There's nothing like the last week of the season in the Pac-10, when in-state rivals collide in a grudge match that often defines success or failure on the season. Bowl bids are on the line, flagging seasons can be redeemed and anything can happen. Yes, there's nothing better than having everything come to a close with the Apple Cup, Civil War, Territorial Cup, Crosstown Showdown and Big Ga . . . wait, what? You're telling me that the Big Game was two weeks ago and that Cal and Stanford both ended their seasons against UW and OSU last week?!? Which genius made that decision?
After Cal's heart breaker against Washington I was pretty sure I wouldn't watch any college football until bowl season, but a good rivalry game can draw you in, and anybody who saw the Territorial Cup on Thursday or the Apple Cup on Saturday know exactly what I mean - rarely do you see more intensity, passion and desperation in a game between two teams with a combined 7 wins than you did two days ago in Pullman.
Oregon 37, Oregon State 20
I didn't see any of this game, but the result isn't really surprising now, is it? Oregon St. brought a little rivalry intensity to the game and kept it close into the 4th quarter, but Oregon was never in any real danger. Ryan Katz threw three interceptions, Jacquizz Rodgers never really got going, and Oregon rolled right through Reser and into the BCS national championship. I now reluctantly throw my support behind the Ducks as they fight to silence SEC! proponents. Besides, I sure as hell won't be rooting for Stanford, and we don't want the Pac-10 to go 0-2 in the BCS, do we? Addicted to Quack celebrates:
Before this season started, I thought Oregon had a shot to go undefeated. They were going to be favored in just about every game that they played. But that's not enough in college football. You have to be significantly better than your opposition. I didn't think this likely, but this team stepped up like I never imagined.
Building the Dam hasn't posted any thoughts on the game yet. Considering how I felt after the Big Game I don't blame 'em!
Will you be rooting for the Ducks when they take on Auburn?
Ryan Katz completed 60% of his passes in 2010, but finished with six interceptions in his last two games. What do you see for him moving forward?
Washington 35, Washington State 28
This was a spectacular game - one of the best I've seen all season - only slightly marred by some incredibly goofy Pac-10 refs and some iffy defensive play-calling from the Cougs (Leaving Jermaine Kearse in single coverage with absolutely no safety help on an all-or-nothing blitz is just asking for a 66 yard touchdown). Much of the game was a spectacular duel between Husky running back Chris Polk and Cougar quarterback Jeff Tuel, with both players gaining more than 300 yards from scrimmage. In the end Washington St.'s inability to stop the big plays on the ground and through the air was the difference, but this game was in doubt until the final whistle. UW Dawg Pound loves them some Polk:
Chris Polk had his best day as a Husky in the Apple Cup. Sark kept feeding the beast and the beast responded with 284 yards on 29 carries with two touchdowns. Those 284 yards represented the second biggest rushing day in Husky football history by a running back.
It was a theme in the Apple Cup. Washington would hit a big play, then Washington State would answer. Polk breaks off a 57-yard touchdown, WSU answers with a drive. Polk races down to the one, where Aire Justin never gave up on the play to make the tackle. WSU turns the Huskies over on fourth down. This isn't the Cougar team of year's past. This is a team that fought, scrapped and never rolled-over.
I'm damn proud of each and every player that took the field today, and all year for that matter. They make mistakes, sure, but they've worked their asses off all year. What we saw today was a team that had the right mentality all game long. Be disappointed the Cougs lost, but don't hang your head. I'm incredibly proud of every single player that laid it on the line for 60 minutes and put on one hell of a show.
Washington vs. Nebraska: Round 2! Any reason to think it will turn out differently this time?
WSU has already announced they are bringing back Paul Wulff for one more year. Is that the right move?
USC 28, UCLA 14
It was an ugly game. Matt Barkley was marginally effective while playing hurt and the Trojans made a variety of mistakes, but UCLA was in no position to take advantage of anything. A criminally underutilized Allen Bradford clinched the game for USC with 212 yards and the game deciding 73 yard touchdown. For USC, it was a pleasant cap to a frustratingly inconsistent, up-and-down season. For UCLA, it was just another reminder of how little progress Rick Neuheisel has made after three seasons in Westwood. Conquest Chronicles soaks it in:
There were a combined 13 penalties for over 100 hundred yards, as well as five turnovers. Matt Barkley completed just 58% of his passes, with two interceptions. And once again, USC's defense surrendered a touchdown in the waning moments.
But regardless of the multitude of issues that presented themselves over the course of 60 minutes, the end result was rather familiar: a 28-14 victory for USC with Tusk blaring in the background - the program's 10th win over the Bruins in the past 11 games. That, no matter the circumstances, is something to celebrate.
Embarrassing. Absolutely embarrassing. There's no other word that better describes UCLA's putrid performance at the Rose Bowl tonight. In a game that offensive "genius" Lame Kiffin and his Trogans were trying to give away (with stupid fourth down calls and turnovers), the Bruins come out flat, uninspired, and get embarrassed at the Rose Bowl. I will make this very clear: Rick Neuheisel has 12 games left as UCLA's head coach. If he does not win at least 8 of those, with a win over U$C, he should be fired.
What expectations should USC fans have in year two of NCAA sanctions?
How many wins do you think Neuheisel should deliver next year to keep his job?
Arizona State 30 Arizona 29
You'll be hard pressed to find a more evenly matched game than this one - consider a 2 yard difference in total yards, a one yard difference in passing yards and a 3 yard difference in running yards. In games like this, it can come down to little things. Little things like, say, kicking extra points. Arizona St. did it successfully (once, in overtime) and Arizona did not (twice, in the 4th quarter and in overtime) and that was the difference. For Arizona St. it's a small measure of consolation on a hard-luck season that very easily could have been much more. For Arizona, a season that started so well that there were whispers of Rose Bowl aspirations dies with a whimper. House of Sparky notes that the difference was the kickers:
Man, I'm so proud of Thomas Weber. Say what you will about the guy (and I have), but he played an incredible game against Arizona. Weber was 5/5 on field goal attempts and also made his only extra point attempt, the eventual game winner in double overtime.
His longest kick was 52 yards, and he also nailed a 48 yarder in overtime to keep the game going. After this performance, a lot of goodwill can be restored to his lengthy career as a Sun Devil. The 2007 Lou Groza award winner finished his ASU career on a very positive note.
No, the fault lies with the play calling. While I continue to be impressed with the position coaching, and the development of unranked recruits into top level players, I was completely livid with the play calling last night. You're facing a rookie QB, that has never started on the road. Where were the blitzes? How the heck are you not able to contain that giant, lumbering, 6'8" QB on third down?
Arizona St.: Dark horse Pac 12 south contender in 2011. Yay or Nay?
Arizona vs. Oklahoma St. in San Antonio: Who ya got?
I've neglected Pac-10 basketball so far as the season has started, so let's get a quick overview of what you may have missed over the first few weeks of the season. I'll start with the highest rated team according to Kenpom's rating system on down:
It's not surprising to see Washington well respected in the Kenpom ratings - the Huskies have destroyed all of their mediocre competition and stayed with elite teams like Kentucky and Michigan St. If UW gets past a potentially tricky road game against Texas A&M they'll go into the Pac-10 schedule as odds on favorites for the regular season crown.
With a tough, gutsy performance in Las Vegas against Kansas the Wildcats have emerged as the biggest threats to Washington. Arizona has played a much weaker schedule than they typically faced under Lute Olsen, but Arizona has taken care of business by winning each game by at least 20 points. A tough match-up this Saturday against BYU will be Arizona's last chance to notch a marquee non-conference win. Derrick Williams is living up to his Pac-10 freshman of the year award - he's averaging 20 points a game and looking like a more well rounded, dangerous player.
The Cougs have only played one high-quality team, but they played #5 Kansas St. tough in Pullman and even led inside 3 minutes to go. A big home game against Gonzaga is up next. Klay Thompson has been scoring at will again, and Juco transfer Faisal Aden has been scoring nearly as much for the high scoring Cougs. The question is if WSU can keep the offensive mojo going against stronger opposition.
The Bruins started the season with high hopes to rebound from last year's disaster (well, disaster by UCLA standards) and three easy wins over mid-major competition seemed to indicate that things might have improved. Four losses later, including Sunday's shockingly not-close loss to Montana and things are looking iffy. Tyler Honeycutt and Reeves Nelson have made for an intimidating inside tandem, but once again questions at guard have plagued the Bruins.
There wasn't much in USC's early season performances to indicate that they were poised to knock off #20 Texas. But the Trojans not only pulled off the upset, they did it in style with a 17 point margin of victory. How that can be reconciled with losses to Rider, Bradley and TCU is yet to be seen. USC still has Kansas and Tennesse left on the non-conference schedule, so we'll get a sense if the Texas upset is a fluke or not. Nikola Vucevic has been leading the Trojans, averaging a double-double on the year.
Other than a home blowout of Virginia Stanford hasn't accomplished much - they've lost to the two best teams on the schedule. The fact that those two teams are Tulsa and Murray St. is an indication that Stanford hasn't had the strongest of non-conference schedules so far. Road trips to Butler and Oklahoma St. will be Stanford's last chance to provide some teeth to their resume. Not surprisingly, it's been the Jeremy Green show thus far on offense as Stanford's many freshmen get used to NCAA basketball.
ASU has played a deceptively hard schedule (at least according to Kenpom) but the results haven't been great so far. The Sun Devils weren't competitive in losses to New Mexico, St. Johns and Butler, and they nearly lost to UAB and Weber St. As of right now ASU doesn't seem to have much behind Trent Lockett, and if they don't get some help from Ty Abbott and Rihard Kuksiks it could be a long year in Tempe.
Considering the circumstances, Oregon has done rather well for themselves in Dana Altman's first year. Losses to Duke and Missouri were inevitable, and only a 3 point loss to San Jose St. is particularly bad. The Ducks aren't likely to be any kind of factor in the Pac-10 race, but they might be making strides back towards respectability.
OK Craig Robinson. It's your 3rd year. I can understand losses to mid-major bottom feeders in your first year after OSU went 0-18 in Pac-10 play. But you're supposed to be waaaay beyond losing games to Seattle, Texas Southern and Utah Valley by now. Even one of those losses should be unacceptable, let alone all three. And getting blown out by Colorado? Really? If the 1-3-1 zone inexplicably gives Cal fits for the 3rd straight year and the Bears drop a game in Corvallis I'm going to be pulling hair out.
Comment Starter: Based on evidence to date, predict the final standings of the Pac-10, along with an all Pac-10 team if you dare.