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Mike Sorensen: On Pac-12 football, BYU, Ricky Rubio and more

Ricky Rubio of Spain holds the Naismith Trophy after they beat Argentina in their first-place match in the FIBA Basketball World Cup at the Cadillac Arena in Beijing, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
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SALT LAKE CITY — The Pac-12 football season is off to a shaky start, but at least the league is looking a little better than last year.

The conference had some disappointing losses Saturday to non-Power Five schools — Stanford’s throttling by Central Florida, Colorado’s overtime home loss to Air Force and USC’s overtime road loss at BYU. Not that those are bad opponents. But a major conference expects better.

Other defeats that have hurt the league in the first three weeks of the season include Oregon’s loss to Auburn, Washington’s loss to Cal and Arizona and Oregon State losing to Hawaii.

Despite those losses, the Pac-12 still has as many ranked teams as any other conference in America with six ranked teams in the Top 25, the same as the SEC. The difference is, the SEC has five teams in the Top 10 and the Pac-12 has just one in Utah at No. 10.

This marks the fourth straight week five Pac-12 teams have made the Top 25 as eight different teams have been ranked this year. Besides Utah at No. 10, Oregon is ranked 16th, Washington State 19th, Washington 22nd, Cal 23rd and Arizona State 24th. The surprising Sun Devils moved to 3-0 with the league’s best win of the season, a 10-7 upset of No. 18 Michigan State.

— Another good win for the league came late Saturday night when Khalil Tate led Arizona to a 28-14 victory over Matt Wells’ Texas Tech team. In that game, former Ute running back Armand Shyne was the Red Raiders’ top running back with 69 yards on 13 carries as Tech only ran the ball 25 times, while passing 55 times.

— You had to feel good for Kalani Sitake and his BYU football team for winning its second straight overtime game against a Power Five opponent. Even though both Tennessee and USC aren’t national powers, the victories were impressive and should go a long way to ensuring Sitake’s coaching status for next year and beyond.

— Another former Ute, celebrated quarterback Jack Tuttle, is now playing for Indiana, where he is third-string. He has completed 4 of 9 passes for 22 yards so far this season.

— Did you happen to see who was named MVP of the just-completed World Cup basketball tournament?

None other than Ricky Rubio, who led Spain to the title Sunday with a victory over Argentina. Good for Rubio, always a good guy, who had his moments during his two seasons with the Utah Jazz. Though Rubio was a bit underappreciated during his time in Utah, it was still a good decision for the Jazz to move on and see if they can improve with point guard Mike Conley.

— Even though none of them won the title, it was fun to see Jazz players Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles competing well in the World Cup. There’s a good chance we’ll see all three as well as Rubio in the Olympics next year in Tokyo.

— I like Gregg Popovich, despite how he treats my fellow media members, but some of his comments after the USA’s dreadful seventh-place finish in the World Cup, calling critics, “ridiculous,” “immature” and “arrogant” were off-base. So was his assertion that his players “did the best they could.” That last statement could apply to every sports team in the world, but when they play well below expectations, it should be OK to call them out. Keep in mind, the U.S. still had a roster full of NBA players, while runner-up Argentina had zero.

— It was a wise decision for the National Women’s Soccer League and the Utah Royals to ban the fan who used racial slurs at a recent game against the Portland goalkeeper. Perhaps it might seem harsh to ban a fan from games for life, but leagues and clubs need a zero-tolerance policy in such matters to hopefully rid such people from sporting events. While it shouldn’t reflect on the entire state, it’s a shame another racial incident happened here after the unfortunate incident with Russell Westbrook last winter.

— Finally, how about a shout-out to Bronco Mendenhall and his Virginia football team? The Cavaliers are 3-0 and ranked No. 21 in the country and looking like the second-best team in the ACC behind defending national champion Clemson. The Cavs’ big test will come in two weeks when they face No. 7 Notre Dame on the road.