Pac-12 Football: Oregon's Loss, Stanford, USC Injuries Add Up to Tough Weekend

Auburn's Seth Williams makes the game-winning touchdown catch.Photo by Matthew Emmons - USA TODAY Sports

Jake Curtis

Pac-12 teams went 8-4 in the first weekend of the college football season, but it was still a disappointing start for the conference. And it might not get better, with USC quarterback JT Daniels reportedly done for the season, and the status of Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello very much in question.

The biggest setback was Oregon’s 27-21 loss to Auburn. Much of the country was already skeptical of the Pac-12’s strength, and when the 11th-ranked Ducks blew a 21-6 lead against the 16th-ranked Tigers, that skepticism seemed to be confirmed.

Just as Washington’s loss to Auburn last year seemed to eliminate Pac-12 teams from the College Football Playoff, Oregon’s loss will make it difficult for the Pac-12 to have a representative in the chase for a national championship.

The Tigers did it with a true freshman quarterback (Bo Nix) who was 9-for-25 with two interceptions before leading the game-winning drive late in the game.

Meanwhile, Stanford beat Northwestern 17-7, but the Cardinal's star quarterback, K.J. Costello, was knocked out of the game on a vicious hit to the head. Stanford's all-conference offensive tackle Walker Little also left the game with a leg injury.

It’s unclear whether Costello will miss any games, but he remained on the ground for a long time, so it is not promising. Without Costello, the Cardinal is in trouble.

“Our quarterback, we'll see how he is the next couple of days," Stanford coach David Shaw said after the game. "And then Walker Little, we'll see where he is. I don't have any answers to any questions about injuries right now.”

A knee injury to USC quarterback Daniels marred the Trojans' win, and reports on Sunday night indicated Daniels is done for the season with a torn ACL.

USC won its opener at home, but it nearly blew the 31-13 lead it held entering the fourth quarter against Fresno State, the favorite to win its Mountain West division. Trailing by eight, Fresno State got to the USC 15-yard line with 1:45 left, but a USC interception in the end zone preserved a 31-23 win. Trojans QB Daniels was good, not great, going 25-for-34 for 215 yards with one TD and one pick.

But Daniels apparently won't play in next Saturday's game against Stanford, and the Cardinal may be without its quarterback for that game as well.

Washington, Cal’s opponent on Saturday in Seattle, was probably the most impressive conference team as quarterback Jacob Eason, making his first start for the Huskies, went 27-for-36 for 349 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in a 47-14 victory over Eastern Washington, which is ranked No. 3 in the preseason FCS poll.

Quarterback Anthony Gordon had a big game in his first start for Washington State, completing 29 of 35 passes for 420 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in a 58-7 victory over a bad New Mexico State team.

Arizona State true freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels threw two touchdown passes with no interceptions in the Sun Devils’ 30-7 victory over Kent State, but UCLA’s performance in a 24-14 loss to Cincinnati makes you wonder whether Chip Kelly’s success at Oregon was just a product of the outstanding talent he had with the Ducks.

Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson was 9-for-26 for 156 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for a 5.6 quarterback rating. He also had minus-20 yards rushing.