We're taking a look at the can't-miss games of the 2013 Pac-12 season. The Ultimate Road Trip continues.
Welcome to Week 2.
Thursday, Sept. 5
Sacramento State at Arizona State
Saturday, Sept. 7
Weber State at Utah
Oregon at Virginia
Portland State at California
Hawaii at Oregon State
Central Arkansas at Colorado
Arizona at UNLV
Washington State at USC
San Jose State at Stanford
My choice: Washington State at USC
Why: Anyone else still recovering from last week's excitement? Fourth-and-1 with 35 seconds left and down by a touchdown, Boise State calls a QB sneak at the Washington 40-yard line to keep a drive alive. After a controversial spot, there is a replay and it's called back. Oh, sweet irony! Washington's defense holds, turnover on downs, Huskies win 24-17 and have a week to relax before heading to Soldier Field.
As for Week 2, Pac-12 play is upon us. Yeah, it happens that fast. The first Pac-12 conference game of the year features Washington State -- still giddy after Connor Halliday and Gabe Marks connected for four touchdowns in the surprisingly easy road win over Auburn -- traveling to a 1-0 and well-tanned USC team. (The Cougars owe me a makeup for my BYU pick last year. Don't let me down.)
The Trojans haven't lost to the Cougars at home since 2000. And it's a safe bet that USC will probably be double-digit favorites in this game. But it's also the first time USC will be facing the Cougars in the Mike Leach era -- and the Pac-12 blog is expecting some improvement out of Washington State in 2013. Recall that while USC ranked third in pass defense last year, they were middle of the road in pass efficiency defense, allowing 20 touchdowns in the air while quarterbacks completed 60.4 percent of their throws against the Trojans. Not horrible numbers, but not lockdown, either.
Looking at the rest of the Week 2 lineup, there isn't a lot of intrigue with four FCS teams on the docket. Then again, the league has lost to an FCS team two straight years -- so nothing can be taken for granted. San Jose State/Stanford was tight last year, and as it turned out, the Spartans were a pretty darn good team under one Mike MacIntyre -- and the dangerous connection of quarterback David Fales to receiver Noel Grigsby is intact. But MacIntyre is gone, Ron Carragher is in (along with former Washington assistant Jimmie Dougherty as offensive coordinator) so we'll have to see if the Spartans can keep things rolling post-Mac.
Still, we're road tripping to L.A. since it's the first Pac-12 conference game of the year and we're banking on Sacramento State's two-game win streak against the league to end in Tempe. Plus, USC's choice of quarterback is going to be an intriguing storyline to follow all season. And, if anything, I hear the Transformers 3-D ride at Universal Studios is supposed to be pretty sweet.