College Football • Whittingham not at all surprised by conference's overall depth
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Half of Pac-12 teams ranked in Top 25
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham knew what he was getting into when the Utes joined the Pac-12, so he was not jolted by this week's news of six conference members being ranked in the AP Top 25.
"I don't remember that in the Mountain West," Whittingham said.
Actually, the MW produced three teams in the top 15 in November 2008 Utah, Texas Christian and BYU just like the Pac-12 this week. The obvious difference is depth. Oregon (No. 2), USC (No. 13) and Oregon State (No. 14) are joined by Stanford (No. 18), Washington (No. 23) and UCLA (No. 25).
If the rankings hold, Utah will play a Top 25 team in each of its next three games, hosting USC and visiting UCLA and OSU. "It's nothing that we didn't expect," Whittingham said.
It's also nothing compared with Arizona's current stretch of the schedule. The Wildcats are facing those six teams consecutively.
The last time the league (then the Pac-10) claimed six Top 25 teams was in September 2002, when Oregon, USC, Washington, Washington State, UCLA and Cal were ranked.
Better than Star?
Preparing to face Arizona State next week, Colorado coach Jon Embree has a suggestion for junior defensive tackle Will Sutton. "He needs to go ahead and start getting paid," Embree said. "He's the best defensive lineman I've seen, by far, in our conference. He's the guy that absolutely, every game, jumps out as a playmaker."
Whittingham is duly impressed with Sutton, although he ranks Utah's Star Lotulelei as the Pac-12's top lineman.
Sutton is the league's most improved player, certainly. Through five games, his 34 tackles, including 10 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks, have topped his entire production in 2011, when he started 12 games.
Spreading it around
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley completed passes to 11 different receivers last weekend against Colorado, but that's nothing new. The Bruins also had 11 players with receptions against Houston and Oregon State although not the same 11 players each week, which is more remarkable. In all, 14 receivers caught passes in those three games.
Through five games, the Bruins have eight players with between 10 and 19 receptions, led by Steven Manfro with 19 catches for 206 yards. Eight receivers have scored touchdowns.
Defending elite QBs
USC senior Matt Barkley, who visits Utah on Thursday, will be considered for the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft.
Since 2000, the Utes have faced nine quarterbacks drafted in the first two rounds. Counting multiple games against TCU's Andy Dalton and BYU's John Beck, Utah is 8-6. That includes a 10-6 win over USC in the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl, when future No. 1 choice Carson Palmer was a junior.
When the elite QB was in his final college season, the Utes are 1-4, with losses to Oregon's Joey Harrington in '01, Beck in '06, Dalton in '10 and Arizona State's Brock Osweiler last year. Utah beat Louisville's Brian Brohm in '07, although he passed for 467 yards. Harrington was the only first-round pick in that group, going No. 3 overall to Detroit.
USC's Matt Barkley is projected as the 10th highly drafted NFL quarterback to face Utah in this century. Results for the others:
Quarterback School Year Round Record vs. Utah
Joey Harrington Oregon 2002 1st 1-0
Kyle Boller Cal 2003 1st 1-0
Carson Palmer USC 2003 1st 0-1
Aaron Rodgers Cal 2005 1st 0-1
Kellen Clemens Oregon 2006 2nd 0-1
John Beck BYU 2007 2nd 1-2
Brian Brohm Louisville 2008 2nd 0-1
Andy Dalton TCU 2011 2nd 2-2
Brock Osweiler Arizona State 2012 2nd 1-0