Redemption was the theme for Week 2 as the PAC 12 tried to bounce back from an opening weekend that saw losses to an FCS team, two Mountain West teams and an SEC team. Headlined by Oregon's trip to East Lansing and, to a lesser degree, Oregon State's trip to the Big House in Michigan, the PAC 12 didn't exactly put a clamp on rising suspicions that this might be a bit of a transition year for a conference that has turned young, in particular with three true freshman quarterbacks in starting jobs around the league.
Some PAC 12 observations from the weekend that was:
- Utah's Travis Wilson suffered a sprained right shoulder in the Thursday night win over Utah State. However, the story for the Utes this weekend is the kind you never want to hear about. Imagine Kyle Whittingham's horror at getting a phone call over the weekend to inform him that two of his young reserves had been shot at a party. Fortunately, both kids are well and expected to fully recover.
- UCLA posted their second straight win to open the season. However, the road trip to Las Vegas revealed to us that Josh Rosen is, yes, still a true freshman and that the Heisman campaign may be a little premature. Also leaking out of Westwood is news that 5 star true freshman TE Chris Clark has left the program just a day after having his redshirt burned.
- Oregon's loss to Michigan State wasn't a huge shocker. Though Vernon Adams was playing with an injured hand (I think Oregon fans need to get used to the reality that Adams is often hurt), I thought that what we saw from him is pretty much what you are going to get. He's a gamer, but he will be prone to "gunslinger" types of mistakes and while he has escapability, he won't be outrunning many Power 5 linebackers.
- Despite the loss, Oregon's playoff hopes are not dramatically affected. They were always going to have to run the table in the PAC this year. The only situation where this loss might hurt them is if tOSU wins the Big 10 with MSU only having lost to them. On the plus side, Oregon's defense looked much better and the run-game is still elite, even if the wide receivers are starting to look a little over-rated. There isn't much reason to question the Ducks's position heading into PAC play.
- Arizona State's close loss to Cal Poly was an odd thing to see and might be revealing some struggles down in Tempe. Mike Bercovici was again just so-so as he is struggling to find a replacement for WR Jaelen Strong. In addition, the Sun Devils had three defensive guys leave that game with injury including freshman DB Armand Perry, who showed up on the sideline on crutches. This will be a situation to watch
- Cal's defense gave up only 7 points in a game for the first time since 2011 in their 35-7 win over SDSU. The defensive surge in Berkeley is being driven by excellent linebacker play and a secondary that is hanging in there better than expected. The offense was a bit sluggish in this one. RB Daniel Lasco left the game with a hip injury that might affect his availability versus Texas this weekend.
- Stanford had a strong bounce-back against Central Florida thanks in large part to a few big plays by WR Michael Rector and WR Bryce Love. David Shaw loosened up the offense quite a bit from week 1 and it showed. Of concern is the fact that playmaker Christian McCaffrey is still struggling in the run game behind that Stanford offensive line.
- It was nice to see WSU win a game against a Big Ten foe in Rutgers. The receivers and offensive line really showed up for the Cougs, but the defense and the special teams (didn't they fire their ST Coach mid year last season?) look very shaky in the early going.
- Washington has now pitched 6 straight quarters of shutout defense. They currently find themselves #7 in the nation in scoring defense and are the only team in the top 10 to have played a top 25 team. Of course, it is early, but this still remains something of a bragging point for a young Huskies D that many people expected to struggle this season.
Power Rankings: Cool Chart
Week 3 Power Rankings
|Last Week||WIN||UNLV 3 @ UCLA 37|
|Hey everybody, guess what? Josh Rosen is, in fact, a true freshman. He struggled to find his accuracy against a soft UNLV defense, but it was no matter. RB Paul Perkins and an aggressive UCLA defense carried the day and the Bruins's #1 spot in this week's Power Ranking. Perkins had 151 yards and couple of scores while the D held the Runnin' Rebs out of the end zone and allowed just 6 pass completions total on the night. Let's not pretend that UNLV is good - or even competitive - but the competition level ramps ups quickly now with BYU and Arizona on the horizon.|
|Week 2 POG:||RB Paul Perkins (151 yds rush, 24 yds rec, 2 TDs)||I projected a big day for the star RB and he delivered. A good thing, too, given that Rosen was having trouble throwing the ball accurately against air.|
|Last Week||LOSS||Oregon 28 @ Michigan St 31|
|On the surface, there certainly isn't anything from this result that Duck fans should hang their head over. A 3-point loss to a Top 5 team on the road is certainly not going to kill their hopes for making the playoffs. But there is enough here to at least get Duck fans a little concerned. QB play was just ok with Adams showing signs of inaccuracy and inability to escape. The defensive line struggled in the pass rush and had no sacks. The secondary, again, showed a lack of physicality in both phases. The O-Line struggled all game. Of course, this is all relative to the Oregon team we are used to seeing. And they still stayed within 3 points of the Spartans. Nothing to get excited about yet. I'm leaving the Ducks at #2.|
|Week 2 POG:||WR Bralon Addison (7 recs, 139 yds, 81 yd PR for a TD)||Addison was big in this one, especially considering the ongoing struggles of other Duck receivers (paging Dwayne Stanford). His punt return for a TD was a major factor in the game.|
|Last Week||WIN||Idaho 9 vs USC 59|
|There really isn't anything to draw from this game other than the fact that USC continues to do what it is expected to do with the very weak opponents that have been on their schedule. Their stat lines are somewhat gaudy and that makes it hard to rank them. I do continue to be impressed with the play of the young players and, importantly, the number of reps that are getting shared throughout the roster. We'll know a lot more next week when Sark meets his old nemesis David Shaw.|
|Week 2 POG:||WR JuJu Smith (10 recs, 192 yds, 2 TDs)||Smith is turning into a dominating receiver. In a night where USC involved 11 receivers, Smith still managed to haul in 10 of his own.|
|Last Week||WIN||SDSU 7 @ Cal 35|
|We kind of expected Rocky Long's SDSU team to give Cal a bit of trouble on offense. But, wow, how about the Cal D? SDSU actually ran more plays in this one than Cal did, but credit the Bears for keeping the ground game in check and the Aztecs mostly out of the end zone. Maybe we can grumble a bit about Cal "only" racking up 485 yds, but they've earned a bump in this week's poll. The competition moves up a level with a road trip to Texas next week. We'll see if Cal can keep it up.|
|Week 2 POG:||LB Michael Barton (8 tckls, 1 TFL, 1 INT)||Barton is a part of that emerging Cal LB corps. While not a starter, he was all over the field against SDSU and made a couple of really big plays as part of one of the best Cal defensive efforts we've seen in a few years.|
|5||4||Utah||2-0||@ Fresno St|
|Last Week||WIN||Utah State 14 @ Utah 24|
|Utah had a tough home opener against their traditional rival in Utah State. The game started out well for the Utes as the defense flashed and QB Travis Wilson showed the same kind of efficiency that he showed last week versus Michigan. However, Utah State proved to be a much more physical defensive opponent than what the Utes probably expected and the game quickly devolved into a dogfight. The Utes did enough to win, but suffered injuries to key players in Wilson and star DE Hunter Dimick. The fact that Utah, which led the NCAA in sacks per play a year ago, still has zero team sacks on the season and that their special teams continue to struggle gives me pause. Combine that with the injuries and I have no choice but to drop the Utes this week.|
|Week 2 POG:||WR Britain Covey (6 recs, 67 yds, 37 punt ret yds)||For the second straight week, Covey is my Utah POG. He is one tough little bugger who is like a scrap piece of iron. I'm very impressed with his quickness, his hands and his ability to take a hit ... and he took some big ones against the Aggies.|
|Last Week||WIN||Arizona 44 @ Nevada 20|
|This turned out to be a pretty good bounce back game for the Wildcats. A week after really struggling against a horrible UTSA team, the 'Cats went up into the altitude and turned in a pretty good effort. The defense was active despite missing its leader in Scooby Wright and the rushing attack was gashing the Wolf Pack all night. QB Anu Solomon is still struggling with his efficiency, but he's not making huge mistakes. I'm bumping the 'Cats a spot this week.|
|Week 2 POG:||RB Nick Wilson (194 yds rush, 2 TDs)||A huge night for one of the better RBs in the PAC. He was the offense for Arizona.|
|Last Week||WIN||UCF 7 @ Stanford 31|
|Stanford needed this one. It wasn't pretty, but it was efficient and it was physical. The Cardinal got control of George O'Leary's club pretty early in the game and then just leaned on the Knights as the evening wore on. Along the way, they may have found themselves a new playmaker in true freshman jitterbug Bryce Love. I'm going to move the Cardinal up a spot based on the defensive play, but the rushing attack with Christian McCaffrey and that Stanford O-Line is still a significant sore spot.|
|Week 2 POG:||WR Bryce Love (2 recs, 135 yds, 1 TD)||Nothing like a 77.5 yards per catch average to boost your QB's stats on the night. Love was only involved in two plays, but they were breathtaking and worthy of POG honors.|
|Last Week||WIN||Sac State 0 @ Washington 49|
|This game turned out exactly as it had to - in hand and drama free. That's about all you can hope for in a matchup against a lower tier opponent and a situation that did not happen in any of UW's "easier" matchups a year ago. The team is growing, but Utah State with hits gritty defense and star QB will be a whole new challenge.|
|Week 2 POG:||RB Myles Gaskin (14 cars, 147 yds, 3 TDs)||The UW offense was back in full disarray until Gaskin was inserted into the game on the 2nd drive. 50 yards and a TD later, Gaskin was on his way to a break out performance. He spaked uUW and earned POG honors.|
|9||6||ASU||1-1||New Mexico (9/18)|
|Last Week||WIN||Cal Poly 21 @ ASU 35|
|It was hard to get a read on the Sun Devils following their shellacking by Texas A&M. Now we have Caly Poly to help give us a better read. ASU really struggled in this one and the game was in doubt until the Devils managed two fourth quarter TDs to pull away. I'm not sure exactly what is going on. It would seem the lack of a game breaking WR coupled with QB Mike Bercovici's struggles with inaccuracy is at the root. In addition, the offensive line play has flat out stunk while the defense failed to generate any turnovers. ASU should be better than they are and probably will become so. But, I'm dropping them for now.|
|Week 2 POG:||LB Christian Sam (12 tckls, 2 sacks)||The weakside backer for ASU had a huge night and, along with S Jordan Simone, was probably the difference between a win and an embarrassing upset loss for the Sun Devils.|
|Last Week||WIN||UMASS 14 @ Colorado 48|
|Colorado needed a dominating win over a lower tier opponent and that is exactly what they got. It might have been a little too close for comfort early in the game. However, the Buffs found their ground game and took control as the game wore on. It is starting to happen for Colorado, even if it feels like it is happening at a snail's pace.|
|Week 2 POG:||Colorado Offensive Line||Two 100 yard rushers, 390 yards total rushing, 5 TDs...that Colorado O-Line put in some work.|
|Last Week||WIN||WSU 37 @ Rutgers 34|
|As I suspected, the Cougs traveled cross-country and got back on track with a win over Rutgers. It wasn't pretty and the outcome was in doubt all the way until the end. However, the Cuogs did the anti "Coug It" with a 90 yard, game-winning TD drive to win the game. That drive capped off a game that saw the Air Raid offense find its rhythm as Luke Falk chucked it up there 66 times for 468 total yards. There is still a lot to be worried about with these Cougs (that is one soft defense), but you have to like what you saw both from WSU's O-Line and their receivers.|
|Week 2 POG:||WR Gabe Marks (14 recs, 146 yds, 1 TD)||Though it was River Cracraft that made the game winning TD catch (and a few other critical plays), it was Marks who kept delivering body blow after body blow. His 23 yard fourth quarter TD catch was a thing of beauty.|
|12||11||Oregon State||1-1||San Jose St|
|Last Week||LOSS||OSU 7 @ Michigan 35|
|Welp, this is kind of what we thought. The youth of the Beavers really came through in a game that featured a few tantalizing moments from freshman QB Seth Collins. The Wolverines, however, were a much tougher match than Weber State was a week ago and forced the Beavs into a ton of mistakes, including an embarassing negative 48 yard punt play that saw the snapper sail the snap over the head of OSU's punter. Defensively, the Beavers definitely played with alot of spirit, but they were mismatched both physically and schematically by Jim Harbaugh's power offense.|
|Week 2 POG:||LB Rommel Mageo (8 tckls, 1 sack)||There wasn't much good to point to on the OSU defense, but Mageo showed some game. The redshirt freshman wasn't even on the radar to begin camp and ended up being the best looking player of the game against a major P5 opponent.|