By Oscar Hazell @OscarHazell
Taking a quick Look at the first week of action featuring teams in the Pac-12. All stated times are EST
Utah State at Utah, 8 p.m. Fox Sports 1
Utah State Athletics
Utah State had a fantastic 2012 but will have to overcome a lot if they wish to reproduce, with both their head coach and defensive coordinator heading to Wisconsin. This has lead to Offensive coordinator Matt Wells to take control of the reigns. QB Chuckie Keeton leads the 15 starters that are returning, so their offense shouldn’t skip a beat. The Utes will be out for revenge having lost this matchup last year. Utah will be road testing its new speed driven defense.
No. 21 USC at Hawaii, 11 p.m. CBS Sports Network:
This should be a walkover for USC, however it will have an interesting storyline woven through with Lane Kiffin reportedly set to use both Max Wittek and Cody Kessler at quarterback. Whether they will be used in a situational manner or given a half each to mark their claim is yet to be seen. The result may not be a huge indicator on how the year will turn out for Kiffin, but the decision made post game on who to run with at QB could be make or break for the Trojans this year. USC may use their quarterback’s regularly with newly acquired running back Silas Redd not available with a knee injury.
Northern Arizona at Arizona, 10 p.m. Pac-12 Network:
Arizona made a big improvement last year under Jeff Casteel, and Northern Arizona is the start of an easy schedule for them. The Wildcats still have not decided on who will be under center, but B.J. Denker is believed to lead the race. Ka’Deem Carey will be looking to shed his offseason accusations and return to the fantastic performance he showed on the field in 2012. This could be in the hands of the O-Line in front of him if they can continue to perform to the high standard they set for themselves.
Nicholls State at No. 3 Oregon, 4 p.m. Fox Sports 1:
This is set for a blowout with Nicholls State only recording one victory in 2012, losses included a pummeling by Oregon State 77-3. This will ease Oregon’s transition away from Chip Kelly, although not much has changed in the coaching or philosophy. The Ducks will be looking for the likes of Marcus Mariota, Hroniss Grasu, Taylor Hart and Josh Huff to take on the leadership and spotlight, no longer having the shelter of the Kelly aura.
Eastern Washington at No. 25 Oregon State, 6 p.m. Pac-12 Network:
The Beavers have decide to start Sean Mannion over Cody Vaz, which was the biggest question coming into this year for Oregon State, although it would not be a surprise to anyone if you were to see Vaz behind center at times. For the Beavers to really challenge this year they need to find something in their interior defensive line. This may not be the best game to gauge this, facing a poor Eastern Washington O-line.
Washington State at Auburn, 7 p.m. ESPNU:
The start of a tough schedule, the Cougars will visit Auburn with 17 starters returning. Although this could be the best time to visit the Tigers coming off a 3 win year and a new head coach in Gus Malzahn. Washington State will hope their second year in Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense will bare fruit, with a promising and well-suited receiving core. This is backed up with a relatively talented and deep defensive unit.
Nevada at No. 21 UCLA, 10 p.m. Pac-12 Network:
UCLA will look to start the year off strong with elite talent in both Anthony Barr and Brett Hundley, they pose to be an exciting team to watch every snap. One area to look for is in the run game with Jim Mora just announcing they will run a committee out of the backfield with Jordon James and Steven Manfro. Nevada will boast 12 starters back from their 7-win year. Most importantly that includes Dual threat quarterback Cody Fajardo, who last year totaled 1,100 yards rushing and 2,786 yards passing equating to 32 touchdowns in total.
No. 19 Boise State at Washington, 10 p.m. Fox Sports 1:
David Becker/Associated Press
The biggest game of this week featuring pac-12 team, being a Rematch of last years Las Vegas Bowl, in which Boise State were victorious 28-26. Boise returns with their efficient QB in Joe Southwick, however Boise only have 10 starters returning as they attempt to back up an 11-2 season in 2012. One area to look out for is the exciting running back Jay Ajayi, complementing the Broncos quick rhythm passing attack. Not only do Washington host this revenge match up but they will also reveal their new stadium. The Huskies will look to christen it off in style, with 20 starters returning. This includes highly coverted tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins who is on the Depth Chart for Saturday’s meeting. There is however a question mark regarding how much he can contribute having damaged his little finger during camp.
No. 22 Northwestern at California, 10:30 p.m., ESPN2:
Colorado vs. Colorado State (Denver), 6 p.m., CBS Sports Network:
Connor Wood will make his starting debut for Colorado at Mile High, having only made 21 completions so far in his college career. This year posses a struggle for Colorado with Mike MacIntyre having been brought in to steady the ship as he did at San Jose State. Colorado State will have 18 starters returning and will be looking to start off strong, benefiting from the lack of experience in system and personnel with the Buffalos.