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The good, the bad and the unknown week three: USC survives Texas and mid-majors sting UCLA/Stanford

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The good, the bad and the unknown of the third week of Pac-12 football.

Texas v USC Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Good

USC pulls it out - Week three was not a good week for the conference, but it would have been a disaster had USC lost at home to a Texas team that lost at home to Maryland two weeks prior. The Trojans made the plays they needed to play to get a marque, though not particularly impressive win.

Sam Darnold in the clutch - Darnold makes some interesting passes and choices at time, but the guy is deadly on third downs and when it really counts. Like he did against Washington last year and in the Rose Bowl, Darnold killed Texas by hanging in the pocket, targeting receivers before they get open and dropping in passes that don’t seem possible again and again.

Cal - The Bears probably aren’t the best team in the conference, but they have had the best first three weeks of anyone. Their win at North Carolina could be written away as a win over a decent program that is down this year, but following it up with a defensive win over a mid-level SEC program was huge. No one, I don’t think even Cal’s biggest fans thought they could be 3-0 going into conference play. Hats off…

Bryce Love - There might not be much to get excited about in Palo Alto right now other than Bryce Love, but he has been on fire thus far in 2017. 14.2 yards per-carry on 13 carries is ridiculous.

Cougs take care of business - The Cougars looked smooth in opening Pac-12 play by bashing the Beavers. Barring a crazy upset, they will start out 4-0 and look like a major contender to be the top team in the conference to challenge USC and Washington.

Dante Pettis - Why do people keep punting to this guy? Will be very interesting to see if teams in Pac-12 play ever punt to him. Oh, and he had more than 100 yards receiving/passing and four total touchdowns.

Oregon’s defense - Oregon’s ground game ran right through Wyoming, but it was their defense that was most-impressive Saturday as they absolutely shut down NFL Draft prospect quarterback Josh Allen. This is a performance I couldn’t imagine Oregon’s defense having the past two seasons.

The Bad

Week 3 - The conference came into week three riding pretty high, but Saturday was a thud as Stanford and Memphis lost to mid majors and USC almost lost to a struggling Texas program. It was far from a disaster, but those mentioned losses took some of the air out of the non-conference performance.

Mid-Major Road Game - Why the Pac-12 is cool with scheduling games at mid-majors I don’t know. It always bites you and just doesn’t seem necessary. It’s time to change this as it hurts the conference’s national perception every year.

Stanford outside of Bryce Love - Stanford is okay, but there isn’t one thing to be excited about on their team right now outside of Love. Their quarterback isn’t dangerous, they lack playmaker at receiver and their offensive line isn’t dominant enough to where their system scares teams this year. Plus, their defense hasn’t been as strong as anticipated thus far.

UCLA’s defense - UCLA’s defense showed again that they can’t stop decent opponents and their offense didn’t bail them out the way they did against Texas A&M. The Bruins may have to outscore opponents in Pac-12 play to win conference games this year if their defense doesn’t improve in a hurry.

Arizona State’s pass defense - The Sun Devils look decent on offense, but their pass defense is so bad they are going to get torched by the Pac-12’s glut of great quarterbacks.

The Unknown

Is USC a Playoff team? The Trojans are clearly very good, but an overtime test by Texas keeps the question open in my opinion of if they are Playoff good, the kind of team that can avoid dropping two games the rest of the way.

Washington? Washington’s embarrassingly-soft non-conference schedule means I don’t really have a great read on them yet. Sure, they look good, similar to what they looked heading into conference play last year, but they haven’t played a team I would put in the Top 100 of college football teams yet, so who knows?

How do the “Tier 2” teams stack up? USC and Washington are the Pac-12’s top-tier/Top 10 teams coming out of non-conference play, but who are those next level teams and how do they stack up? Stanford looked to be number three heading into the season, but that status is up in the air. Oregon looks like they might be back to at least Top 25 status, and Washington State is looking strong, but it’s a wide group without much order right now.