To say the opening week of college football was a success for the PAC-12 conference would be equivelant to saying the New York Knicks are heavy favorites to win the 2016 NBA title, or the Philadelphia Eagles will run the NFL, Reggie Theus will lead Cal-State Northridge to a NCAA Sweet 16. You get the gist. Teams got demolished by those who are in the lower divisions, two ranked teams lost convincingly, struggles ensued in Tucson.
Positives did exist, however. Josh Rosen led Jim Mora's UCLA side in his debut, Vernon Adams helped ease Oregon fans missing of Marcus Marriota and Washington nearly pulled an upset behind a true freshman quarterback, on the road. Let's rank the PAC=12 sides after one week in the trenches.
1] UCLA Bruins deserve the top spot, for they played the most complete game against a formidable, fellow Power Five school. Rosen was phenomonal in his debut, and was named the Walter Camp Offensive Player of the Week, the first Bruin since Drew Olson accomplished the feat in 2005, a decade ago. The trenches were dominated by the Bruins on both sides of the pig skin, giving Rosen time to set his feet and show his deadly accuracy, while keeping Cavalier's quarterback, Matt Johns in a constant state of panic. Receiving core was hands on, sans the drop on Rosen's first pass, which would've most likely been a 75 yard score. Far from perfect, however, as Paul Perkins struggled, gaining just 56 yards on the run, and Myles Jack committed two idiotic horse collar penalties. With Nevada-Las Vegas coming in next week, the Bruins will have a chance to tune up prior to a showdown with the Brigham Young Cougars.
2] Oregon Ducks may still be considered the favorites in the Pac-12, but giving up 40 plus to Eastern Washington, along with 549 yards won't cut it in conference play, or against any FBS opponent really. The Hawks went 6-14 on third downs and 3-4 on fourth, numbers that need to be fixed by the Ducks. Adams threw for two scores, completing 19-25 passes for 246 yards. Running 14 times for 94 yards isn't something that defensive coordinators will be looking forward too, whether in Autzen or at home. Royce Freeman was superb, getting three scores and 180 yards on 21 carries to lead the way, with Tony Brooks-James, a freshman, chipping in with two scores himself. A tough road test coming up for Oregon, as they'll head to Michigan for a date with the fifth ranked Spartans (pre season ranking).
3] USC Trojans absolutely dominated the Arkansas State Red Wolves by a 55-6 margin. Was difficult not to place them above Oregon, possibly over UCLA as well, but call it some Bruin homerism in keeping USC out of the top two, though, the reality is, they demolished a cupcake, as they should. Afterall, Arkansas State is from the Sun Belt, and is coming off a 7-6 year, with a blow out loss against Toledo to cap the season. You play, who you schedule, and that is all Steve Sarkisian could do, after downing a Pabst or two of course. Cody Kessler notched four scores, completing 19-26 passes for 238 total yards. The Red Wolves were held to 6-19 on third downs (USC wasn't much better at 3-10), and shot themselves in the foot by committing eight penalties for 88 yards. USC's defense forced four turnovers, but the 401 yards given up need to be tightened before the Trojans begin conference play, and a home tune up versus Idaho will help.
4] California Golden Bears put up 73 points. Yes, it was against Grambling State, who finished 2014 with a 7-5 record in the FCS, but nonetheless, they took care of business, and that is an understatement. Jared Goff completed 24-32 attempts for 309 yards and three scores. One pick as well was added on for the Bears QB. Chase Forest, Goff's backup, got in the action, going 10-17 for 162 yards with a score and a pick. Khalfani Muhammad led the way with 92 rushing yards on 8 carries, but didn't get into the endzone. Four other backs, however, did, helping complete the rout of the Tigers. Holding their opponents to 297 total yards, forcing four interceptions (five total turnovers) and just giving up 297 yards is a step in the right place. The San Diego State Aztecs are on the horizon for the NoCal side.
5] Utah Utes took care of business, holding off Jeff Harbaugh on his debut, with a 24-17 victory over the Michigan Wolverines. Travis Wilson went 24/33 for 208 yards and a pick, though he ran for a score on a dozen attempts. Devontae Booker went for a score, 69 yards on 22 carries. The defense forced three picks on Jake Rudock, who also had two scores and Utah held off for the home win. A home match versus Utah State University should propel the Utes to a 2-0 mark next week. 6] Arizona Wildcats lost Scooby Wright to injury, and eeked out a win against the University of Texas-San Antonio, in Tucson. Lacking any sort of fire, any sort of intensity helped keep the Roadrunners in the game, though it wasn't enough as Anu Solomon helped the Wildcats hold onto a 42-32 victory. Solomon threw for four scores on 22-32 attempts, while chipping 35 yards on the ground. Nick Wilson gave his side 97 yards while Anthony Lopez, the senior safety, chipped in with a pick6. Trips to Nevada and hosting the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks remain on the cupcake non-conference slate for Rich Rod and the reigning Pac-12 South champs. 7] Arizona State Sun Devils went into a "neutral" game, against the Texas A&M Aggies, and came out with a loss, dropping them out of the top 25 after being ranked at 25 prior. Scheduling one of the toughest debut sides, ASU might be regretting it in hindsight. Going 5-18 on third downs is atrocious, and notching just 291 total yards isn't going to cut it for a side some picked to be a contender for the playoffs. Mike Bercovici was pretty bad, going 25-41 for 199 yards and only one score. 8] Washington Huskies went into Boise State and played a tale of two halves. After being dominated thoroughly during the first half, trailing 16-0, the defense stepped it up immensly, shutting out the Broncos during the final 30 minutes. Unlike Rosen, Jake Browning didn't have a spectacular debut as a true freshman, going 20-34 for 150 yards and a pick with no scores. The offensive coordinator was being really conservative, refusing to dial up long throws, and Browning showed his poise by avoiding sacks by throwing the ball away, until the last couple of drives. Dante Pettis was spectacular on special teams, running back a punt for 76 yards to keep the Huskies hopes alive, and kicker, Cameron Van Winkle, was just mere inches away from forcing overtime. Huskies have a meeting with Sacramento State scheduled next, at home, and should take that with ease. I'm ready for the controversy for placing the Huskies above the Cardinal, but they showed more than Stanford did. Against a better opponent. 9] Stanford Cardinal went into Northwestern, scored a whopping 6 points and lost by a 16-6 margin. Kevin Hogan stunk it up, going 20-35 for 155 yards and a pick and as a team, they were 3-15 on third downs (Northwestern went 12-22). Expecting to challenge Oregon, albeit minimal chances, for the North Division, Stanford showed absolutely nothing of the sort, but should get everything back on track as they host the University of Central Florida, who is coming off a loss to Florida International-University. 10] Oregon State Beavers took care of business at home, against Weber State, 26-7. Seth Collins did great to manage the game, completing 10-18 for 98 yards and two scores. Toss in 17 rushes for 152 yards and the Beavers have a great quarterback for the next four years. The defense was spectacular, was Weber State went 0-13 on third downs, though, penalities do need to be controlled, as OSU was penalized seven times, totallng 67 yards. With a trip to Michigan looming, can the Beavs pull the upset and send Jeff Harbaugh to a 0-2 debut in Michigan, against Pac-12 sides.
11] Colorado Buffaloes were the only of the six sides from the Pac-12 South that weren't expected to compete, and that showed as they went into Hawaii and lost 28-20. The Buffs were into the game until the last seconds, and an officiating gaff cost them a shot for a Hail Mary, and the ever so slightest shot to tie the game, Michael Adkins II ran for two scores on 22 attempts with 90 yards. Hosting UMass next week to try to get their first W is coming up.
12] Washington State Cougars lost, at home, to Portland State, 24-17. Nothing else needs to be said about this.