Week 1 was not kind to teams in the PAC 12. With the conference breaking in a bevy of new playmakers, including three true freshman starting Quarterbacks, its teams went a combined 7-5 in the season's opening week. This record included losses to an FCS team (thank you WSU), a Mountain West team (uhhh), a sub-par SEC team (gracias ASU), and a Big 10 team that hasn't been bowling in two years (danke Stanford). In addition, Oregon, USC, and Arizona each had more trouble with their "C level" opponent than expected.
In short, it was an ugly week for PAC 12 football. Here is your roundup:
- UCLA was the team of the week. Though they had some trouble establishing much of a ground game, true freshman QB Josh Rosen was the real deal. He had a great day in leading the Bruins. If UCLA can find a pass rush in the next few weeks, they could enter P12 play as a real factor.
- It's hard to tell what to make of Oregon. The offense was its same self, but against an ugly FCS defense it is hard to draw any conclusions. Ironically, that EWU offense which lost Vernon Adams and was supposed to take a big step back as a result was up to its old tricks. It absolutely torched the Oregon back seven and only surrendered one sack to the Ducks all night. That was about as poor a showing from Oregon as anyone could imagine.
- Arizona was over-rated coming into this season. Barely beating lowly UTSA is one of many data points to come for a team that I expect to be ok but to hover around .500 this year.
- Cal impressed, even against Grambling State. That offense is for real, but I'll be watching their ball security. They were a bit loose with it on Saturday.
- I think that the Huskies surprised everybody with the stoutness of that supposedly "rebuilding" defense and the poise of its young QB. While you can discount the offensive woes a little bit given that Boise State's defense faces that same offense every day in practice, I do think that most outside observers were negatively surprised at the overall level of ineptness. Still, UW was excellent-to-dominating in two phases of the game. That's not a bad starting point now that we have some real data points on the rest of the PAC.
- WSU is in a world of hurt. This is the second straight season where a surprise opening loss puts a bowl game nearly out of reach. A season that is over before it really starts is almost always a toxic situation for the coaches, the team and the fans. They each start turning on each other. It'll be interesting to see if Leach can pull it back together.
Power Rankings: Week 2
Detailed Power Poll
|Last Week||WIN||Virginia 16 @ UCLA 34|
|The debut of Josh Rosen at QB has UCLA fans dreaming of a national title. While the opponent was still just Viriginia, there is nothing lacking legitimacy in what we saw from Rosen or a very diverse and in-tempo UCLA offense. We can quibble over the inconsistencies in the running game and maybe their soft pass defense, but those are minor points. All in all a very solid debut for UCLA. The were the most impressive team in a dreary Week 1 in the PAC.|
|Week 1 POG:||QB Josh Rosen (385 yds, 3 TDs)||Any QB that throws for 80% and 10 YPA is a top performer. When that QB is a true freshman making his debut against an ACC team, it is nearly epic.|
|Last Week||WIN||Eastern Washington 42 @ Oregon 61|
|Good news bad news for Oregon fans. Good news? You don't have to be all that worried about the quarterback situation, although it will be interesting to see if there are any lingering effects from Vernon Adams's concussion issue. Bad news? Everything that you worried about with your defense looks like a legitimate concern. Little EWU, playing without Adams, mind you, racked up 549 (!) yards with 438 coming in the air in a game that was uncomfortably within reach most of the night. While the Oregon secondary looked slow (is that even possible?), the big issue was one that pundits like me have been wondering about all preseason: the pass rush. Despite EWU dropping back 56 times, Oregon managed just one sack on the night. This was not the tune up the Ducks were looking for heading to Michigan St.|
|Week 1 POG:||RB Royce Freeman (198 APY, 3 TDs)||While it was just an FCS team, its hard to miss Freeman and his eye-popping stats. While still just a sophomore, he's a man amongst boys and may be positioning himself to make a run at the "best ever" title among Oregon RBs. Week 1 was a good start.|
|Last Week||WIN||Arkansas St 6 @ USC 55|
|Kind of a weird game for embattled coach Steve Sarkisian and his Trojans. On one hand, the offense generated explosive plays time on its way to the 55 points. On the flip side, the defense was in pure "bend but don't break" mode as the Trojans had to endure 87 plays by Ark St (to their 63). Still it worked out in pretty impressive fashion as the very balanced Trojan attack featured several different playmakers - 11 receivers caught passes on 32 total attempts - on their way to an easy win.|
|Week 1 POG:||QB Cody Kessler (73% comp rate, 4 TDs)||The big knock on Kessler is that he shows up only for the easy competition. This game won't change that, but the man showed up. His accuracy and willingness to spread the ball around is impressive no matter who he plays.|
|Last Week||WIN||Michigan 17 @ Utah 24|
|I think the Wolverines have had about enough of Utah and will be glad to not have to see the Utes again any time soon. As predicted, the game between Harbaugh's Wolverines and Kyle Whittingham's Utes was a true slobber-knocker with both teams trying to establish a physical ground game and neither being particularly successful. The big difference in the game was the performance of the two QBs. Iowa transfer Jake Rudock was unimpressive as he locked on to targets, missed on wide open receivers and threw three interceptions. Utah's Travis Wilson, on the other hand, was efficient. He was comfortable in the pocket, managed the offense in good tempo, looked off defenders and was effective as a rusher. While Devontae Booker was very disappointing in the run game, Utah fans still have to be encouraged by what they saw on offense. Now if they can just get LB Gionni Paul to quit taking cheap shots ...|
|Week 1 POG:||WR Britain Covey (5 rec 58 yds)||I probably should give this to Wilson, but I was super impressed with the true frosh. He's a smaller slot style receiver with exquisite hands and a lot of toughness. Each of his 5 receptions resulted in a big hit being absorbed and a big first down being achieved. He looks like Wilson's new favorite safety valve.|
|5||8||Cal||1-0||San Diego State|
|Last Week||WIN||Grambling St 14 @ Cal 73|
|Pretty easy win for a Cal team that was playing the college football equivalent of air. Still, that offense can't be ignored. I was a little surprised by some carlessness with the ball, but I'm sure that there will be plenty of time to clean that up.|
|Week 1 POG:||WR Kenny Lawler (6 recs, 3 TDs)||It's not particularly easy to pick a "POG" in a game like this. However, 3 TDs always looks good.|
|Last Week||LOSS||ASU 17 vs Texas A&M 38|
|While I had forecasted an ASU win this week, I had also forecasted in my preview series a difficult road ahead for ASU Mike Bercovici. As it turns out, only one prognostication was correct. Bercovici really struggled with accuracy and decision making (4.9 ypa) for most of a game that served to show the gap that still exists between mid-tier teams in the PAC and SEC. The Aggies - who were terrible on defense a year ago - took advantage of ASU's two new OTs on their way to NINE sacks on the night in a game that wasn't even as close as the final score. Defensively, ASU was its normal self. They generated some turnovers and a few sacks, but also gave up some explosive plays. I'm dropping the Devils until we see if the offense is truly this far behind where it was a year ago.|
|Week 1 POG:||S Jordane Simone (7 tckls, 1 INT, 1 TFL)||There wasn't much to pick from here, but Simone seemed to have a good night. Not only did he handle his own business and generate a turnover, but he seemed to always be picking up the slack for the Sun Devil CBs who really struggled with their matchups against TAMU.|
|Last Week||WIN||UTSA 32 @ Arizona 42|
|Arizona fans were incredulous to the fact that I suggested in the preseason that star LB Scooby Wright, while an excellent player, may be more one-dimensional than the national media was admitting and that the Arizona D was still very much a work in progress. While it was a Week 1 deal, UTSA certainly helped to cement my position on this point of view. Even before Scooby was injured, the Roadrunners - who were returning just two starters from a team that gave the Wildcats fits a year ago - pretty much played the reigning South division champs to a standstill. The fact that it took a heroic effort from QB Anu Solomon to finally put them away says more about where Arizona is at this stage of development than anything else. This is a "peaks and valleys" type of team. For now, I'm dropping them in the Power Rankings.|
|Week 1 POG:||WR Johnny Jackson (8 rec, 101 yds, 1 TD)||Forgive yourself if you don't recognize the name. The senior WR was a rarely used safety last season. Last Thursday, he looked like the most polished receiver on the field among a corps that includes studs like Samaje Grant, Trey Griffey and Cayleb Jones.|
|Last Week||LOSS||Stanford 6 @ Northwestern 16|
|In my excitement about the offensive potential of Stanford, I failed to recognize one of the Cardinal Truths: nobody outside of Corvallis starts a season slower than Stanford. Such is my explanation for this particular stinker out of Evanston. The Cardinal couldn't find any offense and my prognostication of Christian McCaffrey as a breakout player looks unwise. And, when was the last time you can recall Stanford not recording a single sack in a game??? Frankly, when it comes to Stanford, I don't know why any of you read a word I write. They are like Gekko Kryptonite.|
|Week 1 POG:||LB Blake Martinez (10.5 tckls, 1 TFL, 1 PBU)||Martinez was probably the best player on the field for Stanford on Saturday. That, apparently, doesn't say much.|
|Last Week||LOSS||Washington 13 @ Boise State 16|
|The Huskies were pretty much what we thought: a better than advertised defense, a stellar kick return game, and an offense that was more putrid than a hot fart under an electric blanket. Jake Browning made the start and showed nice poise. However, his offensive coordinator could not get the run game in rhythm nor find a way to incorporate the tight end corps into the action. Husky fans have to be encouraged by how many young players got heavy reps while still keeping the game against a ranked opponent close. Guys like Greg Gaines, Kaleb McGary, Myles Gaskin and Will Dissly all played major roles in the game while guys like LB Tevis Bartlett, OG Dane Crane, LB Ben Burr-Kirven, Austin Joyner and CB Jordan Miler all got snaps.|
|Week 1 POG:||LB Azeem Victor (14 tckls, 1 TFL)||I thought about McGary here given how he was flat out stone-walling people out of his RT position. However, when the Broncos were dominating the first half, there was one guy who kept the intensity alive for UW. Victor literally held the line by himself until the rest of the Huskies defensive calvary arrived in the second half. Stats be damned, Victor was the player of this game for UW.|
|Last Week||LOSS||Colorado 20 @ Hawaii 28|
|I know that QB Sefo Liufau's legend has reached mythical levels here on the 'Pound, but the fact of the matter is that he is an unspectacular QB at the crossroads of his college career. He was most ineffective as the Buffaloes lost an unispiring game to a Hawaii team led by former USC QB Max Wittek. While the rushing game was just ok for Colorado, Liufau's averaged less than 4 yards per pass attempt and threw a couple of picks. While we all know how hard it is to travel to Hawaii for week 1, this was about as bad a start as Mike MacIntyre could have hoped for.|
|Week 1 POG:||DB Chidobe Awuzie (6 tckls, 1 INT, 1 PBU, 1 QBH)||Awuzie was one of the few bright spots for the Buffs. He was active in coverage and made his presence known on a few blitzes. The Junior DB isn't the biggest guy on the field, but he was Colorado's best in Honolulu.|
|11||12||Oregon State||1-0||@ Michigan|
|Last Week||WIN||Weber St 7 @ Oregon St 26|
|Holy Puddles, Batman. Welcome to the new era for Oregon State football - one where the starting QB runs for more yards than he passes. Apparently Orange is the new neon green. While OSU fans have to be happy with the final result, they can't at all be happy with the fact that a contest with one of the worst FCS division teams in football was in doubt all they way into the fourth quarter. True freshman Seth Collins definitely made an impact as a runner, but his throwing motion will make Husky fans remember Cyler Miles fondly.|
|Week 1 POG:||QB Seth Collins (92 yds pass; 152 yds rush; 2 TD passes)||Collins was one of three true freshman QBs to play in the PAC this weekend. Though his passing accuracy and timing leaves something to be desired, you can't help but to notice his penchant for the dramatic play. Even against lowly Weber State.|
|Last Week||LOSS||Portland St 24 @ WSU 17|
|I'm not sure where to begin. With what Leach himself has called his "best team", the Cougs took their home field on Saturday and laid an absolute turd. Credit Portland St with a spirited contest and their first victory over a PAC 12 team in history. If you are the Cougs, you are left asking yourself a couple of questions: 1) can the Air Raid really succeed in the P12 if it can't manage more than 17 points against an FCS Team with an interim HC? AND 2) is a bowl game now out of reach?|
|Week 1 POG:||WR Dom Williams (89 yards, 1 TD)||Who to pick? You can't pick any defender as they were brutal. You can't pick a RB (though the Cuogs did have 30 rushes on the day... maybe they should go back to passing the ball?). Even the littany of receivers failed to turn out a truly difference-making performance. Of them, I thought Dom Williams was the most impressive thanks to over 17 ypc average.|