What we learned in the Pac-12: Week 1

September, 4, 2011
9/04/11
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What did we learn from Week 1 of Pac-12 action?

[+] EnlargeDarron Thomas
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezQuarterback Darron Thomas and the Oregon Ducks had a rough start to the season against LSU.
1. Oregon still has a step to make: The Ducks are a top-10 program but after losing 40-27 to LSU, it's clear the Ducks are still a step away from being an elite, top-five program. That's not just an assertion from me or other reporters . That's what coach Chip Kelly said after the game.

2. It was an ugly opening week: Oregon State loses to Sacramento State. Utah barely survives Montana State. Washington gets doubled-up in total yards and needs a late interception to beat Eastern Washington. UCLA goes down at Houston. Colorado loses its 19th consecutive road game at Hawaii. Oregon gets drubbed on a big stage. USC nearly lets Minnesota steal a win in the Coliseum. Even when Washington State wins big, it loses: See quarterback Jeff Tuel going down with a fractured clavicle vs. Idaho State.

3. Hot seats got hotter: The Bruins' loss at Houston means coach Rick Neuheisel is officially in dire-straights, even though the offense looked promising. And Paul Wulff can't feel good about going forward in a win-or-else season without his starting quarterback and team leader.

4. The Big Three QBs take care of business: Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley and Nick Foles -- the Pac-12's three marquee quarterbacks -- combined to throw for 887 yards with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. While Oregon's Darron Thomas was shaky, those three put up big numbers in victories.

5. Call this "measuring stick" week: We'll learn a lot more this week about the conference. Utah visits USC in the first-ever Pac-12 game. Arizona State can make a national statement at home against Missouri. Arizona wants redemption for a bowl loss to Oklahoma State. Speaking of redemption, Colorado wants it against California (in a nonconference, conference game). Oregon will try to bounce back against Nevada. Washington matches up with a Hawaii team that just pounded Colorado. And Washington State moves on without Tuel against UNLV.

Ted Miller | email

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