Pac-12 Football This Week
This week’s games
• Colorado at Oregon State, noon (Pac-12 Networks)
• Arizona at Washington, 4 p.m. (Fox)
• Stanford at Washington State, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
• USC at Arizona State, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
• Cal at Oregon, 7:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
Last week’s scores
Washington 56, Idaho State 0
USC 17, Utah State 14
Stanford 42, Arizona State 28
Oregon State 34, San Diego State 30
Utah 20, BYU 13
Washington State 42, Idaho 0
UCLA 59, New Mexico State 13
Pac-12 Power Rankings
1. UCLA (3-0): After an emotional - and thorough - win at Nebraska, the Bruins kept up the pace and throttled New Mexico State.
2. Arizona State (2-1): The Sun Devils showed some moxie in the fourth quarter against Stanford. The first 45 minutes? What’s the opposite of moxie?
3. Arizona (3-0): The Wildcats have piled on the points, ranking 15th nationally at almost 44 per game, but they face their first true test in loud Seattle.
4. Utah (3-1, 0-1): A win over hated rival BYU had the Utes singing, but their pass defense (288.3 yards per game, 108th nationally) continues to hit a sour note.
5. USC (3-1, 0-1): Three uninspiring wins and a brutal loss to Wazzu have overshadowed a lights-out defense. Speaking of lights out, remember Monte Kiffin?
6. Colorado (2-0): Through four weeks of the season, the Buffaloes are undefeated! The Buffaloes! Undefeated! (Ignore fact they haven't played since Sept. 7).
1. Oregon (3-0): The Ducks — whose offense ranks second in the country — got a week off following a lashing of Tennessee to prepare for Cal, whose defense ranks 121st. That's like giving Goliath a bazooka while tying David's shoes together.
2. Stanford (3-0): The Cardinal haven't been altogether overwhelming, but David Shaw's consistent group still finds a way to shine when it matters: the team ranks No. 1 in red zone offense, No. 5 in third down conversion percentage and No. 9 in fewest penalties.
3. Washington (3-0): Looking balanced and talented, the Huskies may have turned the corner behind Steve Sarkisian.
4. Oregon State (3-1, 1-0): Uncle Mike Riley's bunch has won back-to-back barnburners, but the offensive imbalance is troubling.
5. Washington State (3-1, 1-0): And speaking of offensive imbalance, Mike Leach continues to throw caution — and everything else — to the wind.
6. Cal (1-2): Whew, after a tough loss to Ohio State, the Bears got a much-needed breather to recalibrate. What a relief. Oh, Oregon's next? Oh. Oh no.
The big number
Four Pac-12 teams rank among the top-10 nationally in total offense — No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Washington, No. 4 UCLA and No. 9 Cal — with a total of almost 2,500 yards per game between the four.
Five things we learned
Five facts, takeaways, opinions and hunches from Tuesday’s conference call:
1. UCLA already was behind the curve with the Pauley Pavilion renovations, which essentially put a pretty bow on an ugly, if historical, pig. Now the school is selling itself short with the announcement of a $50 million football facility that addresses few of the problems with Spaulding Field.
Sure, the Bruins are taking a leap into the 21st century, but the problem is, USC and Arizona are in the 22nd century and Oregon is basically the Jetsons.
Behind Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his Scrooge McDuck-like money pit, the Ducks set the standard with the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, a $68-million, 145,000-foot football-dedicated facility. The Trojans added a $70-million monolith to rival the Ducks – the John McKay Center, with its underground mini-practice facility – and Arizona forked over $72.3 million for the ultra-chic Lowell-Stevens Football Facility.
So, props to UCLA for making a leap. It’s just not big enough.
2. Colorado coach Mike McIntyre said the most difficult part of handling a three-week layoff following the Boulder floods was trying to replicate the speed of the game.
Just wait until one of the Buffaloes has to replicate the speed of Brandin Cooks. The Oregon State wideout with the most appropriate name in college football leads the nation in receptions by 10, reception yards by 64 and has an NCAA-leading seven touchdowns.
“A lot of his passes he's made big plays on are screen passes and he takes off,” McIntyre said.
“We have to be up and play him up tight. It's hard to do; they move him all around. Coach Riley knows what he's doing.”
3. Washington State is in the midst of its first three-game winning streak since 2006, and Mike Leach credits the happiness of his players.
So what came first, the attitude or the winning? Or: Are the Cougars winning because they’re happy or winning because they’re happy?
“I think it’s a byproduct of working hard for it,” Leach said. “A byproduct of being really committed physically, mentally, emotionally together with the guy next to you. It starts in the weight room, when you run sprints. If you’re not working terribly hard for something, it’s easy to throw up your hands and give up. If you’re taking pride in what you do, you work hard for it.”
4. Cal quarterback Jared Goff is in for a rude awakening this Saturday. That is, if it’s possible to even sleep inside Autzen Stadium.
The Bears’ prolific freshman quarterback, who leads the nation in passing yardage, leaves the friendly confines of Cal’s Memorial Stadium for the first time. Though prepared for carnage after playing two now-top-17 teams in Northwestern and Ohio State, Goff could be rattled by the rabid Ducks crowd.
“The biggest thing is just play football,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “That’s the thing he’s done well so far this season. His first start was against a top 25 team, his third against top 5, his fourth top 2. He’s played against top people. What he does a great job of is just not worrying about anything but going out there and playing football. I’d expect him to respond well.”
5. Last year, Washington’s offensive line was like a game of musical chairs between guys on crutches. A mess, in short.
One key reason the Huskies are rolling on offense, up to No. 16 in the rankings and playing their best football of the Steve Sarkisian era: the line has been set.
“It’s huge,” Sarkisian said. “Those same guys have been together since spring practice. Fifteen spring practices, all of training camp, now three games under our belts. The communication – we’re working well together – the guys know what to expect from the guy next to them.”
Think there will be any Pac-12 football upsets this year? – Alicia
There’s already been one – sorry USC, congrats Wazzu – but with the way things are looking so far, there should be a few more.
The top of the conference is as good as ever, but the massive huddle in the middle among good-but-not-great teams could lend itself to some major shockers. Oregon’s tempo may help shield them from any wackiness, but Stanford, UCLA, USC (again) and Washington could be in store for a surprise or two. The key to those crazy upsets always seems to be: A) a team taking advantage of a schematic mismatch or B) a massive emotional upswing for a team versus a down opponent. With the Pac-12 turning into the Wild West of offenses, anything might be in store.
Who should USC hire as their next head coach? – Jonathan
Rich Rodriguez? Kidding, kidding! Put away the lit torches, it was a joke. A bad one, but a joke. Look, I’m sorry.
Seriously, though, with the money the Trojans should be able to throw at a guy, they should aim high, high, high. Mile high, in fact. That’s right, go steal alum Jack Del Rio away from the Denver Broncos and forget the Lane Kiffin era ever existed.
Who are you? - Pat F.
Hi, I'm Jon Gold. I covered UCLA for the Los Angeles Daily News for three-plus years then moved on to cover the Pac-12 for CBS Sports. Now I'm here in Tucson to cover the Pac-12, write long features and eat chimichangas. I enjoy things like words, football and chimichangas. I tell jokes. I write (bad) raps. I star in dumb YouTube videos. I love 90s R&B like Boyz II Men and All-4-One and Soul 4 Real. And I eat chimichangas. Please email me story ideas or chimichanga suggestions.