A 10-1 result in week three lifts the tally to 28-6 on the year so far. An early start to the festivities has Arizona hosting Utah on Friday night and Pac-12 play gets into nearly full swing on Saturday, with only Washington State entertaining a non-conference foe. But first a quick look back at the week that was week three.
Friday, September 15
Arizona 63 – UTEP 16 (pick: Arizona 30-18)
A 35-point second quarter effectively ended the debate. Wildcat quarterback Brandon Dawkins was responsible for six touchdowns, three throwing and three rushing as Arizona rolled up 501 total yards of offense against the Miners.
Saturday, September 16
Memphis 48 – UCLA 45 (pick: UCLA 33-27)
Six was the magic number as well for Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson who completed 23 of 38 pass attempts for 398 yards and six scores in the upset over UCLA. Not that Bruin quarterback Josh Rosen had a bad day – 34 of 56, 463 yards and four touchdowns but his fourth down pass attempt with 56 seconds remaining in the game was knocked down, giving the Tigers the win and giving UCLA their first loss of the season.
Colorado 41 – Northern Colorado 21 (pick: Colorado 38-10)
Steven Montez and Philip Lindsay were a potent 1-2 punch for the Buffs in Boulder. Montez completed 29 of 41 attempts for 357 yards and four touchdowns and Lindsay picked up 151 yards and a score on 26 carries. The Colorado defense held the Bears to 273 yards total offense and limited Northern Colorado to 71 yards on the ground.
Washington State 52 – Oregon State 23 (pick: WSU 55-18)
It is fair to note the Beavers played better football – at least for a portion of the first half – than they have shown so far this year, but it was way too little and way too late once the Cougars broke a sweat. Three second quarter touchdowns turned the game into a rout and by the time OSU quarterback Jake Luton was carted off the field in the fourth quarter with a fractured vertebrae the game was well out of reach. More bad news in a season of bad news for the Beavs.
Oregon 49 – Wyoming 13 (pick: Oregon 41-21)
Oregon’s defensive front pressured Cowboy quarterback Josh Allen into one of the worst performances of his career. Seen as a possible first round draft pick, Allen completed only 9 of 24 pass attempts for 64 yards and gave up a pick in a less than stellar outing in front of a bus load of NFL scouts. The Ducks complete the non-conference schedule unbeaten and appear to have resolved some of the issues that plagued the 2016 season, but there will be stiffer competition in the weeks ahead.
Texas Tech 52 – Arizona State 45 (pick: Texas Tech 37-24)
The Sun Devil offense sort of came to life with 21 third quarter points to get back into a game that was shaping up as an all-too-typical blow-out on the road. Trailing 35-17 at the break, ASU quarterback Manny Wilkins threw for three scores and 326 yards and the Sun Devils rallied to tie the game at 45 with just less than ten minutes left in the game. But with a defense that coughed up 615 total yards to the Red Raiders, ASU gave up a 12-play, 90-yard scoring drive to fall to 1-2 on the year.
USC 27 – Texas 24 OT (pick: USC 48-18)
A faster, more physical defense than has been seen in Austin in recent years did a masterful job of stifling the USC offense, limiting the Trojans to 71 yards rushing. USC quarterback Sam Darnold threw a pair of interceptions but completed 28 of 49 attempts for three scores. Sam Ehlinger, his counterpart for the Longhorns was able to overcome a pair of interceptions and a pair of fumbles to give Texas a 17-14 lead late in the fourth quarter only to have the Trojan’s Chase McGrath connect from 31 yards out to send the game into extra sessions. After trading touchdowns in the first overtime, McGrath converted from 43 yards out to keep the Trojans unbeaten.
Washington 48 – Fresno State 16 (pick: Washington 42-21)
The Huskies bolted out of the gate with 27 first quarter points and were never threatened by the Bulldogs. Washington quarterback Jake Browning found 10 different receivers for 328 yards and four touchdowns to keep Washington’s record unblemished at 3-0.
Utah 54 – San Jose State 16 (pick: Utah 45-10)
Utah’s Tyler Huntley joined in the Pac-12 quarterback parade with four touchdowns on 30 of 43 and 341 yards and the Utes rolled past the Spartans in Salt Lake. Ex-Duck Darren Carrington was on the receiving end of three of those scoring passes with nine receptions total and 153 yards.
San Diego State 20 – Stanford 17 (pick: San Diego State 21-18)
A 25-minute delay when the lights at Qualcomm Stadium went out late in the fourth quarter did nothing to slow down the Aztec offense. Trailing 17-13, San Diego State quarterback Christian Chapman hooked up on an 8-yard scoring pass to tight end David Wells to give the two-time defending Mountain West conference champions the marquis win over the Cardinal.
California 27 – Ole Miss 16 (pick: California 38-31)
The Bears pitched a defensive shut-out in the second half to finish the non-conference schedule undefeated. Cal quarterback Ross Bowers shook off a pair of interceptions and found receiver Vic Wharton III in the end zone for the game winning score to open the third quarter, then watched as the Bear defense held the Rebels scoreless the rest of the way. Cameron Goode added a late pick-six to seal the victory for the Bears.
Friday, September 22
Utah @ Arizona
For the second straight week the Wildcats get the party started a day early, entertaining Utah for a Friday Night Pac-12 After Dark special. Utah is favored by just over a field goal, but setting aside the Wildcats blowout over UTEP in week three, nothing the Wildcats have done so far this year indicates they will be able to stay close to the Utes. Utah 35-23
Saturday, September 23
USC @ California
It has been 13 years since the Bears have come away with a win over USC and it is difficult to imagine how the 114th-ranked team defensively will be able to slow down Sam Darnold and the Trojans despite the number of injuries the USC defense must overcome. First year head coach Justin Wilcox has Cal headed in the right direction but a dose of reality arrives on Saturday. USC 38-18
Washington @ Colorado
Neither team faced a top-flight opponent in the non-conference schedule but each did what was expected of them against the lesser competition to set up this showdown in Boulder. On paper the Huskies have the decided advantage, particularly on defense where Chris Petersen’s group has held the opposition to just over 12 points per game. The Buffs will score a few more than that, but not enough to pull off the upset. Washington 37-21
UCLA @ Stanford
Both teams are coming off upset losses in week three and both have ongoing concerns coming into Pac-12 play. For the Bruins the open question is can quarterback Josh Rosen and the offense string together enough points to overcome UCLA’s defensive liabilities. With the exception of a blow-out win over Rice, Stanford coach David Shaw has yet to see either his offense or his defense live up to expectations. Based on last week’s results the Bruins are closer to finding answers than are Cardinal, but with the home field advantage the pick is Stanford by three, 30-27.
Nevada @ Washington State
Once upon a time the Wolfpack held their own against the Pac-12. That won’t be the case this year. Nevada is ohforthree… and has given up 98 points so far. If Luke Falk and the Cougars don’t quite match that total this Saturday in Pullman, they will surely give it a run. WSU 55-17
Oregon @ Arizona State
Although the Sun Devils came to life offensively last weekend at Texas Tech, their defense remains a shambles. In their three non-conference wins the Oregon offense – in the first half at least – has put up points in bunches. If the Ducks are able to continue the defensive pressure they exhibited against Nebraska and then Wyoming, it will be a long day in Tempe for the Sun Devils. Ducks, 47-20.
~ Rick Morgan