Welcome to the fifth edition of This Week In The Pac, wherein I try to piece together what happened after not seeing a single second of live college football thanks to Giants related torture.
With a Pac-10 championship and Rose Bowl appearance in 2009, Oregon began to stake their claim as the premier program in the Pac-10. In week five of the 2010 season the Ducks beat fellow top 10 foe Stanford and rose to #3 in both polls, all while former Pac-10 juggernaut USC lost and fell out of the rankings. We're only a third of the way through the season, but Oregon's absurd offensive dominance coupled with USC's obvious fall from grace amid potentially crippling sanctions means that we must raise the possibility that USC's decline (Hey, has anybody ever used 'Fall of Troy' as a headline before? I think I just came up with a winner!) has not resulted in a new landscape open to multiple contenders year in and year out. Are the Ducks poised to control the conference a la Pete Carroll? We may not find out for sure until they finish the regular season at Cal, vs. Arizona and at Oregon State. Addicted to Quack isn't focusing on the long term:
But put together, this team has something special. This game was one of the scariest and most entertaining game I've ever witnessed. And at the day, the Ducks turned the tables on Stanford and physically dominated them. This win tells us a lot about this Oregon team, and should give us a lot of hope for the future. Our team fought hard, and despite adversity, won every play. This is a very good team, and we should enjoy such a great win.
Chip Kelly's gutsy call for an onside kick helped change the momentum in the first half and the Cardinal never recovered after Javes Lewis's big hit on Chris Owusu in the third quarter forced a fumble and set up the Ducks' go-ahead score. The Stanford defense, meanwhile, was undone by LaMichael James, who finished with 257 rushing yards and three touchdowns. It's scary to think how good he must have looked in high definition. It was a disappointing loss, sure, especially after such a promising start, but Stanford should feel good about how it competed in a hostile environment against a legitimate national title contender.
After Stanford took advantage of two early Duck turnovers to grab a 21-3 lead Oregon proceeded to stop fooling around and ran off a 49-10 run on a Stanford defense that had been surprisingly stingy thus far in 2010. The poll question covers the Ducks. Here's your Stanford question: Will the Cardinal respond to their defeat by taking out their frustration on USC, or will Andrew Luck throw two interceptions in his 3rd straight game and give the Trojans new life?
Washington 32, USC 31
We all expected USC to eventually get punished for struggling with mediocre-to-bad teams, but I don't think many thought it would come against Washington in the Coliseum after the drubbing Nebraska gave the Huskies. Jake Locker and Chris Polk finally had the type of games everybody expected them to have and even a Herculean effort from Alan Bradford couldn't save the Trojans. Conquest Chronicles is relatively calm, probably because they saw something like this coming:
I feel terrible for the effort that Allen Bradford gave and not have this team win the game.
The Defense still has a long way to go and I think it will get worse before it gets better. Monte Kiffin has said that the defense is still learning the basics of the system. I'm not sure if I buy into that completely, Monte is going to have to explain why after five games that they still miss assignments and miss tackles. Maybe the players aren't as good as we think.
This was a pretty big win. That loud rumble in the distance you heard after the game came from lukewarm Husky fans jumping back on the bandwagon. Any doubt that Sark can't call a great game vanished into thin air last night.
Your USC Question: What will USC's record be in their next three games (@ Stanford, vs. Cal, vs. Oregon)?
And for the Huskies: Winning in L.A. gave Washington their first Pac-10 road win since beating Stanford in 2007. How many more road games will the Huskies get in 2010 (@ Arizona, Oregon, Cal and Washington St.)?
Oregon St. 31, Arizona St. 28
Poor, poor Sun Devils. Three straight games against top 25 caliber teams, three straight close losses with plenty of regrets and Steven Threet interceptions. Ryan Katz had his best game in his young career and Quizz was his usual efficient self, as the Beavers picked up a vital home win to revive their fledgling season. House of Sparky won't take moral victories anymore.
I am so sick of this team. They consistently let me down, and today was no exception. Steven Threet threw so many picks, and the defense was unable to stop Jacquizz Rodgers. It was so typical; so Arizona State.
Will Vontaze Burfict ever stop inciting violence on the field? Will he reel in his uncontrollable anger and be a solid player? At this point, midway through his second season, it's hard to tell if he can put it together.
The Beavers needed this win to prove that they belong in the Pac-10 conversation after a lackluster showing in non-conference play. Now, they need to go down to Tucson and do the same thing next week.
Oregon St. is taking a trip to the desert next. Will 10 points be enough for the winner this week in Tucson? /sobs
And for ASU: Will Dennis Erickson be coaching in Tempe in 2011?
UCLA 42, Washington St. 28
The underrated game of the day. UCLA and WSU entered the 4th quarter tied at 28, and the Cougars drove the ball all the way to the one yard line and even had a touchdown overturned before failing on 4th and 1. After a UCLA touchdown the Cougars missed a field goal and the Bruins added another 7 points to put the game away. The story was UCLA's running game (437 yards) and Jeff Tuel (20-37, 311 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs). UCLA's pistol running game was successful despite no real threat from Richard Brehaut, who had just 8 yards on 5 carries. No need for misdirection when you can just hand off and run right through the defense. Bruins Nation was understandably displeased with a close game at home against WSU:
What we all need to collectively brace for is this. Right now this UCLA team is going to go through a lot of highs and lows. Yesterday's "victory" despite being a win - to me - sticks out as a setback following the high experienced in Austin. Now this doesn't mean that the season is a goner. That is hardly the case. What I do hope is the coaches and players, collectively feel a sense of urgency heading up to Strawberry Canyon, and figure out how they can put together the same level of practice intensity they were reportedly showing prior to the Texas game.
I don't expect the Bruins to win either against California or Oregon. There I said it. I don't think Bruins are going to win there with the performance I have seen to date.
We lost. Fine. It's not like many expected us to win. I thought I'd be happy with a competitive game, but I'm not. In the fourth quarter there was hope. It looked like Jeff Tuel won the race to the pylon and put WSU up a score, even though Andrew Furney appeared to miss the extra point. Boy were we wrong. We still saw progress yet again this week. It's encouraging, but it's so disappointing to get that close.
Are you more afraid of UCLA after they racked up 437 yards on the ground, or are you brushing that off because it was against WSU?
If UCLA ran for 437 yards against WSU, how many running yards will Oregon get next week?!?
(All times Pacific Standard)
UCLA @ Cal, 12:30
Oregon @ Washington State, 2:00
Oregon St. @ Arizona, 3:00
USC @ Stanford, 5:00
Arizona St. @ Washington, 7:00
Get your predictions in!