Pac-12 rewind: T shirts, extreme heat and big wins highlight Week 3
Recapping the best and worst of Week 2 action across the Pac-12 …
Theme of the week: Sizzling success
The Pac-12 won seven of 10 non-conference games and owns a 20-3 record outside of league play, tops in the Power Five. The Week 2 results included two road wins in Big 12 country (Utah and Oregon) and two home victories over the Big Ten (Colorado and Washington State). Perhaps more importantly, the Pac-12 has avoided taking on bad losses, which can undermine postseason resumes. The three non-conference defeats all came in underdog roles (Arizona, ASU and Cal).
Game of the week: Oregon 38, Texas Tech 30
On a Saturday littered with high-profile matchups, the Ducks’ adventure in West Texas stood as the most entertaining game. It featured three lead changes in the fourth quarter and a 45-yard Pick Six in the final seconds to seal the win. Oregon offset a sloppy performance (14 penalties) with a plus-four turnover margin, and quarterback Bo Nix was masterful. Honorable mention: Arizona-Mississippi State.
Team of the week: Washington State
The day after WSU (and Oregon State) filed a legal complaint against the Pac-12 in an attempt to gain control of the fractured conference, the Cougars took out their realignment frustrations on 19th-ranked Wisconsin and dispatched the Badgers for the second year in a row. “In this moment, it’s everything. We belong in the Power Five,” coach Jake Dickert said on the field following the game.
Coach of the week: Utah’s Kyle Whittingham
Sure, the Utes deserve credit for rallying from a 10-point deficit in the third quarter and scoring two touchdowns in the final minute to beat Baylor. But they did it on the road, in brutal heat and without their starting quarterback (Cam Rising, who’s injured). Much like the comeback in the Pac-12 championship game, this was a culture win that displayed the toughness and resilience at the foundation of Whittingham’s program.
Offensive player of the week: Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders
The junior quarterback threw for 393 yards and two touchdowns in the blowout victory over Nebraska. And before you dismiss the Cornhuskers as an unworthy opponent, know this: Their defense is fairly solid. Yet Sanders picked it apart, completing 74 percent of his passes. Honorable mention/usual suspects: USC quarterback Caleb Williams and Washington quarterback Michael Penix.
Defensive player of the week: WSU’s Ron Stone Jr.
The senior edge rusher was everywhere Saturday as the Cougars overwhelmed Wisconsin’s offense for three of four quarters. Stone produced four tackles and two sacks — plus a slew of hurries — and forced two fumbles as the emotional leader of a relentless front seven.
Indefensible quarter of the week: Arizona’s Jayden de Laura
The hit-and-miss quarterback had plenty of hits in Arizona’s 31-24 overtime loss at Mississippi State, accounting for three touchdowns and 386 total yards. But he also threw four interceptions, with three coming on consecutive possessions in the first quarter. This, from a fourth-year junior who has attempted almost 1,000 passes in his college career.
Travis Hunter snap count of the week: Colorado’s Travis Hunter
Colorado’s iron man played both ways (again) in the 36-14 victory over Nebraska, with three catches as a receiver and four tackles as a cornerback. The Hotline is awaiting word on his official snap count, but the number is likely in the same range as his 129 snaps at TCU.
T shirts of the week: Washington State
In their first home game since the death of Mike Leach, the Cougars honored their former coach in numerous ways, including T shirts featuring pirate swords and the WSU logo. And two of his former players, Ron Stone Jr. and Brennan Jackson, played a huge role in WSU’s victory. In Leach fashion, the Cougars swung their sword.
Debut of the week: Oregon State
The Beavers unveiled a new-look Reser Stadium on Saturday following a $161 million, multi-year renovation project, then demolished UC Davis 55-7 to the delight of the 35,728 in attendance. Tailback Damien Martinez averaged 14.9 yards per carry. Backup quarterback Aiden Chiles threw as many passes (13) as starter DJ Uiagalelei.
Debut of the week II: UCLA’s Dante Moore
The freshman quarterback came off the bench in UCLA’s opener but got the start Saturday at San Diego State and showed off the arm talent that earned him a five-star recognition last year from 247Sports. Moore tossed three touchdowns, but his most impressive throw of the day was an incompletion, as he dropped a perfectly-placed ball over the shoulder and into the arms of a receiver on a deep out route — an NFL throw, for sure. (The receiver stepped out of bounds on the catch.)
Drive of the week: Utah
Down seven with 10 minutes remaining at Baylor, the Utes took possession with redshirt freshman quarterback Nate Johnson in command. Eight minutes and 88 yards later, Johnson charged into the end zone for the tying touchdown. The Utes scored the winner with 17 seconds left, following an interception by star safety Cole Bishop.
Call of the week: Pac-12 officials
Per contractual agreements with the opposition, Pac-12 crews worked the three road games and got the crucial call right in overtime of Arizona’s loss at Mississippi State: Instant replay clearly showed de Laura’s elbow hit the ground before the ball reached the line-to-gain on a desperation fourth-down scramble.
No-call of the week: Pac-12 officials
They were in Waco, as well, and did not call defensive pass interference on Utah during Baylor’s desperation pass into the end zone. We wouldn’t describe the contact as egregious between Utes cornerback Miles Battle and Bears receiver Ketron Jackson, but it was significant. And yellow flags remained in the pockets of the nearest officials. The no-call allowed Utah to survive 20-13.
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Goodbye of the century: USC 56, Stanford 10
The last scheduled game between these ancient rivals — their first meeting was in 1905 — turned into one of the most lopsided in series history. USC scored 49 points and gained 433 yards in the first half, then turned off the power to keep from further embarrassing the Cardinal. The Trojans’ 46-point halftime margin was the third-largest in conference history. Hopefully, the teams will find a way to resume the series once USC enters the Big Ten and Stanford joins ACC.
Stat of the week I: Arizona State
The temperature at kickoff Saturday night in Tempe was 104 degrees, making it the third-hottest ASU home game since 2000, according to ArizonaSports.com. The hottest was a 107-degree affair in 2013 that started at 7 p.m., or 40 minutes earlier than Saturday night’s loss to Oklahoma State.
Stat of the week II: Cal
The Bears ran dozens of plays inside Auburn territory but scored only twice in a 14-10 loss. They did, however, miss three field goals, commit three turnovers and convert just 4-of-18 third downs. It was like a step back in time to the Bill Musgrave era. Granted, new offensive coordinator Jake Spavital is working with two transfer quarterbacks. But some of the play calls, and much of the execution, left plenty to be desired.
Game of next week: Washington at Michigan State
The marquee matchup of Week 3 is a rematch of UW’s blowout win last year and a significant obstacle in the Huskies’ playoff path. It will be aired on Peacock, the NBC streaming service (2 p.m.). Whether Michigan State coach Mel Tucker is on the sideline, we cannot say. Tucker is the object of a sexual harassment complaint filed by activist Brenda Tracy. According to USA Today, a formal hearing to determine whether Tucker violated school policy is scheduled for early October. (Update: Tucker has been suspended.)
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