This Week In The Pac-12: Two Team Race

True, this week's results only confirmed what we all pretty much already knew.  But it was confirmed with a decisiveness that was disturbingly lopsided.  Utterly untested Stanford faced a hot Washington team and completely blew them out of the water.  65 points?  Just one punt? 446 rushing yards?!?!?  I don't care how bat Washington's defense is, that type of offensive success is stunning.  Though I'll admit that 10 yards/run is a savage indictment of Washington's front seven.  Yes, I'm still bummed Cal didn't steal that game up in Seattle.

The ease with which Stanford dispatched Washington and Oregon dispatched Arizona St. means that unless you have an unusually high regard for USC, the November 12th match-up in Palo Alto will decide everything.  Which yeah, we pretty much knew back in August.  Worst of all?  Oklahoma and Wisconsin gakked close games, opening the BCS door for Stanford.  Rule of Tree is pretty jazzed:

And now, as the talking heads on ESPN note, and is especially evident in the human polls, the spotlight is no longer solely on the Alabama-LSU game in two weeks.  It now shines just as bright on Stanford.

Ray: "And I looked, and he opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake. And the sun became as black as sack cloth, and the moon became as blood."
Winston: "And the seas boiled and the skies fell."
Ray: Judgement day.
Winston: Judgement day.
Ray: Every ancient religion has its own myth about the end of the world.
Winston: Myth? Ray, has it ever occurred to you that maybe the reason Stanford is undefeated is 'cause the dead HAVE been rising from the grave?

UW DawgPound is mildly displeased with the defensive performance of their Huskies:

Nick Holt isn't getting the job done...period. You have to be able to line your players up correctly and in year three he still can't get it done. Stanford obviously is a much better team and there is an obvious chasm in talent levels...but 65 points? You can't blame that all on the hand your dealt.  Grade - F

Cal's defense has generally improved each week.  Is it insane to suggest that by the end of the year we might be able to slow down Luck and Co.?

65 points and 446 rushing yards allowed - automatic grounds for dismissal for a defensive coordinator?

 

Arizona 48, UCLA 12

 I still can't figure out if there was any connection between the fake ref that disrupted the last play of the first half and the benches-clearing brawl that soon followed.  Maybe the fight would've happened anyway, or maybe the refs would've stopped it before things got out of hand if they didn't get distracted.
 
More relevantly, I posed a question in the game thread that I'm still pondering: Was this the all-time nadir for UCLA football?  UCLA has won more than seven games just once in the last eight years, they're on the brink of firing another coach, they got utterly blown out by a team that hadn't beaten an FCS team in nearly a calendar year, and they capped the game with an embarrassing fight.
 
I'm trying to think about what might top it.  There was the disabled parking scandal in 1999, and the various PCC scandals in the 50s.  But those UCLA teams were generally winning (the '99 team was just one year removed from a Rose Bowl appearance).  This is an impressive combination of bad football and bad behavior.
 

So after last night, no matter what happens rest of the season, we can say absolutely, without any doubt, that Rick Neuheisel is not the man for the job in Westwood:

Rick Neuheisel needs to either resign or be fired immediately.

But that's not enough folks.
Dan Guerrero needs to either resign or be fired immediately.
UCLA looked flat-out bad, but there's nothing but good things to take away from the Wildcats' point of view. However, the score and overall domination probably reflects more on the Bruins struggles than Arizona's success.

In the end, the win means Arizona perhaps found a swagger and mojo to finish this season without further embarrassment. While winning out will be extremely difficult, it's a step in a positive direction that could give fans and the team itself some confidence.

The only negative? UCLA could soon be competing against Arizona for a top-notch head coaching hire, and that could now possibly happen during the season -- all thanks to Arizona's domination on Thursday.

Was this the all-time low for UCLA football?
 
It's open season - give us your best guess for which direction Arizona and UCLA go with their upcoming coaching hires!
 

Oregon St. 44, Washington St. 21

I'm not surprised that Oregon St. won, but so easily, and on the road?  I think so many people wanted to believe that Wazzu turned the corner that they ignored massive evidence that they haven't (myself included).  True, the Cougs haven't had much luck (see another injury to Jeff Tuel) but that doesn't exactly explain the 44 points and 551 yards Oregon St. racked up on the Washington St. defense.

Building the Dam celebrates Sean Mannion's best performance of the year:

Oregon St. quarterback Sean Mannion had time to throw all night, a combination of the best job by the Beavers' offensive line since the win over USC last November, and an inept Cougar pass rush. The result was Mannion completing 26 of 34 passes, to 11 different receivers, for 376 yards and 4 touchdowns, to 4 different receivers.

You know it was ugly for Wazzu, because the usually reserved Cougcenter holds no punches:

Crapping the bed, though, to the tune of a 44-21 beatdown? Which, if we were honest, wasn't even remotely that close?

Unacceptable. Just completely, utterly, totally unacceptable.

Many have asked at what point we blame the coaches for this sort of thing. I've held off, believing strongly in the personal responsibility of players. Not anymore.

I try not to put too much emphasis on the results of one game. But this is no longer "just one game." This is the 25th time under Paul Wulff that WSU has lost by 20 points or more, and at some point, these kinds of embarrassments have to end. Is halfway through year four of a coach's regime too much to ask?

Per the usual, Oregon St.'s offense has been turning it on in October.  Do you think Cal's defense has what it takes to bring Mannion back to earth?

Would you fire Paul Wulff?

 

USC 31, Notre Dame 17

This column is nominally about Pac-12 teams, but is there anything more Notre Damish than losing by 14 points because you fumbled the snap on a likely touchdown play, thus allowing the opponent to return that fumble for a touchdown?  Meanwhile, USC does the nation a service by shutting up the usual '10-2 Notre Dame BCS Bowl!' blather, and makes me feel .00000001% better about Thursday night's debacle.

Conquest Chronicles can feel themselves falling for Lane:

Kiffin is finding a way win to win.

He has really integrated the young players effectively. it hasn't been perfect and his game management, at times, has been frustrating.

Kiffin is growing as a coach, but he still has a long way to go.

Sigh.  It was so much easier to rationalize Cal's defeats to USC when Carroll was in charge.

What chance to you give USC to upset Stanford in L.A. next week?

 

Oregon 45, Colorado 2

Somehow, having 2 points in a blowout rather than zero seems more embarrassing.  That's really the only thought I have about this game, which was an inevitably painful rout.

Addicted To Quack barely has more to say than I do, because seriously Colorado is dire right now.  It's not even fun to talk about:

It was a dominant performance on both sides of the ball by the Ducks, and would have been a shutout had it not been for a boneheaded mistake on a punt return.

Will Colorado win a Pac-12 game this year?

Next Week

Saturday

Washington State at Oregon, 12:00 pm
Colorado at Arizona St., 3:30 pm
Cal at UCLA, 4:00 pm
Stanford at USC, 5:00 pm, ABC
Oregon St. at Utah, 5:00 pm
Arizona at Washingon, 7:30 pm

Finally, for the first time in 2011, there are six Pac-12 games - no byes, no non-conference games.  Unfortunately, there's only one game matching up two teams from the top half of the conference.  That's Stanford at USC, which hopefully will be worth watching, though I'm skeptical after watching USC stand around for 3 hours and let Cal hand them a win.  Meanwhile, I'm curious to see if Arizona's one-week renaissance was just a function of playing USC, or if Nick Foles might pose a threat to Washington's sieve-like defense.

Burning questions: Is there any point in playing Darron Thomas and LaMichael James against Wazzu?  Will Rick Neuheisel, sans wide receivers and any kind of hope, elect to run the ball on every down because "Hell, I'm fired anyway!"  And: Can Utah and Colorado finally join the Pac-12 with a win?

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