Pac-12 newbies get rude welcome from Washington schools
Utah and Colorado get initiated in their new conference with losses to Washington and Washington State.
Seattle Times colleges reporter
Initiation: It's a rite of passage for entry into fraternal organizations, ranging from major-league baseball rookies carrying pink Barbie backpacks to the bullpen before the game, to more hot-button activities.
In college football, it goes for teams joining new leagues, too. Saturday, underdog Washington welcomed Utah to the lodge with a 17-point thumping (the Utes had already lost their league opener at USC), and Washington State rescued a victory at Colorado in CU's inaugural game in the new league.
Ask Nebraska's Bo Pelini about it, after the Huskers got a knuckle sandwich from Wisconsin, 48-17, in their first Big Ten game.
It's an old tradition that even Jim Walden, the former Washington State coach, can tell you about. In 1978, his first year as head man, the Cougars walloped Arizona State, 51-26, in ASU's debut in the Pac-10. Those Sun Devils went on to win nine games.
What we learned
Passing numbers are flying off the charts. When USC's Matt Barkley and Arizona's Nick Foles exceeded 400 yards throwing Saturday, it made it four 400-yard days by Pac-12 quarterbacks this year.
Six Pac-12 quarterbacks are among the top 22 nationally in pass efficiency. Andrew Luck (6), Keith Price (10), Marshall Lobbestael (13), Barkley (16), Darron Thomas (17) and Foles (22).
Price is No. 2 in the nation in touchdown passes (to Baylor's Robert Griffin, who has 18), and Lobbestael has established a career high for yardage in three straight games with 361, 368 and 376.
Meanwhile, Oregon State's Sean Mannion completed 40 passes in 66 attempts at Arizona State, both school records. His numbers reflect that gorging on the pass usually isn't a winning style, something Arizona knows well.
Reality sets in at UCLA. Saturday night, the Bruins (2-3) battled, they ran for 141 yards, they played with a purpose. And still, they lost by 26 at Stanford.
Andrew Luck could play tight end, too. The Stanford quarterback snagged a pass one-handed and got a foot in bounds — revealed on a replay call — as Stanford successfully ran a gimmick play.
Arizona is done wrestling grizzlies. But after a hellish four weeks, the Wildcats (1-4) didn't come through it very well. They've lost nine straight games to FBS opponents, and in their loss to USC, the Trojans gained 582 yards and never punted.
USC's defensive issues are still there. The Trojans have allowed 84 points to the Arizona schools in the past nine days. Last time USC gave up 40-plus points back-to-back? Never.
Now it turns dark for Colorado. The Buffs, who let one slip away against WSU, next face Stanford, Washington, Oregon, Arizona State and USC.
Washington has set the table for bigger things. At 4-1, the Huskies can take a breath during a bye week, with games against Stanford and Oregon down the road soon. However those turn out, the UW has at least positioned itself for a shot at the league's No. 2 bowl, the Alamo.
The Cougars' rousing win shouldn't obscure some flaws. Ahead 7-3 late in the first quarter at Colorado, WSU faced two short-yardage plays, at the CU 40. They had power formations with a tight end and a fullback in the backfield, and ran for zero and minus-3 yards. Between that and 10 penalties, there are things to work on.
Two games catch the eye: Thursday night, California, which shut down Oregon as well as anybody last year in a close loss, travels to Eugene. Saturday, Arizona State tries to put a stranglehold on the inside track to the Pac-12 South title as it visits Utah.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Bud Withers
Bud Withers gives his take on college sports, with the latest from the Huskies, Cougs, and the rest of the Pac-10.
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