Pac-12 Walkthrough: UCLA and Nebraska Renew Rivalry
By Christopher Wuensch
Everything you need to know about the Pac-12 this weekend.
Week 2 Players Of The Week
Paul Richardson, Colorado: 209 Receiving Yards/2 TDs
Until Richardson hauls in less than 200 yards in a game (or someone generates 300 yards rushing or receiving), the Colorado receiver will remain our Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week. The senior followed up his 208-yard, two-touchdown-performance against Colorado State with 209 yards and two more scoring grabs against Central Arkansas. Richardson is leading the nation in receiving after two games, with 69 more yards than the next-closest receiver, Ryan Grant of Tulane. Only Eric Thomas of Troy has more touchdowns (5) than Richardson. The Buffs’ receiver is on pace for 2,502 yards. At his current pace, he’d surpass Scotty McKnight (2,588 yards) as Colorado’s all-time leading receiver around Week 7 against Arizona. He’s already surpassed nine former Buffs this season and sits ninth overall in the program’s history for career receiving yards. His 15 career scores leave him seven touchdowns behind McKnight on the CU all-time list.
Also Considered: Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona; Taylor Kelly, Arizona State; De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
Damante Horton, Washington State: 2 INTs/TD
Horton had two interceptions, one of which he returned 70 yards to the house in the Cougars’ 10-7 upset over Southern California.
Equally impressive, the senior defensive back only allowed one catch, and dropped the hapless Trojans receiver for a five-yard loss.
Horton now has six career picks and two touchdowns. You can’t give all the credit to one player, but it’s hard to imagine Washington State celebrating its first win in Los Angeles since 2000 without the efforts of Horton.
Also Considered: Morgan Breslin, USC; Trent Murphy, Stanford; Ed Reynolds, Stanford
No. 16 UCLA (1-0) at No. 23 Nebraska (2-0), 10 a.m. MST (ABC)
All-Time Series: Nebraska, 6-5
This is an early-season gut check on so many levels for UCLA. Do they deserve their No. 16 ranking? Will they separate themselves from the rest of the Pac-12 South? Can they rally as a team behind the tragic loss of wide receiver Nick Pasquale?
The Bruins defeated Nebraska, 36-30, last year in Los Angeles, renewing their rivalry after an 18-year hiatus. UCLA racked up 653 total yards on the Cornhuskers defense in the win. In Week 1, the Bruins tallied 647 yards — good for third-most in the nation. Expect much of the same this week. Nebraska has surrendered an average of 443 total yards (91st in the country) this season against the likes of Wyoming and Southern Mississippi.
A win for Nebraska could kick off a nice, soft stretch for the Cornhuskers, who could easily be 8-0 by the time they head to Michigan on Nov. 9. Same goes for UCLA, whose momentum with a win over Nebraska could potentially see the Bruins at 5-0 heading into back-to-back road contests at Stanford and Oregon in October.
Motivation shouldn’t be a factor. But harnessing their emotions after an emotionally-draining bye week could make all the difference.
Last Week: UCLA (bye); Nebraska 56, Southern Miss 13
Next Week: New Mexico State at UCLA; South Dakota State at Nebraska
Rest Of The Pac
Texas-San Antonio (1-1) at Arizona (2-0), 7:30 p.m. MST (Pac-12 Network)
All-Time Series: 0-0
There’s no secret any more. Arizona is going to run the ball. With B.J. Denker (17-of-34, 168 passing yards in two games) ineffective at quarterback, the Wildcats almost have to be resourceful on the ground. Arizona has the sixth-best rushing offense in the nation, averaging 351.5 ypg. Incumbent rushing leader Ka’Deem Carey took his first snap of the season last week against Nevada-Las Vegas 58 yards to the end zone. Denker might not have to throw. The senior ran for 63 yards and two touchdowns as the Wildcats ran roughshod over the Running Rebels.
This will be Texas-San Antonio’s first matchup against a Pac-12 foe. The Roadrunners enter their second year in the FBS and first in Conference USA. UTSA put up 35 points last week in a loss to Oklahoma State, a team with the 81st-worst defense in the country. Arizona allows an average of 142 ypg less than Oklahoma State.
Last Week: Arizona 58, Nevada-Las Vegas 13; Oklahoma State 56, Texas-San Antonio 35
Next Week: Arizona (bye); Texas-San Antonio at UTEP
No. 20 Wisconsin (2-0) at Arizona State (1-0), 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
All-Time Series: Arizona State, 2-1
Wisconsin has only allowed one sack this season. Expect that number to rise if the Badgers’ offensive line can’t protect quarterback Joel Stave and stave off the likes of Arizona State’s Will Sutton (13 sacks in 2012) and Carl Bradford (11.5 sacks). Despite the vicious pass rush, the Sun Devils have been known to give up big plays — especially on the ground — and Wisconsin arrives in Tempe with the third-best rushing offense in the country despite losing running back Montee Ball to the NFL. Don’t expect ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly to repeat his 300-yard/five-touchdown performance (vs. Sacramento State). The Badgers possess the fourth-toughest pass defense in the country and have yet to be scored on this season.
Frankly, it might be a surprise if either team scores. No one has scored on the Badgers (No. 1 in total defense) or the Sun Devils (No. 2) this season.
Last Week: Arizona State 55, Sacramento State 0; Wisconsin 48, Tennessee Tech 0
Next Week: Arizona State at Stanford; Purdue at Wisconsin
No. 4 Ohio State (2-0,) at California (1-1), 6 p.m. CST (Fox)
All-Time Series: Ohio State, 6-1
The Big Ten/Pac-12 theme continues with a matchup that has all the potential to be a one-sided affair depending on which young California team shows up to Memorial Stadium to face visiting Ohio State — the Golden Bears that nearly toppled No. 17 Northwestern or the squad that eked out a win over Portland State.
Ohio State has scored 33, 35, 35 and 35 points in four of their last five meetings with the Golden Bears. Cal has given up 74 points in its first two games, including 30 to Portland State. The Buckeyes have averaged 41 ppg in two easy wins over Buffalo and San Diego State. Cal quarterback Jared Goff enters the week leading the nation in passing with 458 ypg — some 40 more than the next-closest passer, Chuckie Keeton of Utah State. The Buckeyes' defense has allowed roughly 200 ypg in the air so far this season.
Last Week: Cal 37, Portland State 30; Ohio State 42, San Diego State 7
Next Week: Cal (bye); Florida A&M at Ohio State
Fresno State (2-0) at Colorado (2-0), postponed
Average September rainfall in Boulder: 1.63 inches. September rainfall in Boulder in 2013: 14.62 inches.
Football isn’t quite on the minds of those in Boulder this weekend as the city digs itself out from flooding that has decimated the town and left four dead and dozens unaccounted for. No make-up date has been announced yet.
Last Week: Colorado 38, Central Arkansas 24; Fresno State 41, Cal Poly 25
Next Week: Colorado (bye); Boise State at Fresno State
Tennessee (2-0) at Oregon (2-0), 12:30 p.m. PST (ABC)
All-Time Series: Oregon, 1-0
If Johnny Manziel can beat No. 1 Alabama for a second straight year, Oregon just might be the No. 1 team in the nation come Week 4. It would just the third time Oregon has reached the pinnacle of the AP rankings.
But before the Ducks can bask in the glory, they have to first dispose of Tennessee, which isn’t a slam dunk.
It’s hard to imagine anyone slowing the Marcus Mariota-led offense. Tennessee is a respectable 28th in the nation in total defense, allowing 302.5 ypg or, better put, 18.0 ypg less than Oregon’s defense yields.
If the Volunteers are to have a fighting chance against arguably the country’s most potent offense, the Vols will have to rely on takeaways. Tennessee is third in the nation in turnover margin — one spot ahead of No. 4 Oregon — and No. 5 in red zone defense.
Last Week: Oregon 59, Virginia 10; Tennessee 52, Western Kentucky 20
Next Week: Oregon (bye); Tennessee at Florida
No. 5 Stanford (1-0) at Army (1-1), 9 a.m. PST (CBS Sports)
All-Time Series: Tied, 5-5
Stanford makes its first trip to the East Coast since handling Duke two seasons ago. And while the scenery will be radically different, the end result should be the same. The two programs are renewing a rivalry that began in 1928 with the Pop Warner era in Palto Alto and last took to the gridiron in 1979.
But first, Stanford must be able to handle the run. Specifically Army’s triple-option offense.
The Black Knights are the reigning national team rushing leaders and are currently at No. 9 in the country with a 329-yard average through the first two games. Stanford held San Jose State to a ridiculous 35 yards on the ground in the Cardinal opener last week.
Last Week: Stanford 34, San Jose State 14; Ball State 40, Army 14
Next Week: Arizona State at Stanford; Wake Forest at Army
Boston College (2-0, 1-0) at Southern California (1-1, 0-1), Noon PST (Pac-12 Network)
All-Time Series: USC, 3-0
Marqise Lee has to find the end zone eventually … right? At the start of the season, Lee’s name was bantered about in circles discussing potential Heisman Award winners. Now the question in Los Angeles is: Who is going to get him the ball?
USC announced this week that it will no longer operate under a dual-quarterback system. Cody Kessler is the sole quarterback for now. If USC is to bounce back from an upset at the hands of Washington State, the Trojans might have to do so by riding their No. 11 defense and deep running game.
How’s this for a head-scratcher? Tre Madden became the first USC running back with consecutive 100-yard rushing performances in the Trojans’ first two games of a season since Marcus Allen accomplished the feat in 1981.
Last Week: Washington State 10, USC 7; Boston College 24, Wake Forest 10
Next Week: Utah State at USC; Boston College (bye)
Oregon State (1-1) at Utah (2-0), 7 p.m. PST (Fox Sports)
All-Time Series: Oregon State, 10-6-1
Salt Lake City will be the site for an early inter-conference matchup that pits one school looking to reclaim its reputation (Oregon State) and another that’s begging that its reputation be looked at.
Oregon State can continue on its path toward proving its opening-week loss to Eastern Washington was an anomaly with a win over Utah. The Utes can move to 3-0 on the season and raise some eyebrows with a win.
The Beavers know how to score, having converted all 12 of their opportunities inside the red zone this season into points. Utah can also light up a scoreboard and is coming off a 70-point shellacking of Weber State. The Utes (50 ppg) are fourth overall in the Pac-12 in offense and face an Oregon State defense (423 ypg) which ranks 11th in the conference.
Last Week: Oregon State 33, Hawaii 14; Utah 70, Weber State 7
Next Week: Oregon State at San Diego State; Utah at BYU
No. 19 Washington (1-0) at Illinois (2-0), 3 p.m. CST (Big Ten Network)
All-Time Series: Washington, 5-4
After knocking off Boise State and stealing the Broncos’ No. 19 ranking in Week 1, Washington surely has been chomping at the bit to get back on the gridiron. Both squads are riding quarterbacks with something to prove in UW’s Keith Price and Illinois’ Nathan Scheelhaase. The latter enters Saturday’s tilt as the No. 7 passer in the nation with 728 yards and six touchdowns through the air. Price threw for 324 in the Huskies’ only game so far. Plus, he’ll benefit from the reinstatement of the suspended tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who has 1,396 career receiving yards and 13 scoring grabs.
The Illini tend to give up lots of yards (431.5 ypg, to be exact). And Price isn’t the only one reaping the rewards of a healthy offensive line. Running back Bishop Sankey technically leads the Pac-12 in rushing ypg after his 161-yard endeavor against Boise State.
Last Week: Washington (bye); Illinois 45, Cincinnati 17
Next Week: Idaho State at Washington; Illinois (bye)
Southern Utah (2-0, 1-0) at Washington State (1-1, 1-0), 3:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
All-Time Series: N/A
The first-place Washington State Cougars. Who’d have ever thought they’d hear those words, even two weeks into the season?
The Cougars kick off their home slate with a trap game. Washington State is coming off two grueling road games against Auburn and Southern California and confidence is riding higher than it has in quite some time in Pullman.
The Cougars were able to upset the Trojans on the strength of their No. 24-ranked defense (293.5 ypg). Southern Utah is coming off a 49-0 blanking of Fort Lewis College. Don’t expect the Thunderbirds to pull the upset, however.
Last Week: Washington State 10, USC 7; Southern Utah 49, Fort Lewis 0
Next Week: Idaho at Washington State; Sacramento State at Southern Utah
|Jared Goff, Cal||72/115||935-4-3|
|Sean Mannion, Oregon State||68/86||794-7-1|
|Connor Wood, Colorado||56/82||741-6-2|
|Tre Madden, USC||50||260||0|
|De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon||29||252||5|
|Marcus Mariota, Oregon||9||235||3|
|Paul Richardson, Colorado||21||417||4|
|Brandin Cooks, Oregon State||20||288||4|
|Bryce Treggs, Cal||21||266||0|
It’s Big Ten weekend in the Pac-12 as the two conferences square off against one another in several heavyweight battles. To celebrate, we’re throwing a retro party back to the magical time when Richard Nixon took up residence in the White House, Peter Falk won an Emmy for Best Actor, and disco wasn’t yet a thing.
While Columbo hoisted his hardware, a future, fellow-Emmy-nominated thespian was busy hauling the UCLA Bruins to the apex of college football fame. The year was 1972 and the term “Summer School” wasn’t a future acting gig for Mark Harmon yet; rather, it was something he’d have to think about taking between semesters in Westwood — if he wanted to graduate cum laude in 1974 with a B.A. in communication.
Saturday’s games mark 41 years to the week since the future NCIS actor’s name truly hit the limelight. Harmon, the Bruins’ quarterback, was part of the UCLA team that upset then No. 1 Nebraska, 20-17. Nebraska was the reigning back-to-back champion. UCLA was coming off a 2-7 year. It’s considered among the greatest wins in program history.
Harmon finished his career with 845 passing yards. With 3,740 passing yards, current Bruins’ quarterback Brett Hundley surpassed Harmon on the UCLA all-time list a long time ago.
UCLA and Nebraska continue their rivalry this week. This time the Bruins are the favorite and it’s Nebraska looking to pull off the upset.
But our retro week isn’t over.
Ohio State will make its first trip to Berkeley since 1972 this week to take on California. Ohio State owns the rivalry, winning six in a row since the two swapped 1921 and 1950 Rose Bowl wins against one another.
The year 1972 was also the last time Washington and Illinois faced each other. Washington holds a 5-4 edge in the all-time series, but the Fighting Illini have the bragging rights, courtesy of a 1964 Rose Bowl win over the Huskies.
No matter who wins, the day promises to be theatrical.