Even with a rather bland lineup of games in the first week of college football action, the discussion around the Pac-12 conference is already heating up. Pac-12 teams combined to go 10-2 in week one, collectively outscoring opponents 478-213. Only Colorado and Washington State had to file their results under the loss column, falling to Colorado State of the Mountain West and Rutgers of the Big Ten. Which of next week’s nonconference matchups have us intrigued, and where do the Sun Devils stack up after defeating Weber State?
1. No. 3 Oregon
The Ducks have a very interesting test coming next week with No. 8 Michigan State coming to Eugene. If they can find a way to make it past the Spartans, it would be hard to say if any team in the conference could unseat them this year.
2. No. 11 Stanford
Despite losing some of their top defensive starters from a season ago, the Cardinal were still able to pitch a shutout in week one (albeit against UC Davis). The team also has to replace the production of Tyler Gaffney at running back through a committee of veteran runners. Stanford is the reigning conference champion and will still be in the hunt for that title thanks to veteran leadership and head coach David Shaw.
3. No. 15 USC
Last season was a mess for the Trojans, and they were still able to make it to a bowl game and win it. Now with some stability in the coaching staff and players like Leonard Williams on defense, the team is hoping they can keep that momentum going into this season. The Trojans started off well in their matchup against Fresno State.
4. No. 19 ASU
The questions coming into the season for the Sun Devils were all about the defense. How was Todd Graham going to replace all of those starters in every level of the defense? The answer seems to be with a lot of freshmen. The defensive unit acquitted itself nicely against Weber State, creating a lot of pressure from the edge throughout the game. The offense started off slowly, but with playmakers like Jaelen Strong and D.J. Foster, it will be hard for the unit not to have success.
5. No. 7 UCLA
UCLA is a good team. Brett Hundley is a top-notch quarterback, but it’s hard to understand the hype behind the Bruins. They haven’t done anything other than throw away big games in recent years, so the idea that they are national title contenders at this point is crazy. They have the talent to be a great team, and Jim Mora is a good coach, but they have not proved anything yet
6. Oregon State
Sean Mannion is one of the best pure passers, not just in the conference, but also in the country. With that, you’d expect more than a 15-point win against Portland State. Perhaps the loss of Brandin Cooks was too much.
7. No. 25 Washington
The Huskies may just be the most intriguing of all of the Pac-12 teams. New head coach Chris Petersen had a ton of success at Boise State, but will he be able to recreate that in Washington in his first year? They were very underwhelming in their week-one win over Hawaii. Maybe the success will have to wait until Petersen gets some recruiting classes under his belt.
Freshman Anu Solomon played exceptionally well in his first start for the Wildcats, and with Austin Hill returning from injury last season and sophomore Samajie Grant showing up well in week one, the young quarterback looks to have plenty of options to throw to.
There’s a lot to like about Utah, but unfortunately it lacks the talent to win consistently in this conference. They are still a team you never want to sleep on, as it will play hard every single week.
Jared Goff managed to have a pretty successful year despite the rest of his team not playing well throughout last season. The team should be better this season, and beating Northwestern in Illinois isn’t a bad start. They’ll look to double their win total from last year with a win against Sacramento State next week.
11. Washington State
This could possibly be a make-or-break year for head coach Mike Leach, and losing to Rutgers in front of a home crowd isn’t a good start.
Sefo Liufau isn’t a name mentioned often when talking about the quarterbacks in the conference, but he was a solid player last season after taking over for Connor Wood. Unfortunately, the loss of Paul Richardson is a big one for the Buffaloes’ offense and losing to in-state rival Colorado State isn’t a good sign for Mike MacIntyre’s team.
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