Welcome to 'This Week in the Pac," in which we review how our conference mates fared, and how their performances impact our beloved Bears. And thanks to some courageous (some might argue foolhardy) scheduling, there was plenty of action involving west coast teams to kick off the season. Throughout this post you'll find bolded questions for you the reader to answer about our upcoming foes, so take to the comments and let us know what you think! Also, check out Avi's even more thorough rundown of what transpired in the Pac-10 over on SBNation.com. Let's go one by one:
Oregon State vs. Texas Christian
Another year, another early season non conference loss for the Beavers. Oregon St. held their own against TCU for most of the game, but TCU dominated the lines and one bad shot gun snap snuffed any dreams of an upset. Building the Dam analyzes the loss:
The Horned Frogs ran the ball more than twice as often as the Beavers, and for nearly four times as many yards. And their second most productive runner, Matthew Tucker, had more carries than Jacquizz Rodgers did for Oregon St., and virtually as many yards. And that's not because Oregon St. was pass-happy. Dalton threw more passes than Katz, and completed more of them, and for more yards. As well as running for 64 yards and two touchdowns.
TCU also held the ball for a 2-1 advantage in time of possession, and had more than twice as many first downs, 28 to 13. Oregon St. only sacked Dalton once, when Steven Paea got thru one of the double teams he faced all night, and will see every week of the season.
Despite mediocre stats, Beavers fans were actually encouraged by the iffy debut performance of Ryan Katz. An inability to run the ball and a mediocre performance on the defensive line from everybody not named Stephen Paea seemed to doom OSU. But the eternal question for Cal fans is this: Will the Beaver weaknesses exploited by TCU still be exploitable when Cal travels north on October 30th? And will OSU bounce back like they always seem to do?
Washington @ BYU
I will admit that I don't really believe in the Huskies as Pac-10 upstarts, but UW seemed unlucky not to do better against BYU in what appeared to be an extraordinarily even game. The Huskies gained 394 yards to BYU's 408, and didn't turn the ball over once, but only converted that production into 17 points. Much of that can be explained by two failed forth down conversion attempts near the redzone. UW Dawg Pound vents:
First of all, not taking the points with 12:24 left in the fourth quarter when down by six is a real head scratcher. We have seen Sark do this before and we will see Sark do it again. You have to wonder how many games the gambler will lose by not playing the percentages correctly? On the road, in a hostile environment, with that many minutes remaining...you have to take the points.
Jake Locker had a productive day (266 yards passing and 29 yards rushing) and Chris Polk was solid if unspectacular, but ultimately UW couldn't contain BYU's new twin QB rotation of Jake Heaps and Riley Nelson. The Huskies will look to bounce back at home against Syracuse with Nebraska looming the week after.
Does Jake Locker have enough talent around him for you to view UW as a major Pac-10 threat?
UCLA @ Kansas State
The Bruins went on the road to face the Wildcats and got ran over by Daniel Thomas in a 31-22 K St. win that puts an early damper on a critical year for Rick Neuheisal. Bruins Nation identified the defensive line, linebackers, wide receivers and quarterbacks as either bad or ugly:
They weren't good by any means, but I don't think they were completely at fault for the big day that Daniel Thomas and Co. had. They had trouble shedding blocks to make tackles and when peering over the numbers it's not a surprise that only one defensive lineman, Nate Chandler, is in the top five on the team in tackles.
As bad as I though the linebackers were though, we're talking about two new starters in the unit so this isn't a complete shocker.
Of all the outrage and upset fans, this is the one area where I can't think up any defense or reason of explanation. They're experienced. They're deep. They're talented. Pretty much, the receivers are supposed to be the best unit on the football team and to say they put up a stinker would be nice to them.
The issue with Prince was his minimal practice time due to injury and the obvious effect it had on his timing. The ball wasn't coming out when it needed to and the ball was sailing on him at times.
UCLA took a tough loss and the road doesn't get any easier. Here is UCLA's upcoming schedule: vs. Stanford, vs. Houston, @ Texas, vs. Washington St., @ Cal. What will UCLA's record be when they arrive in Berkeley?
Washington State vs. Oklahoma St.
Just prior to WSU's season opener Nuss at Coug Center bravely gave Paul Wulff his support:
Regardless of how today's game turns out -- and it will probably be a two-touchdown (or more) loss -- I believe in Paul Wulff. This program is headed in the right direction, and a foundation is being laid for future success. One third of the players traveling to today's game have never played at the FBS level. Most of those guys will see action today.
And just a few hours later the Cougs were once again trying to make sense of another crushing loss:
I'm officially worried about this team's mental state. I'm starting to think they're a lot more fragile than I realized. Boy, am I glad Montana State is up next. I'm wishing we could have started the season with that one.
WSU takes on Montana St. and Southern Methodist before opening Pac-10 play. Prior to this year many were speculating that Washington St. could pull off a Pac-10 upset or two. Do you still feel that WSU will win a Pac-10 game in 2010?
USC vs Hawaii
As expected USC took down the Rainbow Warriors on the road, but Hawaii's pass-happy attack found much more success than Trojan fans can feel comfortable about. Conquest Chronicles outlines their concerns:
We have an inexperienced defense and it showed, why some are surprised by this is mind boggling. Guys are still getting comfortable with new positions (Kennard) and the increased level of competition (Robey) so it will take some time for things to shake out. You usually have a pretty good idea of what you have by the third or forth game of the season, so let it play out. The tackling must improve. 'SC was in a number of plays last night that could have been contained but poor tackling, for whatever reason, made those plays big gainers.
Did Hawaii offer ideas on how to beat USC, or is Hawaii's offense too unique for this game to mean much? Or will USC's defense figure things out by the time Cal visits in October?
Arizona, Arizona St., Stanford, Oregon vs. Toledo, Portland State, Sacramento State and New Mexico
These four Pac-10 teams all beat up on inferior opponents. Did the events in these games have any impact on how you view these teams?