This Week In The Pac-12: Man, This Conference Is Horribl . . . y Awesome?

Huh. Didn't see that coming.

At approximately 3:00 pacific time on Saturday, it seemed as if Week 2 of the 2012 season was setting up to be unbelievably disastrous for the Pac-12. Utah had already lost. Washington St., Cal and Colorado were all struggling with FCS competition. Later in the day, four conference-mates would face ranked teams and optimism in all of those contests seemed low.

Now, we sit here on Monday morning, and five Pac-12 teams are ranked with two others receiving votes. Whaaaaaa? How in the world did that happen?

Oregon State 10, Wisconsin 7

So - is the absence of Russell Wilson and four other draft picks on the offensive side of the ball enough to explain Wisconsin's sudden inability to score points? Or is Oregon St.'s defense really that good? The Beavers were 85th in the nation last year in yards allowed/play, so either they got really good really fast or Wisconsin is shockingly toothless.

Building the Dam is pretty enthused with a stunning performance:

A look at the stats that show the Beavers out passed, out rushed, and out-possessed (by over 11 minutes) the Badgers gives a clearer picture of how it happened, and the key partial stat of the game, that Wisconsin, with the top returning rusher in the country in Montee Ball, had 7 net rushing yards through 3 quarters.

Does this win say more about how much OSU has improved, or more about how much Wisconsin has declined?

UCLA 36, Nebraska 30

I'm officially terrified of Brett Hundley. Jonathan Franklin is also scary, if more of a known quantity.

UCLA outgained Nebraska by almost 200 yards and won the turnover battle, so I'm not sure why this game was even close. Penalties and missed field goals by UCLA, I guess. And UCLA's defense still needs plenty of work and will likely cost them a few games this season. But they're clearly amongst a group of teams that think they can contend with USC in the South. As much as I'm not happy about it, a relevant UCLA makes for a much more interesting Pac-12.

Bruins Nation finally sees what they've been looking for for years:

While the Bruins didn't play a perfect game, they played hard all game long. They played mean and strong on defense. They played fast and potent on offense. They got behind and didn't blink. They faked a kick and threw to the end zone. They got better at halftime. They were aggressive and never passive. They looked confident without being cocky. They made clutch plays, including a safety and a turnover and a touchdown, in the 4th quarter. They amassed 653 yards against a good defensive B1G Ten team. The Bruins played against Nebraska like they wanted to make a statement for the program like the '88 Bruins did with their win over Nebraska.

I think all Bruin fans have been looking for a signal that tells us that things are turning around.

Do you think UCLA poses a legitimate challenge to USC's South Division dominance?

Arizona 59, Oklahoma St. 38

59 points against the reigning Big 12 champs. Of course, the biggest decider in this game was Oklahoma St.'s -4 turnover margin. Even still, RichRod has Arizona running up 500 yards on national ranked teams in his 2nd game in charge.

AZDesertSwarm is feeling liberated:

It all evaporated. The Mike Stoops curses, bad luck, mistakes. All into thin air. Arizona, with a crew of Mike Stoops' recruits, made a team one year off a near championship run look average. The Arizona Wildcats looked complete.

So . . . are you glad Cal isn't playing Arizona now?

Sacramento St. 30, Colorado 28

Yikes. After week 1, I kinda had a feeling that somebody in this conference would fall to an FCS team, and it just so happens that lightening has struck twice for Sacramento St. It seems a little rash to say that Jon Embree has no chance to fix things in Boulder, but the Buffs have seemingly regressed, and if he's not the guy giving him more time won't change that.

Meanwhile, Ralphie Report has decided there are better ways to enjoy their fall:

GTFO - Go and enjoy the outdoors. It's nice weather everywhere today. You know how I know? Because it's nice* here in Houston; and when that's true, then by extension it must be nice weather everywhere else in the United States. So go and enjoy it.

How much more time (if any) would you give Jon Embree to turn things around?

Utah St. 27, Utah 20

The big story is that Utah may again be without the services of #1 quarterback Jordan Wynn after he left the game against Utah St. with an apparent arm injury. [EDIT: Wynn's career appears to be over by his own choice.] Interestingly, you could argue that Jon Hays marginally outperformed Wynn, but either way it wasn't enough to take down the upstart Aggies.

All that Utah was missing last year was an aerial threat, but it's looking unlikely that they'll be able to develop one this year. Block U says the season is in the balance next week:

I don't know if the season will be saved by beating the Cougars, but I do know it will be lost if they don't. It's hard for me to get behind the idea this team will be capable of putting it together enough to claim a bowl berth and move on from what is turning out to be a disastrous start if they lose Saturday. It's why this game is so important ... gotta save the season.

Can the Utes bounce back at home against a ranked BYU squad?

LSU 41, Washington 3

I think we can all agree that this is generally how we thought this game would go. I thought Washington might have done a little more on offense, but it looks like the Husky offensive line might not be as good as their skill position players.

Unfortunately, LSU is so good that it's hard for me to completely dismiss Washington's ability to compete in the conference this year. I'd imagine that UWDawgPound would agree:

LSU is simply a lot better than Washington is right now. This was a bad match-up. They have a lot more talent, experience, size, and depth all the way across the roster. That is why I truly believe they have what it takes to make it back to the national championship game again this season.

Does this game appreciably change your opinion of Washington, or do you throw out the result because it's on the road against a buzzsaw like LSU?

Arizona St. 45, Illinois 14

Beating Illinois at home is probably a baseline expectation for any half-decent team, but blowing them out means something more. How much more? That's tough to say. We'll know a lot more when Arizona St. travels to Missouri next year.

I will say this - Todd Graham is getting way more out of his quarterbacks than I would have anticipated. A two star, red shirt sophomore QB just passed for 249 yards with a 75% completion percentage. If he can provide anywhere near that type of production in conference play, ASU will be a major, major factor. House of Sparky is giddy:

Tonight, I am so damn proud. Todd Graham has taken an undisciplined yet talented group of players and turned them into an unstoppable force. The offense has been clicking on all cylinders. The defense, while showing room for growth, put together a clinic with a litany of interceptions.

Do you think Graham and the Sun Devils can pull off the road upset?

Washington St. 24, Eastern Washington 20

A win is a win is a win, right? The air raid was hardly explosive, but it was still a step forward from Wazzu's performance vs. BYU. And although struggling against an FCS team is frustrating, it's worth noting that Eastern Washington is a generally excellent FCS team.

Of course, this is Washington St. which means that no good news can come without good news. Jeff Tuel left the game with an injury of unknown severity. As always, CougCenter calmly takes the bad with the good:

This was a game WSU could have won going away if the offense hadn't sputtered. While they moved the ball, it's still not where it needs to be and the Cougars left a lot of points on the board.

The extent of Tuel's injury will obviously be a major story and determine where WSU goes from here. This was, without question, a very ugly win for WSU. An ugly win is still better than the alternative, I guess that is something.

USC 42, Syracuse 29

USC's annual vaguely uninspiring non-conference road win was everything it always is. Luckily I've learned not to get my hopes up even one iota that USC will do anything but destroy Cal in two weeks. Nice try, Lane Kiffin, but you won't be trolling me any more.

Conquest Chronicles is pleased to see the emergence of the running game:

Last week was all Matt Barkley and Marqise Lee. Though both men played well today, as did Robert Woods,Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal looked sharp carrying the rock. McNeal shouldered the load on the Trojans’ first scoring drive, recording 42 yards. Redd went over 100 yards for the first time in his ‘SC career, the highlight being a 40-yard run in the fourth quarter to allow Barkley and Lee to score their final touchdowns of the day. Woods and Lee joined the running fun, too. Each had their number called for a reverse, and Woods’ went 76 yards while Lee’s covered 23. A mixed offensive attack will be essential going forward.

With Arizona, ASU and UCLA notching big victories, do you think USC will lose to one of their South division rivals this year?

Stanford 50, Duke 13

So either San Jose St. is significantly better than Duke, or Stanford slept-walked through a boring game and are in fact a perfectly decent football team. It's almost certainly the latter, but I'll continue to hope like a nincompoop that it's the former.

God I hope USC wins next week. This is what I'm reduced to because of Cal's futility.

Oregon 42, Fresno St. 25

I've been describing Oregon blowout wins for like three years. Meh. Expect me to write even less words about Oregon's next meaningless game.

Next Week

All times are pacific time

Friday

Washington State at UNLV, 6:00 pm, ESPN

Saturday

California at Ohio St., 9:00 am, ABC
Tennessee Tech at Oregon, 12:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
Portland St. at Washington, 1:00 pm, Versus
Arizona St. at Missouri, 4:00 pm, ESPN2
USC at Stanford, 4:30 pm, FOX
Colorado at Fresno St., 5:00 pm, CBS Sports Network
BYU at Utah, 7:00 pm, ESPN2
South Carolina St. at Arizona, 7:30 pm, Pac-12 Networks
Houston at UCLA, 7:30 pm, Pac-12 Networks

Four games against FCS teams and two games against weak non-AQ conference competition, but there are four pretty juicy games on the schedule.

This week will see the end to most of the Pac-12's non-conference schedule. Oregon St. still has games left against BYU and Nichols St. (if they reschedule the game) and Stanford and USC will face Notre Dame, but it will be Pac-12 games for everybody else the rest of the way.

If Cal, Arizona St. and Utah all win on Saturday, this might end up being one of the strongest Pac-12 seasons in quite some time. Vegas doesn't favor any of the Pac-12 teams to earn the wins (especially Cal) but I think a win or two wouldn't be a big surprise.

And I haven't even mentioned the game of the week: USC at Stanford in the annual Battle Of Pure Evil. Prepare to rationalize rooting for USC by saying "Nah, I'm just rooting against Stanford. Biiiiig difference!"

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