Pac-12 Football: Trojans Competition Heating Up Around the West Coast

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Take a closer look at the rest of the Pac-12 conference with what lies in store for many of the future opponents on the USC schedule. As the conference continues to rise up the rankings, stiff competition lies ahead in amongst the conference slate for the fourth week of the season.

Following an 8-1 week against some stiff competition, especially from the Big 10, the Pac-12 conference came out on fire in all aspects of their game over the weekend. The challenge will now focus to carrying that early momentum towards a consistent run of success, especially with five teams now slotted in the AP Top 25 (Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Washington, ASU) all in the midst of undefeated campaigns through the quarter point.

Idaho State (2-0) at No. 17 WASHINGTON (2-0)

Sat., Sept. 21, 12 noon PT - P12N

WASHINGTON: The Huskies are No. 17 in this week's AP poll. It's their highest ranking in the AP poll since the 2003 preseason poll. After rushing for a career-high 208 yards against Illinois, junior TB Bishop Sankey has rushed for 100 or more yards in six of the last seven games. He's gained 576 yards over his last three games, and 1,142 yards over his last seven games. He currently leads the FBS in rushing with 184.5 yards per game. In a tremendous bounce-back year up north, senior QB Keith Price tossed for 342 yards and 2 TDs in the win over Illinois at Solider Field, the second consecutive 300-yard passing game for the emerging gun slinger.

THE BIG ONE IN PAC-12 PLAY

No. 23 ARIZONA STATE (2-0) at No. 5 STANFORD (2-0)

Sat., Sept. 21, 4 p.m. PT - FOX

ARIZONA STATE: Following one of the wildest finishes in college football in recent memory, the Sun Devils look to transfer their late-game success to the Farm. With his four touchdown performance in the win over Wisconsin, senior RB Marion Grice became the first Sun Devil to rush for four touchdowns in a game since Mike Williams ran for four at Arizona on Nov. 29, 2002. Grice now has six touchdowns on the year (five rushing, one receiving). He has racked up 25 touchdowns over his first 15 games in an ASU uniform, and continues to maintain his average of scoring a touchdown every 7.5 times he touches the ball and is sixth in the Pac-12 in all-purpose yards (161.0).

STANFORD: The Cardinal stretched the field last week in their victory over Army, in large part thanks to junior WR Ty Montgomery, who amassed 233 all-purpose yards. Montgomery ranks third in the Pac-12 with 177.0 all-purpose yardage, and could provide Stanford major balance to their heavy-rushing attack offense. In the win at Army, senior RB Tyler Gaffney rushed for a career-high 132 yards on 20 carries and one touchdown, and also caught a 23-yard scoring pass. The Cardinal defense also came to play, recovering a third quarter fumble that extended their streak of forcing at least one turnover in a nation-best 26-straight games. A challenge that will certainly be tested this week.

LAST MEETING: No. 7 Stanford edged Arizona State, 17-13 in Sun Devil Stadium on November 13, 2010. Current Colts QB Andrew Luck led the Cardinal on the winning drive by completing all four of his pass attempts during the possession, improving Stanford's record to 9-1 with the victory, its best start in 59 years.


OREGON STATE (2-1) at San Diego State (0-2)

Sat., Sept. 21, 4:30 p.m. PT - CBSSN

OREGON STATE: After winning the job over Cody Vaz just days before the season opener against Washington State, junior QB Sean Mannion has 1,237 passing yards for the season, second in the FBS and his 404 yards of total offense per game also ranks second in the FBS. In the biggest saving grace of the season for OSU, the final drive from Mannion and Brandin Cooks (who recorded three TD's vs Utah) helped pull out a back-and-forth thriller.

In one of the most chilling moments of the OT affair, starting RB Storm Woods was carted off the field with help of an ambulance but is alert and beginning a recovery process from a major concussion injury. Faltering in their opening game on defense, the Beavers once elite front-seven (2nd in Pac-12 agains the run in 2012) has taken a major step back but should wreak havoc this week against San Diego State.

New Mexico State (0-3) at No. 13 UCLA (2-0)

Sat., Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m. PT - P12N

UCLA: At No. 13 in this week's AP poll, it's the highest the Bruins have been ranked since reaching No. 11 on Sept. 9, 2007. Sophomore QB Brett Hundley helped to engineer a Bruin comeback from a 21-3 second-quarter deficit by completing his final 10 passing attempts and a perfect 8-8 in the second half of play. UCLA scored a touchdown on each of its four third-quarter possessions to tie a school record for points in a third quarter (28). Hundley also was effective with his legs as he rushed a career-high 19 times for 61 yards. Nebraska, which came in to the game ranked ninth in the nation in rushing yards (330.0 / g average) was held to 128 yards on the ground on 42 attempts who also did not allow a points in the final 37 minutes. The team may start slow, but they finish rather strong at UCLA.

Idaho (0-3) vs. WASHINGTON STATE (2-1)

Sat., Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m. PT - P12N

WASHINGTON STATE: The Cougar defense has been solid the last two games allowing Southern Utah 219 yards total offense just one week after limiting USC to 193 yards total offense. It's the first time the Cougs held opponents under 225 yards since 1994 (Washington-197 yards, and Baylor-151 yards). Senior CB Damante Horton (who scored the pick six against USC) picked up his seventh career interception, while also recording his third career interception return for a touchdown against Southern Utah. Also in the revamped Cougars secondary, senior Deone Bucannon now has 300 tackles for his career, which leads the Pac-12 overall averaging 10.0 tackles per game.

UTAH (2-1) at BYU (1-1)

Sat., Sept. 21 - 8:15 p.m. MT - ESPN2

UTAH: The Utes are averaging an impressive 539.0 yards of total offense, which ranks 17th in the FBS. Sophomore QB Travis Wilson accounted for five TDs in the overtime loss to Oregon State and is really starting to come into his own throwing for 279 yards while darting through the Beavers defense for 142 yards on the ground. Up for grabs in the game against BYU is the Beehive Boot, which is awarded between Utah, BYU and Utah State. If the game comes down to the wire, Utah can rely upon freshman PK Andy Phillips, who remains perfect on the season connecting on 5-of-5 in field goals and 19-of-19 PAT. Utah has been one of the most promising surprises to this point in 2013.

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