PAC TRACKS: Hawaii Continues To Shine As USC, Cal and Colorado Make Their Cases

Two games involving Pac 12 schools end well after midnight as clock strikes "likely over" on conference playoff hopes.

“Aloha.”

It means hello and goodbye and seems Pac 12 appropriate now that the University of Hawaii has improved its record to 2-0 against Larry’s League following a Sunday morning win over Oregon State.

Hawaii would be in first place in the Pac Archipelago Division if not otherwise occupied in the Mountain West.

Hawaii, which defeated Arizona in Week Zero on a last-second goal-line stop, clipped Oregon State, 31-28, on Ryan Meskell’s late field goal.

Players mobbed Meskell because he had missed his first three attempts.

The Pac 12 continues to amaze and confound as it managed, as a conference, to go 1-2 this weekend in games that finished after midnight in the West.

Cal’s somewhat stunning, 20-19, win at Washington ended at 4:20 a.m. in the east due to a weather delay of 2 hours and 39 minutes.

Hello: Kedon Slovis. USC’s first-year freshman quarterback lifted disconsolate Trojan spirits with a stunning performance in his first career start in place of the injured JT Daniels. Slovis completed 28 of 33 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-20 beat down of Stanford.

Goodbye: UCLA. If only Chip Kelly had a “Slovis” of his own to boost fading Bruin spirits. UCLA fell to 0-2 on its way to 0-5 after the school’s first-ever loss to San Diego State.

While USC was lighting up the summer sky with Graham Harrell’s fascinating new Air Raid offense, UCLA continued to sputter with an offense accurately described by L.A. Times columnist Dylan Hernandez as “shockingly ordinary.”

Hello: Pac 12 South. The division was considered the bottom “sock drawer” other than Utah. It still ranks No. 9 (last) in Jeff Sagarin’s latest rankings of divisions among the power conferences.

The South, though, has produced two early surprises: USC and Colorado. The Trojans are suddenly very interesting while Mel Tucker’s Buffaloes are 2-0 after Saturday’s thrilling win over Nebraska in Boulder.

Guess what folks. The Pac 12’s slim-shady hopes at the playoff rests with Utah and USC.

Goodbye: Pac 12 North. Oregon and Washington, the schools deemed most likely to crack the CFP playoff code, have already suffered first losses. The Ducks blew a huge chance to make a national statement against Auburn while the Huskies are also likely done after the Cal defeat.

One of these schools, remember, will take a second loss when they meet in Seattle on Oct. 19.

Washington Coach Chris Petersen continues to baffle as he slowly, but surely, becomes former Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr.

Petersen, one of the nation’s most daring and imaginative coaches when he was at Boise, has folded up like a turtle as he tries to protect leads with teeth-gnashing conservatism.

He also mismanaged the end of the Cal game, leaving eight seconds on the clock before using his final timeout as Cal kicker lined up for the chip-shot game winner.

Washington could have had 20 seconds left for a final chance to win.

“I wish that we called that a little sooner,” Petersen said.

Our question: Who is this guy?

Hello: Cal. Very, Very, VERY impressive win for Justin Wilcox. Everyone knew the Bears could play defense this year but would have to improve on an offense that ranked 114 nationally in 2018.

When it counted, against a tough Washington defense, the Cal offense pounded out 152 rushing yards and way-too-easily marched down field on Jimmy Lake's U-Dub D for the game-winning field goal.

Goodbye: The thought that Washington quarterback Jacob Eason, a transfer from Georgia, was a difference maker.

Eason, after a fine debut vs. Eastern Washington, looked shaky against a Cal defense that flustered him into an 18-for-30 night that included an interception and a fumble. He wasn’t helped by several dropped passes.

Hello: Clay Helton. Trojan fans started the clock on his imminent firing months ago but Saturday’s win over Stanford may be a game changer.

USC, more than any other Pac 12 program, has the pedigree, talent and schedule to make a playoff run.

Given the schedule, it’s still going to be a needle thread as USC is only one-third through a gantlet that still includes at BYU, Utah, at Washington and at Notre Dame.

Goodbye: To this week’s column.

Hello: To Hawaii, which plays at Washington next week. If the Warriors win that one, well, that would be the second lightning strike in a week.

Comments (5)
No. 1-3
IrishBrian
IrishBrian

I couldn't believe that Petersen sat on those timeouts! Love the Lloyd Carr comparison.

.AlbanyBear
.AlbanyBear

"Cal's somewhat stunning...win..." SOMEWHAT!!?? You getting paid by the word or something? Oh, wait. "Hello: Cal. Very, Very. VERY impressive win..." Fair enough.

Bcorig
Bcorig

“Washington Coach Chris Petersen continues to baffle as he slowly, but surely, becomes former Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr.” “Who is this guy?” You know what I’m thinking, don’t you”.