Judging the Pac-12 teams
PHOENIX — One game is usually an unfair gauge of a football team. The opener is often tainted by first-game nerves, new players in unfamiliar positions, new schemes being tried out live for the first time.
Once the second game is played, the extenuating circumstances are mostly gone and the true identity of a team starts to form.
With that in mind, it seemed like a good time to check in on the teams in the Pac-12 to see if they have lived up to expectations through two weeks or fallen short.
Take a look:
Arizona (1-1): The Wildcats had numerous questions heading into the season and still have plenty left after losing to BYU and rallying to beat FCS Grambling State at home. Arizona’s defense, one of the biggest concerns, has been mostly solid, but the usually productive offense has had trouble getting started, unable to get much going until the second half of games, when the team is behind. A knee injury for quarterback Anu Solomon added to some of the offensive issues.
Arizona State (2-0): The Sun Devils were criticized for their slow start against FCS Northern Arizona — a game that turned into a rout — and then quieted some of that talk with Saturday’s 68-55 win over Texas Tech. Giving up 55 points at home is a concern, though, particularly since coach Todd Graham said blown coverages led directly to 28 points for the Red Raiders.
California (1-1): An opening 51-31 win over Hawaii showcased the Bears’ offense at its best, but they struggled to run the ball on offense and to stop the run on defense in a 45-40 loss to San Diego State last week. It doesn’t get any easier this week: Next up is No. 11 Texas before conference games start.
Colorado (2-0): The Buffaloes have been a little better than expected after blowing out rival Colorado State and Idaho State in their first two games.
Oregon (2-0): The Ducks moved up to No. 22 in The Associated Press poll this week after beating Virginia in Eugene. Oregon has had trouble with second-half focus, allowing the Cavaliers and UC Davis to each score three second-half touchdowns to close the gap on games that were blowouts. A big test comes this week on the road against Nebraska.
Oregon State (0-1): The Beavers have a smaller sample size after last weekend’s bye. Oregon State got off to a good start in its opener, leading Minnesota after three quarters, but still needs work on finishing games after allowing the Gophers to score 13 points in the fourth for the win.
Stanford (1-0): Like Oregon State, the seventh-ranked Cardinal are coming off a bye week. Stanford scraped past Kansas State and may still be sorting out its quarterback situation. Ryan Burns started the opener, but Kelly Chryst led the Cardinal quickly down the field on a scoring drive.
UCLA (1-1): QB Josh Rosen shouldered the blame for the Bruins’ opening loss to Texas A&M, but was a big reason they outlasted UNLV last weekend. USC (1-1): A season of optimism started with a thud in the form of a blowout loss to top-ranked Alabama. The Trojans gained a bit of confidence back with last week’s lopsided win over Utah State, but this week’s game against Stanford will be a better gauge as to whether they’ve recovered from the opener.
Utah (2-0): The defense, no surprise, has been strong through the first two games, wins over Southern Utah and BYU. The offense needs to take better care of the ball; the Utes beat the rival Cougars despite turning it over six times.
Washington (2-0): The eighth-ranked Huskies have lived up to expectations, but opening games against Rutgers and Idaho weren’t exactly tough tests. This week should be another easy one for Washington with Portland State heading to Seattle, so the true nature of this team won’t likely be known until conference starts a week later.
Washington State (0-2): Coach Mike Leach says his team has the “atmosphere of a JV softball game” after Washington State opened with losses to FCS Eastern Washington and Boise State.
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