Martin's Musings is back and college football is in full swing. This week we break down the Pac-12 South heading into the year.
1.) Washington - It may come as a surprise that the Huskies are at the top of the Pac, but Washington has been one of the only team in the conference who has taken care of business like it should have. Washington beat up on two schools that had no business winning and that is exactly what champions are supposed to do.
2.) Stanford - The Cardinal have only played one game so far, but struggled early on in the opener. Kansas State was never really out of the game until the clock read zero. Stanford also just self-reported the first major NCAA violation in school history, so that's another milestone for David Shaw
3.) Oregon - Another year, another new quarterback for the Ducks. The offense looks fine (fine, not good) so far, but the defense has been the real let down for Oregon so far. Giving up 26 points to Virginia is somewhat understandable, but letting UC Davis stick around with a 28 spot isn't a good look.
4.) Utah - This isn't your older brother's Utah team. The Utes have struggled at times on defense, nearly falling to the same BYU team that bested a dismal Arizona team on the opening weekend. Top it off with the fact that defensive end Kylie Fitts is now out for the season and running back Joe Williams has retired from the game. Two big losses for a Utah team that has been underwhelming to start the season.
5.) Colorado - While the rest of the conference was trying to find itself in the first few weeks, Colorado was deciding whether it should book tickets to the Pac-12 title game. The Buffs destroyed a decent Colorado State team and then followed it up with a solid beat down of Idaho State. Those aren't incredibly surprising results, but things could be turning around in Boulder.
6.) Arizona State - If you plan on outscoring everyone all season long, you should probably expect to have a solid offensive game plan. So far it seems like ASU has one. Kalen Ballage set the FBS record for touchdowns in a single game against arguably one of the worst defenses on the planet, but ASU has managed to stumble into a 2-0 start which is more than the second half of the rankings can say.
7.) UCLA - Coming into the season I thought UCLA would only go as far as Josh Rosen would take it and he has looked dreadful so far. After having a rocky camp, Rosen was flat out bad against Texas A&M. He wasn't necessarily good against UNLV either, but was improved, so it remains to be seen as to whether he can right the ship and get the Bruins back on track.
8.) USC - The wheels may not be falling off the ol' wooden horse just yet, but there are certainly plenty of red flags surrounding the Clay Helton era in Southern Cal. Two players suspended, more fighting at practice and the product on the field looking less impressive than in the Lane Kiffin years makes for a rocky start to the season. I picked USC to win the South a few weeks ago and right now I'm not sure if Clay Helton even lasts the whole year.
9.) California - I struggled to decide whether California should have been above Arizona, but it really came down to how the Golden Bears played against Hawaii. They started the season a week early and took it to a Hawaii team down under in Australia. The loss to San Diego State hurts, but it was a true road game so the sting isn't quite as bad.
10.) Arizona - The Wildcats haven't looked good so far this season. Arizona's calling card for the last few seasons has been the offensive production and it has struggled to move the ball and put points on the board in the first two games of the year. The new defense looks like it may be up to the challenge, but it is going to be a long season if the offense can't figure out some answers to the multitude of questions that have popped up.
11.) Oregon State - Having only played one game so far, it is hard to gauge the Beavers too much. What we did see looks promising, but it is clear that Oregon State is still a year or two away because Minnesota isn't winning any Big Ten titles anytime soon.
12.) Washington State - Sadly, another one of my sleeper picks is tanking early. For the second straight year the Cougars lost to an FCS team and then had a late rally fall short against Boise State. On top of that three players have been arrested in the past few weeks for assault charges. Things may have to get worse in Pullman before they get better.
Press Conference Time
This week Mike Leach stole the show during his weekly press conference. He hasn't had it easy with Washington State's early woes on and off the field, but the head coach certainly made a spectacle when asked talking about the state of the program.
"Right now, we have the atmosphere of a JC softball team, " Leach said. "It's not whether you win or lose. The team that wins is the team that has the most fun. Crap like that, all the stuff that's contaminated America where they give every kid a trophy and they don't keep score in little league any more."
Leach continued his rant later, but attacked the real problems that his team faces on the field.
"I've got receivers running routes that don't even resemble anything we teach. We don't tuck the ball and go straight upfield, we do all these stupid moves. We run out of bounds more than any team in the country. We're the easiest team in the country to tackle. Defensively, we don't run our feet on contact. We don't on offense either. We don't like to run and hit and this is a game for running and hitting."
Washington State plays Idaho on Saturday and Leach has promised changes. Maybe those modifications will change things for the best and the Cougars will be back in the Pac-12 north race.
Games to Watch - Week 3:
Colorado at Michigan: This game shouldn't be close, but it makes the list simply because this may actually show us where the Buffs land for the season. if they lay down and get steamrolled then maybe they aren't as good as everyone is hoping following the first two wins. If Colorado can hang in there against the fighting Harbaughs then maybe it is for real after all. Michigan 45, Colorado 17.
USC at Stanford: This has to be the game where Clay Helton makes his mark as head coach at USC. He has already been torn to pieces by Alabama and desperately needs to get back in good graces with a win over a conference heavyweight. Stanford also needs a statement win to prove that they are still a force to be reckoned with. This one has all the makings of a tremendous battle and I think Stanford pulls it out. Stanford 31, USC 24.
Oregon at Nebraska: There should be a story line here about Oregon facing former rival head coach Mike Riley, but with the lack of success that Riley has had over the last handful of years, there isn't too much to talk about. The real story is that this gives the first look at how good or bad Oregon really is this season. Nebraska isn't a school to roll over and play dead because the big bad Ducks are in town. Oregon wins, but gets exposed as a phony in the process. Oregon 38, Nebraska 35.