Some things we learned in the Pac-12 in Week 2:
Oregon is a playoff-caliber team: Explosive offense? Check. Heisman candidate quarterback? Check. Underappreciated but potentially stout defense? Absolutely. The Ducks put together the full package in their 46-27 win over No. 7 Michigan State. They now have a signature win (so does Mark Helfrich, for that matter) to put on their playoff résumé.
Stanford-USC was what we thought it would be: What, were you expecting a run-of-the-mill 27-21 game? Of course not. Abnormal is normal for these teams. The game was accented by penalties and mistakes and coulda, woulda, shouldas from Stanford. The Trojans weren’t exactly in mid-season form, either. The Cardinal controlled the game, but scoreboard is scoreboard with the Trojans coming out on top 13-10. And after a tumultuous week leading up to the start of the season, the Trojans are 2-0. We’ve been saying all week this game is always full of wackiness. We wouldn’t steer you wrong.
Cal is for real (we think): But wait, Pac-12 blog, aren’t you the one always telling us we shouldn’t read too much into or praise teams that whoop up on FCS teams? Why, yes, gentle reader, we are. But here’s why we feel justified making that statement. They already beat an FBS team -- on the road and from a Power 5 conference -- and they easily took care of their business against Sacramento State, 55-14 something they didn’t do last year (they beat Portland State, but only by a touchdown). Good teams leave no doubt against weaker opponents.
The South is rising: USC, UCLA, ASU, Arizona and Utah are all undefeated. Colorado just beat an FBS team on the other side of the country. The North still has the top team with Oregon, but Stanford lost, Washington has looked shaky, Cal is improving, we don’t know much yet about Oregon State and WSU is winless. We're not saying the South is the dominant division, but it’s up for discussion.
Utah could be that good: We don’t want to get too gooey over the Utes. They’ve fooled us before. Utah is now 10-1 in nonconference play since joining the league, and we have to wait until they get into conference play. But so far so good for the Utes and Travis Wilson, who tossed five touchdowns in the 59-27 win over Fresno State.
Wildcats are intriguing: Don’t think for a second that going to play at UTSA was going to be walkover. That’s a veteran team with a coach who has won a national championship. The Wildcats faced a little adversity, overcame a deficit and were able to hang on for a 26-23 win. They are a really, really interesting team.
Quarterback play makes a difference: Last week, 336 total yards of offense for Washington and 162 passing yards on 10-of-26 passing from Jeff Lindquist. Saturday, with Cyler Miles, the Huskies had 536 total yards during their 59-52 win over Eastern Washington. They got three rushing touchdowns from Miles and 14-of-24 passing for 180 yards. That defense, though ...
Colorado has weapons: Trailing 31-20 on the road, the Buffs showed a little bit of fight in coming back and winning 41-38 over UMass. We're not calling them a bowl team (because they probably won’t be), but the offensive numbers from Sefo Liufau -- 26-of-42 for 318 yards and three touchdowns (one interception) -- were encouraging. Nelson Spruce’s performance of 10 catches for 145 yards and two scores was nice to see, as were rushing touchdowns from Christian Powell and Tony Jones.
Not sure what to make of UCLA: They are 2-0. Both wins are against FBS teams. One of them is on the road. One week, the offense looks bad and the defense shines. Saturday, the offense is explosive and the defense is leaky in a 42-35 win over Memphis. The Bruins have a brutal schedule that will only get tougher. Best thing they can do is go to Texas next week and scorch the Longhorns with a complete performance.
Vernon Adams: The Eastern Washington quarterback could start for pretty much any team in the Pac-12. Just sayin … guy can play.
D.J. Foster can carry the load: Granted, the Sun Devils haven’t faced a defense with any bite yet. But at least this week it was against an FBS team. Foster carried 19 times for 216 yards and a touchdown to go with three catches for 54 yards during a 58-23 win over New Mexico. He averaged 11.4 yards per carry. He made up a nice tandem when Marion Grice was around. But he’s more than capable of being a solo act.
The Beavers can be balanced: Three hundred passing yards and three touchdowns from Sean Mannion (who is inching closer to that conference passing record), plus a pair of scores on the ground and 124 yards from Terron Ward in a 38-30 win over Hawaii. We still don’t know a ton about the Beavers, but it’s nice to also see some production on the ground for the second straight week.