If this is indeed the Pac-12’s final act, what an opening scene.
Seemingly destined for dissolution, the self-proclaimed Conference of Champions announced it will not go quietly after a perfect weekend of football.
With No. 6 Southern California’s opening win over San Jose State, the Pac-12 has started the season 13-0 for the first time since 1932. It’s also the most wins by an FBS conference without a loss to start a season since at least 1980.
“Do you believe now?’ Colorado coach Deion Sanders said.
Sanders was referring to his Prime Time Buffs’ takedown of then-No. 17 TCU.
His statement also fits the entire conference.
The Pac-12 will be down to two teams — Oregon State and Washington State — in 2024 after a mass exodus that sent teams to the Big 12, Big Ten and ACC.
The conference was expected to be the strongest it’s been in years and didn’t disappoint through the season’s first two weeks, winning its games by an average of 52.6 points per game — best by any FBS conference in the past 40 years.
The Trojans kicked it off with a blowout of San Jose State in Week 0 and did the same thing to Nevada.
Arizona State, picked to finish 10th in the Pac-12, kicked off the Kenny Dillingham era by surviving dust, rain and lightning to hold off Southern Utah 24-21 last Thursday. The Sun Devils were in control, leading 21-7 at halftime, but lost their mojo a bit after a more than two-hour weather delay.
The other teams expected to end up in the Pac-12 cellar also won their openers.
Stanford began Troy Taylor’s first season with a 37-24 win at Hawaii and California knocked off North Texas 58-21. The wins came after both schools learned they will be leaving the Pac-12 for the ACC.
The biggest surprise — well, at least outside Boulder — was Colorado’s win at TCU, which played in the national championship game a year ago.
The flamboyant Sanders created a national buzz by insisting the Buffaloes would shock people despite winning one game last season and having an overhauled roster.
Sanders and the Buffaloes converted some of the nonbelievers, beating the Horned Frogs 45-42 as nearly three-touchdown underdogs behind coach’s son Shedeur Sanders’ school-record 510 yards and four touchdowns.
Colorado moved into the AP Top 25 at No. 22 on Tuesday — for the first time since a brief stay in 2020 — in the first regular-season poll of the year.
“A lot of you didn’t believe in us,” Shedeur Sanders said. “It’s crazy because you just got to understand our coach, Coach Prime, my dad, everywhere he went, he was a winner. Every game, every opportunity, he took advantage of.”
The wins kept coming.
No. 8 Washington, the Pac-12’s second-highest ranked team, opened its season with a 56-19 win over Boise State. No. 12 Utah turned what was supposed to be a tough opening game against Florida into a physical 24-11 win despite playing without injured quarterback Cam Rising.
No. 13 Oregon got off to a rousing start, setting a school modern-era and Autzen Stadium scoring record with an 81-7 win over Portland State.
“Oregon’s opponents will have a hard time finding a weakness in that team,” Portland State coach Bruce Barnum said.
Cam Ward kicked off his second season as Washington State’s starting quarterback by throwing for 451 yards and accounting for four touchdowns in a 50-24 win over Colorado State.
UCLA had some defensive struggles early against Coastal Carolina, but pulled away for a 27-13 win. Arizona did what it was supposed to against an FCS opponent, avenging a loss two years earlier to Northern Arizona with a 35-point win.
No. 16 Oregon State capped the Pac-12’s perfect start with a 42-17 win over San Jose State on Sunday behind Clemson transfer quarterback DJ Uiagalelei’s five total touchdowns.
“They have a fantastic football team,” Spartans coach Brent Brennan said. “They’re sound in all three phases, extremely sound. They play a unique brand of football.”
So does the rest of the Pac-12.
The perfection will likely end soon, but Pac-12 After Dark is shining bright so far before the lights go out — possibly for good.