Quite simply, the PAC-12 as a whole failed to really impress in the opening week of the 2021 season. UCLA helped keep the national perception somewhat afloat thanks to their all-out drubbing of SEC darlings LSU. However, a ranked Washington squad getting outplayed by FCS Montana, Washington State outright losing to Utah State at home, and both USC and Oregon struggling early against mid-tier Mountain West teams certainly didn’t help break the ongoing idea that the PAC-12 is the weakest Power Five conference. Week two can help to reverse that or cement the notion for the rest of the season.
#12 Oregon vs #3 Ohio State - Saturday 10:00 AM MT - FOX
In what could very well be a Rose Bowl preview, the Ducks of Oregon head into the Horseshoe to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes. Ryan Day’s squad came from behind to top Minnesota in week one, yet they’ve have had ten days off to regroup and recalibrate. The Buckeyes rush defense looks susceptible, but junior running back CJ Verdell will need to look closer to his 2019 prime if the Ducks want to capitalize on that potential weakness.
#5 Texas A&M vs Colorado - Saturday 1:30 PM MT - FOX
The Aggies and Buffs face each other for the first time as non-conference opponents after both split from the Big 12, a move that in light of recent events, was ahead of the curve. A&M is a dark horse pick for a playoff spot this season while freshman quarterback Brandon Lewis is doing what he can to dig the Buffaloes out of their usual spot as the PAC-12 South’s punching bag. As +17 point dogs, things don’t look very promising for Colorado, but an upset would firmly place the PAC-12 South as the dominant division this season and give the Utes a massive boost in their strength of schedule.
Washington vs Michigan - Saturday 6:00 PM MT - ABC
Stanford at USC is really the big game to keep an eye on here. Still, there’s not a single self-respecting Ute fan who is going to switch over to see the first conference game of the season just fifteen minutes after the Holy War kicks off, so the game here is Washington at Michigan.
Both teams now share a rare distinction, as Washington joins Michigan as one of just five programs to lose to an FCS team while ranked inside the top 25. The Wolverines are -6.5 favorites, so a bounce-back upset win for the Huskies isn’t completely out of the question in the eyes of the oddsmakers. With an already hot seat smoldering beneath him, a loss might be the final nail in Jim Harbaugh’s maize and blue-colored coffin while taking a step to restore some of the PAC-12’s luster.