Week 3 was not kind to the Pac-12: USC lost to Texas; Arizona State, UCLA, and Oregon State all lost to Mountain West teams; and Washington and Utah both did not play particularly well and looked sloppy. Here are three quick thoughts after Week 3:
1. The Pac-12 Champion will definitely come from the North: I know it’s no surprise, but realistically either Washington, Stanford, or Oregon is going to win the whole thing. All three teams have questions that still need to be answered, like: Can Washington continue to win with the injuries to their offensive line? Will Stanford stay balanced enough on offense to compete against better defenses? And, for the love of Pete, does anyone actually know if Oregon is good or not? Despite these questions, the North is clearly better off than the South. UW, Stanford, and Oregon have proven to be more talented, experienced, and better coached through the first three weeks of the season.
The South, on the other hand, is a real disaster. The three pre-season front runners (USC, Utah, and Arizona) have all been wildly disappointing. Colorado and ASU have come into the forefront, but their big wins from Week 2 were minimized in Week 3 when Troy beat Nebraska and the Sun Devils lost to San Diego State. I don’t see any chance that a team from the South can take down one of the powers from the North.
2. College Football in LA is in a heap of trouble: The City of Angels needs some divine intervention. Critics and fans alike enjoy using USC as a punching bag, and for now, it’s rightfully so. USC got blown out by Texas and did not look good. A majority of their rushing attempts went for negative yards. They had minimal pass rush. Defensively, they could not get off the field on 3rd down. And their special teams looked horrendous. I’m not writing the Trojans off just yet though, as we’ve seen this story before. Last year USC was blown out by Notre Dame and bounced back to win the Pac-12. They need to turn things around quickly though before they fall further out of the national discussion.
Luckily for the Trojans, UCLA looks even worse.
The Bruins lost 38-14 to Fresno State, falling to 0-3 to end non-conference play. UCLA is off to one of the worst starts of any program in the country and things don’t get any easier from here as their remaining schedule is the toughest in the conference. Chip Kelly needs to figure things out or the Bruins have a legitimate chance at going 0-12.
3. The Pac-12 is very good in one area – Defense: Through three games, the Pac-12 has four defenses in the Top 20 in the nation in regards to points allowed per game:
- Stanford (1st) in the nation: 7.7 points allowed per game
- Washington (11th): 10.3 points per game
- Utah (12th): 12.3 points per game
- Washington State (tied for 18th): 14.3 points per game
This may be me being overly optimistic and frantically searching for positives, but so far the Pac-12 has proven to have some quality defenses in relation to the rest of the country.