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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

September 12, 2011 at 8:26 PM

Heat check: Who’s hot, and who’s not

Heat Check

An occasional feature in which we take the temperature of each Pac-12 football program, assessing its performance to date. So as not to offend anybody (for once), we’ll just do it alphabetically.

Arizona (1-1) – The Wildcats are in survival mode, facing Stanford this week in the second game of a four-game Oklahoma State-Cardinal-Oregon-USC gauntlet. Judging by the Oke State showing (37-14 loss), they don’t appear in very good shape to come through it well. There’s little pass rush and not much run game. Status – Flickering.

Arizona State (2-0) – ASU was explosive against a ranked Missouri team and with Utah’s loss at USC, probably rates the favorite’s role in the early reckoning to play in the Pac-12 South title game (USC is ineligible). Defense, though, was spotty at times against the Tigers. Status – Crackling.

California (2-0) – Is quarterback Zach Maynard (six touchdown passes, two interceptions) the missing link? The Bears have a good defense again, and ought to restart a string of bowl appearances that ended last year. With a key game at Washington Sept. 24, no doubt they’ll empty the playbook against Presbyterian this week. Status: High flame.

Colorado (0-2) – Against Cal, Buffs showed they’ll probably be a load at home, especially playing at mile-high altitude. But their schedule, 13 games in 13 weeks, looks too daunting for a developing team. This week, there’s the Colorado State rivalry game, followed by a trip to Ohio State. Status: Medium low.

Oregon (1-1) – The Ducks unleashed freshman De’Anthony Thomas against Nevada, and he wowed the fans at Autzen Stadium. Overall, though, the LSU loss took some shine off the program that won’t return until the Ducks beat somebody good. That might not prevent them from threatening 100 this week against Missouri State. Status: Feverish, and getting warmer.

Oregon State (0-2) – People expected the depleted Beavers to start slowly – but not this slowly. And not with quarterback issues. The game with UCLA Sept. 24, following a bye this week, looms as huge for both programs. Status: Frigid.

Stanford (2-0)Andrew Luck has been plenty good (except for a pick-six at Duke) and linebacker Chase Thomas is tied for the league lead in sacks with four. The Cardinal hasn’t been tested yet, but a game at a hostile Arizona site this week will be more of a challenge. Status: Smoking.

UCLA (1-1) – The San Jose State game should have been a time when the Bruins unleashed some frustrations and found a groove in advance of a home date with Texas this week. Instead, they didn’t put it away until well into the fourth quarter. To me, this team is a complete enigma. Status: Chilly (but Neuheisel’s seat toasty).

USC (2-0) – Trojans have scored 42 points and rushed for 219 yards, which can’t make offensive guru Lane Kiffin very happy. This week’s home game against Syracuse could be a bit of a trap; the Trojans go to Arizona State next week. Status: Simmering.

Utah (1-1) – Utes’ game against USC was reflective of the program under Kyle Whittingham – gritty, tenacious and an early sign that it won’t be overmatched by many in the league. Remember, Utah doesn’t play either Oregon or Stanford. Status: Warming.

Washington (2-0) – Huskies have surrendered a ton of passing yards, but it’s against two programs that are prolific throwing. It doesn’t get easier at Nebraska this week, but at least it gets more conventional. Keith Price blossomed with the four-touchdown performance against Hawaii. Status: Low boil.

Washington State (2-0) – Nobody’s going to enshrine either of WSU’s first two opponents in the college hall of fame, but the Cougars have looked more than capable, even flashy. Timing should help them with their next two games; San Diego State has Michigan and old coach Brady Hoke next week after playing WSU, and the Cougars catch Colorado between Buffs’ games with Ohio State and Stanford. Status: Percolating.

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