As we creep towards Pac-12 Conference games lets take a look at who is rounding into contenders and who is not. I know it’s only a couple weeks in, but getting that momentum going early can lead to confidence later in the season.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils did win their game with Sacramento State 19-7, but it was ugly. When the best player on the team is the back up kicker that is a problem. There were penalties at killed scores or drives. Freshman quarterback, Jayden Daniels, struggled against a Sacramento State defense that kept the pressure up all game. The Devils only had 78 total yards of offense in the first half and a 3-0 lead. Getting out to a 2-0 record is good for this team. With a Michigan State team looking to get a little revenge on ASU next week this performance was not what was needed by the Sun Devils.
Utah: The Utes took out BYU in week one and on Saturday beat Northern Illinois 35-17. A 2-0 record is something that was expected out of this talented Utah Ute team. Utah held the Northern Illinois Huskies to just 69 yards in the second half to secure the victory. Ute quarterback, Tyler Huntley was a very efficient 14-19, 214 yards, passed for one touchdown, and rushed for a touchdown. With the hype surrounding this Utah team, they are handling it just fine so far. Utah has Idaho State next week at home, so going to 3-0 is a distinct possibility. All in all, Utah is doing what they should be doing at this point.
UCLA: To say the Bruins are frustrated would be a massive understatement. Losing to Cincinnati in week one was tough and then on Saturday the Bruins drop a home game to San Diego State. With UCLA starting 0-2, the fans are getting a little restless. Let’s not forget, that the Bruins host high flying Oklahoma next Saturday. How is UCLA going to stop Lincoln Riley’s offense who have a possible Heisman winner in Jalen Hurts? Right now, it doesn’t seem likely that the Bruins will be able to stop the Sooners. What does seem likely is that Chip Kelly’s team may be 0-3 to start this 2019 season.
Colorado: Nebraska came to Boulder to exact some revenge from last year. The Buffs came to Lincoln last year and beat the Cornhuskers. Old rivalries die hard. These two schools really don’t like each other. It goes back to their old Big 12 days. Instead, Colorado gave new head coach Mel Tucker his first signature win with a 34-31 victory over the 25th ranked Cornhuskers. To get out of the gate 2-0 for Colorado is a positive sign for the program. To get to 3-0 the Buffaloes need to get past the Air Force Academy next Saturday at Folsom Field. Colorado will start conference play on the road against Arizona State in two weeks.
Oregon: With the disappointment of the Auburn loss in the rear view mirror the Ducks welcomed the Nevada Wolfpack into Autzen Stadium. The Ducks scored 28 points in the second quarter to separate themselves from the Wolfpack. Oregon never looked backed as Justin Herbert had a solid game. Getting 623 total yards of offense showed that the Ducks took out their Auburn frustration on Nevada. Justin Herbert threw for 310 yards and five touchdowns. It was all working for Oregon on Saturday. The question will be how the Ducks and Herbert perform away from Eugene.
Oregon State: Not sure what to say here. The Beavers losing to Hawaii 31-28 was bad. Oregon State was up by 14 and blew it. Simply blew it. A fake punt that didn’t need to be called was the most curious play call that I've seen in quite some time. On top of that, it set up the game winning field goal by Hawaii. What was going through head coach Jonathan Smith’s head with that call? The other disappointing part of this game was that the Beavers were fighting each other as well as the other team. Team dissention never works out well in the end. There are some things that need to be worked out among the Beavers coaching staff and the players. This is shaping up to be another long season in Corvallis.
California: California went to Washington and made it Bear country. With a game that was delayed nearly two and half hours because of severe weather the Golden Bears didn’t let the interruption affect them. To win in Seattle, tells you that California head coach Justin Wilcox has his team believing that they can win in any environment. A 17 yard field goal by Greg Thomas with eight seconds remaining gave the Bears a surprising win over the 14th ranked Washington Huskies. Now California is 2-0 and will be breaming with confidence next week against North Texas at home. 3-0 for California is certainly within reach.
Washington: Is Washington all that? Nobody expected the 20-19 home loss to California on Saturday night. What about Jacob Eason? He looked good against Eastern Washington, but on Saturday night he looked anxious. Eason was hurried, flushed out of the pocket, and was generally uncomfortable against the Golden Bear defense. The other part of this game for the Huskies was that they were kicking to many field goals. Kicking field goals is nice, but that is not how it’s going to get down for the defending conference champs. Washington is 1-1 now and with a home date next week against a Hawaii team that has already beat a couple of Pac-12 teams the Huskies better focus in this week to get back on track.
USC: Welcome to the party Kedon Slovis. The true freshman quarterback for USC had a night. Slovis reminded me a bit of Sam Darnold on Saturday night. Slovis went 28-33 for 377 yards and the 45-20 victory over Stanford. Being down by 14 points early, Slovis lead a furious comeback and the Trojan defense took the Stanford offense out of the game. With a lot things being said about USC head coach, Clay Helton, the Trojans made their coach proud on Saturday night. Next up for the Trojans is a road game at BYU who just beat Tennessee.
Washington State: The Cougars had another warm up game on Saturday against Northern Colorado. New Washington State quarterback, Anthony Gordon, is averaging 50 points a game and 400 yards a game. With the Cougs getting a 59-17 win on Saturday it appears that head coach Mike Leach has his Air Raid offense humming along. With next weeks game on the road at Houston the Cougars will need every touchdown or field goal possible. It will be an interesting game to watch with Houston. Defense will be at a premium against Houston.
Stanford: The Cardinal looked good early, but it all went to hell after that. The Stanford defense could not stop USC true freshman, Kedon Slovis, in their 45-20 loss in the L.A. Coliseum. With the Cardinal quarterback, K.J. Costello, out because of a concussion the Stanford offense could not get going with back up Davis Mills. Mills did throw for 237 yards, but it didn’t translate into scoring. Stanford goes to UCF next week. K.J. Costello will return more than likely next week against UCF. Cardinal fans are hoping that happens.