I think it's safe to say that, in a rare show of conference unity, 8 Pac-10 fan bases were happy to see Washington St. earn their first Pac-10 win since the 2008 Apple Cup. And although WSU's surprisingly thorough defeat of Oregon St. wasn't the best news for Oregon St. or Washington fans, it's nothing but a good thing for the conference as a whole to have the Cougars become clearly competitive. And as a stereotypically paranoid Cal fan, I'm thrilled that Cal won't have to face Jeff Tuel in the Pallouse next year - dude's legit.
Sadly, the rest of Saturday's Pac-10 results weren't nearly so cheery. Despite competitive efforts from Arizona St. and Arizona, Stanford and USC emerged with tough road wins. And the Pac-10 standings indicate that it's increasingly more likely that only four (at most) eligible Pac-10 teams will reach a bowl. With Oregon St. and UCLA needing 2 wins in 3 games and Washington needing 3 it's going to be a nervous fall for bowl commissioners in El Paso, Las Vegas and San Francisco.
Washington St. 31, Oregon St. 14
This was more than just clawing out a win in any way possible. Washington St. ran the ball, they threw the ball, they played good defense, they controlled time of possession and won the turnover battle - and all on the road. No flukes here. Cougcenter has the only appropriate reaction: CAPITAL LETTERS AND CELEBRATION GIFS!
I started to cry because we were going to win after that Staden TD, then I started crying because I gashed my head open. Either way, TEARS WERE FLOWING. GO COUGS! JEFF TUEL FOR EMPEROR OF EARTH!
Meanwhile, Building The Dam must face a harsh reality: They got Coug'd:
So how did it happen? How could a team ranked 119th. out of 120 FCS teams hold Oregon St., and Jacquizz Rodgers, to less than 100 yards rushing? How did the Cougars come up with their highest scoring game of the season, and do it on the road?
First and foremost, the Cougars tried. They came in with energy, but also a plan. And it was clear from the start, not just after the beat down was well under way, when it's always easy to be excited, that Washington St.'s entourage wanted to be there.
With two weeks to prepare, are you betting on the Cougs making it two Pac-10 wins in a row at home against Washington in the Apple Cup after 16 straight losses?
So losing to WSU and probably not making a bowl means OSU should totally fire Mike Riley, right? Please? Anybody?
Stanford 17, Arizona St. 13
Stanford generally controlled the ball and the game against Arizona St., but a usually dominant offensive line struggled, special teams were iffy and turnovers in ASU territory kept the game close. In a twist it was the Stanford defense that won the game:
Stanford's defense was stout, limiting the Sun Devils to 268 total yards and forcing a Steven Threet fumble at the goal line in the first half. Arizona State was 1-for-9 on third down and committed eight penalties for 67 yards, including three on the Cardinal's game-winning drive.
Wisconsin, Oregon, USC, Stanford - all losses for ASU, and all by an average of 4 points - and this one means no bowl for the Devils. Pitchfork Nation is getting tired of the same old story:
It was another week dotted by optimism. The Devils led the Cardinal 13-10 halfway through the 4th quarter. But it was also another week where turnovers, dumb penalties and mistakes in the kicking game made winning a big game nearly impossible. That’s the story of the 2010 Arizona State Sun Devils, and on cue, they delivered that same plot line against Andrew Luck and the Cardinal.
Stanford's offensive line vs. Cal's front seven (or six, if Cal goes with a 3-3-5 again) - who wins the battle?
Which is a more boring match-up for a national audience: UCLA @ Washington next Thursday, or UCLA @ ASU the Friday after that?
USC 24, Arizona 21
The Trojans took full advantage of Arizona's miscues, converting one Arizona fumble into a short field touchdown, forcing another fumble in the red zone and avoiding the special teams miscues that their opponent could not avoid. And for all of the scorn we love to heap on Lane Kiffin, he's kept a team with nothing to play for pushing and playing hard in each and every game - something that Oregon St., Notre Dame and UCLA can't be pleased about. Conquest Chronicles looks back at the tough road win:
Last night's win in Tucson showed us glimpse of what we wanted to see all season from this team. For the most part we all know 'SC has the talent. They just needed some coaching. We also know we have some depth issues. Putting all that aside we saw the team come together last night to grind out a win. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't pretty at times. The defense still gives up way too many yards in the middle of the field but they got some pressure on Nick Foles and the created a couple of key turnovers.
First and foremost, any dream-scenario where Arizona somehow makes the Rose Bowl is now impossible. So take a deep breath, and let those hopes go. Feel better? Me neither, but that's life for a football fan. There was a lot of hope as the season progressed that the Wildcats would finally pull it off and make it to that illusive Rose Bowl, but they are still not 100% ready yet.
Arizona travels to Autzen to take on the Ducks in two weeks. What percent chance do you give the Wildcats to pull of the upset?
All times Pacific Standard:
UCLA @ Washington, 5:00 ESPN
Stanford @ Cal, 12:30 FSN/CSNBA
USC @ Oregon St., 5:00 ABC
Why should the Pac-10 let the Big East and ACC have all the fun when we can trot out two mediocre teams playing for a shadow of a chance at a meaningless early December bowl? Stanford @ Cal is clearly the biggest game of the week, pun very much intended. And I can't muster any kind of interest in USC @ OSU. Only one thing matters next Saturday, and it's the axe.