The first week of Pac-12 action gave us plenty to talk about as there were many storylines either prolonged or shut down. We can’t get to every one, so let’s focus on the major ones:
1: Will the real ASU please stand up?
Look, you’re probably sick of hearing about how ASU isn’t consistent or how they’re not good but in all fairness to them, they just beat a top 25 team in No. 24 Oregon 37-35 so that’s a positive step for a team that struggled in non-conference play. What was troubling for this team was once again they failed to play a full 4 quarters of solid football. They gave Oregon a shot at the end which if they kept the pedal on after the touchdown that put them up 31-14, this game could’ve have been a blowout. Credit to them though, they didn’t just lie down as Oregon came back as true freshman Brandon Ruiz hit two big-time field goals to put ASU on top of Oregon and shut them down twice in their last two drives. A nice win and a good start to for the Sun Devils, they just need to find a way to play all four quarters.
2: How good is USC?
USC was ranked 4th in the AP poll in the preseason and many expected the team to win the Pac-12 and perhaps make a run at the national title. Now after four games, this team doesn’t seem like they’ll make a run at the college football playoff. Sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold has almost thrown as many picks (seven) this season as he did all last season (nine), the offense is struggling to put up points in games until the end and overall, they’re in dogfights for most of the season. Though they beat Western Michigan by 18 (49-31), 28 of those points came in the fourth quarter. They solidly handled Stanford but if wasn’t for Cal’s offense turning over the ball like Ryan Fitzpatrick against the Chiefs, the Bears could’ve upset them and Texas also would have beat this team too. It seems like USC has been playing to their opponents level for most of these games and I don’t know how this team will do later down the season, but it’ll all come down to whether Darnold can play better.
3: The two teams up north looked impressive:
Washington and Washington State looked amazing this week, both blowing out their opponents (Washington beating Colorado 37-10 while State crushed Nevada 45-7). Though Washington State wasn’t playing in conference this week, it’s still impressive for Senior Luke Falk put up video game numbers on a Division-1 opponent, throwing 476 yards for 5 touchdowns. Washington’s defense suffocated Colorado, forcing 3 picks while junior tailback Myles Gaskin rushed for over 200 yards and picked up two touchdowns. Most likely the Pac-12 North will be decided by these two teams and I can’t wait for that game.
Four teams make the top-25 AP rankings that preside in the Pac-12. USC is still in the top 5 at #5 with Washington right behind them at #6, after those two it takes a bit of a Pac-12 drought until Washington St. shows up at #16 with Utah behind them at #19. After Oregon failed to win in Tempe they lost their spot in the top 25 but did get nine votes to be in the rankings along with Stanford (12) and Colorado (3) getting a total of 15 votes.