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Pac-12 Confidential

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

September 4, 2012 at 8:46 AM

Rating the opening week . . .

A review of the opening weekend of Pac-12 football play, taking into account expectation, opponent and how the teams performed (in descending order, and keeping in mind Oregon State’s “opener” is delayed until it hosts Wisconsin this week):

11. California. Would anybody argue with this? Bears did a pratfall, 31-24 to Nevada, in their newly refurbished Memorial Stadium, which I hear is truly gorgeous. Said Jeff Tedford, the Cal coach, Tuesday on the league’s conference call, “Obviously, we’re irritated, upset, but there’s no feeling sorry for ourselves. It’s about working hard, not just in the game, but every single practice.”

10. Colorado. Buffs were a touchdown favorite, and talking bowl game. I see growing pains with a young team that couldn’t run the ball and lost 22-17 to CSU. Two pivotal plays killed Colorado: First, there was a muffed punt late in the half that led to a CSU score. And on the Rams’ first possession of the second half, third-and-five at their 16, they completed a five-yard pass to Dominique Vinson, on which replay appeared to show the ball was coming out and hitting the ground for a possible incompletion. There was no replay. Jon Embree, CU coach, said Tuesday, “On the TV copy, you guys get a better view of it. I thought they would have replayed it.”

9. Washington State. It was surely a sour debut for Mike Leach’s outfit. But there’s also no doubt that BYU (which won 30-6) is the best team any Pac-12 squad played last weekend, maybe by quite a bit. That apparently led Leach to this odd comment: “We’re not satisfied with our performance, but we played better than several teams that won this past week.”

8. Stanford. A year ago, Stanford beat San Jose State 57-3. This year it was 20-17. “There was a little dissatisfaction with the way we played,” said coach David Shaw. “San Jose State played us very tough, but we didn’t play to our capabilities.”

7. Arizona. The Wildcats, 24-17 overtime winners over Toledo, left a ton of points on the table, amassing 624 yards. So they weren’t inept, just unable to capitalize. “We were very lucky to win the game, with all the points we left on the field,” said Rich Rodriguez, the first-year coach. He also gave a vote of confidence to John Bonano, who missed two easy field goals.

6. Washington. The Huskies, 21-12 winners over San Diego State, were a mixed bag — lights out at the start, defensively improved, but not much to look at for large portions of the game.

5. Utah. Who would know? The Utes struggled a bit early, but beat Northern Colorado, 41-0. UNC didn’t win a game last year. This week, it’s Utah State in Logan.

4. Arizona State. The Sun Devils didn’t get tested in a 63-6 smashing of Northern Arizona, but given the debut of Todd Graham and the fact NAU has often been more prickly against the big Arizona schools, this was a positive step. Said Graham, “We played really, really good.” Or well, grammatically speaking.

3. USC. The Trojans were the biggest favorite of anybody (42 points), and they did everything but cover that spread, 49-10, against Hawaii. But the Warriors are in rebuilding mode under Norm Chow. This week the Trojans go to the East Coast and play Syracuse, which allowed 42 points to Northwestern.

2. Oregon. Hard to take issue with a team that led Arkansas State 50-3 with a lot of time left in the second quarter and won 57-34. And Ark State was a bowl player a year ago. It’s just that the Ducks’ reserves allowed themselves to be outscored 31-7 over the last half and change.

1. UCLA. A tip of the hat to Jim Mora, who won his debut in grand style, 49-24, over Rice. No Bruins coach had won his first game on the road in eons, and UCLA showed a big-time rushing attack keyed by Johnathan Franklin and Brett Hundley against an inferior opponent. We’ll see if it holds up this week against Nebraska. Referring to some first-half defensive woes, Mora said Tuesday, “We hadn’t tackled a lot in preseason work.” The Bruins can’t let that be an issue this week.

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