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Pac-12 Walkthrough: WSU vs. USC Highlights Weekend

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Arizona S Tra'Mayne Bondurant is this week's Football.com Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week after hauling in two interceptions and a pick-six. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.
Arizona S Tra'Mayne Bondurant is this week's Football.com Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week after hauling in two interceptions and a pick-six. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.

Everything you need to know about the Pac-12 this weekend.

Week 1 Players Of The Week*

*As voted on by Pac-12 writers John Baker, Colin Huber, Henry McKenna, Alex Schultz and editor Christopher Wuensch

OFFENSE

Paul Richardson, Colorado: 208 Receiving Yards/2 TDs

If anyone predicted that a Colorado Buffaloes player would be our Player of the Week at any point in the season, we’d have looked at them funny. But after Richardson’s performance, we now know one thing: anything is possible.

Richardson’s 208-yard, two-touchdown-performance shouldn’t be a shock. Since returning this spring from a knee injury that caused him to miss the entire 2012 season, the Colorado wide receiver has reclaimed the stride that makes him arguably one of the conference’s best big-play weapons — and definitely the most-underrated. Richardson scored on touchdown catch-and-runs of 82 and 75 yards as the Buffs cruised to a 41-27 win over in-state rival Colorado State in the Rocky Mountain Showdown.

Also Considered: Brandin Cooks, Oregon State; Sean Mannion, Oregon State; Keith Price, Washington; Bishop Sankey, Washington.

DEFENSE

Tra’Mayne Bondurant, Arizona: 2 INTs, TD

As a sophomore, Tra’Mayne Bondurant had three interceptions. One game into his junior campaign and the Arizona safety is a pick shy of equaling that mark. Bondurant registered 7 tackles along with his two interceptions in the Wildcats’ resounding 35-0 opening-week victory over Northern Arizona. Bondurant snagged a tipped Kyle Poe-pass and took it 23 yards to the house on the opening play of the third quarter to put Arizona up by three scores, from which they never looked back.

“I just read the quarterback’s eyes. I dropped back into my zone, he looked at me once so I tried to bait him, but he looked away. When he looked back I knew the ball was coming so I made sure I didn’t drop it," Bondurant told Arizona's athletics website after the game. "I helped my defense get off the field, so it’s always good to do that. Getting a touchdown on defense is always good. I got the interception just off of playing hard so my coach will be happy for that,” 

Also Considered: Dion Bailey, USC; Deone Bucannon, Washington State; Michael Doctor, Oregon State; and Addison Gillam, Colorado.

Weekday Matchups

Arizona State 55, Sacramento State 0 (Thursday).

Taylor Kelly made his own case to be among the elite Pac-12 quarterbacks, tuning up Sacramento State with 300 yards passing in a one-sided victory over the Hornets. His five touchdown passes all came in the first half. Arizona State running back Marion Grice led the Sun Devils in both rushing (59 yards) and receiving (65 yards) — not very high tallies. Todd Graham’s offense is going to be somewhat of a socialist state this season with just about everyone contributing. All told, nine different Sun Devils rushed the ball and 11 different players caught a pass from Kelly or his backup Michael Eubanks.

Next Week: Wisconsin at Arizona State; Southern Oregon at Sacramento State.

Featured Matchup

Washington State (0-1) at No. 25 Southern California (1-0), 7:30 p.m. PST (Fox Sports)

Washington State has the unenviable task of following up their season-opening road trip to Auburn with a jaunt down the coast to face the No. 25 Trojans. In years past, this might be a one-sided slaying, but the Cougars are playing with a renewed vigor, thanks in part to second-year coach Mike Leach. They hung tough against Auburn in hostile Jordan-Hare Stadium and had a chance to win late in the contest. The Wazzu defense held the Tigers to just six points in the second half, which should concern the Trojans, whose two-headed quarterback system of Max Wittek and Cody Kessler struggled at times against Hawaii. The duo combined to throw for 172 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Working in USC’s favor is its deep running game, even without projected starting running back Silas Redd. The Trojans rushed for 196 combined yards against Hawaii and face a Washington State team that surrendered a conference-low (or is it high?) 296 yards against Auburn.

That said, defense may be the decider. USC sacked Hawaii QB Taylor Graham seven times and picked off five of his passes. Washington State QB Connor Halliday threw for 344 yards against Auburn, but was picked off three times.

Last week: Auburn 31, Washington State 24; USC 30, Hawaii 13.

Next Week: Boston College at USC; Southern Utah at Washington State.

The Rest

No. 2 Oregon (1-0) at Virginia (1-0), 3:30 p.m. EST (ABC/ESPN2)

The Ducks fly East to face a Virginia team that eked out a 19-13 win over BYU in Week 1. The Cavaliers gave up roughly 4 yards per play against the Cougars. Oregon flexed their muscles against Nicholls State, where they garnered roughly 11 yards per play. Despite being on the road, a loss to the Cavaliers would be a major upset.

Last Week: Oregon 66-3, Nicholls State 3; Virginia 19, BYU 16.

Next Week: Tennessee at Oregon (Virginia: bye).

San Jose State (1-0) at No. 5 Stanford (0-0), 8 p.m. PST (Pac-12 Network)

You can’t blame the Cardinal if they kick off the season Saturday with a chip on their shoulder. Stanford dropped in the polls despite not playing last week. The Cardinal will pit the Pac-12’s staunchest defense last season against the nation’s most accurate passer a year ago in David Fales.

Last Week: San Jose State 24, Sacramento State 0 (Stanford: bye).

Next Week: Stanford at Army (San Jose State: bye).

Arizona (1-0) at UNLV (0-1), 8:30 p.m. MST (CBS Sports)

Ka’Deem Carey’s return to the lineup spells bad news for the Running Rebels, who likely will find themselves running after the nation’s incumbent rushing leader and the deep Arizona backfield. The Wildcats rushed for 306 yards last week against Northern Arizona, despite Carey’s absence to a suspension. UNLV surrendered 221 yards in a rout at the hands of Minnesota.

Last Week: Arizona 35, Northern Arizona 0; Minnesota 51, UNLV 23.

Next Week: Texas-San Antonio at Arizona; Central Michigan at UNLV.

Portland State (1-0) at California (0-1), 2 p.m. PST (Pac-12 Network)

Jared Goff. Cal fans are singing the freshman’s praises this week despite being 0-1. Goff enters Week 2 as the Pac-12’s leading passer, after a gutsy 450-yard performance against Northwestern. The Golden Bears’ defense was lost in the mix of the 74-point game. Cal yielded just one touchdown in the second half against the Wildcats. They can’t take the Vikings lightly, however. Portland State rushed for 407 yards, including 108 and 107-yard performances by D.J. Adams and Shaquille Richard, respectively. Cal gave up 209 yards on the ground to Northwestern.

Last Week: Northwestern 44, Cal 30; Portland State 57, Eastern Oregon 17.

Next Week: Ohio State at California; Humboldt State at Portland State.

Central Arkansas (1-0) at Colorado (1-0), 6 p.m. MST (Pac-12 Network)

Don’t look now, but with a win over Central Arkansas on Saturday, the Buffs not only will be above .500 (a feat they failed to accomplish last year), but Colorado will double their win total from the 2012 season — the worst in the program’s 112-year history. For all the uncertainty at quarterback, the Buffs looked strong through the air as Connor Wood racked up 400 yards passing (half of them to Richardson). But all that will be for naught if the Buffs take the Bears lightly. Central Arkansas QB Wynrick Smothers threw for 3,101 yards and 31 TDs last season in earning Southland Conference MVP honors. Special teams could be the difference in this contest. Last week new Bear Jatavious Wilson caught two touchdowns and returned a kickoff 93 yards for another score to earn the conference’s special team player of the week honors. The Buffs yielded a 73-yard punt return touchdown to Colorado State’s Joe Hansley.

Last Week: Colorado 41, Colorado State 27; Central Arkansas 57, University of Incarnate Word 7.

Next Week: Fresno State at Colorado; Central Arkansas at Tennessee-Martin.

Hawaii (0-1) at Oregon State (0-1), 5 p.m. PST (Pac-12 Network)

That thud you heard out of the Northwest last Saturday: Oregon State's season crashing down with a devastating loss to Eastern Washington. Unfortunately for the Beavers, the schedule doesn’t get much friendlier this week when the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii travel to Corvallis. It’s a huge early-season game for both programs; the loser will drop to 0-2 on the young season. Expect the team that controls the air to emerge as the victor. Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, days after getting the nod as starter, lit up the Eastern Washington secondary for 422 yards and three touchdowns. Conversely, the Hawaii defense held Southern California to a paltry 172 yards in the air — 104 of them to potential Heisman candidate Marqise Lee. Neither team has much of a rushing offense. Storm Woods led the way with 68 yards and two TDs last week for Oregon State.

Last Week: USC 30, Hawaii 13; Eastern Washington State 49, Oregon State 46.

Next Week: Oregon State at Utah (Hawaii: bye).

Weber State (1-0) at Utah (1-0), Noon MST (Pac-12 Network)

Could Wilson to Denham become the most prolific passing tandem in the Pac-12 this season? Not likely. But that still doesn’t subtract from the rapport Utah’s quarterback Travis Wilson and wide receiver Anthony Denham have built. The duo combined for 113 of Wilson’s 302 yards last week in a late win over cross-state rival Utah State. The pair have to keep their feet on the accelerator this week to avoid becoming yet another FBS team to lose to an FCS school. It won’t be easy. The Utes’ defense yielded 487 yards to the Aggies. Weber State, conversely, churned up 484 yards of offense in their season-opener versus Stephen F. Austin.The dominoes are aligned for a potential knock-down. A 2-0 start would be nice for a Utah team potentially facing three ranked teams in the next four weeks.  

Last Week: Utah 30, Utah State 26; Weber State 50, Stephen F. Austin 40.

Next Week: Oregon State at Utah; Weber State at Utah State.

Quotable

“We got totally disrupted at quarterback from Eastern Washington, to give them credit. They made plays and they were great. But we were way out of sorts in pass rush, in pass-rush lanes. We were misaligned defensively. We made some crucial technical errors, playing Cover 3 and giving up a deep ball right down the middle of the field. Kind of simple football mistakes.” —Oregon State head coach Mike Riley

“Back when we were doing it 20 years ago, it was not only the officials we’d tell that we’re going to go fast. They were used to that two-minute drill, but not the entire game. I also remember our chain crew. I had to remind our chain crew today to get in better shape because they were a little slow in spotting the ball and getting the chains down (laughs).” —Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez

Conference Leaders

Passing

Player Comp/Att. Yds.-TDs-INTs
Jared Goff, Cal 39/64 450-2-3
Sean Mannion, Oregon State 37/43 422-3-0
Connor Wood, Colorado 33/46 400-3-0

Rushing

Player Carries Yds. TDs
Bishop Sankey, Washington 25 161 2
Jordan James, UCLA 21 155 1
Daniel Jenkins, Arizona 12 139

1

Receiving

Player Rec. Yds. TDs
Paul Richardon, Colorado 10 208 2
Brandin Cooks, Oregon State 13 196 2
Chris Harper, Cal 11 148 2

Infirmary Report

Brendan Bigelow: California cleared running back Brendan Bigelow (head) to play Saturday against Portland State. Bigelow suffered a head injury in Week 1 versus Northwestern. The junior rushed 16 times for 65 yards against the Wildcats before leaving the game after a taking a hit to the head.

Brandin Cooks: The lower-back injury that felled Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks toward the end of the Beavers’ upset loss to Eastern Washington appears to be a non-issue. The junior was back in practice this week, gearing up for Saturday’s showdown with Hawaii. Cooks had a career-high 196 yards and 2 touchdowns prior to the injury.

Silas Redd: The Southern California running back (knee) remains doubtful for Saturday’s contest against Washington State. The Penn State-transfer has been recovering from a torn meniscus.

Morgan Breslin: Southern California’s hulking defensive end is expected to play against Washington State after sitting out last week’s season-opener against Hawaii while nursing a foot/ankle injury. Breslin led the Trojans with 13 sacks last year.

Point After

There’s something in the air out West … footballs. Perhaps it’s the dry air, but passing is the name of the game in the Pac-12 — through Week 1, at least. There are seven Pac-12 quarterbacks inside the nation’s Top-25 passers and three of them already have more than 400 yards via the air. Ironically, three of the conference’s top four quarterbacks lost their first game under center this season. The total of seven is more than the next-closest conference by four quarterbacks — including more quarterbacks in the Top 25 than the ACC, Big 12 and SEC combined. Of course, that likely will change as the cupcake schools drop off the schedule and the competition toughens as the season wears on. But it should be noted that, of the seven Pac-12 quarterbacks, only Keith Price is a senior.  

Top-25 Pac-12 Quarterbacks

Players Yds. NCAA Rank
Jared Goff, Cal 450 7
Sean Mannion, Oregon State 422 8
Connor Wood, Colorado 400 9
Connor Halliday, Washington State 358 15
Keith Price, Washington 349 19
Marcus Mariota, Oregon 347 21
Brett Hundley, UCLA 337 23