What we learned from the Pac-12 in Week 3.
The Pac-12 was 7-2 overall in Week 3. One of those losses was a conference game but the other was a horrendous road defeat for USC at the hands of Boston College.
But there were two other losses that could prove to be huge in the race for the Pac-12 South Division title. UCLA and Arizona State both finished costly wins with their star quarterbacks standing on the sidelines with could be significant injuries.
Here is what we learned from the Pac-12 in Week 3:
USC has major questions
The road win over Stanford had fluky characteristics and the Trojans didn't get nearly as lucky against Boston College. Facing an Eagles team that allowed 302 yards rushing and mustered just 4.4 yards per play on offense in a loss to Pitt last weekend, USC was completely dominated in the trenches on Saturday. In one of the most bizarre stats of the year, the Trojans were outrushed 452 to 20 in the stunning upset loss. While allowing 7.4 yards per play on defense, USC managed only 4.8 yards per play on offense. The questionable coaching decisions against Stanford didn't cost the Men of Troy (due in large part to luck) but Steve Sarkisian clearly didn't have his team ready to compete and the staff didn't make adjustments against a team many believed wouldn't be a challenge.
Listen to the Week 3 recap podcast:
Taylor Kelly injury reshapes South race
Arizona State won on the road against Colorado in relatively easy fashion. But the win might be a costly one. Kelly, one of only two quarterbacks in college football to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 500 yards in each of the last two seasons (the other is that Manziel guy) was on crutches with his right foot in a boot on Saturday night. While no immediate prognosis is available, Kelly seemed awfully emotional and dejected on the sidelines. The defending South Division champs looked better than preseason pollsters projected but will face UCLA, USC, Stanford and Washington in the next four games. Even if Kelly can return for November, it's hard to see ASU surviving the next month of action still in Pac-12 contention. On a positive note, D.J. Foster is pretty much awesome. After another 206 yards from scrimmage and two more touchdowns, the Sun Devils tailback now has 510 yards rushing, 139 yards receiving and scored six times. No one in the nation has more yards from scrimmage than his 649 yards.
Without its star, UCLA finds balance
The biggest piece of news coming out of AT&T Stadium was Brett Hundley's arm injury. It certainly didn't appear to be as bad as Taylor Kelly's, but if the star quarterback is out for any extended period of time, UCLA could be in major trouble. The Bruins survived another scare with the gutty play from backup quarterback Jerry Neuheisel. More importantly, the offense found some balance in the running game with 217 yards rushing (124 from Paul Perkins) and the Bruins played their most complete game without Hundley under center. Was Texas also depleted and not as good as its name brand indicates? Sure, but if the Bruins can consistently play games like they did against Texas and Hundley can return to the field, then UCLA clearly sit in the driver's seat in the South — even if it's looked like anything but a Playoff team.
Shaq Thompson is a Heisman candidate
If the Huskies can keep winning, it may have a legitimate defensive Heisman candidate in linebacker Shaq Thompson. The two-way star scored twice on defense this weekend against Illinois on a 36-yard INT return and a 52-yard fumble return. His absurd stat line through three games: 22 tackles, one INT, 1.0 sack, 82 yards rushing on 13.7 yards per carry and three total touchdowns. Hello, Charles Woodson.
Survive and advance
It goes without saying, but in a year that is feeling more and more like the wild and wacky 2007, winning is all that matters. UCLA, Washington, Arizona and Oregon State haven't looked like conference championship teams but those four are a combined 11-0 on the season. So while criticism is warranted for all four programs in how they struggled with lesser competition, they've remained unblemished and each appears to have started to iron out some of the early season kinks to enter conference play with perfect records. Additionally, Arizona State, Cal and Utah are a combined 7-0 as well. By comparison, the Pac-12 has more unbeaten teams left (8) as the Big Ten (2), Big 12 (4) and American Athletic Conference (1) combined and is tied with the SEC (8).
Pac-12 Power Rankings:
|Rk||Team||Record||Last Week||Week 2|
|1.||3-0||W, 48-14, Wyoming||at Washington St|
|2.||3-0||W, 20-17, Texas||Bye|
|3.||2-1||W, 35-0, Army||Bye|
|4.||3-0||W, 38-24, Colorado||Bye|
|5.||2-1||L, 37-31, Boston College||Bye|
|6.||3-0||W, 35-28, Nevada||Cal|
|7.||3-0||W, 44-19, Illinois||Georgia St|
|8.||2-0||Bye||San Diego St|
|11.||1-2||W, 59-21, Portland St||Oregon|
|12.||1-2||L, 38-24, Arizona St||Hawaii|