College Football Opening Weekend: How Did The Pac 12 Do?


College Football officially started last Thursday night. One of the most interesting story lines to follow for this year was the newly formed Pac-12. The Pac-10 was formed in 1978 when the former Pac-8 added two new schools: Arizona and Arizona St. In June of 2010, there were rumors that the Pac-10 could be adding 6 teams: Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St, Colorado and Texas A&M to form a super conference called Pac-16. Colorado was the first team to jump ship to the Pac-10, but the rest of the Big 12 schools (Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St, and Texas A&M) all decided to stay in their conference. Shortly after this happened, the University of Utah accepted an invitation to join the Pac-10 along with Colorado to form the Pac-12. They split the 6 teams into 2 divisions; USC, UCLA,Arizona, Arizona St, Utah, and Colorado form the South division while California, Oregon, Oregon St, Stanford, Washington, and Washington St make up the North division.

This weekend was the first weekend of play for the Pac-12. How did the new conference do? That depends on how you look at it. In total, 8 of the 12 teams won their games. However, given a little perspective, it’s easy to see that the conference has a ton of questions going forward. Let’s take a look at how each of the teams did.

Arizona- 41 Northern Arizona- 10
In a division with elite quarterback prospects like Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley, it was important for Arizona quarterback Nick Foles to come out of the gates with a bang. He did just that against Northern Arizona completing 34 of 42 passes for 412 yards and 5 touchdowns. Foles played great against the inferior Northern Arizona. He threw 3 of his 5 touchdown passes in the 3rd quarter. Stud Wide Receiver had a great day catching 6 passes for 151 yards and 1 touchdown. Arizona only ran the ball 15 times. 9 of the carries went to freshman RB Ka’Deem Carey who turned those 9 carries into 59 yards. The other carries went to senior RB Keola Antolin who ran the ball 6 times for 41 yards. Arizona’s defense was solid throughout the game limiting Northern Arizona to just 259 yards of offense for the entire game. Redshirt senior CB Trevin Wade interception a pass that swung the momentum back to Arizona after they fell flat in the 2nd quarter and allowed Northern Arizona to get within 4. Altogether, it was a great start for Arizona, but it’s impossible to draw conclusions about how good the team could be based off this game. They enter a brutal stretch where they will be well tested in the coming weeks with tough matches against @Oklahoma St, Stanford, Oregon, and @USC.

Next Opponent: @Oklahoma St.

Arizona St- 48 UC Davis- 14
This game was a butt whooping from the start. Arizona St was never in danger as they wiped the floor with UC Davis although it’s not like that is a bid surprise. Arizona St dominated the defensive side of the ball with stud middle linebacker Vontaze Burflict collecting not 1, not 2, but 3 sacks in his 2011 debut. Burflict was relentless in Arizona St’s debut and that serves well for their hope of winning the Pac-12 South division. On the other side of the ball, Arizona St Junior Quarterback Brock Osweiler had a decent outing completing 19 of 26 for 262 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interceptions. Both of his touchdowns went to Senior Aaron Pflugrad who caught 3 passes for 50 yards and the aforementioned 2 touchdowns. However, he wasn’t the leading receiver on the day. Ironically, the player with the most receptions and yards was running back Cameron Marshall who caught a team high 4 passes for a team high 86 yards. In the backfield, Arizona St used 3 different backs. The two who received the most were Freshman Marcus Washington who ran the ball 11 times for 36 yards and a touchdown and Kyle Middlebrooks who ran the ball 10 times for 62 yards. He also caught 2 passes for 14 yards. Overall, Arizona St looked like a dominant team in their debut, but then again they were playing UC Davis. They will get more of a challenge in the coming weeks with Missouri, @Illinois, and USC all coming up.

Next Opponent: Missouri

California- 36 Fresno St- 21
Early in the game, it looked like California was in for another long year. Their starting quarterback Zach Maynard threw an interception on his first pass and the Fresno St Bulldogs capitalized and turned it into a 7-0 lead. However, the California Bears bounced back with great defense and a solid running game to give them an opening day win. Zach Maynard finished the day with a statline that read: 16 of 35 for 266 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Not the game he wanted, but it was enough. California’s rushing attack was led by Junior RB Isi Sofele who ran the ball 24 times for 86 yards and 2 touchdowns. On the receiving end, the Bears were led by Senior Marvin Jones who caught 5 passes for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns. An impressive start for the 6 ft 3, 202 pound WR. Defensively, the Cal Bears swarmed Fresno St after giving up that 1st touchdown. They ended up conceding only 210 yard of total offense including just 68 yards to Fresno St. The highlight for the Bears defense was when Senior DE Trevor Guyton picked up a fumble and returned it 22 yard for a touchdown in the 3rd quarter. It was a good for California to start off the year with a win against a Fresno St team who wanted to start their year off with an upset victory behind hyped QB Derek Carr, brother of former 1st round draft pick David Carr. California doesn’t have too difficult of a schedule ahead with games against Colorado (Welcome to the Pac 12), Presbyterian, and Washington.

Next opponent: @Colorado

Hawaii- 34 Colorado- 14
After watching Colorado fall to The University of Hawaii, it looks like the Buffs are in for a long year. It is hard to draw positives from this game as the Buffs dropped their 18th consecutive road game. Senior QB Tyler Hansen completed 16 of his 30 passes for 233 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. He was sacked 7 times in the game, although the loss of starting LT David Bakhtiari to a knee sprain in the 1st quarter certainly didn’t help. Sophomore WR Paul Richardson caught 3 passes for 49 yards and 2 touchdowns on the day. However, the leading receiver for the Buffs was senior RB Rodney Stewart who caught 4 passes for 98 yards. Stewart also led the team in rushing carrying the ball 18 times for 52 yards. However, quarterback Tyler Hansen ended up losing 35 yards due to sacks so the Buffs ended up totaling just 17 rushing yards on the day. 17. Ouch. The defensive side of the ball wasn’t much better for Colorado as they gave up a total of 343 total yards to the Hawaii Warriors. After the game, Colorado offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy told the press, “I promise you we will get better.” They will have to if they want to be competitive in their new division, the Pac-12.

Next Opponent: California

#4 LSU- 40 #3 Oregon- 27
This was Oregon’s chance to prove to the College Football universe that they are a top 5 program and a force to be reckoned with. Well, they took that opportunity and managed do make everyone believe the exact opposite. Oregon was totally out played by #4 LSU on Saturday night and showed that while they may be on the way to being a top program, they are certainly not there yet. Oregon was just to sloppy to compete with the Tigers. The score was close at half time (16-13), but the Tigers put up 14 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter thanks to two fumbles from Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas and the Ducks never challenged again. Last year’s Heisman runner up did not look the part on Saturday running the ball 16 times for 54 yards and 1 touchdown. He got dinged up in the first quarter which could have contributed to his less then stellar performance. Ducks QB Darron Thomas was out of synch with his wide receivers completing 31 of 54 passes for 240 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Oregon’s defense played well in the beginning of the game. They helped the Ducks build a 6-3 lead in the first quarter and were hoping to score more points after forcing an LSU punt. However, Oregon punt returner Kenjon Barner muffed a punt deep in Oregon territory and the LSU special teams were able to recover the ball and return it the remaining 3 yards for a touchdown. The Ducks were unable to stop the LSU rushing attack giving up 175 rushing yards to the Tigers. At the end of the day, Oregon still has a chance to rebound and win the Pac-12 North, but they are clearly a step away from competing for a National Championship.

Next Opponent: Nevada

Sacramento St- 29 Oregon St- 28
Talk about embarrassing. Oregon St was supposed to breeze through this game. Sacramento St at home? That’s an easy win…or so they thought. Instead, Oregon St was shocked when Sacramento St, led by true freshman Malcolm Agnew, hit his WR in overtime and again on the 2 point conversion to pull off the stunning upset. How did this happen? Well, Oregon St shot itself in the foot more then once. Passing interference calls, a fumble and an interception in the red zone always hurt. Their D also had a hard time containing Sacramento St QB Jeff Flemming as he hurt them through the air and on the ground. The good news for the Beavers is it looks like they found their next stud RB. Freshman Malcolm Agnew burst onto the college scene against Sacramento St by carrying the ball 33 times for 233 yards and 3 touchdowns. That’s the good news. The bad news is he was responsible for the fumble in the red zone. As for the quarterback play, it was bad. Oregon State QB Junior Ryan Katz completed 11/22 for 87 yards and an interception. He eventually was pulled for Freshman Sean Mannion who finished the game throwing 8 of 12 for 143 yards. Junior WR Markus Wheaton led the Beavers with 6 catches for 108 yards. To their credit, Oregon St did not quit. They faced a 21-6 deficit in the 4th quarter and came back to force overtime. However, they just couldn’t pull out the comeback and now start off the season 0-1 with a tough schedule ahead and lots of questions including “Who starts at quarterback”? If Oregon St was hoping to contend for the Pac-12 North title this year, they are off to a terrible start. They were undoubtedly an embarrassment to the Pac-12 on opening weekend.

Next Opponent: @Wisconsin

Stanford- 57 San Jose St- 3
If there was a negative on this day for the Stanford Cardinals it was that Hiesman front runner Andrew Luck only threw for 171 yards, but it’s not like it mattered. Stanford steam rolled the outmatched San Jose Spartans. Luck was firing on all cylinders on opening day completing 17 of 26 passes for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also ran the ball 2 times for 9 yards and a touchdown. Luck’s favorite target in his first game of 2011 was Senior WR Chris Owusu who caught the ball 7 times for 76 yards. He threw touchdown passes to TE Coby Fleener and TE Zach Ertz. In addition to Luck’s great day, the Stanford’s running game was productive as well. Junior RB Stepfan Taylor ran the ball 18 times for 61 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also had 2 receptions for 17 yards. Stanford’s defense gave the Spartans no chance as Senior linebacker Chase Thomas led the team with 1 sack while Senior linebacker Shayne Skov led the team with 7 tackles. Stanford was just too good for the Spartans. They looked terrific and will likely look terrific again next week against Duke.

Next opponent: @Duke

USC- 19 Minnesota- 17
Everyone expected USC to open the season with a win over Minnesota. Nobody expected it would have been the nail biter that it was. Nevertheless, USC’s sloppy performance almost resulted in a loss, but they were able to pull out a W. The story of the game for USC revolved around QB Matt Barkley and WR Robert woods. Barkley put in a strong performance setting a USC record by completing 34 passes out of 45 for 304 yards and 3 touchdowns. Robert Woods broke a record of his own by catching a school record 17 passes for 177 yards and 3 touchdowns. Despite the chemistry between Barkley and Woods, USC was thisclose to oepning their season with a loss. One of the main problems with USC’s offense was the absence of a running game. On the night, USC totaled just 67 yards on the ground. This is concerning for the Trojans as they are a team who requires a balance of running the ball and play action passing to win games. Thankfully for them, they were able to hault a game winning Minnesota drive when USC Sophomore CB Torin Harris intercepted a pass that allowed USC to run the clock out. For the game, USC’s D looked awfully similar to last year’s. The front 7 was able to put some pressure on the QB, particularly by Nick Perry and Chris Galippo. However, the Trojans pass defense was weak and gave up almost 200 yards of offense through the air. Minnesota had 302 yards of total offense for the whole game. The Trojans got lucky and pulled out a win at the last second. They will not get so lucky in the future against better competition.

Next Opponent: Utah

UCLA- 34 Houston- 38
Things just went from bad to worse for UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel and it’s only been one game. After calling the game against Houston as a “statement game”, Houston was able to hold on at home to defeat the Bruins. Neuheisel was on the hot seat to start the year and it just got a whole lot hotter. First, the bad news. UCLA QB Kevin Prince suffered a concussion during the first half of the game and had to be taken out. Their defense was incapable of stopping Houston QB Case Keenum who moved the ball at will. The Cougars had 469 total yards of offense for the day. UCLA never led in the game and came up short of their comeback. The bright side for UCLA is that their star RB Jonathan Franlkin played great rushing the ball 16 times for 128 yards and a touchdown. Additionally, their backup QB Richard Brehaut played decently after coming in for Kevin Prince. He threw 17 of 26 for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough. The Bruins put up 554 yards of total offense. Their leading receiver was Junior TE Joseph Fauria who caught 6 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. This loss is brutal for the Bruins. They wanted to compete in the Pac-12 South and were hoping to open the season 2-0 before facing Texas. Now, they have to pick up the pieces and try to rebound this week. The good news for them is that they are playing lowly San Jose St. Nevertheless, UCLA is off to a rough start in 2011 and all hell will break loose if they somehow lose next week’s game.

Next Opponent: San Jose St

Utah- 27 Montana St- 10
Utah started off it’s Pac-12 tenure on a high note easily defeating lowly Montana St last Thursday. John White led the Utes by running the ball 19 times for 150 yards and 1 touchdown. Junior QB Jordan Wynn also looked good completing 15 of 23 for 101 yards and 2 touchdowns. His favorite targets were his tight ends Dallin Rogers and Kendrick Moeai. They each caught 5 passes, but Rogers had the most yardage of the two totaling 46 yards to Moeai’s 23. Utah’s defense looked good also with CB Ryan Lacy and DE Derrick Shelby getting 1 sack each. Additionally, linebacker Brian Blechen nabbed 2 interceptions on the day which contributed to the blowout win. Utah needed this win because now they are thrust right into league play next week against USC. The Trojans are coming off a lackluster game and the Utes are capable of sneaking off a win if they can capitalize on their momentum.

Next Opponent: USC

Washington- 30 Eastern Washington- 27
Just like USC, Washington was thisclose to opening up their 2011 season with a loss to a lesser opponent. Eastern Washington was charging down the field for a game winning drive when Washington CB Desmond Trufan intercepted Eastern Washington QB Bo Levi Mitchell in the end zone to preserve the win. Despite the nail biter, Washington had nice performances from future NFL draft pick Chris Polk who ran 23 times for 125 yards and the heir to Jake Locker, Keith Price who completed 17 of 25 for 102 yards and 3 touchdowns. The leading WR was James Johnson who caught 4 passes for 29 yards and 1 touchdown. The bad news for Washington is that their defense looked bad against Eastern Washington, the reigning FCS champion. The Eagle amassed 473 yards through the air. They were able to march down the field 70 yards in 30 seconds at the end of the game before the interception. Washington was able to pull out with a W, but also like USC, they will have to play much better if they want to compete within the Pac-12.

Next Opponent: Hawaii

Washington St- 64 Idaho St- 21
Never has a win felt so bad to Washington St. Despite a blow out victory, Washington St is mourning knowing that they lost their starting quarterback Jeff Tuehl to a fractured left clavicle. The length of his absence is unknown, but any amount of time is a big blow to Washington St who know that Tuehl is their best option to win by far. The backup QB, Marshall Lobbestael filled in for Tuehl and did a nice job completing 14 of 19 passes for 230 yards and 2 touchdowns. His favorite target was WR Marquise Wilson who caught 4 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown in his first game of 2011. Washington St’s running game was unique in that no running back received more then 8 carries, but 4 backs ran the ball at least 6 times. Marcus Mason ran the ball 6 times for a team high 88 yards and a touchdown. The Cougars totaled 289 yards on the ground against Idaho St. Now the Cougars must try to survive without their starting quarterback. They have two winnable games ahead against UNLV and San Diego St, but after those games they begin conference play. It’s a shame that Tuehl got hurt because the first time in a long time, Washington St had a chance to open their year 3-0.

Next Opponent: UNLV