We're going to keep things brief this week, because it's not worth spilling 1,000 words to describe what was largely a boring, perfunctory week of action. Kudos to the Pac-12 for going undefeated in out-of-conference games this week, although those kudos are muted because when Virginia and San Jose St. are the best teams on the list there's not much crowing to be done.
So really, read and laugh at Lane Kiffin, then skip down to a preview of next week, when football starts getting serious. Finally!
Washington State 10, USC 7
We all expected USC to struggle on offense after last week's showing, but my goodness that was ghastly. Last year, Washington State's defense was not good, and they allowed 31 points and nearly 400 yards to an Auburn offense that was barely functional last year.
Three years ago, USC managed 50 points and more than 600 yards against the Cougars. This time, USC averaged 3 yards a play for 193 total yards. That's quite a testament to the sapping powers of sanctions + Kiffin. Jeff Nusser praises Wazzu's defensive effort:
While fans expect the offense to get the headlines at WSU, it was the defense that led the Cougs to victory in this one. USC gained just 192 total yards in the game, including just 54 yards through the air as neither Cody Kessler nor Max Wittek were effective. The Trojans were able to run the ball effectively at times, but the defense came up with big stops when it needed to.
Meanwhile, at Conquest Chronicles . . .
The footsteps are getting louder, and playing with the philosophy of not losing can mean a whole lot more down the stretch for a teams confidence than just one shocking loss to Washington State. The Trojans haven't even reached the tip of the iceberg with their schedule, which shifts to read-option teams Boston College and Utah State.
Will Lane Kiffin survive until the end of the season?
Stanford 34, San Jose St. 13
Oh, post-Teevens/Harris Stanford. So consistently boring in your dominance.
Rule of Tree hasn't posted a recap yet, but I'm sure they're plenty pleased. In other news, our long national nightmare continues.
Oregon 59, Virginia 10
Oh, post-Belloti Oregon. So consistently exciting in your dominance. Addicted To Quack has learned to become very ho-hum about these games. I'm jealous.
The Ducks were hardly at their best, and still went across the country and routed a BCS conference team on the road by 49 points. If you're a top-five team, that's what you're supposed to do.
How many teams on Oregon's schedule do you think can avoid being blown out, let alone win?
Colorado 38, Central Arkansas 24
I'm glad Cal wasn't the only team to struggle with an FCS opponent, but being in the same sentence as Colorado is pretty sobering, 2-0 start notwithstanding. Still, Central Arkansas had a 7 point lead and the ball in Colorado territory in the 4th quarter, before a 79 yard interception return touchdown saved Colorado's bacon and started CU's late surge to win.
Ralphie Report knows how to make Cal fans sweat bullets:
The Buffs kicked into gear with just under five minutes left in the first quarter, as Connor Wood found Paul Richardson in stride along the right sideline for a 55-yard touchdown.
"I was holding my head like ‘I overthrew it,'" said Wood, on Richardson's speed. "But then he caught it."
Richardson's first touchdown of the evening gave him three on the season, matching the highest touchdown total for a CU receiver in the entire 2012 campaign.
Oregon State 33, Hawaii 14
Based on what I saw of Hawaii last week, I think it's more disturbing that the Beavers were tied with the Rainbow Warriors at halftime than that they lost to an FCS title contender. Hooray for outscoring Hawaii 19-0 in the 2nd half. When you have a team screw up a kickoff return so badly that it results in a safety on the next play then you know you're playing the football equivalent of a Magikarp.
Building the Dam talks attendance:
All in all, it was a better than average day to be a Beaver, though only 38,179 turned out to do so, the smallest ticket sale total in several years. This on a perfect weather day and evening.
It's a clear sigh that the loss to Eastern Washington shook the faith of a significant number of Beaver fans.
Utah 70, Weber State 7
Weber St. is probably worse than Portland State, but that's still a pretty eye-popping number from a team that struggled to put up points against anybody but Cal last year. In fact, it's something Utah fans haven't seen in quite some time, which is exciting for Block U:
What Utah did to Weber State Saturday is unlike anything the Utes have done to any team since 2004 - sans, maybe, the Iowa State game from the last time Utah's offense ever had a pulse. Sure, the Wildcats are an awful program from a lesser division ... but it's not the first time the Utes have played awful teams from questionable conferences and divisions. Just a year ago, against an equally hapless Northern Colorado, Utah struggled through stretches, and though they won by a comfortable margin (41-0), there wasn't anything particularly satisfying about the win - not Jordan Wynn's inability to throw down field and certainly not an offense that seemed to struggle to work.
Arizona St. 55, Sacramento St. 0
This game was so boring that House of Sparky started talking about ASU's next game in the headline. As for the game itself?
The Sun Devils looked like a well-oiled machine just yearning to get released onto the open road when they hit the field on Thursday. That hunger manifested itself in a seven-touchdown, 55-point performance that showed off the versatility of this offense. Some weeks, Arizona State will rely on its running game to win. Other times, the Sun Devils will use a combination of the run and pass to fluster an opponent. Tonight, it was another "Victory by TKO*" (Taylor Kelly offense) as the Sun Devil quarterback shined on opening night.
We'll see if they look just as well-oiled against meaningful opposition . . .
Arizona 58, UNLV 13
It's surprising after a 45 point win over an FBS team (technically), but Arizona is worrying about their starting quarterback, a dangerous concern heading into games against legit opponents. AZ Desert Swarm has you covered:
The gist is this: RichRod doesn't trust whatever is behind Denker. The quarterback's 17 rushes for 63 yards make him a legitimate rushing threat. He knows the offense better than anyone else and to the eye has fine game management skills. That said, he left the door open.
But until a quarterback shines in practice that isn't named B.J. Denker, he'll maintain a grip on the starting spot.
Arizona has at least two more week to get the kinks worked out, because UT San Antonio is next up on the Wildcat cupcake diet.
Finally, things get real. You can count the number of interesting games that have happened in the Pac-12 so far on one hand, but there are probably eight games that I would really enjoy watching . . . which won't happen because I'll be agonizing in Berkeley all day. But for those of you without a ticket to next week's Ohio St. game, you'll be treated to a smorgasbord of action that will likely define the national perception and storylines for the Pac-12 the rest of the way.
UCLA at Nebraska, 9:00 am, ABC
Stanford at Army, 9:00 am, CBS Sports Network
Fresno St. at Colorado, 11:00 am
Boston College at USC, 12:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
Tennessee at Oregon, 12:30, ABC
Washington at Illinois, 3:00 pm, Big-10 Network
Southern Utah at Washington St., 3:30, Pac-12 Network
Ohio St. at Cal, 4:00 pm, Fox
Oregon St. at Utah, 7:00 pm, Fox Sports 1
Wisconsin at Arizona St., 7:30 pm, ESPN
UTSA at Arizona, 7:30, Pac-12 Network
What a great lineup. Start with UCLA in Nebraska as soon as you wake up. Catch the USC tire fire or watch Oregon scorch Tennessee at noon. See if Washington is truly legit at 3:00 before switching over to Cal after the 1st quarter. Then see Wisconsin and Arizona St. to finish off a day of pure sloth and indolence. And if you're good with the jump button, you can catch snippets of the under cards, like an intriguing battle between Utah and Oregon St.
These games are all interesting enough that the only question is this: Who you got? Give us your pick for every game. Can Wisconsin survive the desert heat? Can UCLA escape from Lincoln with a win? Does Illinois' hot start mean that UW should be on upset alert? Can USC score on a drive longer than, say, 40 yards? Will Oregon fans chant 'Pac-12 football' when they take a 49-17 lead in the 3rd quarter? Is an unexpected, momentum-defying Oregon State road win an inevitability? Will Stanford show how much they hate American by blowing out our freedom defenders?