Week one of the college football season was an eventful one for the Pac-12 and the Sun Devils. There were some expected and likewise, some unexpected results that did not necessarily affect the Pac-12 standings, but definitely will have an impact on the national rankings. They also impact how strong the Pac-12 Conference is viewed across the nation.
First off, let’s look at the Oregon schools since last week I stated that both the Ducks and the Beavers had easy contests against lower tier schools. Oregon won big as expected against Nichols State, but Oregon State lost in surprising fashion to the Eagles of Eastern Washington by a score of 49-46. In Corvallis, the Eagles used a 23 point second quarter and just enough defense down the stretch to upset the ranked Beavers and cast an initial blow to the Pac-12 reputation. That one really hurt.
While the Oregon State loss hurt the conference, the Washington schools helped it. Unfortunately, the Cougars of Washington State could not complete the upset of the Auburn Tigers in their house. A couple of costly turnovers helped the Tigers stave off a strong and respectful showing by the Cougs to seal a six point victory. However, the Washington Huskies provided much of the drama on Saturday night as they crushed the nineteenth ranked Boise State Broncos 38-6 in Seattle. Solid win for the Pac-12.
The California schools did pretty much what was expected of them. The 24th ranked USC Trojans took down Hawaii 30-13 on Thursday night, but did not look very dominant at any point of the game on both sides of the ball. USC and Lane Kiffin could be in for a long season.
Cal lost a heart breaker to Northwestern on Saturday night and gave away a golden opportunity. While the Bears lost 44-30, the game was actually much closer than the final score indicated. Playing at home, Cal seemed to have the momentum for much of the game, and if it were not for a couple of costly interceptions that were run back for scores, the Pac would have had another upset over a nationally ranked team.
UCLA looked quite dominant in their performance at home over Nevada and looks to be tough this season. Their recent recruitng classes have provided plenty of depth and weapons on offense, but we will have to wait and see if their defense can step up for the entire season.
Utah & Colorado
The newest members of the Pac-12 also had strong showings to help the overall perception of the conference. Utah held off a tough in-state rival, Utah State, 30-26 to start the season with a win at home. Colorado defeated Mountain West Conference foe Colorado State to upset their rival as well. The win by the Buffaloes was their first for new coach Mike McIntyre.
Lastly, the Wildcats of Arizona did what they were supposed to against the NAU Lumberjacks by shutting them out 35-0. Hard to judge a team against such a weak opponent, but time will tell if they can sustain their offensive production throughout the season. A bigger concern for them is the depth and quality of their defense and whether or not they will be able to be effective against a quality opponent.
Overall, the Pac-12 conference had a good weekend. Oregon, USC, Utah, UCLA and Arizona won the games that they were supposed to. Oregon State lost a game they should have won, but that was cancelled out by the big win by Washington over Boise State. Colorado won a game that they weren’t supposed to and Washington State and Cal put in noble efforts in their losses. Next up…The Sun Devils.
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