Week 1 of the 2022 college football season felt like it put the Pac-12 on a pedestal.

Sure, the conference came crashing down, knocking all the pedestals over in the process, but it did feel like with Oregon taking on the defending national champions and Utah traveling to another big-time SEC school, the conference had its moment in the sun.

With only a couple potential big-time clashes in Week 2, though, it feels like the spotlight is gone. Only two Pac-12 schools face ranked non-conference opponents — Stanford takes on a ranked in-conference opponent, with No. 10 USC coming to Palo Alto — and the fervor has subsided.

It’ll take some big wins by some big offenses to get the buzz back.

Here’s a look at my final thoughts heading into Week 2 of the Pac-12 slate…


No. 13 Utah vs. Southern Utah, 10:30 a.m. PT, Pac-12 Network

The Utes must emerge from the muck with their hearts and minds unblemished, but that’s no easy task coming out of The Swamp.

Utah’s loss to Florida reflected some scary realities for the Utes, realities that they’d rather face now than come Pac-12 play. For a team with huge expectations and big dreams, a dramatic loss like they suffered at Florida can tend to linger.

Even against a patsy in-state opponent, this is an important game for Utah to show it can handle a blow but still keep on ticking.

Final verdict: Utah gets over the Florida loss in a big way

Washington State at No. 19 Wisconsin, 12:30 p.m., FOX

Cameron Ward gets his “Welcome to the Big Time” moment with a visit to the Badgers.

Wisconsin pulled its foot off the gas pedal in a 38-0 Week 1 win over Illinois State, saving its creativity for the Big 10 and this weekend against the Cougars.

Washington State survived a rough start against Idaho to win, 24-17, in Week 1, and it feels like Ward and Wazzu have a lot to prove. An active Cougars defense does, as well, coming off a seven-sack performance against the Vandals.

If Washington State can get to Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz, the Cougars will have a chance. That’s a big if, though.

Final verdict: The Badgers hold off a feisty Wazzu defense

Colorado at Air Force 12:30 p.m., CBS

One week after allowing 275 rushing yards to TCU in a 38-13 Horned Frogs win, the Buffaloes have the unenviable task of taking on Air Force’s triple-option attack.

Good luck, Colorado.

Adjusting to one of college football’s niche offenses is never an easy thing, especially considering Air Force rushed for 582 yards and five touchdowns last week.

Holding the Falcons to even under 400 yards on the ground would be a win for Colorado.

Final verdict: Air Force runs right past the Buffaloes

Cal vs. UNLV, 1 p.m.

After a good-but-not-great start last week in a 34-13 win over UC Davis, Cal hosts one of college football’s worst teams as the Rebels come into town on Saturday afternoon.

The Bears had just a 28-yard advantage in total offense (415-387), and they managed just 24 first downs. The Aggies even came to a draw in the running game (147 yards for Cal, 145 for UC Davis), while averaging 5.4 yards per rush compared to Cal’s 4.3

All that is to say, Justin Wilcox and Co. need to lift the Bears to another level, and in a hurry, if they hope to compete for the postseason

Final verdict: Anything less than a Cal blowout would be a big disappointment

Washington vs. Portland State, 1 p.m.

Michael Penix looked like a new man under head coach Kalen DeBoer and Ryan Grubbs in a Week 1 drubbing against Kent State.

Or, Penix looked like the Penix of 2019 — the last time he played with DeBoer, who left his role as Indiana offensive coordinator in 2020 to become head coach at Fresno State. When DeBoer took the Huskies’ head job, Penix wanted to reunite with the coach who brought him his best success with the Hoosiers.

After a couple inaccurate seasons in 2020 and ’21, Penix rediscovered his touch against the Golden Flashes, completing 26 of 39 passes for 345 yards and four touchdowns. He’ll get the chance to build on that performance against the FCS Vikings.

Final verdict: Penix continues his hot start as Huskies win easily

UCLA vs. Alabama State, 2 p.m., Pac-12 Network

The Bruins play against an HBCU school for the first time, a big achievement for athletic director Martin Jarmond.

It won’t be as much of an achievement if UCLA does what is expected and handles Alabama State with ease.

It would be if they draw more than 25,000 fans.

Final verdict: UCLA wins to improve to 2-0 for the second straight year

Stanford vs. No. 10 USC, 4:30 p.m., ABC

The Trojans were fantastic in a Week 1 home win over Rice, with a thrilling passing attack and an opportunistic pass defense.

But I can’t help but think back to the first quarter in the opener, when the Owls moved on the USC defense with ease. Call it opening-day jitters, call it adapting to a new coaching staff, call it working out the kinks — call it what you want, but the Trojans should never be challenged by a team with a talent disparity like Rice.

The Cardinal aren’t exactly the Crimson Tide, but with a rededicated focus on the running game behind running back E.J. Smith — Emmitt’s son — the Trojans face stiffer competition.

I need to see more from some of USC’s formerly highly touted recruits to be all the way bought in on the Trojans defense. This will be a good litmus test for the Cardinal and Gold.

Final verdict: USC handles the Cardinal with ease

Arizona State at No. 11 Oklahoma State, 4:30 p.m., ESPN2

There may not be another Pac-12 team that experiences a leap in talent from Week 1 to Week 2 that is bigger than the Sun Devils going from hosting Northern Arizona to playing in Stillwater against the Cowboys. Oklahoma State didn’t play at its best last week but still routed Central Michigan, 58-44.

The Chippewas managed 424 passing yards and actually outgained the Cowboys, 546-531, but OSU quarterback Spencer Sanders was terrific, completing 28-of-41 passing for 406 yards and four touchdowns.

Arizona State would do well to limit the Cowboys’ rushing attack, which was off the mark against CMU, averaging just 3.9 yards per attempt.

Final verdict: Cowboys right their running game and roll all over the Sun Devils.

Oregon vs. Eastern Washington, 5:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network

This is the classic definition of a Get Right Game.

Oregon’s ego was shattered in a 49-3 Week 1 loss to Georgia in Atlanta. That wasn’t just a defeat, that was a shellacking that was all over national media. Facing an Eastern Washington team with drastically less talent, the Ducks need to do to the Eagles as the Bulldogs did to them.

If I’m Dan Lanning, I’m putting the ball in Bo Nix’s hands and saying, “Figure it out.” Nix held the Ducks back against the Bulldogs, settling for short passes to the tune of 4.7 yards per pass. Georgia averaged 11.9.

If Nix can get his head right and pad some stats, he should get over the post-Georgia blues.

Final verdict: Oregon in a landslide, of course

Oregon State at Fresno State, 7:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network

Yes, USC at Stanford is compelling, and Washington State heading to Madison is worth watching, but this may just be the game of the week.

Fresno State looked terrific on offense in Jeff Tedford’s first game back at the helm. The former Bulldogs coach from 2017-19, Tedford took back over for DeBoer and kept the momentum rolling from last year. Fresno State piled up 549 yards, including 377 through the air, in a 35-7 win over Cal Poly. Bulldogs quarterback Jake Haener was on point, connecting on 36 of 42 pass attempts for 377 yards and two touchdowns.

They’ll provide another tough test for the Beavers, who passed in Week 1 with flying colors, taking out Boise State, 34-17.

Opening up the season with two upper-tier Mountain West opponents was supposed to be the thing that held Oregon State back from an eight-win finish. But the Beavers looked good in Week 1, and they still have a lot of room for improvement. That bodes well; they haven’t peaked.

If Oregon State cuts down on the 10 penalties for 100 yards and performs better on third down — the Beavers went 4-of-13 — then the Bulldogs have their hands full.

They also might get caught looking ahead to a Week 3 matchup with USC.

Final verdict: Oregon State keeps rolling

Arizona vs. Mississippi State, 8 p.m., FS1

Much like Oregon, it took precisely one week for the entire narrative to change on the Arizona football season. Unlike the Ducks, the horizon suddenly looks beautiful for the Wildcats, who looked terrific in defeating San Diego State, 38-20, last weekend in the first game at Snapdragon Stadium.

A win this week, against an SEC school coached by former Washington State head coach Mike Leach, now that would be a statement. And in some ways, it’s a classic matchup.

The Bulldogs easily disposed of Memphis in Week 1, 49-23, behind five touchdowns from quarterback Will Rogers to five different receivers. They were ruthlessly efficient, particularly through the air, where they had 450 of their 547 total yards, and on third down, completing 11-of-13 attempts.

Arizona, meanwhile, held San Diego State to 62 passing yards and 2-of-11 third-down conversions.

Which one of them will bend?

Final verdict: Mississippi State, but the Wildcats keep it close