Athlon Sports previews Week 3 of the Pac-12 season.
Washington State and Colorado notwithstanding, the Pac-12 has had a very successful first two weeks of the season.
Oregon looks like a national title team, all of the other contenders have survived and stayed unblemished in the non-conference (UCLA, Oregon State, Washington) and the rest of the league (Arizona State, Arizona, Cal, Utah) has looked better than anticipated.
This weekend should feature much of the same as some teams look to survive key road non-conference games and contenders aim to hold serve at home against overmatched opponents.
Week 3 Previews and Predictions:
ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC
Pac-12 Week 3 Game Power Rankings
1. UCLA (-8) vs Texas
8 p.m., FOX, Arlington
While UCLA is looking for a complete performance from both sides of the ball (in the same game), Texas is looking for answers all over the roster. The Bruins are a known commodity with a proven playmaker at quarterback and several stars on defense. Longhorns quarterback Tyrone Swoopes wasn’t terrible in his debut against BYU but Texas still has glaring questions under center — and most every other position on offense. The defense, supposed to be a strength, needs to play like it did in Week 1 (94 yds allowed) rather than how it did last weekend (41 pts). Both offensive lines are a concern and both defensive lines have future NFL players, so whichever team protects the quarterback better will leave Arlington a winner.
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2. Nevada (+14.5) at Arizona
11 p.m., P12 Net
These two have only played once since World War II, but the 2012 New Mexico Bowl was one for the ages. The 49-48 showdown was an epic, back-and-forth affair between two great offenses and that figures to be the case once again this weekend. Arizona won a hard-fought game against UTSA in San Antonio last Saturday and has had extra time to prepare for a Wolf Pack defense that was excellent against Washington State in Week 2. Anu Solomon (358.5 ypg) and Cody Fajardo (290.5 ypg) are two of the most entertaining quarterbacks in the nation and both should deliver fireworks late night on Saturday. Look for Rich Rodriguez’ defense to get key stops in the second half, pushing his non-conference record in Tucson to a perfect 11-0.
3. USC (-17) at Boston College
8 p.m., ESPN
Anytime the Trojans play on the East Coast, it’s must-see TV. That said, the Eagles' defensive front better be ready for a heavy dose of Buck Allen and Justin Davis. Boston College allowed 302 yards rushing — 213 to James Conner — against Pittsburgh last weekend and show no signs of being able to stop USC's powerful rushing attack. Allen has been excellent on the ground, averaging 6.4 yards per carry and 143.5 yards per game in the early going. This says nothing of the elite collection of wideouts Cody Kessler has at his disposal. The late kickoff should help USC stave off any remaining jet lag from the cross-country journey.
4. Illinois (+13) at Washington
4 p.m., FOX
The Huskies defense will be without star cornerback Marcus Peters this weekend against what is developing into one of the Big Ten’s better passing attack. Neither team has looked good against inferior competition but both quarterbacks exploded last week with big numbers. Wes Lunt threw for 456 yards in a narrow win over Western Kentucky while Cyler Miles scored four times and led his team to 59 points in his season debut. The biggest difference between these two should be the play of UW’s front seven on defense. If this group is effective, Washington should win easily.
5. Arizona St (-15.5) at Colorado
10 p.m., ESPNU
The conference opener for both should be closer than the first two meetings between Todd Graham and the Buffaloes. Taylor Kelly and Graham have scored over 50 points and rolled up more than 530 yards in each of their two games against Colorado. Tailback D.J. Foster has given Kelly a tremendous counterpart, as the star tailback is averaging an absurd 10.7 yards per carry on 34 attempts (363 yds, 4 TD). Meanwhile, the Buffs haven’t looked good in either game despite adequate play from sophomore quarterback Sefo Luifau (559 yds, 5 TD, INT). Look for Luifau to target that reworked ASU secondary with talented peripheral weapons Nelson Spruce (17 rec., 249 yds, 4 TD) and Shay Fields. Mike MacIntrye has to hope to outscore Arizona State — which is much easier said than done.
6. Army (+28.5) at Stanford
5 p.m., P12 Net
The story coming out of Palo Alto last weekend wasn’t that Stanford lost, it was how they lost. In 2014, the Cardinal has made 11 trips into the red zone that have resulted in a total of three touchdowns. That has to change against Army this Saturday. The good news is the Stanford defense is picking up right where it left off by allowing just one total touchdown in 25 defensive possessions. The long trip out West for the Knights doesn’t help their chances either.
7. Wyoming (+43) at Oregon
2 p.m., P12 Net
The only thing the Cowboys can hope for here is a complete and total letdown of focus for the Ducks after their huge win over Michigan State. Wyoming is unbeaten but topped Montana by just five points and needed 10 fourth quarter points to beat Air Force by four last week. Oregon scored almost as many points in the final 19 minutes against Sparty (28) as the Cowboys have scored in two games (34). This will be ugly.
8. Portland St at Washington St
8 p.m., P12 Net
After two weeks, there are few teams in the nation more disappointing than the Cougars. The defense was atrocious in Week 1 and the offense was ineffective in Week 2. With eight (maybe nine) potential bowl teams left on the schedule, this is the last “guaranteed” win on Wazzu's schedule.
Off: Oregon State, Utah
|Braden Gall||Mitch Light||David Fox||Steven Lassan|
|UCLA (-8) at Texas||UCLA, 31-17||UCLA, 24-10||UCLA, 35-10||UCLA, 27-13|
|Nevada (+14.5) at Arizona||Zona, 34-20||Zona, 41-24||Zona, 41-14||Zona 41-30|
|USC (-17) at B. College||USC, 41-17||USC, 30-20||USC, 35-14||USC, 34-17|
|Illinois (+13) at Wash.||Wash., 44-24||Wash., 33-27||Wash., 42-28||Wash., 45-31|
|Ariz. St (-15.5) at Colo.||ASU, 45-21||ASU, 37-17||ASU, 42-10||ASU, 45-17|
|Army (+28.5) at Stan.||Stan., 33-7||Stan., 31-10||Stan., 28-14||Stan., 34-17|
|Wyo. (+43) at Oregon||Oregon, 51-7||Oregon, 41-7||Oregon, 56-10||Oregon, 55-7|
|Port. St at Wazzu||WSU, 34-14||WSU, 41-17||WSU, 35-7||WSU, 48-13|