The college football freight train is a'rollin'. Teams have now played at least two games, and we have even seen a few conference games here and there. So we are starting to get an idea of who the contenders might be, but we don't know yet who the pretenders are. Confidence is rising for some, deflating realities setting in for others. Some are still not sure, and there are a blasphemous few who don't care (or have the equivalent of Steve Alford for coach)! Most teams are still a week away from starting their conference slate, and so far the SEC and Pac-12 have made their mark. With the increased exposure, imagine the possibilities if the Pac-12 got some competent referees...
Player of the Week: Brett Hundley, UCLA - it's a homer call, but I think it's the right call. Brett faced the toughest environment and the toughest circumstances and after a slow start, he went into beast mode, throwing 3 TDs and rushing for 61 yards against Nebraska. If stats alone were what mattered, I might have picked Keith Price or Bishop Sankey from Washington, or Sean Mannion from Oregon State. I would definitely give a shout out to Lane Kiffin for masterfully bringing his team back. But none of them showed as much character as Brett.
Stat of the Week: 35 points in 16 minutes - that's what UCLA was able to put up against Nebraska, essentially winning the game in a single quarter.
Game of the Week: ASU at Stanford, 4:00pm PST, FOX - the only conference game of the week is a matchup of two ranked teams. While they are in different divisions, this game has rather big implications. Stanford is looking to regain its 2012 form while ASU seeks to take a major step towards being a serious contender.
1. UCLA (2-0, 0-0): I think we've covered every angle of UCLA's victory against Nebraska, none better than in gbruin's post. A disappointing start led to an offensive outburst, a stout defense and a huge emotional release. Coach Mora said it best, it won't mean anything unless the team sustains its effort going forward. And that begins this week against New Mexico State as the Bruins return to the Rose Bowl (where apparently fans will be able to enjoy the Ralphs Ultimate Tailgate Experience, whatever that is).
2. Arizona State (2-0, 0-0): the Sun Devils get a huge lucky break at home against Wisconsin, in one of the worst endings to a game that I have ever seen, and another testament to the incompetence of Pac-12 referees who have now solidified their reputation nationwide. The game did not reveal much about either team, who either both have good offenses or mediocre defenses. Taylor Kelly threw for 352 yards but Marion Grice did all the scoring on the ground. We will find out what ASU is all about this week when they visit Stanford.
3. Arizona (3-0, 0-0): Ka'Deem Carey and B.J. Denker did the damage for the Wildcats against UTSA. Denker, the new Wildcats QB, had an efficient game though he didn't have a big day in the air. That's not really RichRod's system anyway. But once again, Arizona has had 3 games against meaningless opponents so it is difficult to get a feel for this team yet. This week they have a bye so that won't help matters either, until they begin conference play.
4. Utah (2-1, 0-1): Norm Chow is gone and suddenly the Utes can score! OK that's not entirely fair, but there is no question that Utah's offense is what held them back a bit last year, breaking in a young QB. This year, it looks like the Utes can put up some serious points. 148 in 3 games, to be exact. Unfortunately, they also gave up 51 points last week in an OT loss to Oregon State while giving up a lot of yards in the air. The rush defense seems to be solid though. It will definitely get tested this week against BYU.
5. Southern Cal (2-1, 0-1): Kiffin's crew might just have gotten its swag back, demolishing a top ACC team. Boston College didn't stand a chance against the onslaught of Kiffin's offensive playcalling and the stingy Southern Cal defense. Lost in the mayhem and fury over their coach is the fact that Southern Cal has only allowed 9 points per game, good enough for 8th in the country. Now that the offense is rolling, this team is going to be dangerous. This week they host Utah State, who already lost to Utah in a close game, so it will be a good indicator of where Southern Cal is.
6. Colorado (2-0, 0-0): with the devastation of the floods in the Boulder area, the game between Fresno State and Colorado was postponed and not yet rescheduled. Sometimes nature and life like to remind us how trivial sports are. Our thoughts are with all the residents in Colorado affected by these floods, we know they're in good hands with guys like gbruin out there. What's not trivial for sports fans is that Colorado's next game isn't until September 28. This gives new coach McCarthy a lot of valuable practice time...as long as the team can practice. I'm sure there are other pressing matters at the moment.
1. Oregon (3-0, 0-0): poor Volunteers. Traveling to Oregon for a beatdown like this cannot be good for morale. Hopefully UCLA will not experience the same fate. Things started reasonably well for Tennessee, who was up 7-0 in the first quarter. Then Oregon scored 38 points in 20 minutes. Guess they were inspired by UCLA's performance earlier that day. Marcus Mariota had a ridiculous day, throwing for 456 yards and 4 TDs, adding another one with his feet. He's likely to have a blast when Cal comes to Autzen this week.
2. Stanford (2-0, 1-0): it wasn't pretty and probably a little tighter than Stanford would have liked, but the Cardinal was able to put away Army and the final score (34-20) is a bit misleading as the final Army touchdown came in the last minute. Still, Army was up 6-0 before Kevin Hogan threw a TD pass at the end of the first quarter. The option offense is always difficult to defend though, and Army was able to rush for nearly 300 yards. The Cardinal hasn't been at its sharpest yet, but will likely need to be when ASU visits this week.
3. Washington (2-0, 0-0): the Huskies' major bugaboo last year was their performance in away games. Per this week's performance against Illinois, they may finally have that monkey off their back. Washington looked pretty solid and RB Bishop Sankey looked unstoppable, but the Illini are also a bit of a mystery at this point. There's no doubt that the talent is there for the Huskies. They need to at least challenge Stanford for #2 in the division to prove they can use it. But for now they will take it out on Idaho State.
4. Washington State (2-1, 1-0): the Cougars followed up their surprise win over Southern Cal with a routine win over Southern Utah. While SUU is a FCS school, Mike Leach continues his tune up of the Wazzu offense, which put up 48 points in the victory. But that shouldn't take away from two good defensive performances in a row (only 17 points allowed the last two games). We will see if the Cougars can keep it up against lowly Idaho this week.
5. Oregon State (2-1, 1-0): well, these Beavers can score. In fact, they've put up about 43 points per game. But they've also allowed 37 points per game. It's always tough to play in Salt Lake City and they needed overtime to put Utah away, but they gave up a ton of yards and points in the process. They put the game in their QB's hand (Sean Mannion) and he delivered, but Mike Riley is likely very concerned about his defense. Luckily it doesn't look like San Diego State will present much of a challenge this week so the Beavers will have an opportunity to work on things.
6. Cal (1-2, 0-0): it is quite unfortunate for Sonny Dykes that he had two ranked opponents in his first 3 games. It is even more unfortunate that the Cal defense is terrible. The Bears got torched by #4 Ohio State's backup QB last week, who threw 3 TD passes to start the game and put Cal in a 21-0 hole. Cal didn't cave, and in fact their new QB Jared Goff had a nice game, with 371 yards and 3 TDs. So at least the Bears can score, but it doesn't look like they can score enough to make up for their defense. It could get ugly real quick when they visit Oregon this week.