After Week 1 of the college football season, it looked bleak for the Pacific-12 Conference. But after another round of games in Week 2, suddenly the sun is shining again on the Conference of Champions. Maybe the league is down to just one serious College Football Playoff contender already, but the group as a whole looks a lot better thanks to some marquee victories.
Seven teams remain unbeaten right now, and a few of those schools made national headlines: Arizona State, Colorado, and Stanford, specifically. The Sun Devils knocked off the Big Ten's Michigan State Spartans in Tempe, while the Buffaloes took out the Big Ten's Nebraska Cornhuskers on the road. Meanwhile, the Cardinal defeated the USC Trojans in an early showdown of Pac-12 title contenders.
Here is a recap of what went down in the league over the weekend of football. For the record, we posted an 8-3 mark on our Week 2 predictions, so the overall record now stands at 16-7 this year. Should we head to Vegas?!
What Pac-12 team's fans will be happy?
Arizona State kicked a field goal on the final play of the game to defeat a ranked Michigan State team many experts picked to be in the Top 10 by the end of the season. The Spartans turned the ball over in the end zone in the first half when the Sun Devils stepped up on defense, and the late game-start time (7:45 pm PT, meaning 10:45 pm ET) probably took its toll on Michigan State in the fourth quarter. ASU outscored MSU, 13-0, in the final 15 minutes of the game to get a big marquee victory for the conference and send the Sun Devil faithful into midnight ecstasy when the final whistle blew.
What Pac-12 team's fans will be mad?
The Arizona Wildcats dropped to 0-2 with a miserable showing on the road against the Houston Cougars. With the early start time, the Wildcats clearly were asleep as they fell behind 31-0 and eventually lost 45-18. Quarterback Khalil Tate was supposed to be a dark-horse Heisman Trophy candidate, but he has done little this season so far to warrant such praise. He has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns through two games, and Tate has just 22 yards rushing to add to that miserable passing line. It could be a long season in Tucson.
Big performers from Week 2
Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault, Jr. had a great game against Nebraska, scoring both on a run and a pass reception—the latter turning out to be the game-winning score with just over a minute left in the 33-28 victory. He currently leads Football Bowl Subdivision players with 21 receptions this season as well. All future Buffaloes opponents better keep an eye on Shenault, Jr. this season.
Defensively, Utah linebacker Chase Hansen led the Utes to a 17-6 smackdown of Northern Illinois on the road. The senior registered 12 tackles, two sacks, an interception return for a TD, and a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter that helped seal the win. Clearly, Hansen was all over the field, as the Utah defense has given up just 16 total points in the first two games of the season combined. Watch out, Pac-12 opponents!
Unlucky Team of the Week
Maybe it's tough to call a team that lost to a ranked team on the road unlucky, but the Trojans didn't play that badly in a 17-3 loss to Stanford. Freshman QB J.T. Daniels did throw two INTS, as the Cardinal only out-gained the Trojans by ten total yards. USC committed just four penalties in the game, compared to seven for Stanford, so something tells us this was just a freshman QB getting rattled by his first college road game. Look for the Trojans to bounce back strong next week against Texas in Austin.
Big picture heading into Week 3
The big conference matchup next week features Washington at Utah, which is an interesting battle between two teams with bowl aspirations. The Huskies cannot afford another loss if they want to win the league and end up in the CFP. Meanwhile, Utah has proven itself to be a tough matchup for almost any team it plays, especially at home. This has the makings of a great game on Saturday.
While the Longhorns are not what they used to be, the Trojans still cannot afford to lose that game, either. Indeed, the Pac-12 overall needs as many victories as it can get over power-conference teams like Texas, so USC has a "must-win" situation on its hands already, too.
Finally, ASU travels to play San Diego State. Now, remember, SDSU beat Stanford last year when the Cardinal traveled there, and the Sun Devils may be thinking a lot of themselves after beating Michigan State. That game has upset written all over it.
Remember, we'll be back on Thursday with our Week 3 predictions, so make sure to read them when they go live!