During halftime of Saturday's USC-Oregon State game, Pete Carroll's name was quickly read along with the seven other USC Hall of Fame inductees who were unable to the game. It was so quick that the response when his name briefly echoed throughout the Coliseum was nonexistent.
Carroll wasn't on the field for the halftime ceremony, but nothing should be read into that. Carroll had always planned to spend the Seattle Seahawks' bye week in Miami with his son, Brennan, who is an assistant coach for the Miami Hurricanes, daughter-in-law, Amber, and grandchildren, Dillon and Colbie.
Throughout Carroll's coaching career, he has always dedicated bye weeks to his children, and this was the one chance he was going to get to see his son and grandchildren, who are 3 and 1, for six months.
Carroll had been told the halftime ceremony for the 16 inductees would be brief and slightly rushed with the late kickoff and he had already committed to attending the formal induction ceremony on campus in May. Each inductee ended up getting about a 20-second introduction for the six-minute, on-field ceremony.
Whatever ill will that existed between Carroll and USC fans after the coach's departure five months before the school was hit with crippling sanctions has long since faded away.
UCLA and QB Brett Hundley are what we thought they'd be: UCLA answered a variety of questions in its 62-27 win over Arizona State, starting with Hundley's health and continuing with whether this team was overrated in the preseason. While it wasn't a perfect performance -- the defense needs to play better -- it was a dominating one on the road against a ranked team. As for Hundley, he might return to the Heisman picture after completing 18 of 23 passes for 355 yards with four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 97.7 QBR. Perhaps its time to ease up on nitpicking the Bruins over their lack of style points. Is your team 4-0?
Arizona State's young defense is going to be a problem: The preseason story with the Sun Devils was veteran, explosive offense paired with a completely rebuilt defense. Sometimes preseason stories don't hold up as young players step up. Sometimes they do. This one did. The Sun Devils are likely to improve on defense this season, but they're likely going to win a bunch of shootouts to be a factor in the South Division. Against UCLA, they yielded 580 yards -- a stunning 10 yards per play -- and gave up eight plays of more than 20 yards.
Washington is not ready for prime time: Washington was inconsistent during a 4-0 run through a weak nonconference schedule. At times, the defense or offense looked good, but often not at the same time and certainly not for four quarters -- or even three. There was some thought everything might come together in front of a raucous crowd Saturday against Stanford. Nope. While the defense played well, pressured Hogan consistently and contained the Cardinal running game, the offense was abysmal. Yes, Stanford is good on defense, but the Huskies have one of the nation's most experienced offensive lines and a good corps of receivers. The Huskies had just one sustained drive and averaged 3.4 yards per pass and 2.1 yards per run. The Huskies' problem under Steve Sarkisian was getting past Stanford and Oregon in the Pac-12 North. It seems unlikely that will happen this year, either, in season one under Chris Petersen.
California has moved out of the Pac-12 basement: Cal and Colorado are both trying to move out of the bottom of the Pac-12 and become at least competitive. Last year, Cal didn't win a Pac-12 game, and Colorado's only conference win was over Cal. Both have looked much improved in the early going this season. But Cal's thrilling 59-56 win in double-overtime provides the Golden Bears a big boost. For one, the Bears, at 3-1, can legitimately entertain bowl hopes. In a game in which QBs Sefo Liufau and Jared Goff both threw for 449 yards and seven touchdowns, the Bears found a way to win, which is particularly meaningful after they suffered a heartbreaking loss at Arizona the week before via a Hail Mary. That might be enough, at the very least, to ensure they don't end up at the bottom of the conference by season's end.
Utah wilted; Washington State stepped up: Utah led 21-0 after one and 24-7 at halftime, but the Utes offense never got untracked -- one TD came from the defense, another from special teams -- while Washington State refused to yield on the road. The end result was a critical 28-27 victory for the Cougars, who couldn't afford to lose if they wanted to retain bowl hopes. It seemed as though the Utes tried to sit on the lead. That was a mistake. It might turn out to be meaningful that Cougars coach Mike Leach called a special first-quarter time out and gathered his team for a pep talk. Utah's Pac-12 woes continue, and the Cougs can hope this serves as a springboard for the rest of the season.
We were deceived by early USC, Oregon State results: USC's 35-10 win over Oregon State seemed to make two things clear: 1. The Beavers' 3-0 start against a weak nonconference schedule was meaningless in terms of projecting forward against good Pac-12 teams. 2. USC's shocking loss at Boston College was probably an anomaly. While it's premature to count Oregon State out of the North Division hunt, it's difficult not to see the defeat at USC as a bit of an exposure. And USC has enough on both sides of the ball to become a factor in the South race.
LOS ANGELES -- Coming off the bye week, the USC Trojans turned in a strong defensive showing in a 35-10 win over the visiting Oregon State Beavers. Here's how it went down at the Coliseum.
How the game was won: The Trojans pulled ahead in the first half on big plays. Safety Su'a Cravens opened the scoring with a pick-six and Cody Kessler connected with Darreus Rogers on a 48-yard Hail Mary as time expired on the first half. A 16-yard Justin Davis touchdown reception was sandwiched in between. The offense picked up steam in the second half, capitalizing on touchdown runs from Davis and Buck Allen. But the real story was the USC defense, which stifled Oregon State all night.
Game ball goes to: The USC defense. After an embarrassing performance two weeks ago against Boston College, where the Trojans yielded 452 yards on the ground, they rebounded after the bye week and kept the Beavers to just three offensive points (OSU's lone touchdown was a kickoff return), 181 total yards and 58 rushing yards while limiting OSU to just 1-of-10 on third down. They also forced a pair of Sean Mannion interceptions; the aforementioned pick-six and tip-drill, tip-toe job by Leon McQuay in the corner of the end zone after the ball was deflected by Adoree' Jackson.
What it means: For the Beavers, who haven't won at USC since 1960, it’s back to work. After beating a pair of Mountain West teams and an FCS squad, this was their first real test of the year. Others needs to step up around Mannion. For the Trojans, it should be a slight confidence boost heading into next week’s home showdown with Arizona State -- a team that thumped them pretty good last year.
Playoff implication: The Boston College loss will no doubt be a stain on USC’s résumé come playoff time. The saving grace is that it was early in the season and it’s a nonconference game. A Pac-12 championship would go a long way toward helping the committee forget about the shortcomings at Chestnut Hill.
Best play: It’s starting to feel like if there isn’t a Hail Mary in the Pac-12 at least once a week, something is off. The Trojans provided this week’s when Kessler connected with Rogers on a 48-yard chuck-it-and-pray pass as the first half came to a close. Rogers came out end zone to catch the ball at the 1-yard line, and then spun back in to give USC a 21-10 lead at the break.
What's next: The Trojans host a battered ASU team that was rocked on Thursday by UCLA. Recall, it was the ASU game last year that was the ultimate nail in Lane Kiffin’s coaching coffin. If the Trojans want to keep pace with the Bruins in the South Division, that’s a must-win game. For the Beavers, it’s a trip to Colorado, where the Buffs are sure to be salty after scoring 56 points -- and losing!
LOS ANGELES -- Cody Kessler passed for 261 yards and two touchdowns, and Su'a Cravens returned an interception 31 yards for another score in No. 18 Southern California's 35-10 victory over Oregon State on Saturday night.
Darreus Rogers caught a 48-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass at the halftime gun as the Trojans (3-1, 2-0 Pac-12) rebounded smartly from their first loss with solid defense and another stellar game from Kessler, who went 24-for-32 while leading a 461-yard offensive performance.
Ryan Murphy returned a kickoff 97 yards for a TD for Oregon State (3-1, 0-1), which struggled in its first serious test of the season.