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Pac-12 The Good, The Bad & The Unknown week two: Ducks make Playoff statement

Oregon and USC make major statements in week two.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

Oregon in the second half (yet again) - What is in the halftime water in Eugene? Yet again, the Ducks came into halftime floundering against Michigan State only to emerge in the third quarter dominant and once again show that they are the best second-half/fourth quarter program in the history of college football (Actually, probably any sport at any level I have ever seen). The Ducks looked as good as they have in the past five years or so in the quarter-and-a-half run that buried the Spartans and gave them the 19-point victory.

Oregon's college football playoff hopes - The Ducks entered the season as one of the favorites to make the first-ever College Football Playoff and Saturday's impressive win over Michigan State puts them in an excellent spot to do just that. Playing in what could be the worst Big Ten ever, the Spartans will likely climb back up the rankings as the season goes on, bolstering the Ducks stock and the Ducks' expected biggest Pac-12 competition in UCLA has looked average in their first two games while Stanford's offense looks like it may not be able to put up the points to hang with Oregon. Also, the Ducks will not play the conference's other legit Playoff contender at the moment in USC in the regular season.

USC and the little things - The Trojans were substantially outgained by Stanford and also lost the time-of-possession battle, but pulled out the win over the Cardinal with consistent rushing by Javorious Allen, by making plays on defense at just the right time, avoiding turnovers and hitting field goals. There weren't many highlight reel plays for the Trojans, but ultimately they came away with the victory in an huge early-season Pac-12 showdown and emerged as the new favorites in the South.

Andre Heidari - Heidari took the heart of Stanford again with his 53-yard boot to give the Trojans the win. He solidified himself as the Pac-12's most-clutch kicker on Saturday.

Pac-12 teams narrowly avoiding upsets - September 6, 2014 will forever be known as the "Day the Big Ten Died," but it easily could have been a disaster for most of the Pac-12 as well as a handful of teams narrowly escaped (mostly) embarrassing upsets. Washington had to put up 59 to beat FCS Eastern Washington in a game of NFL Blitz, Oregon State gave up 23 points in the fourth and had to hang on for dear life to beat Hawaii, UCLA went down to the wire with Memphis, Colorado only by only three against FBS cellar dweller UMass and even though UTSA is a pretty good team, Arizona nearly lost on the road in San Antonio. A few plays going the other way and it easily could have been a rough weekend for the conference.

Anyone playing Fresno State - After three-straight destructions at the hands of the Pac-12, the Bulldogs probably can't wait to stop playing the conference.

The Bad

Washington State's start - The Cougars just lost what may have been their two easiest games against FBS opponents this season and appear to be on the verge of a disastrous season unless they can really turn things around heading into Pac-12 play.

UCLA's momentum - The Pac-12's, and maybe the nation's hottest off-season team has been a dud thus far in 2014. A week after their defense played well, but their offense couldn't do a thing, the Bruin offense came alive, but their defense couldn't stop Memphis at home. The Bruins clearly have talent all over the field, but have looked incredibly uneven thus far in 2014.

Playing at teams from smaller conferences - I have long whined about Pac-12 teams playing at schools from lesser conferences and it hasn't played out well this year so far for the Pac-12. So far this season, Hawaii has given Washington and Oregon State all they can handle in Honolulu, Nevada knocked off Washington State in Reno, UTSA went down to the wire with Arizona and Colorado nearly lost at UMass. Well, at least Arizona State rolled at New Mexico.

Scheduling Eastern Washington - Pac-12 Ads what the hell? Stop scheduling these guys. The Eagles could beat more than half of the FBS pretty much every year and easily could be 4-0 against the Pac-12 the past four years if they had caught a few breaks. This is especially foolish if you are UW or WSU, as the Eagles are basically a team of players who wanted nothing more than to play for their state's marquee schools but weren't offered, making the game their chip-on-shoulder Super Bowl.


No Oregon vs. USC - Right now this looks like it will be a great Pac-12 Championship Game, but it still sucks that these two teams won't face off during the regular season. Then again, what is unknown is if this could be a good thing for the conference. What if these two teams enter the Championship Game undefeated? Aside from being a colossal showdown, could the Pac-12 get the winner and the loser into the Playoff? I'm probably dreaming, but still...

UCLA & Washington - The Bruins and Huskies came into the season with as much hype as the program's have had in more than a decade but have struggled mightily in their opening two games against teams they were supposed roll. Are both of these programs just ironing out kinks early on or are both (or at least one of them) truly not nearly as strong as anticipated?