In his third season at Arizona State, Kalen Ballage went from backup running back to overnight sensation after tying a NCAA record with eight touchdowns last week.

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Kalen Ballage crammed a season’s worth of highlights into a historic game last Saturday night.

Many college football players don’t score eight touchdowns in a year and yet the Arizona State junior running back reached the end zone eight times, tying a NCAA record, during a 68-55 win over Texas Tech.

It’s a stunning achievement when you consider Ballage wasn’t the Sun Devils top rusher coming into the season.

Demario Richard led ASU with 1,104 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in 2015 while Ballage had 653 yards and 4 TDs.

Thanks in large part to a 137-yard performance in his last outing, Ballage now leads ASU with 193 rushing yards and Richard has 187.

“I consider we’ve got two No. 1 backs,” coach Todd Graham said. “I don’t consider them 1 and 2. … We think both of them are exceptional and very different in what the skill sets are.”

Richard, a 5-foot-10, 220-pound junior, has 49 carries and is more of a every-down running back. Meanwhile, Ballage, a 6-3, 230-pound junior, has handled most of the short-yardage and goal-line duties.

“I love the fact that we’ve got two guys that are so talented and we’re utilizing both of them,” Graham said.

TIME TO CHANGE SCHEDULING FORMAT

When the Pac-12 expanded to a dozen teams in 2011, California and Stanford fought hard to preserve its rivalries with USC and UCLA – making sure to maintain an annual trip to recruiting-rich Los Angeles.

Five years later, Golden Bears coach Sonny Dykes wants to the conference to rethink that decision.

“I don’t really understand it,” he said. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I think we need to have a normal round-robin schedule.”

Since the Pac-12 expansion Cal is 1-9 against the LA schools, which traditionally are among the stronger teams in the conference.

“I would like to think that they would,” Dykes said when asked if the Pac-12 will change its scheduling format. “It’s certainly something worth having a conversation about.”

Meanwhile, Stanford coach David Shaw is happy to continue with the current format.

“For me being a Stanford alum, I love it,” he said. “I love the fact that the California schools are going to play each other every year. It’s hard for me to imagine that we wouldn’t play ‘SC and UCLA every year. That’s a strange concept for me just growing up and knowing that those were things you could count on.

“Our alumni count on those. Our fan base count on those. We got a natural built-in rivalry I would hate to take a two-year hiatus from. Even though it does make our schedule relatively difficult as a alum I love the fact that the California schools play each other.”

THANKS, BUT NO THANKS

Despite a seven-figure windfall, it appears as if the Pac-12 isn’t having much luck finding teams to play in Australia in 2017 or ’18.

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez and UW athletic director Jen Cohen said this week their respective teams declined invitations to participate in the game, which would presumably be held at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium much like this year’s opener between California and Hawaii.

“I didn’t want to give up a home game and then I heard it was a 16-hour flight and I was like ‘eh, maybe not,'” Rodriguez said.

Cal reportedly received in excess of $1 million for the game – a 51-31 Golden Bears victory.

READY OR NOT, PAC-12 CONFERNCE PLAY STARTS THIS WEEK

Ideally, No. 7 Stanford (1-0) would have enjoyed one more tuneup against a nonconference cupcake before Saturday’s conference opener against USC (1-1) – a rematch of last year’s Pac-12 championship game.

Instead the Cardinal had a bye last week, which followed its 26-13 win against Kansas State in Week 1.

“The bye week came at an inopportune time to try to really build off of that first win,” Shaw said. “In some respects, it almost feels like Game 1 again.”

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Right now we have the atmosphere of a JC softball game,” he said. “That’s what we are: A JC softball team. It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s like the team that wins has the most fun. Crap like that. All this stuff that’s contaminated America where they give a kid a trophy and they don’t keep score in Little League anymore. I think that entire thing has retarded the competitive spirit in America. And I think we need to keep that in mind as coaches. We need to aggressively reinforce our points.” — Washington State coach Mike Leach.

 It should be noted, Leach’s reference to a JC softball team is sexist and derogatory. We all know what he was doing in making that comparison and he should know better.

But he doesn’t. He just doesn’t get it.

AROUND THE PAC-12:

— USC barred suspended linebackers Osa Masina and Don Hill from team activities. They are being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department in connection with a sexual assault case. Neither has been arrested or charged.

— BYU could be considered the de-facto 13th member of the Pac-12 this season. The Cougars play UCLA on Saturday, their third straight game against a Pac-12 team. BYU won 18-16 at Arizona in the opener and lost 20-19 at Utah last week.

— Big week for the Pac-12, which is 3-3 against Power 5 Conference teams and 0-1 against ranked foes. Two Pac-12 teams (Oregon at Nebraska and Colorado at No. 4 Michigan) go on the road for a pair of tough nonconference games while California hosts No. 11 Texas.

— Before Saturday’s big game at No. 4 Michigan, Colorado released a mock depth chart this week – a not-so-subtle jab at Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh who does not disclose a depth chart. Among those included on the Buffaloes’ fake depth chart is quarterback Elmer Fudd, defensive tackle James Bond and punter Happy Gilmore.

— For what it’s worth, Colorado leads the nation with 160.5 yards allowed. Keep in mind, the Buffs have rolled over FSC school Idaho State and Colorado State.

— Two of Graham’s assistants face off this week: Memphis’ Mike Norvell and Kansas’s David Beaty. The Arizona State coach has had five former assistants become head coaches at FBS teams.

— Each of Arizona’s first four games will start at 7:30 p.m. or later, including its Sept. 24 game against Washington that will kick off at 7:30.

— During Saturday’s game against Hawaii, the Wildcats will pay tribute to the survivors and who lost their lives 75 years ago during the Pearl Harbor attack. A survivor of the U.S.S. Arizona, a battleship sunk during the bombing, will be recognized at halftime.

— Oregon running back Royce Freeman moved into 10th place on Oregon’s career all-purpose yards list with 4,035.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF CHASE

  1. Alabama
  2. Florida State
  3. Ohio State
  4. Washington

Next two: Michigan and Clemson.

HEISMAN TROPHY FRONT RUNNERS

1. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson: After two games, the sophomore sensation has amassed 1,015 total yards (697 passing and 318 rushing) and 13 touchdowns. He’s averaging 507.5 yards of offense, which is more than 97 FBS teams.

2. Georgia running back Nick Chubb: Tallied just 80 yards on 20 carries Saturday during last week’s 26-24 win over FCS Nicholls State, which snapped a 14-game streak of 100-yard rushing performances.

3. Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett: In his last outing, he only threw for 149 yards and ran for 55 yards and score two touchdowns. But it was a relatively quiet week for a couple of Heisman front-runners who either had a bye (Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey) or were out with injury (Houston’s Greg Ward Jr.),

In the hunt: Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Florida State’s Deondre Francois.

PAC-12 GAMES OF THE WEEK:

FRIDAY

Arizona State (2-0) at Texas San Antonio (1-1), 6:30 p.m., ESPN2 (ASU by 19): — ASU coach Todd Graham, a Texas native, is trying to strengthen the Sun Devils’ ties to the Lone Star, which is a recruiting hotbed in the southwest. Saturday’s game is the third time in the last four years ASU has played in Texas. The pick: Arizona State 55-20.

SATURDAY

Idaho (1-1) at Washington State (0-2), 11 a.m., Pac-12 Notebook (WSU by 25): The Cougars are one of two winless Pac-12 teams, but there’s no reason to think why they shouldn’t roll over the Vandals. Idaho has surrendered 59 points in each of its lopsided defeats against Pac-12 teams (UW and USC) the past two seasons. The pick: WSU 59-28.

Colorado (2-0) at No. 4 Michigan (2-0), 12:30 p.m., Big Ten Network (Michigan by 20): Colorado will wear the same uniform combination on Saturday as it did in 1997 when the Buffaloes upset Wolverines 27-26 in the 1994 “Miracle in Michigan” game when Michael Westbrook caught a tipped Hail Mary pass from Kordell Stewart. The Buffs would need another miracle to escape Ann Arbor with another win. The pick: Michigan 42-20.

No. 22 Oregon (2-0) at Nebraska (2-0), 12:30 p.m., ABC (Nebraska by 3): Tough road opener for the Ducks and an interesting reunion with Nebraska coach Mike Riley who had a 4-10 record against Oregon when he coached at Oregon State – he lost the last seven games. Riley has a chance to extract some long-awaited payback this week. The pick: Nebraska 34-30.

Idaho State (1-1) at Oregon State (0-1), 2 p.m., Pac-12 Networks (No line): There’s not many guarantees on the Beavers’ schedule, but they should pound the FCS team that allows 415 offense per game. Should be a nice tune-up before next Saturday’s big home game against Boise State. The pick: Oregon State 41-10.

USC (1-1) at No. 7 Stanford (1-0), 5 p.m. ABC (Stanford by 8.5): The Cardinal had an extra week to prepare for its conference home opener. Stanford beat USC twice last season, scoring 41 points in both games. Got to wonder which USC team we’ll see? The one that got drilled 52-6 in the opener or the team that clobbered Utah State 45-7 last week. The pick: Stanford 28-19.

Portland State (1-1) at No. 8 Washington (2-0), 5 p.m., Pac-12 Networks (No line): Vikings coach Bruce Barnum wants to run the ball with their Pistol attack and keep the score close for three quarters in hopes of stealing a victory in the fourth. The FCS stalwart used a similar tactic in last year’s 24-17 upset at Washington State. The only problem, the Huskies are stellar against the run allowing just 2.8 yards per attempt. The pick: Washington 70-0.

UCLA (1-1) at BYU (1-1), 7:15 p.m., ESPN2 (UCLA by 3): The Bruins rank 99th out of 128 FBS teams with six sacks allowed. They’ve done a lousy job protecting quarterback Josh Rosen, which explains why he’s averaging 12.45 yards per completion. This should be a physical game, which will get UCLA ready for next week’s battle against Stanford. The pick: UCLA 30-28.

No. 11 Texas (2-0) at California (2-0), 7:30 p.m., ESPN (Texas by 8): The Golden Bears are going to score points (they 45.5 points), but the question is whether can they stop the run. Cal gave up 281 rushing yards to San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey in last week’s 45-40 loss. Texas has a formidable rushing attack led by Chris Warren III, the son of former Seahawks star Chris Warren. The pick: California 45-38.

 Utah (2-0) at San Jose State (1-1), 7:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network (Utah by 13): First road trip for the Utes who are trying to move past a six-turnover performance, including three interceptions from quarterback Troy Williams. Utah is the first Power 5 Conference team to visit CEFCU Stadium since 2006. The game pits two former WAC members against each other. Both teams also have ties to the Mountain West conference. The pick: Utah 24-14.

Hawaii (1-2) at Arizona (1-1), 7:45 p.m., Pac-12 Networks (Arizona by 24.5): Coach Rich Rodriguez isn’t disclosing much information about who starts at quarterback. He said Brandon Dawkins (223 passing yards, 1 TD, 0 Int and 51.7 percent) had an “uneven” performance filling in for Anu Solomon (213 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT and 66.7 percent) who missed last week with a knee injury. Not sure it’s going to matter, but then the Wildcats struggled with FCS team Grambling State for three quarters in last week’s 31-21 win. The pick: Arizona 41-17.