There's nothing better in college football than rivalry games - those matchups of bitter enemies when you can throw out the betting line because anything can hap . . . wait, USC just scored another touchdown? I thought the game ended days ago?!?
OK, so maybe rivalry week was a bit of a dud in the Pac-12 and nationally. I think we can all agree that this is because the real rivalry week was last week. You know, the week when Cal pushed Stanford to the wire and Arizona ruined Arizona's season with a stirring comeback?
Regardless, the Pac-12 football regular season has come to its conclusion, and that conclusion is that there are three excellent teams and a whole lot of mediocrity.
One coach has been fired and rumors are running rampant that three more will follow them within the next few weeks. *Update: Four coaches have now been fired with the dismissal of Paul Wulff.(!) That and the presumed departure of three Heisman trophy candidate players will mean a football conference that looks very, very different in 2012. Will that be to Cal's benefit? God, I hope so.
After the jump: Are we allowed to laugh at UCLA even though they beat us by 17? Can you win a Heisman despite inducing extreme boredom? And how is it possible that the Pac-12 has embarrassed itself even more in basketball?
USC 50, UCLA 0
We know that UCLA is bad, that USC is really good, and perhaps more importantly, really really determined to give the rest of college football a giant middle finger. So a blowout isn't really surprising. But fifty to nothing? Kudos to Rick Neuheisel for managing to survive two games in which he arguably should have been fired immediately afterwards.
But most important Lane Kiffin rammed Neuheisel's words right down his throat.
Bruins Nation . . . well, you know, fire this and occupy that.
Will Matt Barkley stay or will he go?
Will the NCAA grant UCLA a bowl waiver?
Colorado 17, Utah 14
It figures that during rivalry week, it was the new, vaguely made up rivalry that was actually unexpected and entertaining. Utah has been so successful since losing to Cal that you forget that their offense has been mediocre at best and bad at worst most of the year. Colorado did just enough on offense to build a lead, and Utah missed field goals of 42, 26, and 48 yards to allow Colorado to escape.
Larry Scott may not appreciate your victory, Buffs, but as a Cal fan who would love to travel to San Diego rather than El Paso, I offer my firm thanks for opening that door!
It's over. It's the final turn of the page, in my opinion, from the last regime to the new one. 23 road losses can be flushed down the drain and we can move on.
It has been the first thing many brought up when discussing the state of the program the last four years. It has been that gray cloud hanging over this team; a way to define the University of Colorado football program.
Everything fell into place for the Utes to win the division and put themselves in position to play for a Rose Bowl berth.
When every other team ahead of them buckled heading into the final month of the season, Utah was flourishing, which was remarkable considering their 0-4 start. They had the division gift wrapped and handed to them on a golden platter.
And what did they do with it? They stumbled badly and face-planted in front of the whole party.
Oregon 49, Oregon St. 21
Pretty much exactly what everybody expected. Oregon had plenty to play for and Oregon State was in the midst of their worst season since 1996 (the last year before Mike Riley was hired the first time around.) The Ducks had whatever they wanted on offense and only two garbage time touchdowns made the score look vaguely less awful. Oregon will have tons of fun blowing out UCLA, then move on to the Rose Bowl against either Wisconsin or Michigan State. I look forward to everybody overemphasizing the meaning and importance of the Rose Bowl results, regardless of what happens and who wins.
Despite wasting multiple opportunities to put the game away early, the Ducks at one point in the 4th quarter had outgained the Beavers 600-170.
Is this analysis being too tough on Riley, who, to be fair, had resuscitated an Oregon St. program on life support, given the team their longest run of success in decades, and is a man of outstanding character?
Is yet another opportunity to turn the program around warranted? If so, based on what?
Why should Oregon St. settle for poorer performance than has gotten other experienced coaches, like Dennis Erickson, fired today despite getting Arizona St. to a bowl game, but after a season where opportunities were not realized?
How hot is Mike Riley's seat entering 2012?
Stanford 28, Notre Dame 14
For a game between 'rivals' involving a storied program on one side and a Heisman candidate on the other, this game was unbelievably boring. Sure, Andrew Luck was good, but just 'good within the framework of an increasingly conservative pro style offense.' Frankly, Stanford just kinda watched while Notre Dame shot themselves in the foot multiple times. A Heisman showcase this was not. But Cardinal fans shouldn't care, because all they needed was a win to move into an automatic BCS spot, and they got it.
If the Hokies defeat Clemson in next week's ACC Championship Game, there's a chance they could jump back ahead of Stanford, but it might not be enough. The Cardinal can finish in the top 4 and be guaranteed an at-large berth to a BCS bowl if Virginia Tech loses to Clemson, or Oklahoma State, which is currently ranked No. 3, loses to Oklahoma.
Washington 38, Washington St. 21
The Cougs might have had a chance in this one, but Keith Price was healthy enough to play well, and he shredded the Wazzu defense to the tune of 10 yards/attempt. Combine that with a workmanlike effort from Chris Polk and a couple of turnovers and you've got yourself a formula for a solid win. For Paul Wulff it looks to be the final act in one of the roughest coaching tenures you'll ever see.
Keith Price was as flawless as a banged up guy could be hitting in 21 of 29 pass attempts including three touchdowns and no interceptions. It would be really interesting to see what he could do with some mobility
Like pretty much everything else that's been released over the course of the last few days, you can read into this what you like. As I said earlier, I've seen a lot of press conferences to "discuss the future of x" and they almost always mean a change. But I've been surprised before and at this point, it's anyone's guess.
Arizona 45, Louisiana Lafayette 37
The fact that there was some doubt that Arizona might not beat a Sun Belt school going in is an indication of how rough a year it's been in Tucson. But they've got Rich Rodriguez so who cares what happens in a meaningless non-conference season final for a team that isn't bowl eligible?
That Rodriguez has WVU on his resume should let Wildcat backers breathe a little easier. Rich Rodriguez is not John Mackovic.
He also needs to be more than Mike Stoops or Tomey, though. This hire sets an undeniable tone for Byrne’s legacy. Stoops’ dismissal sent the clear message that simply being decent was no longer the bar UA has for football.
The man sending that message is Byrne, thus it’s his responsibility to see it to fruition. The Old Pueblo isn’t the pressure-free vacation destination for Rodriguez some are portraying it, even if it’s a long way from Ann Arbor.
Your Weekly Basketball Blunders Update
Humiliating basketball losses incurred last week to add to the collection:
Fairfield (by 10 over Arizona St.)
UMass (by 14 over Utah)
UNC Asheville (by 22 over Utah)
DePaul (by 4 over Arizona St.)
UC Riverside (by 1 over Washington St.)
Missouri (by 39 over Cal) Note: Humiliating because of the margin, not the opponent
Non-humiliating losses incurred last week that are getting painful because the Pac-12 needs to win some of these games to save face:
Vanderbilt (by 2 over Oregon St.)
Kansas (by 16 over UCLA)
Michigan (by 16 over UCLA)
San Diego St. (by 4 over Arizona)
Harvard (by 28 over Utah)
Oklahoma (by 25 over Washington St.)
Syracuse (by 6 over Stanford)
UNLV (by 11 over USC)
New Mexico (by 10 over Washington St.)
Actual, honest-to-goodness, decent wins earned this week:
Oklahoma St. (Stanford wins by 25)
Nebraska (Oregon wins by 7)
Georgia (Cal by 24, Colorado by 2)
Right now, Kenpom rates the Pac-12 as closer to the A-10, MVC, MWC and WCC than any of the five BCS conferences. The Pac-12 is performing significantly worse than 2009-10, when the conference champion (Cal) only earned an 8 seed in the tournament. We were all pretty sure that that year was the absolute nadir of west-coast basketball, but we might have been wrong. Let's hope things get better quick.
On Friday let the lulz-fest begin in Eugene, when Oregon and UCLA take the field for what should be a forever-unique edition of the Pac-12 title game. But what about basketball? Here's the upcoming schedule:
Arizona at New Mexico St.
UTEP at Oregon
Colorado at Colorado St.
Grambling St. at Washington St.
USC at UC Riverside
Stanford at Seattle
Washington at Nevada
USC at Minnesota
Arizona St. at Tulsa
Utah at Fresno St.
Texas at UCLA
Oregon at BYU
Northern Arizona at Arizona
Eastern Washington at Washington
Cal at San Diego St.
NC State at Stanford
Montana at Oregon St.
Mostly matchups against schedule fodder, which would mean easy wins most seasons. This year? Cal at SDSU, Oregon at BYU and Texas at UCLA are obvious tough matchups, but New Mexico St. and NC State could give Arizona and Stanford a solid test. Look for USC to get killed by Minnesota. Mostly, just hope I don't need to break out the blunder headline again.