The Pac-12 season kicks off on Saturday, but the most intriguing game is of the non-conference variety, in the form of the annual Bill Walsh Legacy Game. With Stanford ranked in the top five and San Jose State coming off of one of the best years in school history, the Silicon Valley has been clamoring for a rematch of the 2012 game that saw the Cardinal escape with a narrow 20-17 victory.
But much has changed since then. Gone are Stanford playmakers Stepfan Taylor, Zach Ertz, Levine Toilolo and Chase Thomas. And San Jose State is with a new head coach, as Mike MacIntyre is now the boss at Colorado.
Still, the hype machine is strong with these two. Stanford comes into the season with perhaps the highest expectations ever, which says something following the 2011 season with Andrew Luck.
And the Spartans are led by the talented and poised quarterback David Fales, who Kyle Kensing of Saturday Blitz sat down with at Mountain West Media Day, back in July.
Fales led the nation in completion percentage a year ago, but had a somewhat blasé season opener against Sacramento State, completing just 50 percent of his passes for 225 yards. Compared to Taylor Kelly’s lighting up the Hornets last night, it looks like Stanford could be able to give him fits.
Opposite of Fales is Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan, who didn’t get to start for the Cardinal last year until the second half of the season. Hogan is undefeated as a starter and he looked every bit as good as the Pac-12’s elite quarterbacks last season, even as a newcomer. How will he fare in year two?
We’ll find out about Hogan and more on Saturday, as Stanford and San Jose State square off at 11 p.m. Eastern on the Pac-12 Network.
The Rest of the Slate:
Weber State at Utah, 2 p.m. ET on Pac-12 Networks: The Utes kicked off the season with a big win over in-state rival Utah State and Chuckie Keeton last week, and now play their even littler brother, Weber State. It should be business as usual for Kyle Whittingham’s bunch, as Utah is 35-0 all-time against current members of the Big Sky, and the Wildcats won just two games a year ago.
Oregon vs. Virginia, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC: The AP Poll has Oregon at No. 2 following a 66-3 shellacking of Nicholls State in Mark Helfrich’s debut with the Ducks, and they travel to Charlottesville for their first ever trip to an ACC football stadium. Meeting the blur are the Virginia Cavaliers, who come off a 3-point win over BYU in Week 1 and feel confident that they can give the Ducks a game. The Hoos haven’t beaten a top-five team since 2004 and probably aren’t going to end that streak vs. Oregon, but one thing is for sure: it’ll be good early barometer for Helfrich and company.
Portland State at California, 5 p.m. ET on Pac-12 Networks: Cal ran 99 plays in Sonny Dykes’ debut last week against Northwestern, looking salivating at times with their talented playmakers on offense. Portland State is just what the doctor ordered for freshman quarterback Jared Goff, as he’ll be able to get some confidence under his belt before the Ohio State Buckeyes enter Strawberry Canyon next week.
Central Arkansas vs. Colorado, 8 p.m. ET on Pac-12 Networks: Colorado and an FCS opponent don’t scream excitement. But…the Buffaloes’ performance in their win over Colorado State on Sunday did. They’re much improved and wide receiver Paul Richardson could up hundreds of yards in what should be the stepping stone to a 2-0 record in Boulder.
Hawaii at Oregon State, 8 p.m. ET on Pac-12 Networks: Talk about a meeting of two teams who want Week 1 back. Oregon State gave up a million yards to an FCS team, though they find themselves facing Hawaii quarterback Taylor Graham, who arguably had the worst outing of anyone in Week 1, throwing four interceptions and being sacked seven times. But don’t get it twisted, as the Beavers should be able to out-score Hawaii with just one quarter from Sean Mannion, who threw for 422 yards last week.
Arizona at UNLV, 10:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network: Ka’Deem Carey is back and joins a backfield that ran for 306 yards against Northern Arizona. With UNLV only slightly better NAU, the Wildcats should roll. Look for new quarterback B.J. Denker to shine and bet the house on UA.
Washington State at USC, 10:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1: Reading a depth chart from Mike Leach or Lane Kiffin is like playing two truths and a lie with a cheater. Both teams are without a pair of corners listed as starters, and whether or not Cody Kessler is actually starting at quarterback for USC is anyone’s guess. Luckily for the Trojans, their defense should take plenty of pressure off of the quarterbacks, while WSU signal caller Connor Halliday will need to limit his mistakes if he’s going to give the Cougars a shot at first place in the Pac-12.