Arizona State (32) at UTSA (28)
Good luck to anyone trying to figure out the Sun Devils this season. They put up 68 points last week against Texas Tech, so fans everywhere must have been thinking they would steamroll the UTSA Roadrunners. The ASU players must have thought so too and they almost paid for it as they had to come from 28-12 down in the third quarter to squeak out of San Antonio with a four-point win. It was a strange performance from Todd Graham’s squad, which featured three turnovers and zero takeaways. ASU quarterback Manny Wilkins threw more incomplete passes than completions as he went 15 of 31 for 264 yards and two touchdowns to one interception. The Sun Devils are 3-0 and take on Cal next week. We’ll see which Sun Devils squad shows up.
Oregon (32) at Nebraska (35)
The Ducks lost this one for a couple of reasons: the biggest one being that they went 1 for 5 on two-point conversions. Losing star running back Royce Freeman in the first quarter played a part as well, but the Ducks continued to run the ball effectively without him. Oregon completed their first two-point conversion to go up 8-0 but they continued to go for it, for whatever reason, and when they kept messing up they kept doubling down on their mistakes to continue to chase points. If they would have kicked an extra point after each touchdown, to include the two-point conversion they did score on, then the Ducks would have tied the game at 35. Will Mark Helfrich learn his lesson? He’s in charge of Oregon ... so, probably not. How about Mike Riley, though? He picks up a win against the Ducks after losing his previous seven matchups against his former school’s rival.
Colorado (28) at Michigan (45)
Maybe the Buffs are different this year. They played really well for a long time in this contest in Ann Arbor, but they ran out of steam towards the end and the Wolverines pulled away. Colorado jumped all over Jim Harbaugh’s squad to the tune of a 14-0 lead before Michigan returned a blocked punt for a touchdown to trim the lead. Sefo Liufau tossed his second touchdown pass of the first quarter to restore a 14-point lead before Michigan scored the next 17 points. Colorado had one counter-punch when Liufau tossed a 70-yard touchdown pass to Shay Fields in the third quarter to take one more lead, but Michigan blew them away the rest of the game to win it 45-28. Moral victories are hardly a consolation, but if the Buffs can play this feisty when conference play kicks in then they will have a legitimate shot at making a bowl game this season.
Idaho State (7) at Oregon State (37)
Oregon State snapped their 10-game losing streak with this victory over the hapless Bengals and there really isn’t much else to say about this one. The Beavers have a long way to go before they’ll be competitive in the North division, so they just need wins whenever they can get them no matter the opponent. The matchup is significantly tougher next week as the Beavers take on Boise State.
Portland State (3) at Washington (41)
The Huskies’ stroll through no-name opponents is over as they pounded Portland State into dust. Washington takes on a legitimate-ish opponent next week in the Arizona Wildcats, though they haven’t looked particularly great this season either. While Washington has dispatched of each of their three opponents with extreme ease this season, they have struggled to impress with the ground game. I’ve said it three consecutive weeks now, so the run game might never come around for the Huskies. Their best effort on the ground was 213 rushing yards on 35 carries in this matchup with Portland State, which is more than six yards per carry, sure, but San Jose State ran for 409 rushing yards against the same opponent. If they cannot run the ball consistently once the real opponents show up on the schedule then Jake Browning is going to have a lot of pressure on his shoulders to make big plays. Time will tell how the Huskies perform when pushed now that the expectations have skyrocketed so much.
USC (10) at Stanford (27)
Stanford dominated USC because the Trojans can’t compete against the top programs anymore. Stanford could’ve embarrassed Clay Helton’s team a lot worse than it ended up, but David Shaw started milking clock fairly early in this one. Stanford is inverse Washington in the sense that they’re either severely allergic to passing or they simply know they aren’t very good at it and choose to avoid throwing at all cost. The Cardinal threw the ball just 15 times out of their 62 offensive plays against USC. Stanford amassed 295 rushing yards on 47 carries, but just 109 passing yards. Stanford takes on UCLA next week, a squad they’ve beaten eight consecutive times.
UCLA (17) at BYU (14)
The 2016 BYU Cougars sure do like losing close games to Pac-12 teams, eh? If you tuned into this matchup looking for rush yards then you probably changed the channel to another game fairly quickly. UCLA racked up a grand total of 50 yards on 34 carries. If you think that looks bad then get ready for the Cougars’ rushing numbers. They toted the rock 25 times for 23 yards on the ground. I sound like a broken record at this point due to the number of different teams through three weeks I’ve said this about, but if they cannot consistently run the ball better then it is going to put too much pressure on the Chosen Rosen to make big plays every drive. The UCLA defense is talented, but they’ll slip up at some point if the offense doesn’t find a way to score more points.
San Jose State (17) at Utah (34)
Utah won in familiar fashion as their defense dominated once again. Utah notched 10 sacks as a team and forced three turnovers. The Utes limited the Spartans to just 56 rushing yards on 32 carries. The defensive front looks stout and the secondary has been able to capitalize on their opportunities to make plays during the non-conference portion of the schedule. I’m still not sure about the offense, but the defense is legit out in Salt Lake City.
Texas (43) at California (50)
We all know how this one played out, but it’s certainly no bother to talk a bit more about how awesome a win this was. On the heels of that disappointing loss to San Diego State the Bears needed to rebound with a good performance against the then 11th ranked Texas Longhorns. For a minute there it looked like Texas was going to pull away after they got the ball up five after a blocked punt resulted in a safety. I was a little worried that Cal’s defense wouldn’t be able to get enough stops if the team fell behind by double digits, but I’m glad I was wrong. Luke Rubenzer played a great center field as he picked off Shane Buechele on the first offensive play after the safety. The NCAA’s leading receiver, Chad Hansen, immediately made Texas pay with a 23-yard touchdown grab on a beautiful throw from Davis Webb to give Cal a halftime lead. I criticized Webb for being inconsistent in last week’s game, but I was very impressed with his performance in this contest. There wasn’t much room for error and he came up big time after time to get a win against the program he grew up rooting for. Also, shoutout to the defense for pitching a shutout in the third quarter. It was huge they were able to do so as that was the only point in the game where the offense simply could not find its rhythm.
Idaho (6) at Washington State (56)
You wouldn’t believe it based on the final score, but this was a close matchup for a good minute. Idaho actually took the lead 3-0 and were attempting a 32-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 7-6 about half-way through the second quarter before Washington State blocked it and returned it 72 yards for a touchdown. That play was a bit of a back-breaker and the contest ceased to be a good one from that point on.
Hawaii (28) at Arizona (47)
After avoiding complete and total disaster last week, the likes of which would have resulted in the reputation of Arizona’s program continually shrinking for eternity a-la the quantum realm in Marvel’s Ant-Man, the Wildcats ensured they started this contest as if their lives depended on it. Rich Rodriguez’s squad scored the first 21 points of the matchup and 38 of the first 45 to put the Rainbow Warriors away early.
UP NEXT (all times Pacific)
USC (1-2) at Utah (3-0), Friday at 6 p.m. on Fox Sports 1
Boise State (2-0) at Oregon State (1-1), Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1
Colorado (2-1) at Oregon (2-1), Saturday at 2:30 on Pac-12 Network
Stanford (2-0) at UCLA (2-1), Saturday at 5 p.m. on ABC
California (2-1) at Arizona State (3-0), Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2
Washington (3-0) at Arizona (2-1), Saturday at 7:30 on Pac-12 Network