Heading into the season, a lot of people thought that the Pac-12 could overtake the SEC as the toughest college football conference in America. So far, things have gone all right in the Pac-12. Heck, some would even say they’ve gone well.
But make no mistake: they could certainly be better.
A couple of big-name programs – such as USC and Stanford – have already tasted defeat, while a pair of unbeatens, Oregon (4-0) and UCLA (3-0), have looked shaky at times.
What do we make of the Pac-12 thus far?
“I think it’s entertaining – much like college football in general,” former Heisman Trophy winner and current Pac-12 analyst Matt Leinart said on The MoJo Show. “UCS started hot and then had the big upset against Boston College. Stanford, we’re still kind of waiting to see what type of team they are. Oregon looks good, but again, they have their own issues going on right now up there. UCLA has a ton of issues. They’re still undefeated, but that’ll be a big game (Thursday) night against Arizona State.
“So it’s exciting,” Leinart continued. “A lot of good teams. Utah looks really good. Cal has been impressive. I’ve really enjoyed watching them play. I’m a big Jared Goff fan.”
What?! Cal?! Cal allowed 36 fourth-quarter points – including a Hail Mary as time expired – to lose to Arizona, 49-45, this past Saturday.
“I know,” Leinart said. “But if you look at the season they had last year and starting off 2-0 this year – and they could have easily won that game last week. I just like what they’re doing over there. I like Goff. I think he’s a tough quarterback.”
Goff, a sophomore, has thrown for 890 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions on the season.
But what about UCLA? What’s going on with the Bruins? They were ranked seventh in the preseason, they were seen as a legitimate national championship contender and Brett Hundley was considered a Heisman Trophy favorite. The Bruins, however, have fallen short of expectations. They’ve gone down to the wire against three unranked teams and have an average margin of victory of just six points.
“I don’t know,” Leinart said. “(Hundley) needs some protection, I’ll tell you that. When you’re a quarterback and you’re back there and you’re not sure when your O-Line feels like blocking or you’re running around for your life, it’s not easy on a quarterback.”
Hundley sustained an injury to his left, non-throwing elbow against Texas on Sept. 13, prompting some heroics from backup Jerry Neuheisel. Hundley’s status for Thursday night’s game against No. 15 Arizona State (3-0) is in question.
“There’s been some times where I think (Hundley’s) decision-making has been questionable, but first and foremost, he needs to get healthy,” Leinart said. “I’m assuming we’ll see him (against Arizona State), but they have issues up front. Anytime you can’t protect the quarterback, it’s going to take a toll in the passing game and the running game.”