Pac-12: Gary Andersen, Urban Meyer bringing teams West
By Kurt Kragthorpe
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Sep 10 2013 02:16PM
Pac-12 tackles Big Ten in four matchups
A proposed, formal scheduling alliance between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten fell apart, but the conferences are meeting in four games Saturday that will bring teams coached by Gary Andersen and Urban Meyer to the West.
Wisconsin’s visit to Arizona State tops the schedule. Ohio State at California, UCLA at Nebraska and Washington vs. Illinois (in Chicago) also will be intriguing.
After playing Andersen’s Wisconsin team, "No doubt, we’re going to know exactly where we are," said ASU coach Todd Graham.
Nobody’s sure what to make of either team at this stage — even though none of their three opponents has scored a point. ASU beat Sacramento State 55-0 and Wisconsin has topped Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech by a combined 93-0. Former Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig’s Wisconsin unit is averaging 602 total yards.
The biggest variable in the Ohio State-Cal game is the health of Meyer’s quarterback, Braxton Miller. Regardless, this will be a monumental challenge for the Bears, who needed a big game from freshman QB Jared Goff just to beat Portland State.
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian enjoys intersectional matchups, but he’s not unhappy that the mandatory scheduling plan dissolved. "I don’t know necessarily if I’d like to be stuck just playing the Big Ten," he said, welcoming high-profile meetings with teams from other conferences.
Bruins mourning, regrouping
Utah quarterback Travis Wilson and Stanford offensive lineman Kyle Turner were the stars of the 2011 San Clemente (Calif.) High School team and earned Pac-12 scholarships, but receiver/defensive back Nick Pasquale was "the heart and soul of that team," Tritons coach Jaime Ortiz told the San Clemente Patch.
Pasquale died early Sunday when he was walking in a residential area in Orange County and was struck by a car.
As a walk-on receiver for UCLA, Pasquale had dressed for his first game as a redshirt freshman Aug. 31 against Nevada, prior to a bye week.
Pasquale was a popular player among the Bruins. Amid the impact of the tragedy, UCLA will face a tough environment at Nebraska. "I don’t know if we could find a more difficult situation," said coach Jim Mora.
The Cornhuskers will honor the visitors with helmet decals bearing Pasquale’s No. 36.
Supplying the professional talent
If producing NFL players is any gauge, Utah fits comfortably into the middle tier of Pac-12 recruiting — or did so in the school’s Mountain West era, anyway. The Utes are tied for fifth among conference schools, with 23 players on NFL rosters as of last week’s final preseason cuts (counting practice squad members).
The Pac-12 claims 266 players, ranking behind only the SEC (371) and the ACC (291), leagues with 14 teams each. The school-by-school numbers for the Pac-12:
Oregon State 18
Arizona State 17
Washington State 9
Six, going the other way
Washington State cornerback Damante Horton produced his team’s only touchdown in a 10-7 upset of USC by returning an interception 70 yards late in the first half. There was a lot of that going around in the Pac-12 last weekend.
Arizona and Colorado each returned two interceptions for touchdowns against UNLV and Central Arkansas, respectively. Colorado’s Jered Bell grabbed a deflected pass and went 79 yards for a score early in the fourth quarter, when Central Arkansas was leading 24-17 and driving. The Buffaloes beat their FCS opponent 38-24.
In addition, Utah’s Mike Honeycutt returned a fumble for a touchdown against Weber State.