Call it the calm before the storm.

For 8 of the 11 Pac-12 teams that played on Saturday — USC had a bye — the final week of nonconference play was but a breeze. Two-thirds of the league’s squads, 8 in total, won by at least a 2-score margin. Some by much more than 2 scores.

Two teams — the ones with the league’s most precarious passing situations, Arizona State and Stanford — were in for a world of hurt and appear to be so for the foreseeable future.

And then there’s Colorado. Which is impossible not to overreact to.

Those are just a few of the things that I’m overreacting to after Week 3 in the Pac-12.

10. Washington is the best team in the country

No, beating an emotionally fragile Michigan State team is not like beating the ‘85 Chicago Bears, but this is a Big Ten team we’re talking about, playing at home in front of a hostile crowd.

And the Huskies absolutely ran them off the field. I mean, it wasn’t close! Washington’s offense looked unstoppable in a 41-7 — its 10th straight victory dating to last year — with Ryan Grubb’s pre-snap motion wreaking havoc with the Spartans’ discipline.

Michael Penix Jr. was clinical operating the passing game, looking every bit like a Heisman winner. He was comfortable in the pocket and on the move, to his right and to his left. He played the role of point guard to perfection, once again doling the ball out with care to Rome Odunze (8 catches for 180 yards), Ja’Lynn Polk (5/118/1) and Jalen McMillan (4/96).

With a soft week hosting Cal in Week 4 and a slightly tougher task in Tucson against the upstart Wildcats in Week 5, the Huskies have a bye week to rest up and prepare for Oregon to come to Seattle in Week 7 in what could be the game of the year.

By then, we could be talking about a top 5 vs. top 10 matchup.

9. Colorado needed a win like that

It was rarely pretty, and for at least 2 quarters, they looked like a tentative, nervous team, but Colorado’s comeback against Colorado State is the kind of lesson from which a team can learn a ton about itself.

It’s one thing when life is as easy as it was in Week 2, when the Buffaloes bounced Nebraska back to Lincoln with Huskers turned into pretzels. It’s one thing when taking TCU’s blow after blow can pull out the best in the offense.

It’s another thing when nothing at all is working — and you’ve lost your biggest weapon on offense and defense. And it truly didn’t for almost 38 minutes, aside from 1 mid-1st quarter scoring drive. After going 71 yards in 7 plays, Colorado had a combined 0 yards on 8 plays the rest of the first half. Then the Buffs went 3 plays for negative-1 yard to open the 2nd.

Watching Sean Lewis and Shedeur Sanders adjust on the fly, though, was something. Colorado’s final 4 possessions resulted in 4 scoring opportunities — a missed field goal, 2 successful field goals and the game-tying touchdown, one that capped a 7-play, 98-yard drive. Were the Buffaloes aided by some first-rate buffoonery on the part of the Rams, who treated the game like a UFC fight? Yes.

But it was a terrific comeback, and one that gives the Buffs some momentum heading into their toughest test yet, next Saturday at Autzen Stadium.

8. But the loss of Travis Hunter is incalculable

Yet it is a test made unfathomably harder by the loss of Hunter, the Buffaloes’ brilliant 2-way star, who was knocked out with a blow to the chest on an illegal hit by the out-for-blood Rams.

Hunter’s absence cannot be overstated. This is more than just having 2 starters out. This is 2 All-Americans-in-one sidelined, more talent in 2 pinkies than most players have in their entire bodies. His absence will hurt Shedeur Sanders and the Colorado offense, as he’d been a terrific spark plug at times, catching 16 passes for 213 yards this season, and a pivotal decoy drawing double coverage on others.

But he’ll truly be missed on defense against an Oregon passing game that’s taken a step forward this year. Bo Nix has some new toys at his disposal and it’s clear they are building a rapport. Nix hit new target Tez Johnson for a 49-yard touchdown on Oregon’s second play of an eventual 55-10 win over Hawai’i. Fellow newcomer Traeshon Holden had his best game as a Duck, catching 4 balls for 63 yards and a score, and former USC wideout Gary Bryant got in the mix with 3 grabs for 50 yards.

And then there’s star Troy Franklin, who has benefited from the extra room with 17 catches for 292 yards and 3 scores in 3 games.

Stopping them with Hunter would’ve been Colorado’s toughest test so far this year. Without him, it’s like taking the test blindfolded.

7. ASU is a mess and a Kenny Dillingham is the man for the job

There can’t be much positive to say about a 29-0 loss to a Mountain West squad. In fact, there isn’t. Arizona State simply played one of the worst games by a Pac-12 team in years, falling to Fresno State by that lopsided margin.

Down to their 4th-string QB, the Sun Devils fought, though. They could’ve folded in the face of 5 interceptions by Trenton Bourguet, Drew Pyne and Jacob Conover. Alas, they allowed just 3 4th-quarter points.

That says something.

Fresno QB Mikey Keene managed 281 yards but he needed 49 pass attempts to do it, and the Bulldogs’ running game had just 69 total rushing yards as Keene was sacked 6 times for negative-65 yards.

Those defensive numbers are not indicative of a team giving up.

With starting QB Jaden Rashada sidelined for at least a month, though, don’t expect things to get better in a hurry.

6. Utah is hurting and in trouble against UCLA

Speaking of the infirmary, can ASU air mail a splint or two up to Utah?

The Utes are so far from full strength it’s starting to get laughable. Well, you laugh to keep from crying. It’s been that kind of year. Of course, you start with Cam Rising and go from there. But the “from there?” Whew.

Missing the likes of tight end Brant Kuithe, wideouts Devaughn Vele and Mycah Pittman, offensive lineman Johnny Maea, kicker Cole Becker, and defensive linemen Junior Tafuna and Simote Pepa? That’s not “not at full strength.” That’s like half an all-conference team.

If Utah had a softer entry into conference play, that would be one thing. But the Utes enter league matchups against 2 of the top defenses in the Pac-12 in UCLA and Oregon State.

Even at full strength, that wouldn’t be easy.

“We have to start getting them back, and we lost some more today,” Kyle Whittingham said after Utah’s uninspiring 31-7 Week 3 win over Weber State. “I’ve been coaching 40 years and I’ve never seen anything like this in that department.”

5. The Pac-2 will put on the best show in football next weekend

I’m one of the wacky purists out there who love the idea of Oregon State and Washington State saying screw it and scheduling a best-of-12, 6-game home-and-home series among themselves in 2024.

If the 10 other Pac-12 teams are going to just leave them in the cold, why not make the most of it?

But why start next year?

Forget Colorado/Oregon and UCLA/Utah, the best Pac-12 matchup between ranked opponents is this one, a slugfest in the making between 2 programs that have been forsaken by the college football community.

For 2 programs under intense pressure, that’s what this game will come down to. Will Wazzu get to DJ Uiagalelei? Or will the Beavers bully Cameron Ward?

4. Arizona is on the rise, even if their final record won’t reflect it

I hope the Wildcats enjoy what should be a wonderfully stress-free trip to the Bay Area. Maybe check out Fisherman’s Wharf for some clam chowder. Chinatown for dim sum. Silver Cloud in the Marina for karaoke and drinks.

Then go to Palo Alto and dismiss Stanford like the dandelions that the once-mighty Trees are, and jet back to Tucson before Eegee’s closes.

Nice little trip. And it might be their last fun weekend in a while.

After traveling to the Cardinal, the Wildcats have a gauntlet: Washington and USC, Washington State and a bye before Oregon State, UCLA then Colorado then Utah. Wow. Good luck.

If the Cats can somehow snag 2 wins out of that murderer’s row, they’ll contend for their first postseason berth since 2017.

3. When did every Pac-12 backfield become a platoon?

How’s this for a stat: Only 1 running back in the league had a 65% share or better of the carries in Week 3. And it was a backup.

  • Cal’s Isaiah Ifanse: 65%
  • Arizona’s Michael Wiley: 63%
  • Colorado’s Dylan Edwards: 62.5%
  • Oregon State’s Damien Martinez: 54%
  • Stanford’s Casey Filkins: 46%
  • Washington’s Tybo Rogers: 45%
  • Oregon’s: Bucky Irving: 44%
  • UCLA’s Anthony Adkins: 33%
  • Utah’s Jaylon Glover: 33%
  • Arizona State’s Cameron Skattebo: 28%
  • Washington State’s Nakia Watson: 25%

Ifanse stepped in for the absent Jaydn Ott and had the game of the week, rushing for 137 yards on 22 carries. And still, Ashton Stredick had 11 rushes for 77 yards, too.

There’s no such thing as a feature back anymore. Not even Martinez or Arizona’s Wiley. It’s a weird, weird time to be a running back.

2. Cameron Ward would be the best QB in the SEC

Yeah, I said it. The Washington State quarterback had his 3rd straight strong performance, completing 20-of-26 passes for 327 yards and 4 scores in a 64-21 win over Northern Colorado, while adding a rushing touchdown, his 2nd of the year.

He’s now up to a passer rating of 177.44, which would rank 3rd in the SEC behind Jaxson Dart and Jayden Daniels. But he has more passing touchdowns (9) than Dart (7) and Daniels (8).

Give me Ward — the Pac-12’s 6th-rated QB — any day.

1. The Pac-12 can’t afford to eat its own in Week 4

I’m all for Kumbaya and all that jazz. I’d love if every Pac-12 team won every week, of course, but that ain’t football and that ain’t life.

In reality, 6 teams will win and 6 will lose this weekend, and the conference needs certain teams to fare better than others.

No. 11 Utah stands a better long-term chance at the Playoff than No. 22 UCLA; No. 10 Oregon is better-positioned than No. 19 Colorado; and No. 14 Oregon State has the edge over No. 21 Washington State. If the lower-ranked teams win those games, we could see the Pac-12 claim spots 13-18 in the rankings. Should the higher-ranked teams win, we could see 4 teams in the top 10.