Pac-12 gets season off to a shaky start
PHOENIX (AP) The Pac-12 had some impressive victories during college football's opening weekend.
Those turned out to be exceptions in what's usually a weekend of routs.
For a conference that's been compared to and been mentioned as possibly being deeper than the SEC, the Pac-12 took a big backseat to the conference from the South with some ugly losses the first week of the season.
A rundown of the Pac-12's losses and shaky performances:
Result: 16-6 loss at Northwestern.
What happened: There were a few questions about Stanford's offense heading into the season, but few expected it to be this bad. Ranked 21st in The Associated Press poll, the Cardinal were favored by nearly two touchdowns and were facing a team not known for its defense. Stanford moved the ball on its opening drive to set up a field goal, but stalled out after that. The Cardinal finished with 240 total yards - 64 of those on the opening drive - and had a rapid fall out of this week's poll, receiving one vote.
Up next: vs. Central Florida.
What happened: If Stanford's loss was the biggest surprise of the Pac-12's opening weekend, count Arizona State's struggles in the Lone Star State as 1A. The Sun Devils had a hard time keeping the Aggies' defensive ends out of their backfield and their receivers struggled to get open against Texas A&M's press coverage, leading to nine sacks of quarterback Mike Bercovici. Arizona State spent the offseason putting a huge emphasis on special teams and had some big breakdowns again, including a long punt return for a touchdown. This was not the national coming-out party the Sun Devils had in mind and they too fell out of the poll.
Up next: vs. Cal Poly.
Result: 24-17 loss to Portland State.
What happened: The Cougars' loss to an FCS school at home might be the most embarrassing of the Pac-12's losses the first week. Washington State's Air Raid offense moved the ball, but struggled in the red zone. The defense shut down Portland State in the first half, only to give up 17 straight points in the second. The special teams were pretty close to awful, including a blocked field goal attempt and a fumbled punt that set up a touchdown for Portland State. The Cougars have had their share of losses in four seasons under coach Mike Leach, but this one - their first to a Big Sky school since 1947 - will rank as one of the worst.
Up next: at Rutgers.
Result: 28-20 loss at Hawaii
What happened: The Buffaloes entered this season with hopes of ending their recent struggles, maybe even working their way into a bowl game. They seem to still have a ways to go after a letdown in paradise. Colorado's passing game, which still managed to put up big numbers during a two-win 2014 season, was stagnant most of the game against the Rainbow Warriors. Quarterback Sefo Liufau threw a red-zone interception, Colorado lost two fumbles and had a blocked punt that set up Hawaii's first touchdown. The officials may not have gotten the ball down in time for Colorado to run a final play at Hawaii's 8-yard line, but the Buffaloes probably shouldn't have been in that position against a team from a lower-tier conference.
Up next: vs. UMass.
Result: 42-32 win over UTSA.
What happened: The Wildcats walked away with an opening victory, but it wasn't always pretty. Arizona's rapid-fire offense sputtered at times and its defense had a hard time containing the Roadrunners, who set a school record with 525 yards of offense. The worse news was that All-American linebacker Scooby Wright injured his left knee in the first quarter and didn't return. He had surgery to repair torn cartilage, leaving the Wildcats without their best defensive player for up to a month.
Up next: at Nevada.