Pac-12 winding down non-conference schedule
Things to watch in Week 3 of Pac-12 play, including the first big test for two teams:
GAME OF THE WEEK: California (2-0) at Arizona (3-0). The Bears are off to a roaring start, already doubling their win total from last season. The Wildcats have had a few hiccups, yet finished the non-conference season undefeated under coach Rich Rodriguez again. Next comes the real test for both teams. Improving upon a 1-11 season a year ago wasn’t asking much, but the Bears are definitely playing better in their second season under Sonny Dykes. Cal opened the season with a solid win over Northwestern and had a did-what-you’re-supposed-to rout of Sacramento State before last week’s bye. The problem this week will be trying to stop Arizona’s offense. The Wildcats again are churning out yards in big bunches, but haven’t played the toughest of schedules so far. Arizona had trouble with Cal last season, holding off the Bears 33-28 in Berkeley.
BEST MATCHUP: Oregon (3-0) at Washington State (1-2). This one should be fun to watch, even if the second-ranked Ducks are more than three-touchdown favorites. That’s because of the two offenses. Oregon’s is annually one of the most explosive in college football and this season has been no different. Led by Heisman Trophy front-runner Marcus Mariota, the Ducks are top-10 in scoring and yards after blowing past their first three opponents. The Cougars have one of the nation’s best passing attacks, led by one of its best quarterbacks, Connor Halliday. He led the FBS in passing yards last season and is atop the standings again this year, throwing for 1,465 yards and 12 touchdowns. Oregon’s defense has given up a few big plays this season, so this could be a shootout, at least for a little while.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The Pac-12 teams lead the power 5 conferences by averaging 500.7 total yards per game. The SEC is second at 474.8. … The two desert schools lead the conference in rushing: Arizona State with 304.3 yards per game and Arizona at 268.3. … Utah is at Michigan this weekend for the first time since knocking off the Wolverines 25-23 in the Big House in 2008. The Utes went 13-0 that season, capped by a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama. … Washington is tied for first nationally with 15.0 sacks, Baylor and Virginia Tech.
IMPACT PLAYER: Oregon State QB Sean Mannion. He needs 186 yards passing against San Diego State to move into third on the Pac-12’s career list ahead of Derek Anderson, who threw for 11,249 yards for the Beavers from 2001-04. Mannion also is tied with USC’s Carson Palmer for 11th on the conference’s all-time touchdowns list with 72 and can move into the top 10 by throwing two TD passes against the Aztecs.
Compiled by AP College Football Writer John Marshall.