The Pac-12 season kicks off with two power programs from the opposite ends of California that have quickly become rivals. The conference’s Northwest power also heads to the Midwest for a rare game against Nebraska.
Here’s what to look for in the Pac-12 this week:
GAME OF THE WEEK: Southern California at No. 7 Stanford. The only conference game of the week should be a good one. The Cardinal (1-0) had two weeks to prepare for the Trojans after sneaking past Kansas State in their opener. The Trojans were blown out by top-ranked Alabama, but rebounded last week with a lopsided win over Utah State. The Cardinal have won six of eight in the series, including a 41-31 victory in the Pac-12 title game. The key for USC to end Stanford’s run in the series will be stopping Christian McCaffrey. The Cardinal’s do-everything running back raced through USC’s defense, racking up 461 all-purpose yards in the Pac-12 title game. The rematch should be a good one.
BEST MATCHUP: No. 22 Oregon at Nebraska. The Ducks and coach Mark Helfrich will see a familiar face across the field when they travel to Lincoln. Cornhuskers coach Mike Riley spent 14 seasons at Oregon State before moving east two years ago. Helfrich won both meetings against the rival Beavers and Riley, who went 4-10 in Civil War games. Nebraska opened the season with two blowout victories against overmatched opponents and will face its first real test. Oregon’s offense, as usual, has been flying (48.5 points per game), but the defense has had trouble closing out games.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Of the 12 FBS teams to average at least 50 points, three come from the Pac-12: Arizona State (56.0), No. 8 Washington (53.5) and Colorado (50.0). … California senior QB Davis Webb has thrown for 963 yards and nine TDs in two games so far. … Colorado has won consecutive games by at least 35 points for the first time since 1994 heading into Saturday’s road game against No. 4 Michigan.
IMPACT PLAYER: Kalan Ballage, Arizona State. The Sun Devils junior running back made the most of his 15 touches against Texas Tech last Saturday, matching the NCAA record with eight touchdowns. He scored seven on direct snaps — a formation called Sparky instead of Wildcat in Tempe — so expect to see more of that in the red zone against UTSA on Friday.
Compiled by AP College Football Writer John Marshall
AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org