Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images North America
Ezra Shaw / Getty Images
Saturday, Sept. 8
Arizona at Houston, 10 a.m.
UCLA at Oklahoma, 11 a.m.
Portland State at Oregon, Noon
Colorado at Nebraska, 1:30 p.m.
North Dakota at Washington, 3 p.m.
Utah at Northern Illinois, 5:30 p.m.
Southern Utah at Oregon State, 6 p.m.
USC at Stanford, 6:30 p.m.
California at BYU, 8:15 p.m.
Michigan State at Arizona State, 8:45 p.m.
San Jose State at Washington State, 9 p.m.
For most teams in the Pac-12, conference play won’t start for another few weeks.
For two of the Pac-12’s marquee teams, there’s no more waiting.
No. 10 Stanford will host No. 17 Southern California on Saturday (6:30 MT, FOX), the fourth time in the past five years these teams have met in week No. 2.
“You have to get off to a fast start (to the season) because you have a big conference game week 2,” Stanford head coach David Shaw said during the Pac-12’s weekly teleconference on Tuesday. “We’re kind of used to it being this early and I think the fans of both teams have really appreciated some of the games we’ve been able to give them.”
Since 2007 — when un-ranked Stanford pulled off a stunning 24-23 upset of the No. 2 Trojans — these teams have been involved in one of the Pac-12’s best rivalries. Stanford is 7-4 against the Trojans since 2007, and six of the 11 games have been decided by one score.
This year’s game will feature two of the most intriguing players in the country — Cardinal running back Bryce Love and USC quarterback J.T. Daniels.
Love, the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy last year, was held to 29 yards on 18 carries in a 31-10 win against San Diego State last week, but Shaw isn’t worried.
“The best thing about it is Bryce doesn’t live in his stats,” said Shaw, who is 4-3 against USC. “Bryce is a football player. With that many guys (on San Diego State’s defense) dedicated to stopping the run and at the line of scrimmage, he had to be a great pass protector and that’s what he was. He didn’t get 200 yards rushing, but his pass protecting allowed J.J. Arcega-Whiteside to get (226) yards receiving.”
USC’s run to the Pac-12 South title a year ago was sparked by its 42-24 win against Stanford. Trojans’ head coach Clay Helton said stopping Love will be a key to his team getting its second in a row against the Cardinal.
“I think any time you’re playing Stanford, first down efficiency is so important, because they can live in that third-and-1 to 3 world and they’re the best at it in college football,” said Helton, who is 1-1 against Stanford.
Daniels, meanwhile, was impressive in his collegiate debut. The true freshman, who skipped his senior season at Mater Dei (Calif.) High School, went 22-for-35 for 282 yards and a touchdown in a 43-21 win against UNLV last week.
“I don’t think any of us that saw J.T. play in high school the last couple of years are surprised, No. 1, that he won the job and, No. 2, that he went out there and was very efficient and effective,” Shaw said. “He’s very calm. You’re not going to rattle him. You know he’s going to know what to do and how to do it.”
Big test for ASU
After a dominating 49-7 win against UT-San Antonio to kick off the Herm Edwards era, Arizona State will host No. 15 Michigan State on Saturday night. Edwards is well aware of what his team is up against.
“I’m a real believer in trying to build a program,” Edwards said. “Michigan State is an established program, one of the better college programs in the country. They’re very comfortable in that environment, being ranked in the top 25. This is what you like to become as a football team. These are the teams you look at historically.”
Beating the Spartans would be a huge boost for Edwards and the Sun Devils.
“There’s going to be a lot of excitement in the air, but we’ve got to play well,” he said. “We’ve got to be on point if we’re going to have a chance to beat these guys.”
Coaching for the first time since 2008, Edwards said he had some anxiety last week, but that’s normal for him.
“That means you care,” he said. “You’ve got to care about what you’re doing.”
During his first six games as Arizona’s primary quarterback last year, Khalil Tate ran for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 12.0 yards per carry. In his last four games, Tate has 132 yards and two TDs on the ground, averaging just 2.6 yards per carry. He had 14 yards on eight carries in a 28-20 loss to BYU last week. … Washington State head coach Mike Leach said it was a “pleasant surprise” to see new QB Gardner Minshew get in sync with the offense so quick. A grad transfer from East Carolina, Minshew went 38-of-57 for 319 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in a 41-19 win at Wyoming. … UCLA is a 30-point underdog at No. 6 Oklahoma. Last time the Bruins were this big of an underdog came in 2011, when Oregon was favored by 31 going into the Pac-12 title game.