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The good, the bad and the unknown week one: UCLA and Cal score big wins for the Pac-12

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

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at UCLA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

UCLA makes history - The Bruins and Jim Mora were buried less than one game into the season, and then they weren’t. The Bruins provided some much-needed fireworks to the opening weekend of college football, snagged the Pac-12 a nice non-conference win, and gave their program some much-needed momentum after a long malaise in Westwood.

Josh Rosen - I think this is what we envisioned for Rosen when he signed with UCLA a few years back. The hype has finally been delivered upon in a big way. Whether or not Rosen and UCLA pan out for a full season is for another, but watching Rosen shine the way he did in the Rose Bowl Sunday night was too fun.

Cal makes a statement - The Bears’ win at North Carolina wasn’t just a nice score for the conference, it was a major statement for Justin Wilcox and company. Everyone had already written off Cal before the season even started and they opened up on the road against an upper-middle ACC opponent and scored one of the better wins of opening weekend for any team.

Ross Bowers - Everyone seemed to think the Bears were dead at quarterback, but Bowers was impressive in his first action - throwing for 363 and four touchdowns on the road.

USC’s run game - Saturday wasn’t the debut everyone expected from the Trojans and Sam Darnold, but their run game was impressive and gave them the win over scrappy Western Michigan. Ronald Jones and Stephen Carr look like a deadly duo as they carved up 200 plus yards and five touchdowns.

Dante Pettis - The Huskies were floundering at Rutgers until Pettis took his conference record-tying sixth punt to the house and opened things up much in the same way he pushed the Huskies past Utah last season in Salt Lake City.

Colorado’s defense - Colorado’s defense shook off graduating just about every starter and losing Jim Leavitt and held rival Colorado State to just three points a week after they put up nearly 60 on Oregon State. The Buffs could stick right in the Pac-12 championship race if their defense plays that sticky and Steven Montez and their offense pick it up.

No black eyes - The Pac-12 avoided any embarrassing losses in week one with Oregon State saving face at the last second against Portland State. Hopefully this lasts for the rest of the non-conference slate.

Darren Carrington as a Ute - Carrington coming back for his senior year was quietly one of the biggest things going for Oregon coming into 2017, but yet another off-the-field issue sent Carrington packing to Salt Lake City. With 10 catches for 100 plus yards and a touchdown in Utah’s opener, it looks like the Utes might have a rejuvenated weapon who could give their offense a major shot in the arm.

The Bad

Sam Darnold and USC in general - Darnold wasn’t horrible or anything, but he certainly started with a thud against a MAC defense after being called the next Andrew Luck all offseason. Much more is expected of him going forward. I know Western Michigan was a New Year’s bowl team last year, but they weren’t the same team they were last year and USC as a whole lost a lot of momentum by really struggling with them at home.

USC’s run defense - The Trojans got gashed by Western Michigan - giving up 263 and two scores. They are going to be vulnerable in Pac-12 play if their run defense is that soft.

Washington’s offense - The Huskies looked a lot like they did when they played Alabama Friday night, except they were playing Rutgers. They put up just 24 (non-special teams) points against a Rutgers team which was torched all last year and looked slugging on the offensive line, which was supposed to be their strength.

Washington’s hype train - Like USC, the Huskies pulled out a win against a fired-up opponent, but they didn’t impress anyone in the way they did it. The Huskies looked limited on offense and struggled at times to stop Rutgers on third down on defense. They didn’t score any style points in week one.

Arizona State’s defense (still) - The Sun Devils look to be a trainwreck on defense again after giving up 31 points and 549 yards at home to New Mexico State. The Sun Devils were especially vulnerable on pass defense again and will have trouble winning any FBS game on their schedule this year if their defense performs at this level.

Oregon State - The Beavers barely beat Portland State and look like the clearcut weakest team in the conference after opening weekend. They frequently start slow, but still have a ton to prove.

The Unknown

USC and Washington? Were the Huskies’ and Trojans’ week one struggles just them not exerting themselves too much against fired-up opponents, or are the Pac-12’s two Top 10 teams very suspect? I think it’s the former, but there is definite room for concern as both teams showed the weaknesses which popped up for them last year against inferior opponents. The door may be open for Stanford to run back at the top. We’ll find out next week.

Sam Darnold and Jake Browning? The conference’s top Heisman candidates were not spectacular in their openers against teams that were not expected to be challenges. Will Browning and Darnold be able to bounce back?

Rosen ready? Rosen made a national star turn Sunday night. Is he ready for a real Heisman run, or was that just a flash of what the talented Bruin can do against an ailing team with a struggling defense?

Do Cal’s and UCLA’s wins mean anything? A ton of excitement came from Cal and UCLA’s big wins last weekend, but remember that UCLA nearly beat Texas A&M on the road last year and Cal beat Texas, but neither program panned out as the season went on. Will this year be different?