For example, two late games Saturday night that ended in dramatic fashion could have bowl implications. When you look at Cal’s remaining schedule, are there four wins out there? How about Washington State? Had the Cougars won, you could make a case that, at 2-2, they weren’t out of it yet. But what are the odds the Cougars win five of their next eight?
The Bears kick off a stretch of three games against nonranked opponents (Colorado, Washington State, Washington) before closing the season against five of six teams currently ranked in the Top 25. They will need an upset or two along the way. As for Colorado, that Cal game is a huge swing game for the Buffs as well.
Seven Pac-12 teams are still undefeated -- Oregon, Washington, Oregon State, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and Utah. We know that isn’t going to last. Oregon and Arizona are two wins away from bowl eligibility. Washington needs seven because of the Hawaii rule, and Oregon State, Arizona State, UCLA and Utah are halfway there.
Things are sure to get more interesting in the coming weeks as we plow full steam ahead into conference play.
For now, here are the projections. As always, salt heavily.
College Football Playoff: Oregon
Fiesta Bowl: UCLA
Valero Alamo Bowl: Stanford
National University Holiday Bowl: Utah
San Francisco Bowl: USC
Hyundai Sun Bowl: Arizona State
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl: Washington
Cactus Bowl: Arizona
Heart of Dallas Bowl*: Oregon State
This is the final weekend of "mostly" nonconference play. Starting next week, it's a full slate of Pac-12-only games. So say your hellos and goodbyes to the Michigans, Hawaiis and Georgia States of the world this weekend. There are still three dates with Notre Dame and Cal's season finale against BYU. But for the rest of the league, we wrap up the non-league games this weekend.
The nonconference schedule always makes for some interesting picks. The Pac-12 blog unleashed its picks on the world yesterday morning. Not a ton of discrepancy, other than a 4-1 decision on the Utah-Michigan game. Besides that one game, the rest of the Pac-12 blog is in agreement.
Here are what others from across the country are picking for Week 4.
- The folks at CBS make their picks on some of the national games, including an across-the-board-selection of Oregon in Pullman.
- Jacob Thorpe of the Spokesman Review was pretty good last week straight up, not so much if you're betting pennies. His picks this week.
- Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News weighs in with his picks here.
- Athlon Sports offers up their Pac-12 predictions here.
- Christian Caple of the News Tribune lays out his picks.
(I'm noticing a lot of folks went 7-1 last week ... hmmm, USC...)
Big Board update
When the first two names are called at the 2015 NFL draft, there's a good chance they will both be from the Pac-12. So says ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., who updated his Big Board. It's an Insider piece, but I'll tell you the new big board is silly with Pac-12 players. Eight players from the league are in his top 25 -- including three in the top 10.
Mel Kiper Jr. drops Winston from 3rd to 25th on Big Board » pic.twitter.com/Kkc8I249al— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 18, 2014
- This just in, Arizona's Tyrell Johnson is fast.
- D.J. Foster brings stability to ASU's offense.
- How does Cal's defense shape up against Arizona's offense?
- Mike MacIntyre is pleased with his offensive balance.
- The Register-Guard guys talk about Oregon's trip to Pullman.
- Good news for OSU that offensive lineman Garrett Weinreich practiced.
- Blake Martinez is a more subdued leader for the Cardinal.
- Jim Mora continues to play coy on Brett Hundley's status.
- USC's performance against BC has given the defense a bad name.
- Some Utah notes heading into the showdown with Michigan.
- Some quotes from Chris Petersen heading into Saturday.
- A bigger, stronger Isiah Myers is also more disciplined.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
LOS ANGELES -- UCLA coach Jim Mora refused to update the condition of Brett Hundley and isn't saying who will start at quarterback when the No. 12 Bruins visit Arizona State in next week's Pac-12 opener.
Hundley hurt his left elbow on Saturday in the first quarter against Texas, and Jerry Neuheisel came off the bench to throw the winning touchdown pass in a 20-17 win over the Longhorns.
Mora refused to discuss the status of Hundley's non-throwing arm, saying only that "someone has to go in." He also has closed all practices and restricted media availability leading up to the game against the No. 15 Sun Devils.
"I feel good about our team," Mora said when asked about injuries. "They work hard every day. They have a great attitude. They work hard to get back on the field if they are not on the field. They work hard to stay on the field if they are on the field. I'm excited about our team."
Arizona State, meanwhile, has acknowledged that quarterback Taylor Kelly will not play against UCLA after injuring his right foot in a 38-24 win at Colorado.
Mora refused to acknowledge that Neuheisel would be the next man up if Hundley can't play.
The two highest-ranked teams in the Pac-12 -- Oregon and UCLA -- have had some issues along the offensive line three weeks into the season. The Ducks have suffered injuries that have forced some younger or less experienced players into action. The Bruins haven't done a great job protecting their quarterbacks. If either hopes to advance to the College Football Playoff, they are going to have to figure things out up front. That's the premise of Steve Lassen's piece for Athlon Sports, which examines the offensive lines of both schools so far.
Lassen on Oregon:
Will Oregon’s offensive line woes derail the offense against Washington State or Arizona? Probably not, but a thin offensive line could create more pressure on quarterback Marcus Mariota.
And on UCLA:
The stats from the first three games suggest the offensive line is improving. But what type of impact could a long-term injury to [Malcolm] Bunche hold for this group? And assuming Bunche does return to full strength, can this unit jell and continue to improve after a sluggish start to the season?
UCLA is off this week while Oregon travels to Washington State for its first Pac-12 game of the season. The Bruins will head to Tempe on the 25th to square off with ASU.
Utes & Cats
In his mailbag this week, Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports hit on a question about Arizona and Utah and their place in the South Division. Here's an excerpt about the Utes:
This year, with [Travis] Wilson back and currently the nation’s No. 2-rated passer, the Utes have clobbered their first two foes, but they were Idaho State and Fresno State. Michigan has certainly proven beatable. If Utah can pull it off on the road, then I’d reevaluate their place in that division.
Mandel says, given the state of the division (injuries to Taylor Kelly, a shaky start for UCLA, USC's loss), the Utes might be a good sleeper team to sneak up and steal the division. He doesn't see Arizona as a team ready to make that leap yet. On the field, it won't get settled until the Wildcats make the trip to Salt Lake City on Nov. 22. Might be an intriguing showdown for a couple of teams either looking to reach bowl eligibility or improve their place in the pecking order.
My guess is if Utah wins this weekend, they'll be added to this list.
Notable 3-0 teams that are unbeaten & unranked. pic.twitter.com/kAzFF7oMW6— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) September 17, 2014
- The Daily Star guys talk about Arizona's need to create more turnovers.
- A post-practice video with Mike Bercovici.
- Cal still feeling the impact of the Jeff Tedford era.
- Buffs DBs trying to train pass interference out of their systems.
- While the Air Raid looks fun, Oregon players are happy with their own scheme.
- Steven Nelson wants to be a "dominant" cornerback.
- Breaking down Stanford's 2015 schedule.
- Jerry Neuheisel reflects on his big week.
- Hayes Pullard says the Trojans have forgiven Josh Shaw.
- Utes have to show they can do it on the road.
- Some post-practice interviews from Washington.
- The Cougars are treating Oregon like any other team.
If you're a fan of "The Office," this is for you. If you're a fan of Stanford athletics, this is for you. If you're a fan of both, this might be the greatest thing in the world. And if you're a fan of neither, move along. Nothing to see here.
Want to see what the Ducks saw before their Wyoming game? Warning: The following video might make you want to go workout.
Have a suggestion for something we should address in a future #4Pac roundtable? Go ahead and send it to our mailbag.
Today, we're identifying the best defensive player through the first three weeks of the season.
Kyle Bonagura/@BonaguraESPN: Is there a defensive player in the conference that can do more than Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson? Over his first two seasons, he proved to be one of the nation's best linebackers, but some still believe he would make for an even better safety. Against Illinois last week, Thompson scored on a 36-yard interception return and a 52-yard fumble return to become the first player in college football with multiple defensive touchdowns this year. The performance earned him Walter Camp national defensive player of the week honors and came after a 15-tackle game against Eastern Washington the week prior in which he recorded a sack a forced fumble. Thompson is the Huskies' only player to have recorded a sack, interception, pass breakup, and both forced and received a fumble. We're talking defense here, but it seems appropriate to point out he also has six carries for 82 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown, which stands as the Huskies' longest run of the year.
Kevin Gemmell/@Kevin_Gemmell: No defensive player in the Pac-12 has been more productive over the last three seasons than UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks. And he's picked up where he left off last year and the year before that. Kendricks leads the Pac-12 with 37 tackles through three games, including a league-high 21 solo stops. He's averaging 12.3 stops per game -- a full tackle more than Arizona's Scooby Wright (11 per game) -- and more than two tackles per game over every other Pac-12 defender. If the name of the game is production, then Kendricks absolutely qualifies as the most impressive. And it's not just about making tackles, he also has an interception returned for a touchdown and he forced a fumble that led to a defensive score. Both of those happened on the road at Virginia, and as a result he was named the national defensive player of the week for Week 1. On a team loaded with talented playmakers -- some of whom get more buzz than Kendricks -- he's not only been the most complete and impressive player on the Bruins, but also the Pac-12. Excited to see what he does Sept. 25 with the trip to Arizona State against the Sun Devils and D.J. Foster, who leads the league with 170 rushing yards per game.
It's depth chart Wednesday! There are four teams on bye this week -- Arizona State, Stanford, UCLA and USC -- so we won't update them until next week. Here are the updated depth charts for the other eight.
- Oregon (page 8 of the game notes)
- Oregon State (page 19 of the game notes)
- Utah (page 10 of the game notes)
- Washington (page 9 of the game notes)
- Washington State (page 11 of the game notes)
- A few changes on the Cal depth chart from Week 2. Daniel Lasco is listed as the starting running back and receivers Darius Powe and Maurice Harris have their spots outright, without an "or." Also, Jake Kearney is listed as the starting strong side linebacker, with former starter Raymond Davison moving to the weak side behind Jalen Jefferson.
- At Oregon, left tackle Jake Fisher, who left the Wyoming game in the first quarter with an injury, has an "or" next to his name, with Matt Pierson poised to step in if Fisher can't go.
- At OSU, as previously noted, left guard Garrett Weinreich hasn't practiced, so it might be Roman Sapolu again.
- At Utah, Gionni Paul comes back just in time for the injured Jason Whittingham, who is expected to miss two months with a wrist injury.
- At Washington, Kasen Williams is listed as a starting WR and Sidney Jones is listed as a starting CB opposite Marcus Peters, who returns from his one-week suspension.
The Pac-12 released the 2015 schedule on Tuesday and Kyle Bonagura broke it down last night. You can just scroll down, because it's the post right below this one. Or if you're really lazy, just click here.
Some of the key matches that jump out are Michigan's trip to Utah in a rematch of this weekend's game, Arizona State vs. Texas A&M at Reliant Stadium and a rematch of Oregon-Michigan State, with the Ducks traveling to B1G country this time around.
There's the usual matchups of Notre Dame vs. USC and Stanford, plus Oregon State travels to Michigan and Cal heads to Texas. And don't think the Cougars won't have vengeance on their mind when they go to Rutgers.
P-A-C vs. S-E-C
Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News broke down the nonconference performances thus far of the Pac-12 and the SEC to find the answer to the question: Who is better?
He crunches the results, makes a couple of predictions, and leaves us with this result:
The Pac-12 hasn’t outperformed the SEC thus far in Power 5 results and has no discernible advantage going forward in the quantity or quality of its Power 5 games.News/notes/practice reports
- Tra'Mayne Bondurant could see extended time.
- More takeaways from the Colorado game.
- The Golden Bears were confident even before they were winning.
- Plenty of Hawaiian tradition among Colorado players.
- Some analysis of Oregon's 2015 schedule.
- Steven Nelson was the difference maker last season for Oregon State.
- Yards and points are tough to get against the Cardinal.
- Breaking down UCLA's 2015 schedule.
- D.J. Morgan leaves the Trojans.
- Utah will have to win the turnover battle against Michigan.
- Georgia State's coaching staff has Washington ties.
- Isiah Myers has been added to the Biletnikoff watchlist.
Ever wonder what Mike Leach or Steve Sarkisian would look like if they were the subject of the Mona Lisa? We haven't either, thank goodness someone has.
Three times the jinx? We're kidding.
Marcus Mariota is on his third SI cover this week. All 3: pic.twitter.com/59cedWhMvf— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) September 16, 2014
The Pac-12 released the full 2015 football schedule Tuesday, which begins the third cycle of scheduling among conference teams since the 2011 expansion.
We've known about most of these games for awhile, but it's still fun to scan them all in one place. Chris Petersen's return to Boise State, Arizona State's trip to Houston to play Texas A&M and the state of Oregon against the state of Michigan (on the same day) immediately stand out.
10 notable nonconference games
- Michigan at Utah
- Arizona State vs Texas A&M
- Washington at Boise State
- Oregon at Michigan State
- Oregon State at Michigan
- Washington State at Rutgers
- BYU at UCLA
- California at Texas
- USC at Notre Dame
- Notre Dame at Stanford
Here is the full schedule:
Thursday, Sept. 3
- UTSA at Arizona
- Michigan at Utah
- Arizona State vs Texas A&M, NRG Stadium, Houston
- Arkansas State at USC
- Virginia at UCLA
- Colorado at Hawaii
- Eastern Washington at Oregon
- Weber State at Oregon State
- Washington at Boise State
- Portland State at Washington State
- Grambling State at California
- Stanford at Northwestern
Saturday, Sept. 12
- Arizona at Nevada
- Cal Poly at Arizona State
- Idaho at USC
- UCLA at UNLV
- UMass at Colorado
- Utah State at Utah
- Oregon at Michigan State
- Oregon State at Michigan
- Sacramento State at Washington
- Washington State at Rutgers
- San Diego State at California
- Central Florida at Stanford
Saturday, Sept. 19
- Northern Arizona at Arizona
- New Mexico at Arizona State
- Stanford at USC
- BYU at UCLA
- Colorado vs. Colorado State, Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver
- Utah at Fresno State
- Georgia State at Oregon
- San Jose State at Oregon State
- Utah State at Washington
- Wyoming at Washington State
- California at Texas
Friday, Sept. 25
- Stanford at Oregon State
- UCLA at Arizona
- USC at Arizona State
- Nicholls State at Colorado
- Utah at Oregon
- California at Washington
Saturday, Oct. 3
- Arizona at Stanford
- Arizona State at UCLA
- Oregon at Colorado
- Washington State at California
Thursday, Oct. 8
- Washington at USC
- Oregon State at Arizona
- Colorado at Arizona State
- California at Utah
- Washington State at Oregon
Thursday, Oct. 15
- UCLA at Stanford
- Arizona at Colorado
- Arizona State at Utah
- USC at Notre Dame
- Oregon at Washington
- Oregon State at Washington State
Thursday, Oct. 22
- California at UCLA
- Washington State at Arizona
- Utah at USC
- Colorado at Oregon State
- Washington at Stanford
Thursday, Oct. 29
- Oregon at Arizona State
- Arizona at Washington
- USC at California
- Colorado at UCLA
- Oregon State at Utah
- Stanford at Washington State
Saturday, Nov. 7
- Arizona at USC
- Arizona State at Washington State
- UCLA at Oregon State
- Stanford at Colorado
- Utah at Washington
- California at Oregon
Friday, Nov. 13
- USC at Colorado
- Utah at Arizona
- Washington at Arizona State
- Washington State at UCLA
- Oregon at Stanford
- Oregon State at California
Saturday, Nov. 21
- Arizona at Arizona State
- USC at Oregon
- UCLA at Utah
- Colorado at Washington State
- California at Stanford
- Washington at Oregon State
Friday, Nov. 27
- Oregon State at Oregon
- Washington State at Washington
- Arizona State at California
- UCLA at USC
- Colorado at Utah
- Notre Dame at Stanford
- Pac-12 Championship Game, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California
Hawaii at Colorado
- WR Nelson Spruce has accounted for 39.7 percent of Colorado's receiving yards, the second-highest percentage in the conference.
- The Buffaloes have picked up 43 first downs from pass plays, second most in the Pac-12.
- Colorado is the only team in the Pac-12 that has been outscored this year (minus-25).
- Nine of Utah's 14 touchdown drives have taken two minutes or less.
- Utah scores on 70 percent of drives where it gets the initial first down.
- QB Travis Wilson is one of 10 players in the country with at least six touchdown passes and no interceptions.
- Georgia State, a second-year FBS program, has never beaten a FBS team.
- WR John Ross is averaging 37.3 yards per reception on six catches -- half of which have gone for touchdowns.
- In two games with Cyler Miles at quarterback, Washington has averaged 51.5 points and 500.5 yards per game.
- Cal has lost 14 consecutive Pac-12 games, the second-longest conference losing streak in the country.
- According to VegasInsider.com, Arizona opened as a 17-point favorite, but dropped to as low as nine points Tuesday morning.
- Cal ranks third in the Pac-12, converting on 51.5 percent of its third-down chances.
- Arizona ranks No. 8 nationally and No. 1 in the Pac-12 on offense, averaging 582.7 yards per game.
- Cal ranks No. 1 in the Pac-12 in rush defense (113 yards per game) and Arizona is No. 3 (116.0)
- Oregon State has allowed one more rushing first down (11) than via penalty (10).
- San Diego State quarterback Quinn Kaehler and Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion played against each other in the same high school league.
- Mannion ranks No. 2 among active FBS quarterbacks with 11,064 career passing yards.
- Oregon has scored at least 14 points in a national-best 68 straight games.
- Both teams rank in the top 15 nationally in total offense: 10. Oregon (573.3); 15. WSU (557.0)
- Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota ranks third nationally averaging 11.35 yards per pass attempt.
- Oregon safety Erick Dargan, who chose the Ducks over WSU, leads the nation with three interceptions -- tied with four others.
- WSU teammates Isiah Myers and Vince Mayle are the only teammates that both rank in the top 15 in receptions -- Myers is No. 5 with 26; Mayle is No. 7 with 25.
t1. Connor Halliday, WSU — 12
t13. Sefo Liufau, Colorado — 8
t13. Marcus Mariota, Oregon — 8
t13. Cody Kessler, USC — 8
t13. Anu Solomon, Arizona — 8
4. Mariota, Oregon — 93.3
6. Taylor Kelly, ASU — 92.1
9. Jared Goff, Cal — 90.1
11. Travis Wilson, Utah — 87.5
14. Cyler Miles, Washington — 85.2
3. D.J. Foster, Arizona State — 510
4. Nick Wilson, Arizona — 449
t8. Royce Freeman, Oregon — 5
t8. Foster, ASU — 5
4. Isiah Myers, WSU — 423
10. Nelson Spruce, Colorado — 346
1. Spruce, Colorado — 6
t2. Myers, WSU — 5
Yards from scrimmage
1. Foster, ASU — 649
9. Wilson, Arizona — 470
1. Danny Shelton, Washington — 6
t3. Hau'oli Kikaha, Washington — 5
1. Shaq Thompson, Washington — 2
3. Casey Skowron, Arizona — 7
Pac-12 team stats
Offensive touchdown drive percentage
1. Oregon — 56.8
2. Utah — 50
3. Arizona State — 45.2
4. Cal — 40.7
5. Arizona — 36.8
6. Washington State — 35
7. Washington — 34.2
8. Stanford — 33.3
9. USC — 30
10. Colorado — 25
11. Oregon State — 23.3
12. UCLA — 23.1
Defensive touchdown drive percentage
1. Stanford — 2.8
2. Oregon — 15.8
3. Arizona — 17.9
4. Arizona State — 18.6
5. Cal — 19.2
6. Utah — 19.4
7. UCLA — 20
8. USC — 20.5
9. Oregon State — 20.7
10. Washington State — 24.4
11. Washington — 26.3
12. Colorado — 35
Offensive 3-and-out percentage
1. Arizona — 5.3
2. Stanford — 6.1
3. Colorado — 10
3. Washington State — 10
5. Cal — 14.8
6. UCLA — 15.4
7. Oregon — 16.2
8. Washington — 18.4
t9. Oregon State — 20
t9. USC — 20
t11. Arizona State — 21.4
t11. Utah — 21.4
Defensive 3-and-out percentage
1. Utah — 45.2
2. Stanford — 38.9
3. Arizona — 35.9
4. Washington State — 31.7
5. Oregon State — 27.6
6. Washington — 26.3
7. UCLA — 25
t8. USC — 23.1
t8. Cal — 23.1
10. Arizona State — 20.9
11. Colorado — 20
12. Oregon — 15.8
No worries. We’ve got you covered. Each week, we will provide you a top-five ranking of the Pac-12 QBs.
Now, it won’t always be a 1 to 5 ranking according to the expected pecking order at season’s end or NFL draft lists. It will react heavily to the preceding week. And we’ll try to spread some love.
Honorable mention: Jerry Neuheisel, UCLA; Taylor Kelly, ASU: Neuheisel was a great story this week -- in fact, the story this week -- after stepping in for an injured Brett Hundley and leading UCLA to a win against Texas. His game-winning touchdown pass with three minutes to go won’t soon be forgotten, and the Pac-12 Player of the Week honor was justified. If he’s forced back into action again, he’ll be considered in future weeks. Kelly was his usual self against Colorado -- completing 13 of 21 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns -- before exiting with an injury.
Inactive Week 2: Jared Goff, Cal; Sean Mannion, Oregon State; Travis Wilson, Utah
To see last week’s rankings, click here.