Pac-12 Conference Football: What We Learned During Week 3

Kyle KensingContributor ISeptember 15, 2013

Week 3 in Pac-12 football featured the conference's teams finishing 3-1 against the Big Ten and 5-1 against opponents from BCS conferences, the continued emergence of a true freshman star and UCLA winning in honor of a fallen teammate. 

A banner week for the conference also provided a lesson in late-game officiating, as Arizona State's win over Wisconsin ended in controversy.  

Yes, the third week of the 2013 season was the most insightful yet in the Pac-12. And there still remains so much to be revealed. Consider there are still seven undefeated teams around the league. Four more are 2-1. Only Cal has a sub-.500 record. 

Certainly this level of parity won't carry over into the conference slate, but some of those teams look capable of taking the next step to challenge Stanford and Oregon. 

UCLA, Arizona State and Washington were all impressive in their wins over Big Ten opponents. Each has the talent and coaching to make legitimate pushes for Pasadena and the Rose Bowl Game. 

The conference's basement is elevated as well. Washington State and Colorado, which finished in the bottom of each division a season ago, are a combined 4-1 and 1-0 in league play. 


2013 is the Year of the Quarterback in the Pac-12

Anyone who followed the Pac-12 knew about Oregon's Marcus Mariota and UCLA's Brett Hundley before the season. Washington's Keith Price was also a recognized playmaker from his outstanding 2011. 

With Matt Barkley and Matt Scott gone, and high-profile quarterback competitions unfolding at Pac-12 camps throughout the preseason, the top-to-bottom strength of the position was a question mark. 

That question's been answered, resoundingly. Saturday was a marquee day for the conference's signal callers. 

- Jared Goff, Cal: 371 yards passing, three touchdowns 

- B.J. Denker, Arizona: Season-high 158 yards passing, one touchdown; 90 yards rushing, two touchdowns

- Marcus Mariota, Oregon: 456 yards passing, four touchdowns; one rushing touchdown

- Keith Price, Washington: 342 yards passing, two touchdowns, zero interceptions 

- Brett Hundley, UCLA: 294 yards passing, three touchdowns

Sean Mannion, Oregon State: 443 yards passing, five touchdowns, zero interceptions

- Travis Wilson, Utah: 279 yards passing, two touchdowns; 142 yards rushing, three touchdowns

- Kevin Hogan, Stanford: Three touchdown passes

Even USC's Cody Kessler looked vastly improved from his first two outings, settling in more since being named the definitive starter for the Trojans. He completed 15 of 17 passes with two touchdowns and no turnovers. 


Madden Football 2013: USC Edition

He may not be the Tecmo Bowl version of Bo Jackson, but running back Tre Madden is a star in the making at USC. And the sophomore could be the breakout ball-carrier the program desperately sought from the moment Reggie Bush played his final snap there. 

Madden has eclipsed the century mark in each of the Trojans' first three games, powering his way through holes and using his raw power to churn out longer gains. 

Head coach Lane Kiffin may have more upside in Madden than senior Silas Redd when Redd returns to the lineup from injury. But when the Trojans do have Redd available, it shouldn't cut into Madden's opportunities. This is an offense likely to build on a heavy dose of the rush


Utah Was a Great Addition to the Conference

Perhaps Utah was not as competitive in its first two seasons of Pac-12 play as anticipated. The Utes' 5-7 finish in 2012 was the first losing record notched in head coach Kyle Whittingham's tenure. 

Utah is in a 0-1 hole to start conference play this season after losing a 51-48, overtime heart-breaker to Oregon State, but the Utes went toe-to-toe and exchanged blows masterfully with a Beaver team coming off a 9-4 finish. 

Whittingham is crafting a roster better equipped to withstand the rigors of the Pac-12 on a weekly basis. This season's Utes are no easy out, particularly with quarterback Travis Wilson, a Southern California product, producing big dual numbers.

The Utes are especially tough at home, thanks to the electric Rice-Eccles Stadium crowd. On a national TV broadcast, Utah proved emphatically its value to the Pac-12. 


Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Kyle on Twitter: @kensing45.