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, it's at the ASU blog. He has this to say:
"...the Ducks and Sun Devils are the only teams that has the moxie and across-the-board talent to legitimately challenge for the Pac-10 Title."
Firstly, note my awesome use of ellipses. Secondly, what the Dorrell is going on here? What team has more moxie than Cal? Kevin Riley invented moxie in the early 20s, then went forward in time to help teach a young America how to love again. He's the crown prince of moxie!
"Nobody drinks more moxie than Kevin Riley. NOBODY!" via www.metrocast.net
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) The Pacific-10 Conference expanded to its current state in 1978 when Arizona and Arizona State left the WAC to create the dysfunctional family we now are all members of today. In the 30 years in our current state, I think it's pretty obvious that we did not see a weekend as pathetic as we did last week when seven teams lost, four of them to Mountain West Conference foes, one as a 25 1/2 point favorite, one to Baylor (no more explanation needed) and one which was their worst loss since the Great Depression.
Thankfully, last week is over and we move on to this weekend, where there's a primetime televised matchup (Georgia/ASU), a middling conference game and three others. The question is, how does the conference save face this week?
Conquest Chronicles, if you feel like stretching out and passing on this question, feel free. You're more than excused.
HydroTech: How does the conference save face? How about we win? What a novel idea!
Let's start with Cal. Cal plays Bye Week this week. It's going to be a really tough matchup between Cal's linebackers and Bye Week's runningbacks. Anything less than a 150 point beatdown of Bye Week is totally unacceptable. If Cal can beat Bye Week, the Pac-10 will be one significant step closer towards saving face in week 4.
How can Arizona State save face this week? Well, this week they play Georgia. How about not losing by 30? Losing by 25 is respectable, but more than 30 will surely reinforce the whole USC and the 9 dwarfs stereotype.
Wasington State plays Portland State this week - thank god. I mean, this is a shoo-in win for the Cougars and Pac-10, right? Right??? Instead of mandating that WSU wins by X amount of points, we'll cut them some slack and just ask that WSU wins this game. That'll be asking a lot from them as is.
Now, what about Stanfurd? Well, they play San Jose State. In most cases, for most teams, this is an automatic win. But this is Stanfurd we're talking about here. Good ol' reliable Stanfurd lost to San Jose State in 2006. They even lost to UC Davis in 2005. Again, I think we're going to have to set the bar low here. How about just winning this game, Stanfurd? Can ya do that for the Pac?
How about Arizona and UCLA? Well, these two teams play each other so it's hard to save face while not making the other look bad. I mean, if Arizona scores 50 points, UCLA will look just as inept as it did when it played team Yahoo last week. If UCLA's defense shuts out Arizona's offense, well then Arizona looks like idiots with their fancy 7 WR sets and the let's-pass-the-ball-50-times-
per-game offense. So what can we hope for? How about just a clearn game? As for Arizona, they could start by not having 5 "turnovers" - ya know, those events when the offense allows the defense to gain possession of the ball. Arizona had 5 of them last week. I'm pretty sure nothing really good comes about from those aside from getting a higher number in the "loss" category. As for UCLA, how about getting your runningbacks more than 19 rushing yards this week? Is that do-able? And yes, I can talk that talk since Cal had a whopping 48 rushing yards last week, wooo!!!
Now, Oregon. Although Oregon won last week, this week perhaps they should try and complete more than 41.7% of their passes when they face Boise St. And just like Arizona, Oregon has to try and avoid those "turnovers" of the non-sugary and edible kind. Last week they had 4 of them and almost cost Oregon the game. Follow these two rules and Oregon is sure to win by like 30 instead of only 6. That'll save some face instead of churning out ONLY 500 yards of offense last week and winning by 6. I mean, who DOESN'T churn out 500 yards of offense per week?! (sigh)
As for the trust fund babies down in the hood of Southern Cal. Well, screw you guys. Way to make us all look like we're not picking up our slack.
2) After everything that happened this past weekend, the two teams that are left nationally ranked are the Trojans and the Ducks. The Trojans did it in stunningly efficient fashion over a clearly overmatched Ohio State team while the Ducks pulled off a rousing comeback with a backup QB in a very hostile Purdue environment.
We've touched on this question before, but we're rehashing it this week. After seeing some pretty true colors last Saturday, can anyone in this conference challenge USC for the crown this year, and can Oregon continue to win with the now oft-injured Justin Roper on the sidelines?
As to the first Q, no. Just. Plain. No. Just stop asking. Please. For all our sakes.
As to the second Q, well, they still have a vicious defense led by Patrick Chung and Jairius Byrd. And they still have great talent at the skill positions. But just last year, Cal saw a situation where a VERY talented team was thrown into dis-order, because they had major uncertainty at the QB position. Now, Oregon is onto their 3rd stringer. And from reading the comments at Addicted To Quack, they are fairly positive. However, I wouldn't be shocked if they lost a few games they "should" win, because of that QB uncertainty. The only other possibility is that their QB depth is unbelievably amazing. And that would make me sad.
3) The Washington Huskies nearly pulled off a UNLV-style upset last week when they came within one point and a crap excessive celebration penalty away from sending their game with BYU to overtime. With a chance to prove that they might actually have more spunk and grit than originally thought on Saturday, Oklahoma was up 34-0 before you could spit out "How much will it cost to buy out Tyrone Willingham, again?" At the same time, Washington State was rolled by Baylor. Yeah, that Baylor.
However, Washington and WSU are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the state of their programs. WSU is breaking in a new coach and trying to find a quarterback of the future, while the Huskies have a star under center but are chasing their boss out of town.
Which of these programs, then, is closer to edging back toward respectability?
I would go with Washington. For two main reasons:
1. They play in a larger media market. WSU is from West Idaho, pretty much. It's going to be harder to get the attention and respect of the media.
2. UDub appears to have some modicum of talent. Locker has a lot of buzz about him. That's far more than you can say for WSU. Sure, their coach is as lame a duck as Lane Kiffin. But, WSU doesn't seem to have talent anywhere.
4) Those pesky Wildcats are at it again. Their fan base got super excited after starting 2-0 and putting up a ton of points to open the season, but at the first sign of adversity on the road at New Mexico this week, they once again folded like Charlie Weis' kneecap.
Mike Stoops is already on the hot seat for not taking several paper tigers to the postseason in previous seasons, and now the stove just got turned back up after losing on the road to a Lobos team that they're clearly better than. The perception down here in the Grand Canyon State is that Little Brother has to get the U of A to a bowl...any bowl...to save his job. Give me your perception of the state of the Arizona Wildcats.
Are the Wildcats clearly better than New Mexico? I mean, they lost to them last year too, and at home. The Lobos won 9 games last year, and have been to a bowl game 5 of the last 6 years; if Mike Stoops had accomplished anything close to that, we wouldn't be having this discussion regarding his job security.
Nevertheless, Arizona is a program with a higher profile and in a better conference that New Mexico, with more resources to pour into football. Arizona should be a better program than New Mexico, and the fact that they're not, even in Stoops' 5th year, is a strong indictment of his head coaching ability. Despite the high-profile November upsets (No. 20 ASU in 2004, No. 7 UCLA in 2005, No. 8 Cal in 2006, and No. 2 Oregon in 2007), Stoops still hasn't gotten this team to win consistently, and inconsistency is a mark of poor coaching.
Arizona's program has improved some from the mutinous mess than John Mackovic left behind, but it's still not good. Willie Tuitama is now a senior, and if his career is wasted without an Arizona bowl appearance, I think the axe has to fall on Stoops. Arizona State's quick turnaround under Dennis Erickson hasn't helped matters either. At some point, Arizona had to take another step forward or doom itself to perpetual mediocrity, and I can't think the Arizona fanbase will tolerate another 5 years of sub-.500 records while the Sun Devils celebrate national rankings just up the road.
5) Might as well address the giant elephant in the room. A game that was so hyped across America had its stock fall faster than...well...the stock market on Monday afternoon. I'm not good at puns. Anyway, like it or not, Georgia is still visiting Arizona State on Saturday in a game that the Devils need to save face after their embarrassing loss to the Rebels last week.
Georgia looked like a team that could be beaten against South Carolina as the Gamecocks were able to get plenty of pressure on Matt Stafford and Chris Smelley picked apart the Bulldogs secondary.
Can the Sun Devils still beat Georgia this weekend? And what would a win over one of the SEC's finest mean for the conference?
Firstly, the only reason there is a giant elephant in this room is because I'm high on LSD. Secondly, the elephant really needs to stop playing the oboe, because it is hurting my head.
Thirdly, I fear that after Georgia comes out to Arizona State, their heads will be hurting. Maybe the humiliation from the weekend will push ASU to another level. And, yes, Georgia has definitely shown some weaknesses this year. But Georgia is one of the finest teams in the nation, while ASU is only one of the finest teams in the Pac10.
And given how that last weekend has gone, being one of the finest teams in the Pac10 doesn't mean as much as it used to. So, ASU is definitely going to need a whole lot of moxie to rock Georgia. Can they get that? Only if Kevin Riley suits up.