Pac-12 Football Week 2 Breakdown

Pac-12 Football Week 2 Breakdown

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Game of the Week:

#24 Missouri @ #17 Arizona State

Missouri looked relatively plain against Miami (OH) last Saturday. Blaine Gabbert’s replacement, sophomore James Franklin, threw for an unimpressive 129 yards and a touchdown. He was also their leading rusher with 76 yards from scrimmage. The Tigers only scored 17 points and were only leading by four at the start of the fourth quarter. However, their defensive unit held the Redhawks to an abysmal 270 yards of total offense, giving the Tigers some relative confidence moving forward.

This week Missouri heads to the desert to face the Sun Devils in what is predicted to be 104-degree temperatures. Arizona State’s defense allowed a mere 243 yards of total offense to UC-Davis last week. They allowed only 4.34 yards per play and were lead by Alden Darby (seven tackles) and Vontaze Burfict (three sacks).

The Sun Devils didn’t stop at having a fantastic defensive output. Quarterback Brock Osweiler threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns, both of which went to wide receiver Aaron Pflugrad. With an early, and unthreatened, lead over UC-Davis, ASU pulled back the reigns in the passing game and also finished with 217 rushing yards.

Unless Missouri can find the “on” button for their offense, they can expect major trouble from Arizona State’s blitzing linebacker corps. Franklin will not have nearly as much room to maneuver and ASU should knock Missouri out of the top-25 for next week. With a tough schedule remaining (five ranked teams, traveling to four of them), Missouri’s hopes of regaining a spot in the top-25 will be slim. Arizona State, on the other hand, has their doors wide open for a run at the first-ever Pac-12 Championship game.


Honorable Mention:

Utah @ #22 Southern California

There are only two intra-conference games in the Pac-12 this week, but this one should be a battle to the finish. Both teams had a rough start last week, with Utah showing uncommon offensive struggles against Montana State and USC displaying a lopsided attack in a close win over Minnesota.

Utah, who averaged 389 yards per game throughout the season in 2010, only managed 292 against an FCS team last week. Conversely, Utah’s defense played well enough to hold Montana State’s star quarterback, DeNarius McGhee, to only 180 yards passing.

It will be a tougher test for Utah this week as USC quarterback Matt Barkley and wide receiver Robert Woods connected on a USC record 17 completions for 177 yards and three touchdowns. However, the Trojans rushing attack was limited to 67 yards, possibly due to the suspension of top running back Marc Tyler.

Both teams will need to improve this week if they want to open Pac-12 play with a victory. Expect to see a more balanced effort this week from Southern Cal. Woods should have another big game, and Tyler’s return should add a much-needed boost to the USC offense. Utah will again struggle on offense due to deep pressure from USC’s defensive front. Utah’s welcome to the Pac-12 will not be a happy one for the Ute fans.


Do Not Overlook:

Arizona @ #8 Oklahoma State

On display in this game are two of the best wide receivers in the FBS this season. Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon could be a top five draft pick next season, if he decides to leave OSU. Arizona’s Juron Criner lived up to expectations a week ago hauling in six passes for 151 yards and a touchdown.

Not to be left out of the conversation are the teams’ starting quarterbacks, OSU’s Brandon Weeden and Arizona’s Nick Foles. Weeden opened the season with 388 yards and three touchdowns while Foles had 412 yards and an FBS-leading five touchdowns. This ranked them as the top two passers in the FBS in week one.

There will be no lack of excitement in this matchup of NFL prospects. Oklahoma State’s defensive unit should be strong enough to limit the remaining Wildcats’ offensive threats, thus bringing a victory home for the Cowboys.


Upset Alert:

Hawaii @ Washington

This may be a difficult sell as an upset, based on last weekend’s showing, but Hawaii beats Washington in Seattle.

Washington struggled against the defending FCS National Champions, Eastern Washington Eagles in week one. EWU traveled to Seattle minus star running back, and current Oakland Raider, Taiwan Jones, and put on a passing clinic against the Huskies. Washington allowed 473 yards passing and three touchdowns to a sub-division school. The only difference between the Huskies being 1-0 and 0-1 is a Desmond Trufant interception in the end zone with 1:17 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Hawaii opened their 2011 campaign with a sound thrashing of new Pac-12 addition, Colorado. Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz is respected for not only his ability to throw (led the FBS in 2010 with 5,040 passing yards), but also his ability to run. Moniz rushed for 121 yards and three touchdowns versus Colorado, and will see running lanes against a questionable Washington defense as well.

Husky fan’s joy over a Holiday Bowl victory over Nebraska in 2010 is quickly fading with the realization that Washington has a bumpy road in 2011. Moniz should continue to expose the Husky secondary and continue his pattern of 300+ yard passing games.


Players to Watch:

WR Keenen Allen, Cal: Although overshadowed in the Pac-12 by Robert Woods’ 17 catches, Allen had eight catches for 112. He will be targeted just as often versus Colorado, but this week he will score.

RB Johnathan Franklin, UCLA: Strong performance in a tough loss to Houston last week. Will put up great numbers against San Jose State’s weak defensive unit.

LB C.J Mizell, WSU: Two sacks last weekend and the defense has schemes for this to continue when playing UNLV.

KR Malcolm Marable, OSU: The freshman averaged almost 30 yards per kick return in a heart-breaker loss to Sacramento State. With plenty of kick return possibilities coming versus #4 Wisconsin, don’t be surprised to see one go for six.

LB Brian Blechen, Utah: Not only did he intercept two passes playing Montana State last week, he also had five tackles and two defended passes. Blechen is all over the field and will see plenty of work against USC.

Football Week 2 Breakdown Page