With the exception of Oregon and Colorado, the Pac-12 won all of its non-conference games this week. Some of them were pretty, and a few of them were ugly. It’s still difficult to pinpoint a favorite to win the Pac-12 South. And the Pac-12 North picture probably won’t clear up until Washington plays Stanford on September 30th.
But, with all that being said, let’s take a look at a few of the games that took place this week:
Arizona State 32, Texas San Antonio 28
What Happened: Coming off of a 68-55 shootout win against Texas Tech, the Arizona State Sun Devils strutted into the Alamodome and figured they would snag an easy win against their Conference USA opponent. They were wrong. The Texas San Antonio Roadrunners used an effective pass attack to put Arizona State in an early 14-3 hole, which grew into a 28-12 lead midway through the 3rd quarter. The Sun Devils finally responded by scoring 20 unanswered points, and capped off the rally with a Kalen Ballage touchdown in the game’s closing minutes. Arizona State outgained its opponent 469 yards to 322, but lost two fumbles and saw their quarterback toss an interception.
What’s Next: The Sun Devils return to the desert where they will take on Cal-Berkeley in a 7:00 P.M. matchup.
(4) Michigan 45, Colorado 28
The Colorado Buffaloes stormed into Michigan’s Big House and looked like they might pull off the upset against Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines. Unfortunately, poor punting and a bad ankle sunk their efforts. After going up 14-0 in the 1st quarter, Colorado had one of its punts blocked, and Michigan’s Grant Perry returned it back for a score. A quarter later, the Buffaloes punter kicked the ball into the back of a linemen, which set up a short field and easy touchdown for Michigan. To make matters worse, Colorado’s senior quarterback Sefo Liufau injured his right ankle and had to leave the game early in the 3rd quarterback. He was replaced by freshman Steven Montez who failed to match Liufau’s productivity. Colorado’s punting unit effectively drove the final nail into their own coffin by giving up a touchdown return by Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers with 11 minutes left in the 4th quarter.
What’s Next: Colorado will attempt to knock off the Oregon Ducks at Autzen this coming Saturday. Kickoff is set for 2:30 P.M.
(7) Stanford 27, USC 10
In the first major match-up of the Pac-12 season, Stanford calmly dispatched a USC team that is desperately fighting for its first quality win of the year. Despite showing flashes of brilliance at times throughout the game, the USC defense failed to contain Christian McCaffrey, who touched the ball 35 times for 260 yards overall. The scoring started with 5 minutes left in the 1st quarter, as a Trojan linebacker missed his coverage assignment and left McCaffrey wide open for a 56 yard strike from Ryan Burns. The Cardinal struggled to pull away from the Trojans, but they built up a sizable lead when Michael Rector broke out a 56 yard run with 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter to put Stanford up 27-10. USC threatened to score several times in the final quarter, but failed to convert a key 4th down and later threw an interception in the end zone.
What’s Next: USC will take on the Utah Utes next Saturday, whereas Stanford will play a talented UCLA team at home.
(8) Washington 41, Portland State 3
While the AP Top 25 has seen a number of playoff contenders fall in early season showdowns, Washington continues to quietly enjoy an easy schedule. After dispatching Rutgers and Idaho, the Huskies took on the Portland State Vikings in Seattle. Jake Browning had an efficient day, throwing for 4 touchdowns on a mere 19 passes, and the running game saw three different players average over 6 yards per carry. The defense also played well, as the Vikings turned the ball over 4 times and only gained a total of 182 yards.
What’s next: The Huskies will travel south and take on the University of Arizona Wildcats.
California 50, (11) Texas 43
Charlie Strong’s Texas squad, which overcome a tough Notre Dame team in overtime last week, fell to the Golden Bears in Berkeley. Davis Webb, Cal’s replacement for Jared Goff, shredded the Texas defense and threw the ball for 399 yards and 4 touchdowns against zero interceptions. Runningback Vic Enwere carried the ball 18 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns. The defense, which did little to stop the Texas running attack, snagged two key interceptions that gave the offense the necessary breathing room to win the shootout. Cal added a gold star to what has otherwise been a ho-hum non-conference season for the Pac-12.
What’s next: Cal travels to Arizona State where they will take on the Sun Devils at 7:00 P.M.
Washington State 56, Idaho 6
Mike Leach spent the past week calling his players soft. On Saturday, he watched them win their first game of the season. Their opponent? The lowly Idaho Vandals, who fell to the Washington Huskies the prior week. Luke Falk completed 21 passes for 226 yards and 3 touchdowns, as the Cougars rushed the ball an uncharacteristic 35 times. The Vandals could do little to muster an offensive response, as Idaho was outgained in total yardage 509 to 257. Even field goals were tough to come by, as the Cougars blocked a 2nd quarter attempt and returned it 72 yards for a touchdown.
What’s next: Washington State will have a week off before hosting Oregon on October 1st.
Oregon State 37, Idaho State 7
After 10 straight losses, the Beavers finally got a win. Gary Anderson’s team relied on a healthy dose of turnovers and running plays to pull off the near shutout of the Idaho State Bengals, an FCS team from the Big Sky conference. Despite the big win, however, several concerning numbers showed up on the Beavers’ stat sheet. While Oregon State successfully snagged 4 interceptions, the defense gave up nearly 6 yards per carry to their opponent. In fact, the Beavers barely outgained the Bengals 418 to 363 in total yardage. Oregon State also racked up 95 yards worth of penalties. The Beavers will need to clean up a few of these issues if they hope to also break their losing streak in the Pac-12.
What’s Next: Oregon State will host the undefeated Boise State Broncos at home in their last non-conference game of the season.
UCLA 17, BYU 14
Josh Rosen and the UCLA Bruins built up a 17-0 lead by the 3rd quarter, and weathered a BYU rally that fell short by a field goal. The Cougars shut down UCLA’s rushing attack by giving up a measly 1.5 yards per carry. Rosen successfully carried his offense, however, as the Bruins managed to gain 307 yards and two touchdowns through the air (even though Rosen faced consistent pressure from BYU’s defensive front the entire game). BYU also relied on throwing the ball, as UCLA’s defense held them to an even more anemic 0.9 yards per rush. In this defensive struggle, both teams saw their kickers miss a field goal.
What’s Next: UCLA will look to improve its offensive output when it hosts Stanford on Saturday.
Utah 34, San Jose State 17
The Utah Utes out-passed and out-rushed their opponent from the Mountain West Conference. But most notably, Utah’s defensive line hurried, hit, and mauled the Spartan’s quarterback en route to a 10 sack performance. Utah’s quarterback, Troy Williams, threw for 250 yards and one touchdown (against an interception), and the Utes’ stable of running backs nearly averaged 8 yards per carry. But again, the defensive line stole the show. Their performance sent a harrowing message to the rest of the Pac-12: for those teams with young offensive lines, they needed to come prepared against the Utes. Lest their quarterbacks leave the game in a body-bag.
What’s Next: Utah will host USC on Friday night at 6:00 P.M.
Arizona 47, Hawaii 28
The Arizona Wildcats earned themselves another win against a struggling Hawaii Rainbow Warriors team. Brandon Dawkins, the Wildcats’ duel-threat quarterback who started in place for the injured Anu Solomon, passed and ran the ball for four of the team’s six touchdowns. Hawaii could barely stop Arizona’s ground game, which racked up 347 yards on 49 attempts. Neither team played a clean game, however, as the refs flagged Arizona and Hawaii for 105 and 95 yards, respectively.
What’s Next: Arizona will host #8 Washington at home on Saturday night at 7:30 P.M.