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Sunday Afternoon Quarterback

… Game Two … Colorado 34, No. 25 Nebraska 31, OT … Game Story can be found here … Essay for the game: “Trust the Process” can be found here

Pac-12 Power Rankings

Note … These are my subjective Power Rankings, which will be updated every Sunday. (Please feel free to post your own rankings in the comments section) …

1. Utah (2-0) … Previous ranking … No. 2

This weekend … Defeated Northern Illinois, 35-17. The Utes avoided the near miss they head against the Huskies last year, controlling the second half for the win. Tyler Huntley passed for 214 yards and a touchdown, while Zach Moss had 80 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Rather pedestrian numbers for a top 15 team, but the Utah offense didn’t have to be great, as the Ute defense held Northern Illinois to a grand total of 69 yards of total offense in the second half.

Up next … Idaho State

2. Washington State (2-0) … Previous ranking … No. 3

This weekend … Defeated Northern Colorado, 59-17. That makes a two-week total of 117-24 v. New Mexico State and Northern Colorado to open the season. Not exactly world-beater opponents, but the Cougars have certainly taken care of business against lesser opponents in non-conference play (which has not always been the case under Mike Leach in recent years). Houston will have the ability to score against Washington State, but the real test for the Cougars comes in three weeks, when they travel to Salt Lake City to take on the Utes.

Up next … at Houston

3. Oregon (1-1) … Previous ranking … No. 4

This weekend … Defeated Nevada, 77-6. It was actually a game early in the second quarter, with the Ducks holding a 7-6 lead over the Wolf Pack. After that? Not so much, as the Oregon offense, behind five touchdown passes by Justin Herbert, scored the next 70 points of the game. Oregon rolled to 623 yards of total offense against Nevada, while holding the Wolf Pack to 192 yards. After a final tune up against the Montana Grizzlies, Oregon opens Pac-12 play on the road against Stanford before returning home to face a now dangerous Cal team.

Up next … Montana

4. Washington (1-1, 0-1) … Previous ranking … No. 1

This weekend … Lost to Cal, 20-19. Cal kicker Greg Thomas kicked a 17-yard field goal with 8 seconds left, and California beat No. 14 Washington 20-19 in a game delayed more than 2 1/2 hours due to severe weather. It is the second year in a row that the Bears have gotten the better of the Huskies, having won in Berkeley last season. Jacob Eason was a pedestrian 18-of-30 for 162 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. Like Oregon, the Huskies will now have to run the table to have any hope of a College Football Playoff berth.

Up next … Hawai’i

5. California (2-0, 1-0) … Previous ranking … No. 7

This weekend … Defeated No. 13 Washington, 20-19. If the Bears could just play the Huskies every weekend, they would be in the hunt for the Rose Bowl, if not more.  The Bears, in going for 192 yards on the ground, won their sixth straight season-opening game away from home, including wins at Texas, Northwestern and North Carolina. It was supposed to be a four-way race for the Pac-12 North, but the Bears have made it a five-way contest. Cal still has to play Oregon, Utah, and Stanford on the road in Pac-12 play, but, at least for a week, the Bears are contenders.

Up next … North Texas

6. USC (2-0, 1-0) … Previous ranking … No. 6

This weekend … Defeated No. 23 Stanford 45-20. When Stanford took a 17-3 lead against the Trojans early in the second quarter Saturday night, I thought the game was over. I wasn’t convinced that USC, with freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis making his first career start, would be able to even get to 17 points on the night. Umm … I was wrong. Slovis passed for 377 yards and three touchdowns in a commanding performance, and USC rolled to a 45-20 victory over the No. 23 Cardinal. I’m leaving USC at No. 6 on my list, as the Trojans still have a gauntlet of BYU, Utah, Washington and Notre Dame to run through in the next month. But, for now, the Trojans seem to be back (and are now ranked in both polls).

Up next … at BYU

7. Colorado (2-0) … Previous ranking … No. 9

This weekend … Defeated No. 25 Nebraska, 34-31, OT. While CU students were still serenading Nebraska fans down on the field, I was asked where this game ranked on the list of CU wins against Nebraska. For me, it’s No. 3, behind 20-10 in 1986 and 62-36 in 2001. Still, depending on where the Buffs go from here, it could move up that list. The 20-10 game was the spark which ignited a run to a national championship four years later. Where will Mel Tucker take the Buffs from here? No one knows … but I’m certainly on board for the ride. The Buffs could certainly be considered as being a top-half of the Pac-12 team right now, but if the Buffs keep winning, the rankings will take care of themselves.

Up next … Air Force

8. Stanford (1-1, 0-1) … Previous ranking … No. 5

This weekend … Lost to USC, 45-20. In the battle of backups, Stanford quarterback Davis Mills (22-of-36 for 237 yards, one touchdown, one interception) was out-done by USC’s freshman Kedon Slovis. Still, while the Trjoans will have to ride Slovis the remainder of the 2019 season, Mills will return to the bench next week, as senior quarterback K.J. Costello will be back as starter after sitting out one week with a concussion. If Costello can’t make an impressive return, matters could spin out of control quickly for the Cardinal, as Stanford’s next two games are on the road, with both games against ranked opponents.

Up next: … at No. 17 Central Florida

9. Arizona State (2-0) … Previous ranking … No. 8

This weekend … Defeated Sacramento State, 19-7. Despite the win, the Sun Devils nonetheless drop a spot as Arizona State has been anything but impressive to start the season. Arizona State defeated Kent State, 30-7, in the opener, but it was a 10-0 game at halftime. Against Sacramento State, a Big Sky Conference team which was 2-8 last season, the Sun Devils failed to score a touchdown until the fourth quarter. True enough, the Sun Devils have only given up two touchdowns in two games (and, with offensively challenged Michigan State up next, will probably face CU in two weeks as one of the top defensive teams in the nation), but Arizona State will have to step up its game if they are to take down a ranked Spartan team on the road.

Up next … at No. 18 Michigan State

10. Arizona (1-1) … Previous ranking … No. 10

This weekend … Defeated Northern Arizona, 65-41. Which is the more interesting number here: That the Wildcats posted 65 points against the Lumberjacks, or that Northern Arizona scored 41 points? We’ll have to give Arizona the benefit of the doubt here, as it was a 51-13 game at halftime, so the 28 second half points by NAU have to be taken with a grain of salt. Arizona had 720 yards of total offense, and has 103 points in only two games, and the basketball numbers are likely to continue. The two games before Arizona comes to Boulder October 5th are against Texas Tech and UCLA, will likely result in more offensive fireworks. Look for Arizona and its quarterback, Kahlil Tate, to have verrry impressive numbers when the Wildcats face the Buffs.

Up next … Texas Tech

11. UCLA (0-2) … Previous ranking … No. 11

This weekend … Lost to San Diego State, 23-14. It was the Aztecs first-ever win over the Bruins (0-21-1 previously), and gave Chip Kelly an 0-5 non-conference record as UCLA’s head coach (with four of those losses to Group of Five schools). Only 36,951 sauntered into the Rose Bowl (just over 1/3 capacity), the smallest home crowd for the Bruins in 22 seasons. With No. 4 Oklahoma up next, any bets on whether or not there will be more red in the Rose Bowl next weekend than blue? Will there be a Chip Kelly watch in effect when the Bruins face the Buffs in Pasadena in the first weekend in November?

Up next … No. 4 Oklahoma

12. Oregon State (0-2) … Previous ranking … No. 12

This weekend … Lost to Hawai’i, 31-28. Oregon State had its chances on the island, but was held scoreless in the second half as the Rainbow Warriors scored the final 17 points of the game. Losing to Hawai’i on the road is not unprecedented for Pac-12 teams (ask Arizona and Colorado), but Oregon State really couldn’t afford to lose to a Mountain West school with a tough Pac-12 slate on the way. Oregon State gets the Cal Poly Mustangs at home next week, with a chance for win No. 1 on the season … and a chance to move past UCLA in the rankings.

Up next … Cal Poly.

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One Reply to “Sunday Afternoon Quarterback”

  1. Why not switch Cal & UW since Cal won and is on top of the north?

    I would switch UCLA & OSU since OSU has losses against more solid teams and traveling all the way to Hawaii is always tough on teams as Stuart points out, better teams than the Beavers have lost there too.

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