Around The Pac-12: What We Learned From Thursday


Sep 3, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes fans hold up cutouts of the face of former Utah Utes and current San Francisco 49er

The 2015 college football season officially kicked off Thursday. And while we’re still a long way from wrapping up week 1 of the season, Thursday night’s games already provided some useful insight into three Pac-12 teams.

Michigan: 17 Utah: 24

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The hype surrounding this game was all about “Michigan man” Jim Harbaugh and the restoration of Maize and Blue GREATNESS. And while Jim Harbaugh will likely bring glory back to his alma mater one day, Thursday night was not a step in that direction. For starters, Michigan trotted out 5th-year transfer Jake Rudock at quarterback. To put it kindly, he struggled in a three-interception outing. But Rudock shouldn’t shoulder the entire blame for the offensive woes. The Wolverines averaged less than 3 yards a carry on the evening. With all the talk of the future of Michigan football with Jim Harbaugh at the helm, currently they are a mediocre team at best, among the likes of Minnesota of Maryland in the Big 10.

So what exactly does this win mean for Utah, then? Despite fending off a rather uninspiring Michigan side, the Utes didn’t look the part of a Pac-12 title contender. On the plus side, the Utes’ front seven was stifling, shutting down the Wolverines’ running attack all game. Travis Wilson, who was thought to be an unreliable option at quarterback, also was impressive, and hands down the best Utah Ute on the field. And while Heisman hopeful Devontae Booker rushed for only a modest 69 yards, he still chipped in a touchdown while adding a team-high seven catches for 55 yards. All in all, although Utah’s defense looked solid against a shaky Wolverine offense, its offense looked one-dimensional, dependent solely on magic from Travis Wilson and Devontae Booker. Can Utah still find a way to win when its run game struggles early on? Can Travis Wilson maintain this level of play all season? Time will tell.

UTSA: 32 (22) Arizona: 42

Going into halftime up 21-20 on UTSA (yes, that’s in San Antonio), isn’t exactly what Rich Rod had in mind this offseason in terms of his team’s high expectations for 2015. But that was the case Thursday night, as the Arizona Wildcats needed a shootout to come out on top against their FCS foe. Oh, and Scooby Wright, the Pac-12 defensive player of the year, left the game for the Wildcats with a knee injury. Details on the injury are still unknown. Following halftime, Anu Solomon and the Wildcats’ potent spread offense returned to its former self we grew accustomed to in 2014. Arizona will put up points this year. That’s a given. Whether their defense can find a way to make stops against more capable opponents could be an entirely different story. Especially without Scooby Wright.

Colorado: 20 Hawaii: 28

I know you couldn’t care less about this game. And neither did people who lived in a time zone that permitted them to watch it without deducting precious hours from their sleep. Here’s what you missed: Colorado is still really, really bad. It wouldn’t be too bold to pencil them in to go winless in Pac-12 play, but the Buffs still have three games against lower tier opponents, so there’s that. And that’s all the optimism I can shine upon this horrendous football team.