Despite being idle, the biggest Pac-12 story of the weekend comes out of UCLA In a horrific tragedy, walk-on wideout Nick Pasquale was struck by a car while walking and killed. At the time of this writing the story is still unfocused enough to make me hesitant about commenting; however, regardless of the circumstances of either party involved, there was a life taken at a young age and from someone who was universally loved by the Bruins. Pasquale worked his tail off to become a walk on a year ago. After redshirting, he failed to gain a scholarship, but through his incredible work ethic he walked on as a sophomore. His personal determination to make the field of play was an example of the workmanlike-push Jim Mora is shaping for the UCLA program. This determination is also why we love college football. It is why the story of Rudy matters to us. It is why we remember when a walk-on linebacker from an eight man football school turns into Dallas Clark. Jared Abbredaris at Wisconsin had his career start in a similar path as Pasquale. Without kids like Pasquale, the joy we derive from Saturday afternoons would be greatly diminished, so let’s not let his passing slip from our memories as the season moves on. Let us honor a kid’s life and have it be a reminder to all our readers to be safe out there; especially on football Saturdays. Again we don’t know everything about Pasquale’s passing so I stress this is a general opinion—football Saturdays always get rowdy and can get dangerous. I can’t help but feel this is magnified at some of the smaller university towns. The extra traffic on the streets, the extra drinks flowing through folks, congested roads, smaller police force, etc. It is a minor miracle we don’t have more stories of accidents like this.
Now it’s time to actually talk about what happened on the field for the league. Stanford looked crisp in their season opener against a pesky San Jose State team. Oregon steamrolled Virginia on their cross-country trip. UCLA and Washington were both idle and as a result, the top of the league remains unchanged. Five through twelve, that’s a different story. USC’s freefall continues, as their quarterback play is atrocious. WSU and Colorado flip after the Cougs scored the upset in LA and Colorado returned to ugly form against FCS Central Arkansas. Cal’s freshman stud Jared Goff continues to impress, but based on the tightness of their affair with FCS Portland State, no reason for the Bears to climb out of the 11 hole. Oregon State got back on track and Utah, Arizona and Arizona State all cruised to lopsided wins against two FCS teams and UNLV, which has played like an FCS team for the better part of a decade.
Hopefully this isn’t your first time check out a stock report, but if it is, here’s the rundown. The above chart is the power rankings of the league. The buying/holding/selling stock in a team is relative to preseason expectations, making a better bowl, or surprising the league and competing for a division title. Just because I’m buying a lot of stock in a team doesn’t mean I think they are better than the first place team. Now that we are all in sync, let’s get after it!
Arizona – Suspension? No problem. Ka’Deem Carey cruised to 171 yards on just 16 carries with two scores. B.J. Denker continues to be the prototypical Rich Rod QB. His passing game was below average, but he made more than enough plays with his legs, accounting for two rushing scores on 63 yards. The defense continues to roll, forcing three turnovers while making the Rebs’ day at the office pretty unproductive. They have one more tune-up with Larry Coker’s UTSA team coming to town next. Coker’s a good coach and has his team playing decently. The Wildcats will not be able to sleepwalk through the game, giving them the perfect warmup for their league opener up in Seattle. Week two grade: A
Arizona State – Along with Stanford, ASU was making its season debut. A final score of 55-0 looks pretty good, even against a Sacramento State team that has now gone eight quarters without scoring. Taylor Kelly was in midseason form under center, completing 23-of-31 passes for 300 yards and a Cinco-de-Mayo special of five TD passes. Good start for the popular Southern sleeper pick. Week two grade: A
Oregon – Another Duck beat down. Not that it matters against overmatched teams like Virginia, but 30% on third down and 11 penalties for 119 yards is too sloppy for when they play the upper-echelon teams of the Pac 12. Of course, Marcus Mariota averaging 30 yards a carry can neutralize even the top teams in the nation. Week two grade: A
Stanford – It was a typical Stanford win. The Cardinal grinded and grinded and wore SJSU down; rushing 41 brutal times with Stanford’s bruising line will do it. In a one-two punch combo, Stanford’s front seven may be the best in the nation. Credit the Spartans for battling – the team is no pushover by any means – but this one was never closer than 14 points in the second half. Kevin Hogan put in an efficient performance as the starting quarterback with two TDs, zero INTs and connecting on 17-of-27 for over two hundred yards. Tyler Gaffney pounded the rock 20 times for 104 yards and two scores. Pretty much standard Stanford stuff (say that six times fast). Week two grade: A
UCLA – Idle
Oregon State – Prior to this week, I said don’t enter full panic mode yet and what did the Beavers do? They got back to the basics and looked solid against Hawaii. The defense made life miserable for the road team and the offense nearly doubled them up in time of possession. Sean Mannion had another solid performance. The strangest thing about the win was how awful the rushing attack was: 57 yards on 33 carries for a 1.7 average. Storm Woods’ slow start continues. Mike Riley is a coach who loves to use the ground attack and has produced some very good running backs and running teams. Riley will get it sorted out, but while two may be a coincidence, three is a trend. OSU needs to get the ground game going next week in Salt Lake City. Week two grade: B+
Utah – Speaking of the team OSU faces next week, the Utes were up 49-0 at half en route to a 70-7 laugher against FCS Weber State. Utah managed to compile 628 total yards, 338 rushing yards and 24 first downs, all with less time of possession than Weber. I haven’t seen stats like that since the last time I played my NCAA ’12 dynasty. Just like OSU, we’ll know more about both of these clubs after their big tilt on Saturday. It was a nice win for Utah, but the competition was awful. Hats off to Tyler Wilson though. His 99.7 QBR on a 100 point scale pretty much sums up the day for the Utes. Week two grade: A
Washington – Idle
Washington State – Based more on the expectations, or lack there of, WSU played really well at Auburn and then found a way to win ugly at USC. Thanks to the 1-1 split in opening road trips, the Cougars have three straight home games and should win two of those contests. Three wins before October would put them in great shape for a bowl. The second half of the slate isn’t too kind, but they should be riding high with confidence after shaking a big monkey off their back with the USC win. That was the schools first win against USC in over a decade. Week two grade: C (A for effort, the defense and the win, but they were incredibly ugly offensively)
Cal – As stated in the opening, Jared Goff has been magical to start his collegiate career, but there isn’t enough talent, especially defensively, for Cal to pose much of a threat. After all, Portland State put up 553 total yards, 308 passing and 245 rushing. Unless there is some insane amount of growth over the weeks, I’m not sure how the Bears will be able to hold up against divisional foes Oregon, Stanford, Washington and cross-over dates with UCLA and Arizona. Oh yeah, and add in Ohio State this weekend. Week two grade: B-
Colorado – This was a 24-17 game in the fourth quarter before the Buffs’ 21-point burst to end the game. They were shredded by Central Arkansas’ passing game and they were unable to get anything going on the ground. Four turnovers highlight Colorado’s sloppiness. A 2-0 record to start the season is nice, but there isn’t a game I consider winnable until November 16 against Cal. Week two grade: B-
USC – How can someone have a talent like Marqise Lee on their team and net just 54 total passing yards? The Trojans were held under 200 total yards of offense for the day as well. Un-believable. The Men of Troy do not have a quarterback this year and the losses will surely mount with uncertainty at the position. Week two grade: F
Buy These Kids Dinner (if the NCAA allowed it)
Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon) – 14/28, 199 yards, 7.1 avg, 2 TD, 0 INT, 97.0 QBR to go along with 4 carries, 122 yards, 30.5 avg, 1 TD and a long of 71.
Damante Horton (CB, Washington State) – In additon to four tackles (three solo) and two TFLs for a total of 12 yards, Horton picked off USC twice and took one 70 yards for a game-tying touchdown just before the half. It was WSU’s only touchdown in their tight upset win.
Kalafitoni Pole (NT, Washington State) – With the game tied 7-7 in the third quarter and points nearly impossible to come by, the gigantic Pole bull rushed through the USC line and blocked a manageable 32 yard field goal to keep the game all squared at seven.
Dunce of the Week
All the credit in the world to WSU for improving this season and playing tough as nails on defense, but USC’s offensive game-plan, especially for the passing attack, was dreadful. With a very good receiving corps thanks to Lee, anything less than 100 yards is unforgivable. Kiffin and his offensive staff will have the dunce cap on all this week for their effort against a beatable WSU team; a loss made even worse since it was at home. Can you say disarray? This program is floundering badly right now.