Well, it was an interesting first week for the Pacific-12 Conference in football, as some teams exceeded expectations, some teams met expectations, and some teams fell short of expectations. Isn’t that always the way it goes in Week 1?
The Conference of Champions looked solid on a national level, which is the important thing, as the Pac-12 has been shut out of the College Football Playoff for two straight years now as the power brokers decide which other teams can make them more money.
We went 9-2 in our predictions last week, which is not the best start to the season. Hopefully, we will do better this week, so look for our predictions again on Thursday. As for Week 1, here’s a look back at what went down …
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be happy?
The Utah Utes scored a convincing victory on the home field of their in-state rivals, the Brigham Young Cougars, and it wasn’t as close as the 30-12 score indicated, either. The Utes ran for 262 yards on the Cougars, and they also returned two interceptions for touchdowns as well, dominating BYU on both sides of the ball. Even though it was not a conference win, Utah set the tone for 2019 rather well in Week 1, no?
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be mad?
The Oregon Ducks suffered exactly what the Washington Huskies did last year in Week 1: a road loss to an SEC team in the final minute without any hope of getting that same SEC team to come west for a rematch ever. Leading the Auburn Tigers 21-20 in the final five minutes of the game, the Ducks were unable to capitalize on multiple chances to close out the game, and they gave up the winning TD in the final seconds. While it has no impact on the league title chase, it could have been a bigger moment for Oregon and the Pac-12 if the Ducks had been able to close out the game in hostile territory.
Big Performers of the Week
Quarterback Anthony Gordon has some big shoes to fill as the Washington State Cougars starting quarterback, replacing Gardner Minshew II. He did just fine in WSU’s opener, completing 29 of 35 passes for 420 yards and five TDs. For a fifth-year senior making his first start, Gordon did great against an opponent the Cougars were supposed to flatten (and did, 58-7).
Meanwhile, both Francis Bernard and Julian Blackmon returned INTs for TDs in Provo, helping the Utes take down the “other” Cougars. Bernard’s effort helped the Utes to a halftime lead, while Blackmon’s score put the exclamation point on a second-half outburst that saw Utah score 21 unanswered points coming out of the locker room.
Unlucky Team of the Week
It’s hard to call UCLA unlucky when it gained just 212 total yards and turned the ball over four times in a 24-14 loss to Cincinnati on the road. But we’re doing it, anyway, as the Chip Kelly era in Los Angeles looks like it may be on a short string if the head coach cannot turn this team around by December.
Big picture heading into Week 2
Conference play starts next week for four teams as California travels to play Washington, and Stanford heads south to take on USC. Dare we say it is a must-win situation for all four teams? The Huskies want to make a run at the CFP, while the Cardinal want to re-establish their presence in the North Division—just like the Trojans want to do in the South. As for Cal, well … the Golden Bears just want wins.
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