Stanford 57 San Jose State 3
Lowdown: Stanford took care of business against lowly San Jose State. The Spartans should be much improved over last year’s 1-11 debacle of a season, but not enough to really challenge the Cardinal. Andrew Luck was as efficient as usual, but most will likely make more of his 17/26 for 171 yard (2 TD) performance than necessary. “Great quarterbacks don’t need to put up 300+ yards!” they’ll say. A bigger story might be Stanford’s continued struggles on the ground, managing just 141 yards with starting RB Stepfan Taylor racking up just 61 yards on 18 carries.
Up Next: Fortunately for the Cardinal, their schedule continues to shake itself out nicely. They get another cupcake with a trip out to face Duke, another loser to an FCS team last weekend, and ease right into conference play against some of the weaker Pac-12 south teams in Arizona, UCLA, Colorado, and later Pac-12 North opponent Washington State. I think there’s a pretty solid chance the ‘Furd are 7-0 before taking on USC. Their strength will be measured by the second half of their season.
Oregon 27 LSU 40
Lowdown: A lot has been made of this loss, specifically proclaiming that Oregon isn’t quite ready to be in that annual national championship discussion tier. That might be true, but I still think LSU is a good enough of a team that Oregon still looks like the favorite in the Pac-12 North in my book. Despite being a bit of a prick, Chip Kelly can coach football and will get the Ducks rolling once conference play starts.
Up Next: Oregon hosts a Nevada team that won’t be nearly as good as the team Cal faced last year, but will be challenged enough to continue to gel as a team. They should certainly roll however, and will likely be 3-1 before the Bears come into town on October 6th.
Oregon State 28 Sacramento State 29
Lowdown: I did not mix up those two scores. Yes, it happened. The Beavers fell to FCS Sac State 29-28 in overtime, even after rallying back from being down 15 points going into the 4th quarter. Thank goodness the game wasn’t televised. The Beavers have always started slow, but they’ve usually done so when facing some stronger teams. Losing to Sac State speaks to the job Mike Riley has ahead of him in terms of filling in for the many injury gaps and personnel decisions. And does he suddenly have an unexpected quarterback controversy?
Up Next: The Beavers are going to start 0-2. They travel to Madison to face a Wisconsin team that looks like a potential Top 5 team this season with the addition of Russell Wilson. The Beavers will likely struggle for a while before turning it on right in time for their game with Cal. Sigh.
Washington 30 Eastern Washington 27
Lowdown: First off, EWU is a very good FCS team. In fact, they’re last year’s FCS national champs. So Washington knew they weren’t facing a typical patsy. Still, you’d think that Washington has brought in enough talent on both sides of the ball since Sarkisian came in, that they should do better than needing an endzone interception to hold off the Eagles. The Huskies were dominated statistically, managing just 250 total yards but surrendering 504. New quarterback Keith Price threw 3 TDs and went 17/25, but managed just 102 yards. Fortunately, the Huskies still had Chris Polk, went over the century mark with 125 yards.
Up Next: Things certainly don’t get easier, as the Huskies host Hawaii who rolled Colorado over the weekend. I do expect the Huskies to hold off the Warriors, but based on last week’s performance, I’d think the game will again be much closer than some initially expected. I certainly thought Washington hadn’t yet arrived as a top tier PAC-12 team as some had ridiculous suggested heading into this season, and nothing has changed my mind so far.
Washington State 64 Idaho State 21
Lowdown: Poor, poor Washington State. You just...man. Any chance that Washington State had in being a respectable team this year lied in their star quarterback Jeff Tuel. Sure enough, Tuel ends up breaking his clavicle and should be out for a month minimum. The Cougars rolled Idaho State (not Idaho) and had to be encouraged by the 289 yards they rolled up on the ground. But Cougar fans who are well aware that Wazzu’s defense was one of the worst in the country last year, are probably concerned with the 430 yards they gave up through the air.
Up Next: If Tuel can get healthy by the middle of October, the Cougars have a chance to salvage the season. They face off against UNLV next Saturday, which isn’t a cupcake by any means, but certainly a winnable game. They then go on the road to San Diego State, Colorado, and UCLA. These were all possible wins before Tuel’s injury, and now they’ll have to hope for the best with backup Mark Lobbestael, who was solid filling in for Tuel on Saturday.
Arizona 41 Northern Arizona 10
Lowdown: Arizona continued their annual beatdown of NAU, with Nick Foles his usual efficient self, 34-42 for a gaudy 412 yards and 5 TDs. Foles is going to put up some eye-popping numbers this season with the talent at the wideout position this year. Despite the inexperience on both lines, Arizona’s defense played solid.
Up Next: Arizona has a short rest, and takes on Oklahoma State Thursday night. They’ve got their work cut out for them, as I expect OSU to be a real contender in the Big-12 this year. Arizona may not have the stuff at both lines to make this one too competitive. With Stanford, Oregon, and USC immediately following afterwards, things could get ugly in Tucson early on.
Arizona State 48 UC Davis 14
Lowdown: The Sun Devils did what they were supposed to do, pounding the Aggies 48-0 until two late scores by UC Davis. ASU’s offense looks solid, and their defense played as well as its billings, getting constant pressure on Aggies QB Randy Wright. Star linebacker Vontaze Burfict notched 3 sacks and more importantly for the Sun Devils, no flags. But again, let’s not crown the Sun Devils too much for something they’re supposed to do: beat down an FCS team.
Up Next:ASU plays a Friday night game against the ranked Missouri Tigers. Missouri is transitioning to having a more mobile quarterback in James Franklin, and looked sloppy in a 17-6 win over Miami (OH). The Tigers still return a veteran offensive line and one of the best tight ends in the nation in Michael Egnew. With the Sun Devils playing at Tempe on a Friday night, with a veteran defense facing off against a transitioning offense, I expect the Sun Devils to pull off the win.
Colorado 17 Hawaii 34
Lowdown: The Buffaloes’ road woes continue, losing for the 18th straight time on the road at Hawaii. Colorado was blasted by Hawaii’s mobile QB Bryant Moniz (did you say mobile QB? Hmmm...) who ran for 121 yards and threw for 178 more for 4 total scores. Those of you who have followed the coaching changes this offseason will know why I was unsurprised that Colorado’s offensive line struggled to protect their QB Tyler Hansen (allowing him to get sacked 7 times) and why Rodney Stewart managed just 52 yards on 12 carries.
Up Next: Colorado is a different team at home, which may not bode well for a visiting Cal team that isn’t as strong on the road. But you have to think Cal’s defense will be licking its chops at the idea of an uneven offensive line, and the offensive unit is looking closely at how the spread was able to tear up CU at times for 343 yards.
UCLA 34 Houston 38
Lowdown: Many expected UCLA to make Houston its statement game, but little part of me was surprised as I watched the Bruins go down to the Cougs. I was a bit surprised by how the game unfolded though. UCLA’s offense rolled, despite quarterback Kevin Prince getting knocked out. Richard Brehaut filled in and had a pretty nice game going 17 for 27 for 264 yards, 2 TDs, no INTs, and also rushing for 87 yards and a score. Conversely, UCLA defense looked lost, giving up 38 points to Houston, and 469 yards. UCLA showed some fire to rally back late in the game, but they put themselves in too big of a hole to pull this one out.
Up Next: The Bruins get a much easier opportunity to gather themselves, as they face off against San Jose State next Saturday. Hopefully they stay healthy, because their matchup against a likely seething Texas awaits the week after.
USC 19 Minnesota 17
Lowdown: The big stories in this game are Robert Woods’ dominance (17 catches and 3 TDs) and Lane Kiffin’s smugness (2 failed two-point conversions on their first two touchdowns). Early on in the game, I was incredibly impressed with the Trojans. Matt Barkley and Robert Woods appeared unstoppable, and the Trojan defense looked incredibly fast. But the Trojans were kept scoreless in the second half, and needed a late interception to keep the Golden Gophers from pulling off the upset. We all knew the biggest issue for the Trojans was depth this season, and I wonder if USC’s lack of it this season may lead to a few late game collapses this year.
Up Next: The Trojans face off against Utah which was also shaky in its first game. As long as the Trojans start fast again, and I fully expect them to, they should be able to hold off the Utes by the sheer talent differential.
Utah 27 Montana State 10
Lowdown: Utah comes out surprisingly flat against Montana State. Although they were helped by a strong rushing game in which RB John White rushed for 150 yards and a fast start, the Utes managed just 10 points after the first quarter against the FCS foe. Starting QB Jordan Wynn was efficient, but unspectacular going 15 for 23, and a 101 yards with two scores. Unless the Utes correct these mistakes, I’d be hardpressed to put them in the top two of the Pac-12 South like I initially anticipated.
Up Next: Things don’t get easier as the Utes start off their Pac-12 schedule against USC. They’re going to need to grind out a game and hope Jordan Wynn torches USC’s Tampa 2 defense if they’re going to pull this one off.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Stanford 57 San Jose State 3