USA Today Sports

Around The Pac 12 - Week 3

Here's a look around the league with observations on each of the games that Pac 12 teams played last weekend...

Stanford 27

USC 10

-- Stanford just hammered the Trojans up front. USC has one of the best groups of tailbacks in the country led by Justin Davis and Ronald Jones, but they managed just 117 yards on the ground vs. Stanford's front seven which is young, but very active and aggresive.

-- Mike Rector sure showed off his speed. It's really the first time I've seen him just get out and cut it loose since he arrived. He flew down the sidelines on the reverse for the 56-yard touchdown that put the game out of reach.

-- I predicted it before the season -- Sam Darnold would be starting by the end of September and on Monday, Clay Helton announced that he has benched Max Browne in favor of the freshman. My guess is it is more of a nod to Darnold and his playmaking abilities. Browne was just fine, but probably too conservative and that just didn't suit what Helton is trying to do offensively.

-- I'm not breaking new ground when I say this, but you have to step Stanford's running game in order to beat them. Christian McCaffrey had 165 yards and a score and the Cardinal finished with 47 carries for 295 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Ryan Burns is only average as a passer, so you have to stack the box and make him beat you. Easier said than done, but that's got to be the way to beat them.

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California 50

Texas 43

-- Count me impressed that Cal was able to get the win over Texas who looked to be back when they downed Notre Dame to start the season.

-- While Cal's offense still looks pretty potent, their defense still looks really bad. They just aren't very good on that side of the ball and they'll need to win a lot more games by scoring 50 than they will scoring 30.

-- Texas rushed for 307 yards on 51 carries and two runners went for over 100 -- D'Onta Foreman (157 yds, 2 TDs) and Chris Warren III (119, 2) -- and the middle of their defense looks especially weak.

-- Cal QB Davis Webb continued his solid play going 27 of 40 for 396 yards with four scores and his top target remained Chad Hansen (12 receptions, 196 yds, 2 TDs), but, I did start to see an increase in what Melquise Stovall will add as he hauled in six receptions for 74 yards and a score. If the freshman starts to develop like we all think he can, that will make the Golden Bears' offense very tough to defend.

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Nebraska 35

Oregon 32

-- This was one of the most entertaining games I have seen yet this season. Back and forth, hard-hitting and it was nice to see Mike Riley get the win over a team that really had had his number for a few years.

-- Tommy Armstrong, the Cornhuskers' quarterback, is an exciting player to watch. He was dinged up almost the entire game yet he gutted it out and his big run on to score the winning touchdown really brought the house down.

-- Oregon loves to get two points on extra points and you typically see them do this at least once or twice a game, but when they missed on their second extra point, you would think they would just go for the one-pointers, but instead they "chased points" the rest of the day and it really came back to bite them.

-- You have to think that Mark Helfrich is starting to feel the heat down in Eugene. This team is a far cry from the team that took the field every week when Chip Kelly was in charge and the Duck faithful are not going to be patient with him.

-- Dakota Prukop put up big numbers on the ground, but he's limited as a passer. If you contain him, which is no easy task, he's an average quarterback at best.

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Washington State 56

Idaho 6

-- The Cougs got well vs. Idaho.

-- 35 runs for 228 yards? That has to be the most runs called by Leach since he's been at WSU. I would bet good money that Mike Leach accidentally picked up the wrong play card. It was probably one from April Fool's Day that his coaches gave him as a gag gift. 

-- I've seen some people questioning Luke Falk and saying he's in a bit of a funk...not sure what they are looking at. He actually had a solid afternoon, making good decisions and taking what the Vandals' defense gave him.

-- WSU's bye week comes at a good time. They can sort out which players can play in a couple weeks as they figure out arraignment dates and court hearings as well as meetings with their lawyers.

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Oregon State 37

Idaho State 7

-- This game was more of a struggle than many thought it should be, but in the end, Oregon State held things together defensively, only allowing one long run for a score as they got a convincing 37-7 win over Idaho State.

-- The win ended a 10-game losing streak.

-- Could Victor Bolden be the answer in the backfield for the Beavers? He had just three carries, but they resulted in 111 yards including a 92-yard touchdown run.

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UCLA 17

BYU 14

-- This was an old-school, bare-knuckle brawl.

-- UCLA looked like they would pull away after getting 10 points in the first half, but BYU bowed up and only allowed one more score in the second half.

-- The Bruins are dreadful at running the ball right now. Sure, some of that had to do with a pretty good BYU defensive front seven, but 50 yards on 34 carries? Yeesh.

-- When was the last time you saw 17 punts in a game?

-- BYU is going to give their fanbase heart problems with these tightly contested games. Last week they lose by going for two vs. Utah and this week, they score late and have a chance to make things interesting with an onside kick, but they weren't able to gather it in.

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Utah 34

San Jose State 17

-- Big day for Utah WR Tim Patrick. He had six receptions for 121 and one score. He's a big target and Troy Williams sure seems to have found a guy he feels like he can trust. 

-- Losing Kylie Fitts is a blow for the Utes. He was a great strongside defensive end and he was outstanding vs. the run.

-- Losing their starting tailback (Joe Williams) to retirement didn't seem to hurt the ground-game much as Zack Moss and Armand Shyne combined for 187 yards and two scores.

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Arizona 47

Hawaii 28

-- Hawaii is bad, bad, bad. Their passing game is woeful, but they might have found something in Dru Brown. We'll have to just wait and see.

-- Nick Wilson is expected to start vs. Washington, but J.J. Taylor has emerged as a breakout star for the Wildcats in the backfield. He's not very big, but he's lightning quick and he can take it the distance on any play.

-- Who starts at quarterback? Brandon Dawkins? Anu Solomon? The guess here is that the more mobile Dawkins will get the call and that he will take over the offense for the rest of the season regardless of whether Solomon is healthy or not.

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Arizona State 32

UTSA 28

-- Hard to believe a talented team like ASU had to fight back and come from behind to beat UTSA, a program that has only been playing football for six years.

-- The Sun Devils have talent, but they are undisciplined.

-- The hit that Manny Wilkins took from Devron Davis was like running into a brick wall. Wilkins is taking too many hits. Doubt he lasts the season if he keeps getting hit like that.

-- You have to feel comfortable late in games if you’re Arizona State and it’s a close game with Zane Gonzalez able to hit from 54 yards twice in the game. He’s probably got the strongest leg in the conference and he appears to be pretty accurate as well.

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Michigan 45

Colorado 28

-- Was very impressed to see Colorado get out to such a fast start. They played fast, they played confidently and they were the better team. Unfortunately for them, games are 60 minutes long and they couldn't sustain the effort the entire way as they scored 21 points in the first quarter, but then just seven for the final three stanzas.

-- I hope they stick with Mike McIntyre. He's a good coach and the Buffs appear to have turned the corner athletically and they are headed in the right direction.

-- It appears that the biggest difference for Colorado from other teams that are at least average is still their team speed. They have gotten bigger and more athletic, but the Buffaloes are still woefully slow, especially  on defense.

-- Shay Fields and Devin Ross make up one of the better wideout tandems in the conference. Fields can fly while Ross is the mid-range guy who keeps the chains moving. They still miss Nelson Spruce, but Ross and Fields have definitely made the loss of the record-setting receiver at least a little easier with their play.


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