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The PAC Twelver: 12 thoughts about the week on the West Coast

A twelve-pack of musings about the Conference of Champions

UCLA v Stanford Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

First: Bryce Love is the clear-cut favorite for the Heisman Trophy at this early stage of the season, coming off PAC-12 Player of the Week honors for his efforts in the 58-34 win against UCLA (30 rushes / 263 yards / 8.8 ypc / 1 TD). Love has rushed 73 times for 787 yards in the four games Stanford has played, an average of 10.8 yards per carry, and 5 touchdowns. Yes, on average, that is a first down every time he touches the football. As I have written before, his only negative thus far is the fact that he did not get the ball nearly enough against USC and SDSU, which contributed to two losses.

Second: With the emergence of sophomore QB K.J. Costello after starter Keller Chryst went down against UCLA, Stanford’s offense finally found some momentum. It will be very interesting to see if the young five-star recruit out of Southern California can show the same composure and downfield accuracy against Arizona State this week on The Farm.

Third: Likewise, #19 Utah (4-0) also suffered an injury to their starting quarterback Tyler Huntley last week, but backup Troy Williams showed leadership and grit in the tight knit 30-24 win over Arizona (2-2). Unlike Stanford’s situation, Williams has a wealth of starting experience, winning 9 games for the Utes last year alone.

Fourth: I know the NCAA is trying to take player safety more seriously, but all of the unnecessary ‘Targeting’ calls are starting to make games tough to watch. The defenders are no longer allowed to play football the way it was meant to be played, and I am convinced that if you watch just about any good hit in slow motion, that it will look like targeting. Please, let football be football.

Fifth: Cal showed a lot of fight against USC last week, and had the game tied 13-13 at halftime. Though #5 USC (4-0) pulled away in the second half and eventually won the game 30-20, first year Cal head coach Justin Wilcox looks to have the Bears (3-1) moving in the right direction. Wilcox played for Oregon from ’96-’99, and has served as the defensive coordinator for Washington, USC, Tennessee, Boise State, and most recently Wisconsin.

Sixth: If I am an NFL GM on draft day, and it comes down to Sam Darnold vs. Josh Rosen as my franchise quarterback, I take Darnold every time.

Seventh: Mike Leach is the ultimate mad scientist offensively, and at 4-0 on the year he has the Cougars ranked #16 in the country. Senior quarterback Luke Falk (130 for 169 passing / 1,378 yards / 14 TD’s / 76.9% completion rate) is an NFL talent, and can put up points with any QB in the conference. However, it’s worth wondering if the Washington State defense can hold up this week against a dangerous USC offense. In any case, if you like high-scoring football games, do not miss this one.

Eighth: What happened to Oregon this past weekend against Arizona State? The Ducks were 13-point favorites in Vegas, and over their first three games new head coach Willie Taggart looked to have Oregon (3-1) football back in order, boasting the #1-ranked scoring offense in the country. Arizona State (2-2) on the other hand was a program that looked to be falling apart at the seams, with head coach Todd Graham widely rumored to be on the hot seat. In the end though, the 37-35 Sun Devil victory is everything we love about college football: pure unpredictability.

Ninth: Chris Petersen’s #6 ranked Washington squad is the most well-balanced team in the PAC-12, and it showed again this past week in a 37-10 win over a strong Colorado (3-1) team. Junior DB Jordan Miller had two interceptions for the Huskies’ defense, and fellow DB Myles Bryant added a pick-six. Separately, with Jake Browning (69 for 99 passing / 958 yards / 9 TD’s / 69.7% completion rate) behind center, the Dawgs can score points with anyone in the college game. Factor in Coach Petersen’s legacy as a special teams Jedi, and I believe my assessment here is more than fair.

Tenth: By that same measure, from top to bottom, I feel like the PAC-12 has best head coaches of any conference in America by a wide margin. Why is that not discussed more widely? I’m not sure.

Eleventh: With the Huskies’ second-leading receiver junior Chico McClatcher lost for the season due to injury, look for junior tailback Myles Gaskin (51 rushes / 355 yards / 7.0 ypc / 5 TDs) to get a lot more work the rest of the way for UDub. He is a quiet beast.

Twelfth: This past weekend I was tipping back Sculpins from Ballast Point Brewery for the big Stanford win over UCLA, so it will be Sculpins for me again this week against the Sun Devils. Feel free to drop a line here on your favorite cold ones and cocktails that accompany you and your home team, while taking in all of the glory that is the week in college football. Cheers y’all.