So far in the 2013 season, the Pac-12 is a combined 25-6. Two of those losses were from conference games. Two came when a team expected to finish towards the bottom of the standings (SIGH) lost to top 25 Big-10 teams. One came when a team expected to finish towards the bottom of the standings lost a close game on the road to Auburn.
Also, Oregon State lost to Eastern Washington. Way to ruin the narrative, Beaver fans.
But, by-and-large, this has been a wildly successful start to the season for the Pac-12, and it's fair to wonder if the conference is as good as it's been in quite some time. There are currently 5 teams in the top-25, with Arizona lurking in the 'also receiving votes' section. Perhaps just as importantly, the bottom of the conference seems significantly healthier than it has in a long, long time.
The last few years has cleared out a ton of questionable head coaching talent. We don't have the likes of Rick Neuheisel, Bob Stoops, Dennis Erickson & Jeff Tedford to kick around any more, let alone the likes of Walt Harris, Bill Doba, Ty Willingham or Karl Dorrell. If the Pac-12 TV contract did nothing else, it gave ADs across the conference the financial ability to jettison ineffective coaches and lure effective new staffs. The entire conference (with one oddly notable exception) has been reaping the benefits. It's going to be one hell of a year in the conference of champions.
Oregon State 51, Utah 48
You know how I know it's going to be a great year for Pac-12 football? In the first conference game of the year, Washington St. won in L.A. without scoring an offensive touchdown. In the second conference game of the year, the home team scored 48 points and lost. I LOVE YOU PAC-12 FOOTBALL!
Mannion was only 27 of 44, and a couple of off-target throws that resulted in the Beavers having to settle for Trevor Romaine field goals when touchdowns were there for the taking left Utah close enough to necessitate more Mannion magic in overtime. But Mannion did throw for a career high 443 yards and 5 touchdowns, and critically, zero interceptions. That last number was the one thing Utah quarterback Travis Wilson couldn't match, and it ultimately cost the Utes the game.
Arizona State 32, Wisconsin 30
By now, you're all probably well familiar with the greatest moment in Pac-12 reffing history (and, in case you weren't sure, it has been confirmed that the field refs were Pac-12 refs). But as a Pac-12 homer, I'd like to point out that Wisconsin was lucky to even have the ball in that position, as the refs had previously blown a review that should have brought back a long pass play about 20 yards or so. If you aren't good enough to beat a team by more than a score, then you by necessity place a portion of your fate in the hands of luck and the refs. I'd recommend against it if at all possible.
But seriously that was hilarious and funny and I'm so glad it impacts me in no way whatsoever. I can't wait until the Pac-12 Network covers it on 'The Drive.'
UCLA 41, Nebraska 21
When I left Sacramento for the Cal game, it was 14 to 3. Brett Hundley had thrown a bad interception, and Taylor Martinez was ripping the UCLA secondary. I didn't think the Bruins were out of the game . . . but I wouldn't have expected 38 unanswered points. Whoa.
It was a feel-good win for a UCLA team reeling from tragedy, but also a reflection of how the team has continued growing under Jim Mora.
From a football standpoint, in terms of this season and the future of our football program, the whys and hows of this win could have incredible importance. For a program that has been stalled for years, and some would say for decades, below its potential, that kind of win over that kind of team in that sort of place might be more evidence that we may finally take that step up and approach our potential.
Washington 34, Illinois 24
The final score isn't at all indicative of how much Washington controlled proceedings. When you outgain one team 615 yards to 327, you typically would win by, what, 30 points? But UW twice settled for field goals after long drives and committed two turnovers and twelve penalties, allowing an over matched Illinois squad hang around.
Also, UW got off a piddling 85 plays, but I bet they think that's super fast. Yes, this is how far my trash talking skills have fallen.
It's fun to see just how well the HUNH suits Keith Price. The numbers so far are hard to argue with, and he had another highly efficient game yesterday: 28-35 (80%) for 342 yards, 2 TD's and no picks. At least a couple of the incompletions were throw-aways when nobody was open. He was accurate, he had good pocket presence most of the night and made good reads.
Oregon 59, Tennessee 14
I have run out of ways to describe Oregon games like this. Seriously, what should I say? Are their fans even still entertained by this type of stuff?
But, more ominously, Mark Helfrich has lost control of the Oregon locker room!!!
Save for the opening two possessions, Oregon's offense looked like world beaters and the defense stared down their largest test to date and passed with what feels like flying colors. Putting consistent pressure on the quarter back and staying home on the run, despite numerous counter runs by Tennessee. Oregon gets a bye week, and will look to get healthy and improve before the grind of the conference season.
USC 35, Boston College 7
Again, Lane Kiffin didn't ask much of his quarterback - just throw the ball 10 yards or so and let your athletes make things happen. They couldn't manage even that much against Wazzu, but they did against Boston College. Even Kiffin can't waste a talent like Marquise Lee for an entire season.
But seriously, USC could have won the game just with that defense. 184 yards allowed on 50 plays? Sick. Also, Boston College is probably sick. If they shut down Chuckie Keeton I'll be pretty frightened.
Right from the start Clancy Pendergast "52" defense has been fantastic in their base look, drawing up tremendous pressure through the a-gap slot. The Trojans have amassed 12 sacks through the first three games (2nd in the nation) along with 28 tackles for loss (6th nationally) shifting the line of scrimmage.
Make of that what you will.
Stanford 34, Army 20
It's really, really hard for me to believe that Stanford allowed 284 rushing yards (5 yards/carry) to Army. Last year's run defense was easily top 10 in the country, and the only unit to slow Oregon down. You're telling me virtually the same players can stop Chip Kelly's schemes but has some trouble with the triple option? Is Stanford a bit more vulnerable than we all thought? Am I desperately grasping at straws?
Stanford has no fans, and as a result, there are no reactions from them to link you to.
Washington St. 48, Southern Utah 10
It took 15 games or so, but Wazzu finally had a game with a box score that looks like a Texas Tech, air raid box score should look. 410 passing yards, 54 rushing yards, 48 points. Wazzu had mastered the 'rush for less than 100 yards' part of the equation, but this time they found the pass yards and points too. We'll see if they can do the same against a non-FCS team.
On another note, is the Wazzu defense actually salty now? Perhaps we'll find out in two weeks when they visit Stanford.
Connor Halliday put together his finest performance at the helm of the Air Raid, completing 32-of-41 passes (78 percent) for 383 yards and five touchdowns. The lone blemish was a first-half interception in the end zone in which he and Isiah Myers had some sort of miscommunication.
Arizona 38, UT San Antonio 13
Arizona won their 3rd straight game in which they asked their quarterback to do practically nothing, and we still know next to nothing about them other than Ka'deem Carey = pretty good. They will continue to be mysterious on their bye week.
Jesse Scroggins was listed second on the depth chart but didn't dress, and Javelle Allen took garbage snaps and didn't throw the ball. Denker still hasn't been abysmal, and as such has only helped his cause. He'll start at quarterback until the wheels fall off, and that's not even close to happening as of Week 3. UA has a bye week followed by a game against the Washington Huskies at the end of the month, and that will be a true first test. Considering the circumstances, there's not much to be concerned about for now.
Emphasis mine. Talk about damning with faint praise.
Fresno St. at Colorado: Postponed
Alas, flooding delayed what was likely to be an interesting game with two dangerous offenses. Ralphie Report seems to think the game, if it is made up at all, would be made up the same week as Army/Navy. Good thoughts to all those fine folks in Boulder.
Idaho St. at Washington, noon, Pac-12 Network
Utah St. at USC, 12:30, ABC
Arizona St. at Stanford, 4:00, Fox
Oregon St. at San Diego St., CBS Sports Network
Utah at BYU, 7:15, ESPN2
New Mexico St. at UCLA, 7:30, Pac-12 Network
Idaho at Washington St., 7:30, Pac-12 Network
If USC and Utah can knock off their Beehive State opponents, then the Pac-12 could have another excellent non-conference week. Yes, I'm taking wins from UW, UCLA, Oregon St. and Wazzu for granted because of weak opposition. And this week will mark the end of the Pac-12 non-conference games, with the exception of three games against Notre Dame still to come. I look forward to being annoyed by those games.
But the marque game is easily Arizona St. at Stanford. To be honest, if the game was being held in Tempe, I'd side with the Devils. This is Stanford's first true test, but they haven't looked especially convincing against their cupcakes. But it's in Palo Alto, so the Cardinal will probably survive.
Since Cal mercifully has a bye week, I was hoping for a stronger schedule. Only three games are particularly interesting. The good news is that those three games are perfectly staggered. You can see if Chuckie Keeton can score on USC's scary defense at 12:30, transition to rooting like mad for Arizona St. at 4:00, then call it a night with the Holy War, which never fails to deliver hi-jinks of the most mad-cap variety.
I must say, I'm looking forward to one week of relaxed football, without the nervousness of my Cal fandom getting into the way.