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Pac-12 roundup Week 3: Stanford and USC lose to Group of 5 schools, ASU steals win at Michigan State

The conference of champions played a bevy of non-conference thrillers

pac-12-football-roundup-recaps-usc-byu-stanford-ucf-asu-michigan-state-ucla-oklahoma Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

While most Arizona Wildcats fans were focused on their team finally getting a quality victory, the rest of the Pac-12 had another mixed bag of results in Week 3.

Here’s what went down throughout the league on Friday and Saturday:

No. 20 Washington State 31, Houston 24

On a Friday night in cavernous NRG Stadium in Houston, WSU overcame a slow start to enter conference play 3-0 with a win over a sneaky good team.

QB Anthony Gordon has been the story of Wazzu’s season thus far, and that did not change one bit in Houston. Gordon finished with a picturesque 36-for-48, 440-yard performance, tossing three touchdowns compared to one interception. He had help from favorite target Brandon Arconado, who eclipsed 100 receiving yards for the second week in a row.

UH really did have a few chances to take a big lead, maintaining a 14-7 advantage for a healthy part of the first half. By the second half, though, Mike Leach’s offense had woken up, and WSU left the Lone Star State with a hard-fought win. The Cougars start their Pac-12 slate at home against UCLA.

Air Force 31, Colorado 24 (OT)

After a thrilling victory over rival Nebraska, Colorado couldn’t pull another comeback out of their hat, falling at home to in-state foe Air Force in overtime.

After taking a quick 10-0 lead, CU looked lost until the fourth quarter, as Air Force’s triple option attack gutted the Buffaloes’ young defense. Down 13 in the fourth, Colorado scored two TDs, but a blocked PAT meant overtime instead of another narrow victory. AFA scored a TD on their first play of overtime, and after a clutch stop against the Buffs, the Falcons had victory.

Colorado’s super duo of Steven Montez and Laviska Shenault Jr. looked fine, with Montez going 26-for-43 for 220 yards, and Shenault hauling in eight of those completions and 124 of those yards. However, an anemic running game coupled with Air Force’s offense dominating gave them the advantage, and with that advantage they grabbed a win to take down I-25 to Colorado Springs.

Colorado starts Pac-12 play in Tempe next weekend.

BYU 30, No. 24 USC 27 (OT)

Speaking of Group of Five schools winning against the Pac-12 in overtime, USC’s stay in the Top 25 proved short-lived as BYU pulled out the win in Provo for its second straight OT victory against a power team.

Coming off his Herculean effort against Stanford, true freshman Kedon Slovis had high expectations in this game. Let’s just say he looked much more like a true freshman Saturday, throwing three picks. To be fair, he still completed an impressive 24 of 34 passes, and notched two TDs. With limited help on the ground from Vavae Malepeai, the Trojans were just vulnerable enough for the Cougars to strike.

This game was incredibly fun from an objective standpoint. No team ever led by more than one score, and 20 points were scored in the fourth quarter. After a field goal in the first frame of overtime, Slovis threw this third pick, leaving USC stunned and letting BYU fans storm the field.

USC has six days to recuperate before facing an even more talented team from the Beehive State, this time at home, as the Trojans host Utah on Friday night.

No. 17 UCF 45, Stanford 27

Here’s yet another loss to the Group of Five for the Conference of Champions, although this one is pretty understandable. Stanford now has a losing record, as it was stomped by UCF in Orlando.

Stanford hoped that the return of star quarterback K.J. Costello from a head injury could mean an upset was due. Unfortunately for them, Costello still looked off, going 21-for-44 for just 199 yards, an interception, and a meaningless TD in the fourth quarter. This game was much, much worse than its margin indicated, as UCF completely let off the gas after having a 31-point lead at halftime.

A lot of prognosticators (including me) thought Stanford would have a hard time this season. Almost nobody predicted this, even against a brutal September schedule. Stanford hosts Oregon next and a huge upset win could be crucial for its goals to remain in reach.

Arizona State 10, No. 18 Michigan State 7

The Pac-12’s marquee win of the weekend came during a ugly Big Ten special, as ASU left East Lansing with yet another win over a ranked Michigan State squad.

It’s a shame this game was borderline unwatchable if you’re a fan of offense, because it was full of drama. ASU could only get into scoring range once against the Spartans’ incredible defense, turning that into three points. For as great as MSU’s defense was, their offense was just as bad, as it took until six minutes remained in the game for it to score a TD. The Sun Devils finally found paydirt with a minute left, but MSU looked like it forced overtime with a field goal. Incredibly, Sparty had 12 men on the field, and the kicker missed the rekick.

ASU was outgained almost 2-to-1 in this game, and despite that true freshman Jayden Daniels still looked solid. He barely managed five yards per attempt, but he was safe with the ball, and that likely led the Devils to victory. ASU’s defense deserves a ton of credit for keeping the Spartans from scoring more than seven points despite 400 yards of offense.

ASU hosts Colorado on Saturday in hopes of starting the year 4-0.

No. 11 Utah 31, Idaho State 0

In a tuneup game for the Pac-12’s highest-ranked team, Utah looked just fine against Idaho State, cruising to 3-0.

Tyler Huntley has been one of the nation’s most accurate passers all season, and that continued against the FCS Bengals. Huntley completed 15 of his 19 passes, gaining 282 yards and scoring thrice. His partner Zack Moss added 106 yards on a measly 10 carries. The highlight was clearly an 82 yard completion from Huntley to Bryan Thompson for the Utes to go up 17-0.

By halftime, the Utes were clearly resting for their Friday night showdown at USC. With how Utah has looked thus far, a win could push Utah’s odds of a division title into the stratosphere. It’s already looking like one of the games of the conference thus far.

Oregon State 45, Cal Poly 7

Speaking of FCS tuneup games, OSU finally got its first win of the year over Cal Poly in impressive fashion.

Jake Luton showed his six years of experience on the field, going 17-for-22 for 255 yards and four scores. Star running back Jermar Jefferson was injured, but B.J. Baylor and Artavis Pierce picked up the slack, picking up 191 yards between them. Champ Flemings and Isaiah Hodgins were electric in the receiving corps, combining for 223 yards.

It’s hard to be impressed by a win over a mediocre Big Sky squad, but OSU has truly shown progress from last season. Can that translate into a shocking win over Stanford in Reser Stadium next Saturday? We’ll find out.

California 23, North Texas 17

The Golden Bears became perhaps the conference’s most surprising 3-0 team, with a close victory over North Texas in Berkeley.

At first, Cal looked like it had an easy win in the bag against one of the C-USA’s best teams. After a 20-0 first quarter though, UNT slowly crawled back into it, and with three minutes left the Mean Green suddenly found themselves down only six. After a quick three-and-out though, California’s win was sealed.

Despite their three wins all being somewhat close, the Golden Bears have found a way to win all three of them, including a feather in their cap in their victory over Washington last week. They might not win the North Division, but they remain undefeated.

Cal heads to Ole Miss next week to try and hit 4-0.

No. 23 Washington 52, Hawaii 20

Hawaii’s 2-0 record against the Pac-12 fell to 2-1 on Saturday night, as a clearly angry Washington team thrashed the Warriors on the mainland.

After last week’s rain-delayed ugly loss to Cal, the Huskies looked ready to show the world that the game was a fluke. Jacob Eason only threw 25 balls, but 18 of them found their target, and he racked up 262 yards. Salvon Ahmed looked like himself on the ground, going for 83 yards on a mere eight carries. They had help from Hawaii QB Cole McDonald, who threw three interceptions.

Washington will head to Provo next weekend. If BYU can pull another home stunner against a ranked Pac-12 team, it’ll be a shock. Speaking of USC, UW’s second conference game will be against the Trojans in two weeks.

No. 5 Oklahoma 48, UCLA 14

In today’s weekly segment of “UCLA gets thumped”, Oklahoma and its star-studded roster put the hammer on the Bruins in Pasadena.

The tone was set right away, as Jalen Hurts picked up 99 yards on the first drive of the game. By halftime it was 34-7 in favor of the Sooners, and 611 yards later OU left the Rose Bowl with a win. For the first time this season, UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson did not fumble twice. Unfortunately, that was offset by two interceptions.

At this point, Bruins fans should be very scared about their season. UCLA has five Pac-12 road games, and needs six wins in conference to reach a bowl. They might need luck to reach half that. Chip Kelly’s rebuild is still not looking good.

No. 15 Oregon 35, Montana 3

In another final tuneup game before Pac-12 play starts, Justin Herbert and the Ducks handled a good FCS team in the Montana Grizzlies.

It’s no secret that Herbert is one of the best NFL prospects in the nation. He showed why against Montana, finishing 30-for-42 for 316 yards and five touchdowns. Running back Travis Dye barely got to the century mark, hitting 101 yards. There were zero hiccups for the Ducks offense, which finished with 560 yards and no turnovers.

Oregon will start its conference slate against Stanford in Palo Alto. While this individual matchup has lost its luster, it’s hard not to argue that this pairing has been the series of the decade in the Pac-12. We’ll see if they can put a fitting finale on a decade of thrillers with high stakes.