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Looking back & looking forward weeks 3-4: Arizona State finds a miracle on the road and USC finds heartbreak

It feels like a year where what we know might change each week.

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Looking Back

Washington State & Anthony Gordon business as usual - Mike Leach and his new quarterback faced a major test on the road at Houston Friday night and they both passed. Gordon continues to show why he pushed Gardner Minshew in Fall camp last year and the Cougars showed that they’re going to be a force in the North again. The Cougars are a team no one wants to play.

It’s hard to maintain every week - Colorado was sky high a week after their thrilling win against Nebraska. Then, a week later, Air Force came to Boulder and knocked off the Buffs in overtime. It’s not easy, but it’s another less in maintaining performance every week in college football. The Buffs now enter Pac-12 play with the air sucked out of their momentum, needing four Pac-12 wins to make it to a bowl game.

This goes beyond just Colorado too. USC and Slovis didn’t look as sharp as they did the week before in their romp over Stanford and Cal beat North Texas by just six in Berkeley a week after winning at Washington.

USC! Well... Just when it looked like the Trojans might be creeping back to elite status with Kedon Slovis at QB they lost an (albeit tough) game at BYU. I hate playing at BYU and it was an airtight close loss on the road, but this is a game USC needs to win if they want to head back in the direction they need to be heading on a national level. The Trojans also might have been overrated because...

Stanford is in trouble - The Cardinal have seemed to have back-to-back really bad games almost every season since 2014, but this certainly feels a bit different, as they got shelled for the second week in-a-row, at UCF. The Cardinal gave up 45 points again and their offense struggled, even with KJ Costello back. It was a very challenging game, especially a week after playing at USC, but the Cardinal look to be in dire straits.

Arizona State pulls out another against Michigan State - If the Pac-12 can do one thing it’s win ugly, close, low-scoring games against Michigan State. The Sun Devils got a win with a little help from a crazy penalty and their defense should get a ton of credit for holding Michigan State to just seven points at home. A nice win for the conference.

Arizona redeems - I always thought the Wildcats would have chance to make up for their Hawaii loss if they could beat Texas Tech. The Wildcats did just that and by 14 points. They avoided putting themselves in an early 1-2, beat a solid Big 12 opponent for the Pac-12, and gave themselves a lot of momentum heading into conference play.

Looking Ahead

How the South was won? Arizona State might have something to say after beating Michigan State on the road, but it certainly feels like the winner of Friday night’s game between Utah and USC in The Coliseum should determine who wins the South in the first true week of conference play. Based on their common opponent, both playing at BYU, it seems like Utah should be the favorite, even on the road, but the Trojans, and their air raid offense have a great shot at giving Utah lots of trouble in LA.

Can Stanford rally? Things don’t get any easier for Stanford as they host Oregon. This might be their last chance to truly turn their season around and have a chance to compete for the North title.

Non-conference road tests - Cal and Washington both get minor road tests out of conference two weeks after locking horns and a week before they jump back into the conference schedule. Neither game has anything to do with the Pac-12 race, but both are very tough challenges that could put a painful sting on either team if they drop them.

Arizona State lurking? Everyone handed the South to Utah before the season started and then decided USC has the best shot to take them down last week, but what about Arizona State a week after beating Michigan State? Can the Sun Devils build some momentum this week with a win over Colorado?