"Good. Use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the hate flow through you." - US PRESSWIRE
Ah November, that special month when a young blogger's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of a sport that isn't thoroughly depressing.
Unlike most weeks, I won't be covering the entire gamut of Pac-12 football results, for a variety of reasons. For one thing, did you glance at the scoreboard this week? My God there were some bad, bad football games. Only two games qualified as both well-played and vaguely competitive, and I'm being generous by including Arizona State at Oregon State in that category. I think the Pac-12 is in pretty solid shape as a football conference right now, but things really need to improve at Colorado and Washington State. Good lord.
For another, it's basketball season, and there's a whole mess of reasons why we Cal fans should be excited about the return of bouncyhoops.
But let's start with the biggest football game in the Pac-12 so far this year, both in terms of national import and sheer volume of points.
This Week In Pac-12 Football
Oregon 62, USC 51
A combined two punts, one for each team - and you can't help but assume that Oregon's one punt was only because they didn't force the issue with a safe lead at the end. It might make for a scoreline that's easy for SEC partisans to mock, but it certainly was entertaining.
Credit to Matt Barkley, and his insanely talented recieving corp for becoming the first team to do much of anything against Oregon before garbage time. But it didn't matter. In drives that didn't end the half, Oregon scored
10 8 touchdowns in 12 10 opportunities. 730 total yards of offense would be mind-boggling against anybody, let alone on the road against a ranked team with an offense that actually was capable of eating a little clock. If Marcus Mariota hadn't fumbled twice this was as close to a perfect team offensive performance as you'll ever see.
As a fan of college football, it will be incredibly disappointing if the season doesn't end with Oregon facing Alabama.
Addicted To Quack talks offense offense offense:
Oregon State 36, Arizona State 26
The Beavers really should be 8-0 right now heading into their road game at Stanford. But just ask Cal fans what happens when you give UW four turnovers to play with.
Still, credit to Oregon State for bouncing back with a solid win over an Arizona State squad that I still think is better than their record indicates. The Beavers completely shut down Taylor Kelly and the Sun Devil short passing attack and Cody Vaz hit on plenty of big plays through the air for a relatively comfortable win. It's pretty weird to see a balanced team finish with a better average on running plays than passing plays, which gives you an idea of how well OSU was in coverage and tackling in space.
Vaz, above, struggled at times, completing only 14 of 33 passes, and he suffered his first interception of the season, when it appeared no one finished out their route once Vaz had lofted a deep ball. But he did throw the 3 touchdown passes, and conducted another 4th quarter scoring drive that turned a game still in doubt into a clock-ball contest at the end.
Stanford vs. Oregon State: Who takes it, and do you give the winner a fighting chance against Oregon?
UCLA 66, Arizona 10
UCLA is alone in first in the Pac-12 South after winning a game by 56 points, and they are one home win over USC from an undisputed Pac-12 Division title.
UCLA lost to Cal by 26 points.
Which one of these two sentences shocks you more?
Next Week In Football
Colorado at Arizona, 11:30 am, FX
Oregon State at Stanford
Oregon at California
Arizona State at USC
Utah at Washington
UCLA at Washington State
Oregon State at Stanford is the marquee game of the week and will determine which team has the only chance at preventing Oregon's presumed Pac-12 title hosting duties. ASU at USC could be decent although I suspect that Barkley and company won't be outscored in that one. Utah will look to build on the momentum of two straight blowout wins against a vulnerable Washington squad.
And there will be three blowouts. Anybody that watches Cal/Oregon, UCLA/Wazzu or Colorado/Arizona is a masochist. Yes, guilty as charged.
This Week In Pac-12 Basketball
Pre-season polling and predictions abound! You've got your obligatory media poll! Your Sports Illustrated preview! Your Yahoo Preview! Kenpom preseason projection numbers! Basketball Prospectus projection numbers!
There's a pretty solid consensus amongst both pollsters and computers that UCLA and Arizona will battle it out atop the conference while Cal, Stanford, Washington, Colorado and perhaps Oregon will fight for the scraps they leave behind. The biggest story line across the conference has been Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad's incredible journey towards maybe being allowed to play. Anderson has been cleared, but Muhammad is the biggest reason why some pundits believe that picking UCLA to win the conference won't turn out as badly as the last few times they've done it. If he isn't cleared UCLA's season becomes significantly murkier.
For what it's worth, Kenpom's projections see Cal as 12-6 in conference and 7-3 during non-con play (which doesn't include all of Cal's pre-season tournament games), with potential losses on the road against Denver and Wisconsin and at home against UNLV and Creighton. Which is more or less what we expected already.
Other news you might have missed while focusing your attention football:
- Maurice Jones is transferring away from USC, in part because he's . . . academically ineligible at USC? Huh, so that's a thing? They replaced him with one of many players in Ben Braun's latest transfer exodus.
- Reggie Moore was kicked off of Washington State, then later Brett Kingma (formerly with Oregon) earned himself a suspension. Wazzu's got issues.
- In more Ben Braun transfer exodus news, Oregon picked up Arsalan Kazemi, who may or may not be able to play this year.
- In case you just haven't had enough Schaftenaar (and I'd argue there's no such thing as too much), Hope-in-Law has your back!
Next Week In Basketball
Wofford at Colorado, 4:00 pm
Niagara at Oregon State, 6:00 pm
Willamette at Utah, 6:00 pm
San Francisco at Stanford, 8:00 pm
Coppin State at USC, 8:00 pm
Indiana St. at UCLA, 8:00 pm
Central Arkansas at Arizona State, 4:30 pm
Eastern Washington at Washington State, 4:30 pm
Northern Arizona at Oregon, 4:30 pm
Charleston Southern at Arizona
Loyola (Maryland) at Washington
New Mexico State at Oregon State
CSU Bakersfield at California
Every single team in the conference makes their debut, with Oregon State getting two games. Kenpom and Vegas agree that nobody should enter the 2nd week with a loss (even Utah, because they're playing a Division III squad) which makes sense because everybody scheduled mid-major teams at home. But then again, over the last few years these are the type of games that haven't been guarantees like they used to be. So please, for the greater good, let's avoid the ugly losses.
We'll come back next week with some pre-season all-conference teams, predictions, and various other fodder that will make us look stupid come March. HOORAY FOR BASKETBALL SEASON!