What did we learn in the Pac-10's opening week?
1. Pac-10 quarterbacks were as advertised (mostly): While the level of competition varied, the four Pac-10 quarterbacks who were showcased in New York and at ESPN put up huge numbers. USC's Matt Barkley, Arizona's Nick Foles, Washington's Jake Locker and Stanford's Andrew Luck combined to complete 72.5 percent of their throws, averaged 300 yards per game and threw 12 TD passes and just one interception (a Foles pass that bounced off his fullback's hands). Of course, Locker lost at BYU, turning the ball over on downs twice in the fourth quarter after incompletions.
2. New QBs were solid if unspectacular: Three conference QBs made their first career start. Oregon State's Ryan Katz was mostly solid against a good TCU defense, throwing for a pair of TDs with no interceptions, though completing just 9 of 25 passes isn't ideal. Oregon's Darron Thomas shook off an early interception to complete 13-of-23 for 220 yards with a TD in the blowout win over New Mexico. Finally, Arizona State's Steven Threet completed 14 of 21 passes for 239 yards with two TDs and an interception. While none of the three was gangbusters, each suggested he can get the job done.
3. The Mountain West strikes again: Thank God for New Mexico, otherwise the Mountain West Conference could crow about another strong showing versus the Pac-10. Washington fell at BYU and Oregon State went down to No. 6 TCU. Sure, both were road games. Sure, both were against two of the MWC top three teams. But many projected wins for the Pac-10 in both. The visit to BYU was supposed to be the launching point for Locker's Heisman Trophy campaign. Didn't happen, and suddenly the Huskies' high hopes entering the season are in question. And Oregon State was hoping to get off to a rare fast start with a strong showing against the Horned Frogs. Moreover, with UCLA's loss at Kansas State and Washington State's poor showing at Oklahoma State, the Big 12 also got into the act, pushing the conference around. Going 6-4 on the opening weekend was not what the Pac-10 wanted.
4. Play defense; win the conference: USC gave up 588 yards and 36 points at Hawaii. Bad. UCLA gave up 31 points and 313 rushing yards to Kansas State. Bad. Washington State surrendered 65 points and 544 yards at Oklahoma State. Yuck. Oregon State yielded 30 points and 278 rushing yards vs. TCU. Ugh. While Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oregon and Stanford probably feel good about their defensive numbers, the mostly poor competition leaves each with an incomplete. Clearly, there's a lot of offense in this conference. So whichever team can pair stops with points is going to win this thing.
5. FCS teams have no chance vs. the Pac-10: Arizona State, Cal and Stanford buried three FCS teams by a combined count of 168-29. While that's really not something to celebrate, at least one BCS conference can't say the same this morning.