Outside of UCLA, the Pac-12 flopped

I used to scoff at the matchups between a Power 5 team and an FBS team. There was nothing much to learn from Arizona State or Utah or Colorado dominating their lower level counterparts in the first week of the season.  

Then No. 20 Washington lost at home to Montana 13-7 on Saturday. The Huskies scored the first touchdown in the first quarter then spent the rest of the game giving it away. How a ranked team couldn’t reach the end zone against an FCS team is dumbfounding and something that colors the perception of the Huskies in future games, especially next week at Michigan. 

This may have been the first week ever in the regular season in which the Mountain West had the upper hand on the Pac-12. Washington State lost to Utah State in the last minute, Nevada defeated California and while Oregon beat Fresno State, it came under slim margins.   

Prior to the opening week of the season, the PAC-12 struck an alliance between the ACC and the Big Ten in the face of the ever-growing SEC. While scheduling top conference opponents benefits a team’s chances at the College Football Playoffs, the results didn’t bode well for the conference.  

Stanford got rolled by Kansas State 24-7 and Oregon State got edged out by Purdue 30-21. While Oregon State isn’t an expected contender for the conference crown, Stanford has long been one of the top teams in the North division.  

Arizona also lost to BYU by a touchdown in Las Vegas. After going from disappointment to disastrous since 2014, capping off with a 70-7 loss to Arizona State and open the season on a 12-game losing streak, to just look competitive in a neutral site against a respected opponent is a good enough start for the newly minted leadership. Among the changes is the return to the classic uniforms from the Chuck Cecil and Tedy Bruschi days and the bestowing the No. 1 jersey to the most outstanding offensive and defensive player from fall camp. Junior receiver Stanley Berryhill III certainly earned it by being freshman quarterback Gunner Cruz’s go-to target with 102 yards in 12 receptions.

Only USC and UCLA took care of business on Saturday. USC took to school a San Jose State team that ran the Mountain West table last year. UCLA upended a 16thranked LSU team at home for the Bruins’ second win of the season.  

Zach Charbonnet came to UCLA from Michigan and have been an efficient force for the Bruins offense. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark with six carries against Hawaii and again against LSU with 11 carries. Combine both games and you got a back who rushed for 223 yards and four touchdowns in 17 carries. That would get you a helmet sticker on ESPN’s College Football Final. 

So now the Bruins are clearly a force. Fresno State is not to be taken lightly but between that and a seemingly toothless Stanford and the Bruins could potentially enter October at 4-0 in time for their matchup with Arizona State. The Sun Devils could also enter that matchup at 4-0, with only UNLV, BYU and Colorado standing in the way.  

At this point, college football has been nothing more than conferences trying to prop up their top team in an effort to make it into the four-team playoff against four other conferences, including the SEC which gets to sometimes shove in a second team.  

It may be early and there’s always room for improvement across the board, but right now it seems as if the road to the PAC-12 title runs through the south division.  

About: Tony Capobianco


Sports Kave senior writer and podcast host

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