It’s Labor Day Weekend, which means college football is officially back. All 12 members of the Pac-12 were in action to start the season. We know the Arizona Wildcats lost to the BYU Cougars — our coverage of all that can be found here — so let’s take a look at what transpired throughout the rest of the conference.
Utah 41, Weber State 10
Utah enters the season feeling confident in their chances to contend for the Pac-12 title. That confidence wavered early as Weber State scored twice in 14 seconds in the first quarter. Before long, the Utes asserted their dominance and proved that weakness was a glitch, as Utah ran away with the game by the third quarter.
Utah QB Tyler Huntley had a great game that included four passing touchdowns and 253 yards on 24 completions. Running back Zack Moss also had an impressive game, picking up 150 yards on the ground, over half of which came on an 86-yard gash in the second quarter. The real star of the day was Utah’s defense, who absolutely shut down Weber State, holding them to 59 yards of total offense.
One potential concern for the Utes was turnovers, as Utah coughed it up four times, with Weber State’s two scores coming off turnovers. If Utah can fix that issue, this team looks like it will be a player in the Pac-12 South.
No. 13 Stanford 31, San Diego State 10
With Heisman hopeful Bryce Love and Stanford out for revenge against the Aztecs, the Cardinal asserted themselves and took care of business in Palo Alto.
While Bryce Love was the main attraction going into the game, he only managed a paltry 29 yards on 18 carries. With Love disappointing, it was QB KJ Costello leading the Cardinal to defeats a sneaky good SDSU program. Costello went 21-31 for 331 yards and four touchdowns plus a two point conversion, with the rest of the team only accounting for two points, a second quarter safety.
The game wasn’t out of reach until the fourth quarter, and Stanford needs Bryce Love to be a star, but Stanford started the season with a key out-of-conference win on their hunt for the Pac-12 title and the College Football Playoff.
Colorado 45, Colorado State 13
This game wasn’t in doubt for a single second as the Buffaloes defeated the Rams in Denver for the fourth consecutive season.
Last year was deeply disappointing for CU, as the team missed a bowl after their shocking Pac-12 South title run. This year, however, looks very promising after Steven Montez torched the CSU defense, going a stunning 22-25 with four TDs and one interception. After a stunning 89 yard strike to Laviska Shenault to start the third quarter and put Colorado up by 25, Montez was benched to give him some rest. If he can maintain anything close to Friday’s level of production, the Buffs could be a surprising team this season.
No. 5 Ohio State 77, Oregon State 31
Despite everything that happened at Ohio State this offseason, the Buckeyes seemed to be in gear as they absolutely destroyed the Beavers in Columbus.
There wasn’t really any silver lining for Oregon State in this game, except maybe the fact that they were able to pull off some big runs. Granted, two of Artavis Pierce’s came when the Beavers were down 35, but at least they showed some explosiveness. Also of note is that Oregon State QB Jake Luton was injured on one of the first plays of the game, and he did not return. Replacement Conor Blount wasn’t awful, but it was just a rough time for Oregon State in Columbus.
No. 9 Auburn 21, No. 6 Washington 16
The Pac-12’s chance to make a statement in the national spotlight didn’t go well either, as Washington lost a physical game to Auburn.
UW’s two four-year stars Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin both played decent, with Browning throwing for 296 yards and a touchdown, while Gaskin ran for 75 yards on his way to breaking the Huskies’ all-time rushing record. Unfortunately, the Tigers had some incredible play in the trenches, giving them the physical edge in a slow slugfest.
Washington is still a playoff contender with the close loss, but this was not the start the Huskies or the Pac-12 wanted.
Washington State 41, Wyoming 19
Wyoming’s defense was incredible in Week 0 against the New Mexico State Aggies. That was not the case against Wazzu, who torched the Cowboys after a slow start.
Gardner Minshew took a long time to firmly claim the vacant spot filled by Luke Falk, but he fared very well against a very strong defense. In typical Mike Leach fashion, he threw 57 passes, completing 38 of them for 319 yards and three scores. For a while before and after halftime, it looked like Wyoming would be able to slow down the Cougars enough for win, but early in the fourth WSU was able to pull away.
This was a great way for Washington State to start the season after the tragic suicide of Tyler Hilinski. WSU hopes to have a great season in his memory in 2018.
No. 15 USC 43, UNLV 21
Highly touted freshman JT Daniels’ debut didn’t start well, but it finished great as the Trojans pulled away late from UNLV.
The Rebels managed to take a lead on USC at multiple points in the first half, thanks in part to an amazing 71 yard rush by Lexington Thomas. Unfortunately for them, Daniels quickly figured it out, and finished a solid 22-35 with a touchdown. That’s good for USC, as the Trojans enter a brutal two game stretch at Stanford and at Texas over the next two weeks. They’ll need Daniels to play at a level beyond his years to go 2-0 against those two.
California 24, North Carolina 17
The Golden Bears got off to a hot start against the Tar Heels, but ended up trying to hang on after a UNC rally in the fourth quarter.
Ultimately, North Carolina couldn’t find their way back after Cal had a dominating first half, scoring 17 points and taking the ball from UNC three times. Despite the Cal win, both Ross Bowers and Chase Garbers struggled mightily, and it was up to a key pick-six and running back Patrick Laird to lead the Bears to a 1-0 start and a Power 5 victory.
Cincinnati 26, UCLA 17
The Chip Kelly era in Westwood started on the wrong foot, as nearly everything went wrong for the Bruins against Cincinnati.
Starting quarterback Wilton Speight, a grad transfer from Michigan, was injured in the first half, and while Kelly planned to use freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson regardless, it was disconcerting to see Speight injured again. Thompson-Robinson didn’t play too poorly, but it wasn’t enough to lead them to victory against the sneaky good Bearcats, who hung with UCLA in the Rose Bowl for sixty minutes then outplayed them late.
No. 24 Oregon 58, Bowling Green 24
Justin Herbert and Oregon looked dominant against an overmatched Bowling Green squad, starting Mario Cristobal’s tenure off right.
Half of Herbert’s ten completions found the endzone, but despite the blowout he stayed in for the whole game. Bowling Green actually took a 10-0 lead early, but like Weber State against Utah, were unable to do very much against their opponent after taking that lead. Importantly for UO, Herbert looked awesome, admittedly against weak competition, and the Ducks remain hopeful for a strong year.
Arizona State 49, UTSA 7
Last season, UTSA gave the Devils a tough fight in the Alamodome before eventually succumbing to ASU. This year in Tempe, there wasn’t much a fight.
Manny Wilkins and N’Keal Harry were as explosive as ever before, and running back Eno Benjamin was a force as well. On top of that, the defense returned an interception for a touchdown. Arizona State was thoroughly dominant, not letting the Roadrunners score until well into the fourth quarter. Despite the skepticism concerning the hire of Herm Edwards, early results are certainly promising.