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Stanford Cardinal on upset alert in top Pac-12 game of Week 2

One more week. Get through this week's largely mediocre slate of games and there is an all-day treasure trove waiting for Pac-12 fans on Sept. 14. But Week 2 does open conference play with frisky Washington State headed to play a potentially vulnerable USC, while Stanford and Arizona State will each open the season after an extended wait.

Here are each of this week's Pac-12 games, ranked from worst to best:

9. Weber State at Utah, Saturday, Sept. 7 at 2 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network

Rating: 1 star

The skinny: The game in the bottom spot of the game rankings last week was Eastern Washington-Oregon State, a wildly entertaining 49-46 upset that is likely to end up among the 10 most compelling games in the Pac-12 this season. Whoops. The Utes should fare better against a Wildcats defense that allowed 40 points and 6.4 yards per play in its opener.

8. Portland State at California, Saturday, Sept. 7 at 5 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network

Rating: 1 star

The skinny: Balance is the operative word for the Golden Bears. RB Brendan Bigelow had 55 rushing yards on the opening possession; Cal gained only 38 yards on the ground in the ensuing 56:35, forcing true freshman QB Jared Goff to attempt a school single-game record 63 passes in his debut. That's not a formula for long-term success and head coach Sonny Dykes knows it, especially against the equally explosive Vikings.

7. Sacramento State at Arizona State, Thursday, Sept. 5 at 9 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network

Rating: 1 star

The skinny: Any interest in the Sun Devils' opener should be extinguished by the time Ravens-Broncos wraps up. The Hornets didn't show much in their opener, totaling only 278 yards on 79 plays. Touted junior-college transfer WR Jaelen Strong will start and is expected to be the centerpiece of the Arizona State passing attack this season.

6. Hawaii at Oregon State, Saturday, Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network

Rating: 1.5 stars

The skinny: Oh, Beavers. The Oregon State defense was decimated by Eastern Washington and QB Vernon Adams, wasting a career performance from WR Brandin Cooks (13 receptions for 196 yards and two touchdowns). Cooks is expected to play after hurting his back making his last catch in the loss. The bigger concern is how to ramp up the pressure up front and get DE Scott Crichton back on track.

5. Arizona at UNLV, Saturday, Sept. 7 at 9:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network

Rating: 2 stars

The skinny: After serving a one-game suspension, RB Ka'Deem Carey should roll against the shoddy Rebels defense. Minnesota dropped 51 points and 221 rushing yards on UNLV and it does not have a talent comparable to the nation's leading rusher from a year ago.

4. Central Arkansas at Colorado, Saturday, Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network

Rating: 2 stars

The skinny: Colorado is coming off an emotional rivalry win on a short week against the No. 5 team in the FCS. Can you say 'ambush?' Bears QB Wynrick Smothers was an efficient 27-of-31 for 267 yards and one touchdown in a 58-7 rout, but the Buffaloes' secondary showed major improvement after ranking dead last in passing efficiency last season.

3. Oregon at Virginia, Saturday, Sept. 7 at 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2

Rating: 3 stars

The skinny: Mark Helfrich had the Oregon blur offense in peak form in his first game as head coach, posting a school-record 772 yards of offense while holding the ball for only 19:46. Virginia poses a slightly greater challenge on both sides of the ball, but the Ducks' rebuilt linebacker corps, featuring promising freshman Torrodney Prevot, should smother junior RB Kevin Parks (65 rushing yards and one TD against BYU; averaged 3.2 yards per carry).

2. Washington State at USC, Saturday, Sept. 7 at 10:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

Rating: 3 stars

The skinny: The Trojans didn't settle their quarterback quandary and probably won't with a run-heavy approach featuring Tre Madden and Justin Davis likely against a Washington State defense that gave up 297 rushing yards last week. On the other side of the ball, USC will need its pass-rush to remain in top form with starting CBs Kevon Seymour and Anthony Brown banged up. Head coach Mike Leach's Air Raid offense is starting to look more like it did at Texas Tech, but QB Connor Halliday threw three costly interceptions in a seven-point loss at Auburn.

1. San Jose State at Stanford, Saturday, Sept. 7 at 11 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network

Rating: 4 stars

The skinny: Spartans QB David Fales nearly upset the Cardinal last season and can dramatically boost his draft stock by performing well against a front seven loaded with future NFL players. Stanford will need its defense to pick up where it left off, as the offense must replace its leading rusher and top five receivers. QB Kevin Hogan does return after going 5-0 last season, including wins at Oregon, in the Pac-12 championship game and Rose Bowl.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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