and finished with 95 yards and a TD. The biggest reason the Golden Bears are 1-0 is the defense managing to force 4 takeaways. The team is still trying to figure out their starting QB, as 3 different guys attempted passes this past weekend. Cal is going to have to find a starter soon before their conference schedule begins.
Up Next: @ BYU
10. UCLA Bruins (0-1 Overall)
So the Chip Kelly era started off rough, to say the least. We expected UCLA to need some transition time to integrate Chip Kelly’s system, but the Bruins looked like a lost team in their 26-17 loss to Cincinnati. Sure, the Bruins lost starting QB Wilton Speight, which doesn’t help. Yet, neither QB who played for UCLA looked like a good fit for the Kelly offense. The defense was a bright spot for UCLA, as they kept them in the game until the 4th quarter. UCLA will have some soul-searching to do, and it won’t help that they have to travel to Oklahoma this weekend. Expect the rough start to continue for UCLA.
Up Next: @ Oklahoma
11. Colorado Buffaloes (1-0 Overall)
Colorado started their season with a great performance against Colorado State. The Buffs were firing on all cylinders and piled on almost 600 yards of total offense, including 338 yards and 4 TDs from starting QB Steven Montez. The Buffs should be very pleased with themselves after this convincing win. The main reason I can’t move them higher up this list is because, even in this convincing win, this team still feels like they are behind the prior mentioned teams in terms of talent. We will truly get to see how good Colorado is as they take on the new-look Huskers this weekend.
Up Next: @ Nebraska
12. Oregon State Beavers (0-1 Overall)
Alright...we knew this was coming. We all saw the beatdown Ohio State was going to lay on us coming from a mile away. But it still definitely sucked to watch. The good news, however, is that this team already looks drastically better from last year’s squad. The offense performed well (looking at you, Artavis Pierce and Trevon Bradford) and seems to be light years ahead of last year’s team. As great as these improvements look to be, allowing 77 points (70 if you factor in the fumble-scoop-and-score for the Buckeyes) on defense is never okay. There is a significant talent gap between the Beavs and the top teams, and that should be expected in year 1 of the Jonathan Smith era. Fortunately, the Beavs have a winnable game next weekend.
Up Next: versus Southern Utah
Week 1 is in the books and week 2 is just around the corner. 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!