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Pac-12 week one looking back and looking forward: Pac-12 favorite loses to Auburn in opening week again

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Looking back at week one and ahead to week two in the Pac-12.

NCAA Football: Advocare Classic-Auburn vs Oregon Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Looking Back

Arizona D.O.A. - Arizona had an ugly luau in Honolulu on the first Saturday of college football. Khalil Tate did his thing and the Wildcats put up points, but it’s just been the same problem for Arizona for years now as they struggle to stop opponents from scoring as they gave up 42 to a mid-to-low-level Mountain West team.

A bowl game should be the goal for the Wildcats and they now might have to beat Texas Tech in a couple of weeks to have a realistic chance to do that.

Chip Kelly looking like 49ers Chip and not Ducks Chip - The Bruins lost by 10 on the road against a team that I could see being in the Top 25 for much of the season without Joshua Kelley playing. Not the end of the world I guess, but something about the way the Bruins looked didn’t sit well. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who looked like a star in the making toward the end of 2018 was woeful and the Bruins looked like they lacked an energy or identity the way they did at the beginning of 2018.

Utah gets it done, in Utah fashion - Pressure started to build as they got ready for the Holy War. Could the Utes handle their preseason hype and expectations? Were we all overlooking the challenge that BYU would provide? Everyone was ready for the Utes to stumble.

They didn’t and they won in their typical fashion, with defensive turnovers for points, tough running, and limited explosion on offense. The Utes got a good win to open the season and looked like the same team that won the South last year.

Colorado’s offense nice, defense still a question mark - The Buffs took care of business against their rival again and put up fireworks on offense. Their defense though? They might have trouble stopping teams in the Pac-12.

Oregon State looks the same - The Beavers were able to put up points against a good Oklahoma State team in Corvallis. Meanwhile, the defense couldn’t get stops to save their lives. The Beavers will probably have to outscore opponents 59-56 in Pac-12 play if they hope to get a conference win.

Deja Vu in Arlington - I was shocked how similar Oregon’s tough loss to Auburn in week one reminded me of Washington’s week one loss to Auburn in Atlanta last year. The Ducks get credit for heading down South to take on an SEC power and almost winning, but it’s still a blow for Oregon, and the Pac-12.

We don’t know how good Auburn is, but they sure looked a lot like the team that went 7-5 last year in a tough SEC so I don’t think this is going to be a great loss later in the season. Unfortunately, if Oregon wins the Pac-12 like Washington did last year (and they can) after losing to Auburn on a semi-neutral field, this loss will be a black eye for Washington.

Oregon national media narratives sputter: I think most Pac-12 fans, even some Oregon fans, had a hard time stomaching the offseason of hype given to Justin Herbert and Oregon’s offensive line. Both started out strong in Arlington, but failed to deliver as the game went on, especially when it was on the line.

Despite ESPN repeating the greatness of Oregon’s offensive line and Herbert over and over again, the line wore down late against a tough defense, averaged 2.7 yards per-carry and gave up a lot of pressure late for Herbert and Herbert’s final QBR was worse than a true freshman making his first start.

USC is major trouble - Clay Helton and USC already had a mountain to climb in the first half of 2019 and that was before they lost JT Daniels to a season-ending injury. Daniels isn’t a star yet in my opinion, but the Trojans don’t appear to have any dynamic options after him and that’s going to really hurt running their new air raid offense.

I would be surprised if the Trojans are able to win enough to save Helton’s job with a back up quarterback.

Jacob Eason might be the answer for UW - Washington’s offense looked like a different animal with Eason starting at QB. He’s big, talented, and his abilities brought a new rhythm to UW. Keep in mind that while they faced an FCS opponent, the offense and their QB were choppy last year against North Dakota.

Stanford’s defense might be back - The Cardinal have struggled in opening weeks under David Shaw in recent history and that was the case with their offense, especially after KJ Costello was knocked out by a dirty hit. The good news for Stanford was their defense looked like the Stanford D of old, snuffing out a Northwestern offense that put up 31 on Utah’s vaunted defense in the Holiday Bowl.

No flag? How does KJ Costello not get a targeting call on the cheap shot that knocked him out against Northwestern. Sad to see him needlessly miss time against USC and hopefully he will be back by the time Stanford heads to UCF.

Looking Ahead

Cal to test Eason The Great - Eason looked great against Eastern Washington, but that’s Eastern Washington. Cal and their defense will raise the bar quite a bit. How Eason and the Washington offense performs against Cal and their defense should say a lot about how well they will fare in Pac-12 play.

How good is Oregon? Taking Auburn down to the wire to me confirms that Oregon is at least a Pac-12 championship contender, but we already knew that. The question is if they can get past the rest in the contender pack of Stanford, Utah, and the Washington schools, and I still don’t know if that is the case. Are the Ducks just a very-experienced team with a solid QB that’s just pretty good? We’ll find out once Pac-12 play starts.

Battle of the back ups - Sadly an underrated showdown of KJ Costello vs. JT Daniels won’t happen, but there will still be a lot at stake in The Coliseum on Saturday. The Trojans desperately need a win like this to stay in the Pac-12 title chase and give some cushion for Clay Helton as they start into a nightmare schedule stretch. On the other side, this is a game Stanford has to win with USC starting a back up if they’re truly going to compete for the North crown.

Underrated tests - Pac-12 teams are facing underrated tests and chances to turn early disappointment around in week two.

Oregon has to lick their wounds against a solid Nevada team that beat Purdue last week.

Oregon State has to go to Hawaii to take on a rested Hawaii team that beat Arizona two weeks ago.

UCLA really needs a win against a San Diego State team that looks to have a bad offense, but good defense.

And...let’s officially see if Mel Tucker can make a splash at Colorado in his first season. Beat Nebraska in Boulder and the Buffs look like a real contender in the South.