Pac10 Roundtable Week 2

Well, Addicted To Quack is organizing this whole Pac10 Roundtable thing.  8 out of 10 of the Pac10 teams (Boo Stanford and Arizona!!) have blogs that get together to discuss the news of the day.  This week, they are crashing at our place.  We'll teach them of the mystical ways of Zachary Running Wolf and Erik Eisenberg. They'll express disdainful confusion about the tree situation and we'll shiv them in the ribs.  Here is Week 1.  Also, don't forget out Q+A with those Trutle Tarpers over at Testudo Times!  And our travel tips for Maryland.  If Cal people want to meet up for a tailgate, feel free to discuss it in the DBD or elsewise.  That Maryland post is falling off the page.

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"We waited two years for this day, so sit down, shut up, and get back to reading the Book Of Muffin!"  via www.dfoggknives.com

Oregon State will be represented by Building the Dam.  The Washington schools chime in with The WSU Football Blog and our newest SBN blog, UW Dawg Pound.  Conquest Chronicles and What's Bruin, Dawg? corner the SoCal market.  Finally, Pitchfork Nation comes to us from the hot state of Arizona.

Behind the fold, find the questions.  Also, interestingly enough, the answers.  GO BEARS!

1.  Washington showed moxie and elbow grease in nearing knocking off Yahoo! (oh wait is that BYU, sorry the hat confused me).  Also, spunk.  They showed spunk.  Locker finally showed some promise as both a throwing QB AND a running QB.  Unfortunately, the odd ending to the game probably left a bitter taste in many Husky mouths.  But should Husky fans see this game as the beginning of something big or just another emotionally brutal loss en route to Willingham's departure?  And why does BYU's hat look like its from Yahoo!?

I honestly do not believe that Washington will be able to use this as a springboard to better success.  Locker seems erratic out there.  He can definitely deliver at times, but also managed to miss wide open targets and make foolish decisions.  We've seen a lot of great running QBs who can't really throw.  Locker, at his current level, is just another in the line.  He's not going to fill the void at RB all by himself.
But what this shows to me is just how deep the Pac10 is this year.  

BYU is supposed to be one of the best teams in the country and a potentially bottom feeding Pac10 team took them to the limit.  Even if they didn't win, they still exposed BYU quite a bit.  So, maybe this isn't the beginning of something big for UDub, BUT it does show that we can't take any Pac10 team for granted this year.  It is going to be a tough, tough conference and each game is going to be a long, brutal experience.  I don't think any of us would want it any other way.

2.  September is barely a week old, yet we've already seen 4 Pac-10 conference games.  Stanford already has both a win and a loss in the conference.  UW lost a rivalry game to Oregon before September even started.  Early conference games are not exactly new, but I don't recall there ever being so many of them this early.

Cal Coach Jeff Tedford has gone on record as saying he's not a big fan of early conference games.  "You like to play your non-conference games first and then get to conference play," Tedford said. "You like to be able to figure out who's exactly going to play for you in special teams, and get some game experience for guys before you have to get into conference play. That's a challenge this week to cut down to 64 for the road. You're still evaluating some situations on special teams and so on and so forth." It's worth noting that of the 4 conference games so far, only Tedford's Bears have managed to win a road game.

Are these early conference matchups good for the teams involved, or do they merely present an unnecessary challenge for teams that need their non-conference games to prepare for the rigors of conference play?  Are such games, and any exposure they might garner, good for the conference as a whole?  Or does it not matter when you play someone, as long as the matchups between the top teams are saved for later in the season?

I really don't see the benefit.  For most of the teams in the conference, the non-conference portion of the schedule doesn't really matter too much.  They're not in the national title race, and so the conference standings, and the bowl slots that are determined by it, it the only thing that really matters.  For these teams, the non-conference portion of the schedule serves as a nice warm-up to conference play, allowing teams to work out some issues and get up to speed before playing the games that really matter.  If a team is willing to play a tougher schedule right out of the gate, they get the benefit of having experience playing tough teams without the drawback of torpedoing their quest for a conference title before September even gets underway.  Cal in 2006 is a perfect example of this, where they were flattened by Tennessee in their opener, but still went on to share the Pac-10 title.

On a national level, too, I just don't see the benefit.  I suppose Oregon State - Stanford garnered more attention by being played on the opening Thursday Night, but I submit that the game would have had just as much attention on any other Thursday Night, or if it were a non-conference matchup, such as Oregon State - Hawai'i.

Sometimes the schedule works out such that conference games have to be played early in September, but I don't like it, and I don't see a good argument for it.

3.  The "second tier" teams (Oregon, ASU, & Cal) have all looked strong so far.  Which team from this group will turn out to be the strongest, and do any of them have a chance of challenging USC for the conference title?  Arizona has also looked good (against weak competition) and UCLA (somehow) took out big, bad Tennessee; will either of these teams crack the top 4 in the conference?

At this point, I would put Cal above ASU and Oregon.  ASU has had some solid victories, but against who?  They face Georgia, so now we'll get a chance to see what they are made of.  Oregon has also had success, but again, against who?  At least Cal, at this point, has faced a team of amazing skill and unrivaled ability.  And we beat them 66-3!

Viewed objectively, Oregon might have some trouble with its offense.  Certainly putting up 66 points will cause one to think the offense is doing A-OK.  But with injuries to its QBs, there is cause for concern.  So, I'd put them lower than ASU and Cal.  I'd put Cal above ASU, but probably just because, yknow, we're homers. 

As for whether Arizona or UCLA will crack the top 4, I'm higher on Arizona.  Yeah, UCLA has the bigger win right now, but that win might say more about Tennessee than UCLA.  Arizona has stability at QB, which can mean something these days in the Pac10.  If Oregon does slip, because of QB instability, perhaps Arizona might be there to take their spot. 

As to whether any of these teams might challenge USC?  I doubt it.  But who would have thought that USC would lose to Stanford last year?  Certainly, none of us.  That is, I guess, why they say stupid cliches like "That's why they play the game."

4.  Since the dawn of time itself, Washington State has been regarded as one of the greatest, if not THE greatest college football program.  Now headed by universally hailed genius Paul Wulff and rocket armed uber-stud QB Unclear At This Time, Washington State (or Wazzu as it is sometimes called by the plebes) contends year in and year out for the brass ring (i.e. crystal football).

Yet, Cal was recently able to defeat this troupe of pigskin superstars by the rather unbelievable score of A Lot to A Little.  Does this recent gridiron mauling mean that Cal is nigh unstoppable and en route to not only this year's National Championship, but also an almost certain thousand years of never before seen dominance.

Finally, feel free to answer with "yes," "Hell Yes," or the always popular "OH HELL YEAH!"

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CAN I GET A OH HELL YEAH?

5.  As much as we all hate each other, I think the one thing we can agree on is how much we hate the SEC.  I think everyone hates the SEC.  So what are your thoughts on the Teflon reputation that the SEC has for its losses and why the losses by Tennessee to UCLA and Cal get written off?


It is inevitably the squeakiest wheel that gets the grease.  Especially in a sport dominated by perception.  The SEC has beat its chest and stomped its feet until it built a strong perception of unending dominance (something the Big10 is MORE than happy to assist it with).  Once that perception gets going, it is difficult to stop.  Furthermore, for societal reasons that don't need to be discussed here, football in the South has a strong mythical hold.  Again, that merely feeds into the perception. 

This doesn't really affect Cal.  If Cal just takes care of its business and focuses on what it needs to do, it will slowly but surely change the perception.  As simple as that.  After all, in just 7 short years, Cal has gone from "unimportant regional team" to "perpetually intriguing yet underperfoming national player."  We still have a ways to go, of course, but the perception has changed there.  Let's hope Tedford is not done!

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"No longer an unimportant regional team!" via images.teamsugar.com

So, check back in for the other blogs to post links to their answers here.  Go Bears!

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