Stanford, No. 9 USC play Pac-12's first conference game
The Pac-12 season kicks off this weekend. It's only one game, but firing off the conference schedule with a rivalry that seems to grow with intensity every year is a nice way to get things started.
There's a pretty good non-conference game in there, too, featuring two top-20 teams.
Here's a rundown of Week 3 in the Pac-12, the final week before the conference seasons shifts into full gear:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 19 BYU at No. 10 UCLA. A game that could have College Football Playoff implications in the third week of the season? It's not that farfetched. The Cougars moved into The Associated Press Top 25 this week after consecutive last-second, game-winning heaves by quarterback Tanner Mangum. Beat the Bruins and get past Michigan next week, BYU could force its way into the CFP conversation. UCLA has a more difficult road playing in the Pac-12, but get through the Cougars and the conference gauntlet, the Bruins could make a case for one of the four spots. Probably too early for all of that, but this one will be worth watching either way.
BEST MATCHUP: Stanford at No. 6 Southern California. From Stanford's epic upset of the Trojans - as 41-point underdogs - in 2007 to the ''What's your deal'' game in 2009 and last year's bruiser, this has developed into a must-watch game every season. USC will always have UCLA and Stanford's top rival will always be California, but this budding rivalry has plenty of animosity. The Trojans breezed through their first two games while Stanford had a disheartening loss to Northwestern in its opener, but expect the Cardinal to be geared up for this one after USC ended it 17-game home winning streak a year ago.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The Pac-12 has five teams ranked in the nation's top 20 in scoring defense: No. 6 USC (7.5 points), No. 7 Washington (8), No. 11 USLC (9.5), No. 15 California (10.5) and No. 18 Stanford (11.5) ... Cal has scored 108 points in its first two games, most to open a season since the 1991 team had 128. ... Utah's Britain Covey leads all Pac-12 freshmen with 11 catches for 119 yards.
IMPACT PLAYER: Luke Falk, Washington State. Falk started three games as a redshirt freshman last season and has seamlessly taken the reigns of Mike Leach's Air Raid offense this season. Falk leads the Pac-12 with 767 yards and six touchdowns. He was named the Pac-12's offensive player of the week after throwing for 468 yards and four touchdowns against Rutgers, including the game-winner with 13 seconds left to cap a 90-yard drive. The Cougars play 0-2 Wyoming, so Falk could have another big week.
Complied by AP College Football Writer John Marshall.