Pac-12 Week 2 Roundup, Rankings, Breakdowns & Recaps
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Scroll down for thoughts on each Pac-12 team, recaps and picks
Pac-12 Player of the Week
Washington State QB Luke Falk went 47-of-66 for 478 yards, four touchdowns and no picks in the come-from-behind upset of Rutgers
Pac 12 North Rankings After Week 2
1. Oregon (1-1)
2. Stanford (1-1)
3. California (2-0)
4. Washington (1-1)
5. Oregon State (1-1)
6. Washington State (1-1)
Pac 12 South Rankings After Week 2
1. UCLA (2-0)
2. USC (2-0)
3. Utah (2-0)
4. Arizona (2-0)
5. Arizona State (1-1)
6. Colorado (1-1)
Oregon’s Playoff Dreams Dinged, But Not Dashed
After losing a heartbreaker to Michigan State, the Ducks are down but far from out as it pertains to the their quest of returning to the College Football Playoff.
Oregon put forth a valiant effort Saturday night … in East Lansing … with a new quarterback … against one of the nation’s premier teams. And all of those factors are going to be considered by the committee, provided the Ducks keep winning.
Oregon probably gained more in losing by three to the Spartans than most schools did by bludgeoning overmatched Group of Five or FCS opponents. And that’s exactly the way the selection process should play out. However, the Ducks dropped more than a game in Week 2; they lost some margin for error.
For the Ducks to represent the Pac-12 in the playoff, they may have to reel off 11 straight wins from this point, because two-loss teams will always be hard sells. And 11 wins in a row in a deep league is no joke. Oregon is eminently capable of going on a tear, though there’s plenty of work still left to be done.
If the playoff is to remain on the to-do list, Oregon has to become a better team at the line of scrimmage. The Spartans had four sacks and averaged 5.3 yards per carry. The Ducks? No sacks and an uncharacteristic 2.9 yards a rush. Those are realities that could haunt a team that still must face Utah, Arizona State, Cal, Stanford, USC … and hopefully, the South Division winner.
The Ducks will get credit for scheduling and then coming within an overthrown Vernon Adams pass from beating Michigan State in East Lansing. Makes sense. But now Oregon must address its problems, mainly line play and a defense mining for consistency and playmakers. Like it or not, perfection may now be the script for a return to the playoff.
Arizona: Winning for Scooby
The Cats were on upset alert in Week 2. They had to travel to Reno, sans star LB Scooby Wright, to face Nevada. Rather than buckling, though, Arizona rallied around a no-name defense that stepped up and an offense spearheaded by sophomores Anu Solomon and Nick Wilson. When Wright returns in a few weeks, he’ll join a more mature team that knows it can survive without him on the field.
Arizona State: Offensive Inefficiency
The Sun Devil attack is off to a shaky start this season. The week after falling to Texas A&M, ASU had its hands full with Cal Poly, winning 35-21. Despite piling up 531 balanced yards, aided by QB Mike Bercovici, RB Demario Richard and WR D.J. Foster, this game was tied at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The Sun Devils have one more game before USC visits on Sept. 26.
Cal: Complete game
The Bears are beginning to get contributions from the offense and the defense, the sign of a program poised to bust out. They had no problems with a plucky San Diego State team, getting three touchdown passes from Jared Goff and a solid effort out of the D. After allowing an early touchdown, Cal blanked the Aztecs over the final 56 minutes. If Saturday was even a whiff of the defense’s upside, the program could win eight or more in 2015.
Colorado: The Ground Game
The Buffs can run the ball. And not only will that help QB Sefo Liufau, but it’s also going to take pressure off a D that can’t afford to be on the field for long stretches of time. Colorado really took it to UMass, rushing for 390 yards behind the quartet of Michael Adkins, Christian Powell, Phillip Lindsay and Patrick Carr. Ground-and-pound ought to become a staple in Boulder, because a physical running game can gloss over some of the program’s glaring weaknesses.
Oregon State: LB Rommel Mageo
In Mageo, a junior from American Samoa, the Beaver defense has an emerging star. He’s a typical Oregon State linebacker, in that he flies to the ball with reckless abandon. And he was one of the only bright spots Saturday in Ann Arbor for the offensively-challenged Beavers, notching eight tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception.
Stanford: The running game
What has happened to the Cardinal ground game? Sure, Stanford had an easy time with UCF, which lost QB Justin Holman to a hand injury. But while the defense pitched a shutout for 59 minutes, and the good Kevin Hogan made an appearance, the rushing attack managed just 130 yards on 41 carries. RB Christian McCaffrey isn’t getting the support, and is too dynamic to average 2.9 yards per carry.
UCLA: DT Eli Ankou
Ankou was the first Bruin to make a statement in the race to replace the reps of injured starter Eddie Vanderdoes. Ankou, a little-used junior, was very active as UCLA kept UNLV out of the end zone. He tied for the team high with five stops, including a pair behind the line of scrimmage and a fumble recovery. The line, though, has yet to produce a sack in two games.
USC: Building depth
Back-to-back blowouts of Arkansas State and Idaho have allowed Steve Sarkisian to empty his bench early and give valuable reps to the backups. QB Cody Kessler’s understudy, Max Browne, is getting playing time, as are many of the team’s heralded true freshmen. And what happens at the tail end of blowouts with the Vandals will actually prove beneficial when Pac-12 play begins this week.
Utah: Passing problems
Defense. Special teams. The running game. Check, check, check. But can the Utes generate enough of a passing attack to beat the really good teams? While Utah took care of Utah State through conventional means, Devontae Booker and the D, the team has yet to produce a touchdown pass in 2015. Travis Wilson, who was knocked out of Friday’s game, is a mediocre quarterback, and none of the receivers can stretch the field.
Washington: Rookie Backfield
Forgetting for a moment that Sacramento State was on the other side of the field, U-Dub really, really needed their 49-0 whitewash. The Huskies will not threaten in the Pac-12 North. But the defense continues to perform well, and the play of the all-true freshman backfield of QB Jake Browning and RB Myles Gaskin provides hope for the future. Gaskin was a revelation, turning 14 carries into 146 yards and three scores.
Washington State: Not so special teams
Rallying to beat Rutgers on the road the week after bowing to Portland State was huge for the Cougars. Just enormous. But Wazzu must still clean up its special teams unit, a perennial nightmare on the Palouse. The team wouldn’t have needed the last-minute heroics of Luke Falk and River Cracraft had it not allowed 251 return yards and a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to Janarion Grant.
Predictions & Picks: How’d We Do?
Straight Up: 19-4 ATS: 8-9
at Utah 24, Utah State 14
Line: Utah -13.5, o/u: 44, Prediction: Utah 28, Utah State 17
Michigan 35, Oregon State 7
Line: Michigan -15.5, o/u: 48, Prediction: Michigan 20, Oregon State 16
Colorado 48, Massachusetts 14
Line: Colorado -13.5, o/u: 62.5, Prediction: Colorado 41, Massachusetts 35
Washington 49, Sacramento State 0
Line: No Line, o/u: No Line, Prediction: Washington 34, Sacramento State 14
Washington State 37, Rutgers 34
Line: Rutgers -2, o/u: 62, Prediction: Rutgers 38, Washington State 31
California, 35, San Diego State 7
Line: California -12, o/u: 61, Prediction: Cal 34, San Diego State 24
Arizona 44, Nevada 20
Line: Arizona -11.5, o/u: 62, Prediction: Nevada 35, Arizona 31
USC 59, Idaho 9
Line: USC -43, o/u: 66, Prediction: USC 59, Idaho 13
Michigan State 31, Oregon 28
Line: Michigan State -3.5, o/u: 67, Prediction: Michigan State 44, Oregon 37
Stanford 31, UCF 7
Line: Stanford -19, o/u: 43.5, Prediction: Stanford 34, UCF 13
Arizona State 35, Cal Poly 21
Line: No Line, o/u: No Line, Prediction: Arizona State 49, Cal Poly 10
UCLA 37, UNLV 3
Line: UCLA -28.5, o/u: 64, Prediction: UCLA 45, UNLV 17