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Pac-12 Football Week 3 Grades: Conference shows its depth

Week 3 in the Pac-12 had some ho-hum games as well as a few scintillating nail biters. Cal pulled off a big win at Texas and Stanford showed-up USC in LA. Let's see how each team graded according to their quality of play and opponents.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The Pac-12's all-around strength started showing in Week 3.  All conference teams won their games (except for the only intraconference matchup, of course).  We showed-up for our games, we conquered our opponents, and we got our Ws - some easier, some not as much.  There's not much more we could've asked for heading into conference play next week.

We grade each Pac-12 team based on both how they played against their opponents and their quality of competition.  What do you think of these grades?  Fair, too easy, too harsh?


Grade:  B+

Outcome:  win over Northern Arizona, 77-13

In the vintage Pac-12 After Dark game (aka "playing when the hot Arizona sun goes down"), the Wildcats creamed another unworthy opponent.  QB Anu Soloman had a fantastic game, completing 25 of 35 passes and throwing for 285 yards and 4 TDs.  RB Jerrard Randall got 149 yards on the ground with just 3 carries (including 2 TDs), while star RB Nick Wilson amassed another 143 rushing yards on 19 carries (including 2 TDs).  WR David Richards had 120 receiving yards on 8 catches (including 2 TDs).  The Wildcat offense set school records for most points scored (77) and total yards (792).  UofA's defense was spectacular against the Lumberjacks - allowing only 75 yards on the ground and 271 yards through the air.  The Wildcats also had 3 picks (by Davonte' Neal, Cam Denson, and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles).  RichRod will have the team enjoying this win for all of a second as their first major opponent (UCLA) comes to town next week.

Arizona State

Grade:  B-

Outcome:  win over New Mexico, 34-10

The first half of this game was looking much like ASU's previous two games - pretty inept - as they entered the half up only 10-0.  But, the Sun Devil offense figured it out in the second half and came out hot.  QB Mike Bercovici finished the game completing 22 of 37 passes, throwing for 317 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 INTs.  RB Demario Richard had a monster game with 15 carries for 104 rushing yards as well as 4 receptions for 151 receiving yards and 2 receiving TDs.  The ASU defense also stepped it up in the second half, including Jordan Simone picking-up an interception.  The Lobos put-up a good fight all game long but were ultimately outmatched by the Sun Devils' size and talent.  ASU seems to finally be hitting its stride heading into its conference slate.


Grade:  B+

Outcome:  win over Texas, 45-44

Wow!  Now that we've had a little bit of time to catch our breath from that thrilling end (and prior not-so-thrilling comeback by the pesky Longhorns), all Cal fans should keep basking in the glory of beating this blue blood program in Austin.  QB Jared Goff had a fantastic game for the Golden Bears (94.3 QBR; completing 27 of 37 passes; throwing for 268 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs) including breaking three Cal records along the way (all-time passing yardage [8,379], total offensive yardage [8,266], and total completions [704]).  In RB Daniel Lasco's absence (hamstring injury sustained in the prior SDSU game), RB Khalfani Muhammad had 10 carries for 164 yards and 1 TD.  RB Vic Enwere is emerging as a reliable back-up back for Cal this season, getting 16 carries for 73 yards and 2 TDs in this game.  Goff spread the ball nicely across 9 receivers with WR Kenny Lawler leading the group, hauling in 6 catches for 79 yards and 2 TDs.  Cal's defense definitely needs work - this unit gave-up some pretty easy points throughout the game.  The hero of the game from Cal's perspective was Texas kicker Nick Rose shanking that last extra point far right and sealing our victory for us!


Grade:  C+

Outcome:  win over Colorado State, 27-24

The Buffs needed overtime to get a W over a pesky CSU Rams team.  The storyline of the game was Colorado kicker Diego Gonzalez missing a 48-yard FG at the end of regulation to win the game.  But, in overtime, he got a chance to atone for the mistake and he came through with a 32-yard FG to win the game.  Right before that, Tedric Thompson blocked a FG attempt for CSU and gave Colorado the chance to walk-off with the victory in its next possession.  QB Sefo Liufau completed 15 of 28 passes, throwing for 220 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs.  Star WR Nelson Spruce had a mediocre showing with 6 catches for 63 yards and no TDs.  The Buffs defense also hauled-in 2 INTs for a team that played hard against its in-state rivals.


Grade:  B

Outcome: win over Georgia State, 61-28

After that tough Week 2 loss to the Michigan State Spartans, the Ducks came back and throttled the Georgia State Panthers. The storyline of this game was QB Jeff Lockie taking over for Vernon Adams (Adams broke the index finger on his throwing hand during the Spartans game) and putting on a pretty good showing - he completed 23 of 31 passes, throwing for 228 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs.  Emerging star RB Royce Freeman had another solid game - 10 carries, 101 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD.  11 Oregon players hauled-in passes, led by Dwayne Stanford with 3 receptions for 48 yards and 1 TD.  On the defensive side of the ball, Tyree Robinson had 2 INTs, followed by 42 yards and 1 TD.  The talk of Eugene this coming week will be when Adams will return to lead the offense.

Oregon State

Grade:  B

Outcome:  win over San Jose State, 35-21

The Beavers put together a nice game against the San Jose State Spartans.  QB Seth Collins had a monster game - he was decent in the air with 135 passing yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT; but very impressive on the ground with 16 carries for 114 yards and 2 TDs.  RB Storm Woods had 17 carries for 151 yards and 1 rushing TD.  On defense, the Beavers held SJSU to only 104 yards on the ground and 149 yards through the air, including 2 INTs.  The Beavers have emerged with a nice non-conference outcome - 2 wins and 1 loss to a team that no one thought they could win (@ Michigan).  Not bad for HC Gary Andersen's new start in Corvallis.


Grade:  A

Outcome:  win over USC, 41-31

It doesn't feel good for a Cal fan to ever give Stanford an A grade, but the Cardinal deserve this one.  This team finally showed-up like how many of us expected them to heading into this season - slow and steady wins the game.  The experience on Stanford's side of the ball finally showed, coupled with USC showing its youth.  QB Kevin Hogan completed 18 of 23 passes, throwing for 279 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs.  RB Christian McCaffrey had 26 carries for 115 yards.  WR Austin Hooper had 4 receptions for 79 yards and 1 TD.  In a big game on a national stage, the Cardinal have reasserted themselves as a force in the Pac-12 again.  Pulling it off at 6th-ranked USC's home makes their win that much more impressive.


Grade:  B

Outcome:  win over BYU, 24-23

This was a close game that UCLA was able to pull-off the win at the end.  QB Josh Rosen showed that he is indeed mortal and still a freshman.  The BYU defense had him figured out pretty well, limiting him to 11 completions on 23 pass attempts, 106 passing yards, 1 TD, and 3 INTs.  But, Star RB Paul Perkins carried the Bruins on the ground with 26 carries for 219 yards and 1 TD.  WR Jordan Payton had 4 catches for 59 yards and 1 TD.  Star LB Myles Jack had 1 INT.  This was a great test for UCLA to play in a close one and figure-out the moxie it needs to pull-off these kinds of tough match-ups.


Grade:  D+

Outcome:  loss to Stanford, 31-41

The 6th-ranked Trojans lost a tough one to the Cardinal.  On the offensive side of the ball, they actually had a pretty great game.  QB Cody Kessler had a 93.5 QBR (completing 25 of 32 passes, 272 passing yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs).  RB Tre Madden had 9 carries for 64 yards and 1 TD.  WR JuJu Smith-Schuster had 8 catches for 153 yards and 1 TD.  Adoree Jackson added 5 kickoff returns for a total 118 yards.  But, the Cardinals were slightly better throughout all phases of the game and eeked-out the big win over the Trojans.  HC Steve Sarkisian had this team flying high for a few weeks before dropping this one.  They'll have to get things straight before another potentially underachieving team (ASU) challenges them next week.  The team that was the hopeful face of this conference this season took a big blow this past weekend.


Grade:  B

Outcome:  win over Fresno State, 45-24

The Utes lost QB Travis Wilson last week due to injury, but backup QB Kendal Thompson stepped in this week and did admirably - completing 19 of 25 passes and throwing for 159 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.  Star RB Devontae Booker had 31 carries for 156 yards and 2 TDs.  This was a pretty clinical game for Utah as they head into a big matchup next week at Oregon.


Grade:  B

Outcome:  win over Utah State, 31-17

Just like Utah's game over Fresno State, this was a pretty straight-forward and clinical win for the Huskies. While the USU Aggies are no slouches, their level of talent isn't that of U-Dub's, and that showed in this game.  QB Jake Browning had a very good showing with 368 passing yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT.  On the ground, the Huskies have a lot of work to do - the Aggies limited them to only 42 net yards and 1 TD.  But, in the air, Washington was just off the charts with 368 passing yards and 3 passing TDs - WR Dwayne Washington had 5 receptions for 131 yards and 2 TDs.  Defensively, the Huskies limited Utah State to 83 net yards on the ground and just 171 yards through the air.  DB Brandon Beaver also had an INT followed by a 96-yard return.

Washington State

Grade:  B-

Outcome:  win over Wyoming, 31-14

WSU got another win right before heading into their Pac-12 games.  QB Luke Falk threw 45 times, completing 37 of his passes - he amassed 303 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT.  Falk spread the ball across his many receivers, with WR River Cracroft leading the way with 7 catches for 83 yards.  On the ground, the Cougars have a lot of work to do - they only netted 75 rushing yards.  Defensively, WSU sure has a lot to shore-up - they let the Cowboys to get 113 rushing yards and 296 passing yards on them.  Luckily, the Cougars get a bye next week to prepare for a trip to Cal on October 3rd.

Key Week 3 Matchups

UCLA @ Arizona: ESPN's GameDay is going to Tucson next weekend, so that must mean this is a big-time game.  The 9th-ranked Bruins face the 16th-ranked Wildcats in a game that should give UCLA QB Josh Rosen an even tougher test than BYU did in Week 3.  [Saturday 9/26, 5:00pm PST, ABC]

Utah @ Oregon: The 18th-ranked Utes head into Eugene to face the 13th-ranked Ducks.  Both teams were planning to make a lot of noise for the conference this year.  This will be a great match-up with two teams that are making do with their back-up QBs right now.  [Saturday, 9/26, 5:30pm PST, FOX]

USC @ Arizona State: Heading into this 2015 season, this was going to be a premier match-up of Pac-12 South division contenders.  This game has lost some luster after ASU has under-impressed after three games and USC just lost to an unranked Stanford team at home.  Both teams will be vying to pick-up momentum as they begin their conference games.  [Saturday, 9/26, 7:30pm PST, ESPN]