Pac-12 football notebook: Money, TV issues kept conference from expanding

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 21 2011 6:00 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — The latest news from the Pac-12 is that the league won't be jumping on the conference-expansion bandwagon after all. The league's official announcement that it would remain a 12-team league — at least for awhile — came late Tuesday evening.

Early in the week it appeared that the league might be adding four schools — Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State — from a Big 12 Conference that appeared on the verge of destruction.

Apparently money was a big factor as Texas didn't want to give up its lucrative TV deal and agree to equal revenue sharing, while many of the Pac-12 schools didn't want to dilute their lucrative TV deal by adding two or four more schools.

The decision should make Utah and most of the rest of the schools happy that they won't have to travel several hours to the east for athletic contests in what could have been an unwieldy 16-team conference. Plus they'll make more money.

PLAYING FOR REAL: After just two league games over the first three weeks of the season, the Pac-12 gets down to business this week with four conference games. Just one team plays an out-of-conference game — Colorado at Ohio State — while three teams, Utah Stanford and Washington State get the week off.

Local fans will be keeping an eye on the Cal-Washington game in Seattle, since the Huskies are coming to Salt Lake the following week. Utah goes to Cal three weeks later.

The Bears are off to a 3-0 start following their scintillating 63-12 victory over Presbyterian last week, while the Huskies are 2-1 after losing at Nebraska 51-38.

Another big game for Ute fans to watch is USC at Arizona State, since both teams are in the South Division with the Utes. Utah has already lost to USC, but the Trojans are not eligible for the South title.

Here's how the Pac-12 stacks up going into Week 4.

1. Stanford (3-0)

Last week: Defeated Arizona 37-10

This week: Bye

Note: Everyone talks about the Cardinal offense, but it ranks 2nd in the nation in rushing defense and 9th in scoring defense.

2. Oregon (2-1)

Last week: Defeated Missouri State 56-7

This week: At Arizona 8:15 p.m. MT, ESPN2

Note: Led by quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James, the Ducks lead the league in scoring offense (50.7 points) and total offense (539.7 yards

3. USC (3-0)

Last week: Defeated Syracuse 38-17

This week: At Arizona State, 8:15 p.m. MT, ESPN

Note: QB Matt Barkley was the offensive player of the week after throwing for a school-record-tying five touchdowns in last week's win.

4. Cal (3-0)

Last week: Defeated Presbyterian 63-12

This week: At Washington 1:30 p.m. MT, FSN

Note: Former Cottonwood High star Isi Sofele ran for 110 yards on 18 carries in Cal's victory last week.

5. Utah (2-1)

Last week: Defeated BYU 54-10

This week: Bye

Note: Running back John White leads the Pac-12 in rushing at 126.7 yards per game and also ranks 9th in the national stats.

6. Arizona State (2-1)

Last week: Lost at Illinois 17-14

This week: Home vs. USC, 8:15 p.m. MT, ESPN

Note: The Sun Devils play their first-ever Pac-12 game against the same team they played their first Pac-10 game in 1978, a 20-7 ASU victory, over the No. 2-ranked Trojans.

7. Washington (2-1)

Last week: Lost at Nebraska 51-38

This week: Home vs. Cal, 1:30 p.m. MT, FSN

Note: Quarterback Keith Price has already thrown 11 touchdown passes, the most ever for a Washington QB over a three-game span.

8. Washington State (2-1)

Last week: Lost at San Diego State 42-24

This week: Bye

Note: Quarterback Marshall Lobbestael ranks 3rd in the country in passing efficiency and Marquess Wilson is 3rd in receiving yards.

9. Colorado (1-2)

Last week: Beat Colorado State 28-14

This week: Plays at Ohio State, 1:30 p.m. MT, ABC, ESPN2

Note: Senior running back Rodney Stewart is closing in on 3,000 yards, having moved into fourth place on the school's all-time rushing yards list with 2,967 yards.

10. Arizona (1-2)

Last week: Lost to Stanford 37-10

This week: Home vs. Oregon, 8:15 MT, ESPN2

Note: This will be the Wildcats' third straight game against a Top 10-ranked opponent.

11. UCLA (1-2)

Last week: Lost to Texas 49-20

This week: At Oregon State, 1:30 p.m. MT, Prime Ticket

Note: Jeff Locke took over placekicking duties last week and made field goals from 51 and 49 yards and also averaged 48 yards on punts.

12. Oregon State (0-2)

Last week: Bye

This week: Home vs. UCLA, 1:30 p.m. MT, Prime Ticket

Note: The Beavers opening-game loss to Sacramento State looks worse than ever after Sac State lost handily to both Southern Utah and Weber State the past two weeks.

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