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Pac-12 Stock Watch

NCAA Football: Southern California at Stanford Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Two weeks are done now in the college football season. Let’s take stock of all the teams in the Pac-12 relative to where we thought they would be before the season.

Arizona Wildcats - Down

Arizona has really struggled this year, losing to the BYU Cougars at home and getting blasted by the Houston Cougars on the road. The defense has not improved from last season and might actually be worse. New head coach Kevin Sumlin has not maximized the offensive talent he has. Khalil Tate’s Heisman campaign looks dead two weeks into the season.

Arizona State Sun Devils - Up

We all laughed when ASU hired Herm Edwards, well, the Sun Devils might be laughing at us by season’s end. The Sun Devils are 2-0 and scored the biggest non-conference win for the conference so far in this young season.

California Golden Bears - Even

Cal is a team I haven’t really paid much attention to because the Utes do not play them this year. Cal has given up big leads and nearly lost both of their games to inferior competition. They have played musical chairs with their quarterbacks, and returning starter Ross Bowers looks to have lost his job, not seeing the field against BYU last night.

Colorado Buffaloes - Up

Colorado was projected to finish at or near the bottom of the Pac-12 South by nearly everyone. Well through two weeks, they look like one of the frontrunners. In 2016, Colorado got off to a hot start by crushing their rival the Colorado State Rams (did that in 2018) and by scoring a road upset over Oregon (did that last week by beating the Nebraska Cornhuskers). The Rise is Real was their slogan in 2016, could we see the Rise Returns in 2018?

Oregon Ducks - Even

Oregon has blown out two bad teams at home (and the bad opponents continue next week), so it is tough to know how good the Ducks are until they play someone of note.

Oregon State Beavers - Up

There was not much room to go down for the Beavers after last year. The Beavers will not make a bowl game this year, but they might win more than one game, and they should be more competitive rather than being the Pac-12 punching bag.

Stanford Cardinal - Up

Stanford is leading the Pac-12 at 1-0 with their 17-3 win over USC. Bryce Love bounced back in the win, and the Cardinal passing attack looks better than last year. With the ability to throw, teams cannot just focus on stacking the box to stop Love, making this Stanford offense potentially tough to stop.

UCLA Bruins - Down

No one expected UCLA to beat the Oklahoma Sooners or even keep the game close on the road. But the Chip Kelly era is off to an 0-2 start, losing to a Cincinnati Bearcats team at home that UCLA should have beaten. The Bruins’ offense does not have the explosiveness, especially in the running game, that we expect from a Kelly offense. There is a long way to go to get the Bruins respectable in the conference.

USC Trojans - Down

There will be growing pains starting a true freshman at quarterback, no matter how highly touted he is (just read this article if you want to know more about why). The USC coaching staff also seemed to lack imagination in play calling, especially on offense. The Trojans have plenty of talent, but they have not maximized it through two weeks. Their run defense looks porous, giving up over 300 yards to the UNLV Rebels. They did better against Stanford, but still gave up 5.5 yards per carry. JT Daniels will be a very good quarterback for USC, but he has a lot to learn, and he is not going to produce like Sam Darnold did or cover up deficiencies around him both on offense and the coaching staff.

Utah Utes - Down

The Utes have started slow in both of their games against inferior competition. They had one of the ugliest wins I can remember against the Northern Illinois Huskies (and that is saying something because they usually win ugly). The hype around the offense in fall camp has not materialized this season. The offensive line has struggled in pass protection. The wide receivers still drop far too many passes. All of these factors have not helped quarterback Tyler Huntley. The defense has played well through two games and pretty much won that NIU game. The special teams has been awful. Two blocked field goals, two fumbles on punt returns, these are things that should not happen period, but definitely not in back-to-back weeks. The Utah return game has done nothing so far this season either.

Washington Huskies - Down

The Huskies are still one of the best teams in the country, so this is a slight drop. I expected they would beat the Auburn Tigers. The other knock for me is their offensive line. It has not played well so far this season. The UW rushing attack has mostly been a non-factor because the line cannot provide holes to run through.

Washington State Cougars - Up

I thought WSU would be bad this year, but they are not. Their defense has adapted well to the losses of defensive coordinator Alex Grinch and All-American defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa. Their system offense just continues to plug in a quarterback and get production in the passing game. WSU has not faces a Power Five team yet, but they have definitely exceeded expectations so far.