Pac-12 preview: 10 things to know before Utes rivalry, Ducks-Buckeyes, Big House and more showdowns

Utah defensive back Tareke Lewis (5) celebrates over BYU wide receiver Talon Shumway (21) after an incomplete pass in the first half during an NCAA college football game, Aug. 29, 2019, in Provo.

Utah defensive back Tareke Lewis (5) celebrates over BYU wide receiver Talon Shumway (21) after an incomplete pass in the first half during an NCAA college football game, Aug. 29, 2019, in Provo. (George Frey, Associated Press)



Ten need-to-knows, including a weather update, for Week 2 …

1) The Pac-12 hasn't recorded a nonconference, regular-season victory over an Associated Press top-10 opponent since Stanford beat No. 9 Notre Dame in 2017.

It has two opportunities this weekend with Oregon facing No. 3 Ohio State and Colorado taking on No. 5 Texas A&M (Michigan and TCU are unranked).

And per the conference office: The last time the Pac-12 defeated an AP top-10 opponent in the regular season other than Notre Dame was in 2014, when the Ducks beat No. 7 Michigan State on their way to an appearance in the playoff.

2) Viewed from the narrow perspective of bowl eligibility, no team is under more pressure to win Saturday than Washington State.

The Cougars are 0-1 after the loss to Utah State and have two nonconference games remaining: Portland State (Saturday) and Brigham Young (late October).

The postseason is a numbers game. Six wins are required, so each nonconference victory reduces the pressure in Pac-12 play.

If the Cougars lose to Portland State, they would enter must-win mode against BYU to avoid the perils that accompany a winless record outside of league play.

Because if you're 0-3 outside the Pac-12, you must be 6-3 inside the Pac-12.

3) Utah quarterback Charlie Brewer will experience a heated rivalry Saturday when the Utes head down the road to face BYU.

So we wondered: How did Brewer perform on the road in big games during his tenure at Baylor?

The Hotline's crack research staff ignored last season, because limited attendance made for tame atmospheres in every stadium. But in 2019, Brewer faced TCU, Kansas State and Oklahoma State on the road.

He completed 66.6% of his passes, threw four touchdowns and one interception, and Baylor won all three games.

4) Stanford and USC meet for the 100th time Saturday night. The Trojans are 17.5-point favorites, the largest point spread in the series since 2008 — the year after Stanford's historic upset.

In that '08 season, the Trojans were favored by 24 points … and won by 22.

5) Oregon State's success is tied to its running game to a fairly stunning degree.

The last time the Beavers were victorious when they didn't rush for at least 100 yards was early in the 2014 season (against San Diego State).

Their opponent this week, Hawaii, has allowed 321 yards on the ground in two games. Whether it's Trey Lowe or B.J. Baylor or both, the tailbacks must crack triple digits.

6) A mere 21 months after his promotion, Jimmy Lake enters enemy terrain for the first time as Washington's head coach.

Yes, the Huskies finally have a road game — their first since a loss at Colorado on Nov. 23, 2019. They played just four games last year, all at home, and then opened this season in Husky Stadium, as well.

Lake's road debut comes on hallowed ground, in front of 100,000+ in Michigan Stadium.

Also experiencing his first road trip: UW quarterback Dylan Morris.

According to the Pac-12, UW's streak of 658 days between road games is the longest in major college football since at least 1980.

7) Colorado and Texas A&M haven't collided since 2009, when both were in the Big 12.

The last time CU toppled a top-10 team was 2007, when they stunned No. 3 Oklahoma with a furious fourth-quarter rally.

The Buffaloes have 23 players from Texas on their roster.

8) Ohio State is a heavy favorite over Oregon in the biggest game of the weekend.

Kayvon Thibodeaux's injury is undoubtedly part of the calculation, but the Buckeyes would be double-digit favorites at home over all but a handful of teams because they have substantially more talent than all but a handful of teams.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Ducks have two of the top 100 NFL draft prospects.

Ohio State has seven, including two receivers and two offensive tackles.

Here's the list, with the PFF ranking and Oregon players in italics:

No. 3: DE Kayvon Thibodeaux
No. 8: WR Garrett Wilson
No. 18: WR Chris Olave
No. 27: DE Zach Harrison
No. 42: OT Thayer Munford
No. 51: OT Nicholas Petit-Frere
No. 56: CB Mykael Wright
No. 58: DT Haskell Garrett
No. 63: TE Jeremy Ruckert

9) Jedd Fisch is Arizona's eighth head coach since the school joined what was the Pac-8 conference in 1978.

Only three of his predecessors won their home openers: John Mackovic (Idaho), Mike Stoops (Northern Arizona) and Rich Rodriguez (Toledo).

The Wildcats are a narrow favorite over San Diego State, which beat New Mexico State last week.

10) Expect the following weather at kickoff for Pac-12 teams leaving the West Coast:

  • The conditions could be close to ideal — low 80s and sun — for Oregon's 12 p.m. ET start at Ohio State.
  • Cal will encounter temperatures in the low-to-mid 90s in Fort Worth for its 2:30 p.m. CT start at TCU.
  • By the time Washington and Michigan kick at 8 p.m. ET, temperatures in the Big House should be in the 70s.


Jon Wilner's Pac-12 Hotline is brought to KSL.com through a partnership with the Bay Area News Group.


Jon Wilner has been covering college sports for decades and is an AP Top 25 football and basketball voter as well as a Heisman Trophy voter. He was named Beat Writer of the Year in 2013 by the Football Writers Association of America for his coverage of the Pac-12, won first place for feature writing in 2016 in the Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest and is a five-time APSE honoree. You can follow him on Twitter @WilnerHotline or send an email at jwilner@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Pac-12 Hotline: Subscribe to the Pac-12 Hotline Newsletter. Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.

Jon Wilner

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