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What were the biggest storylines from the Pac-12’s opening week?

There were two canceled games but the rest of the league delivered some exciting contests.

Southern California football players cheer as quarterback Kedon Slovis runs the ball against the Arizona State Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Los Angeles.
Ashley Landis, Associated Press

While Utah, Arizona, Washington and Cal were sidelined during the Pac-12’s opening weekend due to COVID-19 issues, the rest of the league delivered some exciting games and thrilling moments.

No. 20 USC rallied to knock off Arizona State 28-27 in an early-morning start at LA Memorial Coliseum; Colorado outscored UCLA, 48-42; Washington State topped Oregon State, 38-28; and No. 11 Oregon pounded Stanford, 35-14.

Both the Utah-Arizona and Washington-Cal games were canceled.

This weekend, there are six games scheduled — USC at Arizona; Colorado at Stanford; Oregon at Washington State; Cal at Arizona State; Utah at UCLA; and Oregon State at Washington.

Through the first six weeks of the seven-game conference season, every Pac-12 game will be televised by a combination of ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, Fox and FS1.

Some of the notable opening-weekend storylines from the Pac-12 in this truncated season:

  • Trailing 27-14, USC, the Pac-12 South favorites, looked to be headed for defeat before quarterback Kedon Slovis threw a touchdown pass on a ball that was batted in the air and caught in the end zone by freshman wide receiver Bru McCoy with 2:49 remaining in the game.

The Trojans recovered the subsequent onside kick and moments later, Slovis threw a touchdown strike to Drake London to propel USC to the improbable victory.

“A year ago, we may not have won this game,” coach Clay Helton said.

Slovis completed 40 passes, breaking the school record for most completions in a game. The previous record of 37 was set by JT Daniels in 2018 and Slovis last season against UCLA.

The win marked the first for USC while trailing by at least 13 points in the fourth quarter since knocking off Penn State in the 2017 Rose Bowl.

  • Quarterback Justin Herbert has moved on from Oregon to the NFL. His successor, sophomore Tyler Shough, acquitted himself well in the Ducks’ opener.

Shough passed for 227 yards and a touchdown and ran for 85 and another TD.

“He’s growing, he’s learning, he’s very eager,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “He’s a big-time student of the game. He’s always in there trying to get better and improve, so he takes coaching well and we expect him to continue to progress and get better.”

Meanwhile, running back CJ Verdell rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown, marking his ninth career 100-yard rushing game.

  • The Pac-12’s best rushing performance last weekend was by Colorado sophomore tailback Jarek Broussard, who earned conference offensive player of the week honors after running for 187 yards and three touchdowns against UCLA in his collegiate debut.

First-year Colorado coach Karl Dorrell won his first game against his alma mater — and the UCLA program he coached from 2003-07.

“It wasn’t any emotional moment for me until the end of the game for our players,” said Dorrell. “I am just so proud of them and what they’ve accomplished today.”

  • Washington State, under first-year coach Nick Rolovich, accumulated more rushing yards (229) than passing yards (227) in a game for the first time since 2010.

Cougars QB Jayden de Laura, a native of Honolulu, Hawaii, became the first true freshman in school history to open a season as the starter. He passed for 227 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 43 yards and another TD.

“What makes me happy is all the people back home on the island, watching him, cheering for him,” said Rolovich, the former coach at Hawaii. “A little piece of each one of them — probably everyone in Hawaii — is rooting right along with that. Hopefully that brightened a lot of days in Hawaii.”

What made WSU’s win even more compelling was that 32 Cougars weren’t able to play in the season opener.

  • ASU quarterback Jayden Daniels threw for 134 yards and rushed for 111 more for the Sun Devils last weekend against USC. It’s just the fifth time in school history a QB has rushed for more than 100 yards in a game.