The first 1-5 weeks of the NCAA schedule is the time where teams and more importantly conferences want to display their talent, avoid upsets and move up the polls. This period in the season is dominated by non-conference games that give the major conferences a chance to flex their muscles against the weaker ones, who are simply trying to make a name for themselves. This week, however, saw plenty of upsets, which will result in some major shifting in the polls. In case you missed the action this week, here’s one conference that impressed and another that is simply depressed after suffering some tough losses on Saturday.
Big Winner- Pac-12
Before any of its teams even stepped onto the field this week, the Pac-12 saw its favorite and NCAA preseason number one team, USC, get knocked off its perch by Alabama, who wowed voters after its dismantling of eighth ranked Michigan. But after taking the field, Pac-12 teams went 9-3, including three upsets of ranked opponents.
Oregon State got the conference’s great week started by knocking off 2011 Big Ten champion, Wisconsin. The Badgers came into the game ranked #13, but their offense sputtered against the home team. Wisconsin’s only seven points came with under two minutes to go in the game and the Beavers were able to hang on 10-7.
Fans watching the afternoon games witnessed the top teams in the conference, USC and Oregon, take care of business as usual. The #2 Trojans topped a pesky Syracuse team 42-29 with the help of six Matt Barkley touchdown throws. The fourth ranked Ducks also got out to a big lead early for the second week in a row and cruised to a 42-25 win over Fresno State behind a 200-yard rushing performance from Kenjon Barner.
As night fell, so did more ranked teams at the hands of the Pac-12. UCLA overcame an early deficit to grab the lead late and win 36-30 against #16 Nebraska. Redshirt freshman, Brett Hundley, passed for over 300 yards and four touchdowns in the Bruins victory, as they improved to 2-0 on the young season. A couple of hours later, Arizona pulled off even a bigger shocker, knocking off #18 Oklahoma State 59-38. So far so good for the Wildcats, as they jumped to 2-0 as well.
Big Loser- Big Ten
The Big Ten struggled mightily on Saturday, going 6-6 for the week. As mentioned above, two of its more powerful teams, Nebraska and Wisconsin were upset and two of its other conference title hopefuls fell to underdogs, including Illinois losing 45-14 Arizona State (another Pac-12 win) and Iowa dropping its rivalry game to Iowa State 9-6. Penn State and Purdue also suffered heart-breaking losses to Virginia and Notre Dame, respectively.
Even the winning teams in the conference didn’t look too sharp. Michigan squeaked by unranked Air Force, 31-25 and Ohio State wasn’t so dominating in its 31-16 win over UCF. The only team that will likely remain in the top 15 after this week is Michigan State, after it rolled Central Michigan 41-7.
The Pac-12 certainly has looked strong through two weeks of play, while the Big Ten has looked anything but. As we wait for next week’s spreads to come out, here are some games to watch involving teams from the Pac-12 and Big Ten:
Arizona State at Missouri
California at Ohio State
Notre Dame at Michigan State
As of now, I have to favor ASU over Missouri, Ohio State over Cal, in what could be a closer game than people think and Michigan State slightly over Notre Dame. Once the lines are set, be sure to check these games and look for solid picks based on the performances from this week.