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Pac-12 football roundup: Week 3

A look back at an exciting Saturday in the league

NCAA Football: Southern California at Texas Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona finally managed a 62-31 victory last night against Southern Utah, and Khalil Tate looked like himself again with a play style more focused on his mobility. However, the rest of Saturday’s slate in the Pac-12 was full of surprises, including a surprising team falling to 1-2 and two incredible thrillers in Reno and San Diego of all places.

Here are the results of Week 3 of college football in the Pac-12.

Stanford 30, UC Davis 10

After coming off a huge victory over USC, Stanford tuned itself up against UC Davis in an easy victory.

The main storyline of this game was running back Bryce Love’s absence with an unknown injury. After an awful start against San Diego State, Love had rebounded pretty well against USC. Without Love, Stanford still had no issues with an FCSsquad that beat San Jose State in Week 1.

Love deservedly had the nation’s attention in the preseason, but Stanford’s real offensive MVP thus far has been receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside. The senior got another two touchdowns on Saturday, and his connection with quarterback KJCostello has been a pleasant surprise for the Cardinal. Stanford looks like a real conference (and maybe) playoff contender.

Oregon 35, San Jose State 22

Oregon has faced one of the easiest nonconference schedules in the country, and it seems complacency finally set in for the Ducks in cupcake game number 3.

For the first time this year, Justin Herbert looked mortal. His completion percentage dipped below 50 percent and he threw two picks along with three touchdowns. Both CJ Verdell and Tony Brooks-James weren’t able to do much on the ground either.

Despite struggles, UO still managed 35 points on 443 yards. Nevertheless, San Jose State is one of the weakest FBS teams in the nation, and Oregon showing too much comfort a week before Stanford (and College Gameday) visits Eugene is nerve-racking for Duck fans.

Colorado 45, New Hampshire 14

Colorado’s win against Nebraska doesn’t look so good anymore, but it still dominated their FCS opponent in Boulder.

Just like with Costello and Arcega-Whiteside in Palo Alto, Steven Montez and Laviska Shenault have been an electric combination in nonconference play. The two linked up for a score on CU’s opening drive, and while both were either quiet or on the bench the rest of the day, the pair looks like a potential key to Colorado returning to its 2016 form.

Overall, the Buffs scored a routine win over New Hampshire. After a bye and then facing UCLA, Colorado faces a brutal stretch of ASU, USC and Washington.

California 45, Idaho State 23

Like Colorado, Cal faced an FCS opponent in Week 3. And like Colorado, the Golden Bears were in control.

Freshman quarterback Chase Garbers continued to improve, going 20 of 25 for 224 yards and a touchdown. Coach Justin Willcox appears to have found his QB of the future in Garbers, and while the team and he are still growing, signs look promising for the future. Idaho State scored a few touchdowns in garbage time, but otherwise Cal was dominant and now enters conference play 3-0.

Nevada 37, Oregon State 35

Nevada and Oregon State had a thrilling shootout in Reno, and the host WolfPack escaped with a Power 5 upset thanks to a missed field goal at the buzzer.

Last week I mentioned that Oregon State showed signs of life thanks to Jermar Johnson’s performance on the ground against Southern Utah. Jefferson was still exciting, racking up 106 yards and two scores on the ground. Both Jake Luton and Conor Blount played at quarterback; Luton managed 284 yards on 23-of-35 passing, with both a score and an interception, while Blount went 12 for 20 for 175 yards with a TD and a pick.

Unfortunately for the Beavers, turnovers cost them, including a scoop n’ score in the first half. Oregon State trailed the entire game, and finally had a chance to take a 38-37 victory with a field goal at the end. Jordan Choukhair pushed it left, and Nevada won.

Washington State 59, Eastern Washington 24

Eastern Washington upset the Cougars in 2016, and two years later WSU exacted revenge in a comfortable win over its FCS foe.

Gardner Minshew continues to put up very Mike Leach numbers, this week going 45 of 57 for 470 yards and two scores. Jamal Williams was a force in the redzone, only carrying the ball six times for 19 yards but getting three scores. Wazzu never really lost control of this one, and Eastern Washington’s constant mistakes (four turnovers) and the Cougar offense was enough to push WSU to 3-0 out of conference play.

Texas 37, USC 14

Last week’s iffy performance against Stanford had many suspecting Texas could beat USC in Austin. Those predictions were proven right and then some.

The first quarter went well for the Trojans, with two running scores giving them a 14-3 lead. The last 45 minutes of the game were a nightmare, as USC was outscored 34-0. Texas was only able to make it a 16-14 lead going into half, but an electric third quarter by the Longhorns, peaking with a blocked FG return for a touchdown, essentially ended the game.

The Men of Troy are now in deep trouble after starting the season a popular Pac-12 South pick. Quarterback JT Daniels has looked too much like an 18-year old freshman, and it appears USC will be rebuilding rather than reloading this time around.

Washington 21, Utah 7

Last week’s marquee Pac-12 matchup was an ugly game that disappointed fans watching on national TV. The same occurred in Salt Lake City this week.

This game was characterized by both teams making frequent miscues, but especially the Utes. The game was 21-7 by the middle of the third quarter, and what followed was both teams failing to make any kind of mark on the game.

The pinnacle of the comedy of errors was an interception by Utah defensive lineman Pita Tonga. Jake Browning threw an ill-advised throw to escape a sack, and Tonga made a great play by picking it off. He had a clear lane to the end zone, but at the 10-yard line he fumbled the ball high in the air with no defender near him. Utah would fail to score.

Both teams and their fanbases can’t feel good about this game, since neither looked particularly strong. Utah missed a huge opportunity for a home upset against a team off its game, and Washington failed to lock down a victory even with many Utah mistakes.

Fresno State 38, UCLA 14

UCLA entered the season expecting a bit of rebuilding with new head coach Chip Kelly. It now looks like the Bruins are in for a LOT of rebuilding.

To be fair, Fresno State was a great team last year, and all signs point to the Bulldogs competing in the Mountain West this season. They were actually favored over UCLA in the Rose Bowl.

The Bulldogs raced to a huge lead early before UCLA was able to crawl back towards a 16-14 deficit in the third quarter. Once again, Fresno and QB Marcus McMaryion turned on the afterburners, and the Bulldogs scored 22 points on three straight possessions to effectively end the game.

Kelly knew he’d need a couple of years to make UCLA what he was able to make Oregon a decade ago. It’s been surprising to see just how much needs to be done in Westwood.

San Diego State 28, Arizona State 21

ASU and SDSU turned out to be the most exciting game of the late-night slot by a huge margin, with the Aztecs escaping a wild game.

After a good start for the Devils, San Diego State took a 17-14 lead in the third quarter, before extending it twice to a two-touchdown margin. Manny Wilkins linked up with N’Keal Harry for a late TD for ASU, but the ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Aztecs. Amazingly, after SDSU running back Chase Jasmin had successfully run for a first down, seemingly clinching the game, he fumbled the ball and Arizona State had a second chance.

Yet another miracle appeared to have occurred for ASU, when on 4th and 10 Wilkins seemed to complete a bomb to Frank Darby to the 4-yard line, plus Darby was targeted on the play. After review, the catch was overturned, but thanks to targeting the Sun Devils had one last chance. The pass was batted down, and SDSU escaped one of the most manic games of the night.

Despite the loss, ASU with Herm Edwards and the duo of Wilkins and Harry still appears to be a legitimate threat to compete in the wide-open Pac-12 South.