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Inside the Pac-10: Where the Best Team in California Is...

Boy, when I thought the Pac-10 would be wide open, I didn't expect the doors to be knocked down this early. The two favorites already have one loss, leaving opportunities open to the remaining eight teams.

Let's start with our conference leaders....wait, ohhh noooo...

Furd 34, Washington 14



I think I'm going to be sick.

We laughed about it all offseason, but Furd's O-line play and power run game behind the white stallion Toby Gerhart might be the best in the conference now. John Berkowitz of UW Dawg Pound has the report.

The defense was a total sieve as Toby Gerhart shredded the Husky defense for over 200 yards on the ground. Gerhart looked a step slow tonight and the Husky defense looked two steps slower. It was just a pathetic performace which reaked of lack of effort. Coach Holt had no answer for Stanford's smash mouth offense. There was nothing trickly here. The Cardinal line just kicked Washington's ass all night.

Stanford dominated time of possesion 44:53 to 21:09 tonight. the Cards rolled up 426 yards of total offense to only 290 for UW. Another completely pathetic stat for the UW defense is giving up 322 yards on the ground which has to be some type of a record. Jake was 16/31 with two interceptions...Andrew Luck only had to throw 14 times tonight and was 7/14 for 104 yards...but he picked up 59 additional yards on the ground.

The Furd stand alone on top of the Pac-10 right now, albeit their wins coming against Washington (yes, they beat USC, but they're no powerhouse) and Wazzu. Their next three game stretch (UCLA, at Oregon State, at Arizona) will tell us a lot about which way the Cardinal will be heading this season, and how big the Big Game this year will be.

Through four weeks, who's been the best California Pac-10 team? Vote and comment!

After the jump, we catch up on the other conference tilts.

Arizona 37, Oregon State 32



Either Nick Foles is for real, or Oregon State's defense is in bigger trouble than we thought. Or Oregon State is doing their annual September swoon. We don't know. WE DO NOT KNOW.

What do you think about this game?

The offensive performance couldn't have gone much smoother for the Wildcats, coming off of a disjointed effort in Iowa.

QUARTERBACK: A. It’s hard to imagine Nick Foles’ first college start going any better. The Arizona Wildcats’ sophomore completed 25 of 34 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns, the best performance by a UA quarterback this season. Poised and decisive in a hostile environment, Foles was just what the Wildcats needed to pull off an upset.

RUNNING BACKS: A. The Wildcats’ backs didn’t run all over OSU, but nevertheless deserve a high grade. Freshman Greg Nwoko replaced Nicolas Grigsby (sprained shoulder) and Keola Antolin (sprained ankle) when both players went down in the fist half, and rumbled for 44 yards and a touchdown while catching four passes for 76 yards. Antolin rushed for 46 yards before getting hurt.

WIDE RECEIVERS: B. Where did David Roberts come from? The Wildcats’ sophomore led the team in catches for the second time in as many weeks, grabbing five passes for 52 yards. Juron Cirner and Delashaun Dean each had three catches and touchdown grabs. Nine different Wildcats caught passes.

OFFENSIVE LINE: B. Arizona’s retooled line was solid in its Pac-10 opener. Left tackle Phil Garcia and right guard Herman Hall looked the part of starters in their first extended playing time of the year. Foles wasn’t sacked once.

Building the Dam has their own version of Longshore-Riley brimming, with a quarterback currently starting behind center making poor decisions in the pocket, according to AndyPanda.

It is difficult to call for the replacement of [Sean] Canfield, someone everyone, myself and his backup included, really, really want to see succeed. However, the cause of the problems are not only predictable, they are the same issues that were most distressing years ago, in his first appearances.

Locking in on receivers leads to interceptions, and in both of yesterday's picks, it was apparent to everyone, including the Wildcat secondary, who the pass was going to several seconds before the ball was even released.

Standing in the pocket too long, and not throwing the ball away rather than taking a loss, is squarely on the quarterback, not play calling or the offensive line. One sack came after the line held up for six seconds, another when they provided seven seconds to make a decision.

Georgia 20, Arizona State 17



All in all, a very impressive wet T-shirt contest, but the Georgia coeds just pull off the upset...

Wait, they were playing a football game? Well then.

A.J. Green had another one of his spectacular games, not just catching almost every big pass down the stretch and bailing out Georgia's QB, but also blocking the go-ahead field goal. In terms of big picture, MaconDawg of Dawg Sports seems to have figured out his team pretty quickly.

In matters of football, as in most other matters, I am an empiricist. That is to say, I believe that the best predictor of what an individual or group will do in the near future is what that individual or group did in the recent past. Given a sufficient sample size, I find that this is a fairly reliable way of knowing how things will go in a given situation. We all need a way of looking at the world, and that is mine.

And it is because of that worldview that, as I sit here on a beautiful fall morning following an ugly late summer type of night, I am thoroughly convinced that the 2009 University of Georgia football team will continue to play close games against fair to mediocre competition whilst losing to any reasonably good football team that has made the conscious decision to play reasonably good football. Why? Because a full one-third of the way into the 2009 campaign, that's exactly what we've done.

More love for the ASU linebackers from House of Sparky, but the quarterback play continues to struggle. How impressed were you by ASU's road performance?

Linebackers: The LB's are the strongest part of this team. Burfict, Munns, and Nixon all made big plays throughout the game. Vontaze Burfict continues to show why he is the prize posession of Erickson's recruiting class. Despite running through a misplaced referee, Burfict jumped over the line to stop UGA on a critical 4th-and-1. He's a beast. The linebackers make their presence known all over the field and fought hard through the end of the game.

Quarterback: Not all the blame can go on Danny Sullivan as there were a few untimely drops from the receiving corps, but Sullivan's accuracy was plain horrendous. Sullivan couldn't seem to make a big play when we needed it and mismanaged the play clock several times. In order for this team to succeed, we need some production from the QB.

USC 27, Washington State 6



So much for losing seven starters. The USC defense is looking like it's lost maybe half a step from their 2008 monster status. How do you feel Cal's offense will fare against USC's defense?

The defense once again looked stellar. Yes, WSU scored on their final drive with 22 seconds left but that was the second unit that had a lot of youngsters out on the field who were getting some much needed game experience. You could see that SC when went into prevent defense mode...keeping everything in front of them, especially with a mobile QB. Tuel is going to be a pretty good QB for WSU but lets be honest, he wasn't going up against the first-teamers for much of his time in and the defense was providing a decent cushion. The USC defensive front got some pressure on him and sacked him numerous times he also threw one pick that Pinkard brought back up field thwarting a potential scoring drive.

It is hard not to be impressed with Perry and Casey. Those two were getting some serious penetration. Griffen looked solid as well. Fangupo was looking to have a solid game until he went down with a broken ankle. Devon Kennard is going to be a stud too. It is simply amazing that that SC continues to have such impressive talent on the defense. It is clear that Pete Carroll's strength is defense and not offense. I saw very little on defense with the first-teamers that I could be unhappy about. PC still likes to play that soft zone which gives up chunks of yards.

As for Coug Center? Wazzu played the Trojans pretty evenly for three quarters, how can they not be happy?

The Cougs were down 20-0 at the end of the first quarter. The game ended 27-6 thanks to a defense that came up with big play after big play -- including TWICE stopping USC on fourth and goal -- despite an offense that struggled for most of the game.

But it's those six points that will have us all talking all week long.

Many will wonder how it's possible to feel so good after a three touchdown loss. They don't know where we've been.

This team showed some serious heart and fight. And it served as the official coming out party of Jeff Tuel, Gino Simone and Travis Long, all of whom showed that they're not just playing out of necessity -- they're playing because they are Pac-10 level players right now.

UCLA 21, Bye Week 3

Bruins Nation believes the next week will be the biggest game for the Bruins since the Bob Toledo era.

I believe the Stanford game this weekend is the biggest conference road game UCLA is going to be playing in since the Stanford road game in 2001. I am not going to go over again on how no one here thought much of Dorrell's "10 win" aberration from 2005. We all knew that season was a total aberration where we were getting bailed out in one game after another by 2 Live Drew. We all knew in the back of our mind we were never really in real contention of the Pac-10 conference race and it got confirmed when Dorrell's incompetency was exposed in Arizona and then slaughtered in the Coloseum. We never had a chance were living off miracles.

Well for the first time since 2001, Bruins can have a shot at it. However, they will get that shot IF AND ONLY IF they can execute against a tough, superbly coached Stanford Cardinal this upcoming Saturday in Palo Alto. Last week it was Washington, that was the toast of the Pac-10. This week it will be the Oregon Ducks and Toby Gerhart and his Stanford bunch Bruins will be taking on in Palo Alto.

UCLA-Furd this Saturday, winner controls their Rose Bowl fate. What universe am I in again?

Other looks

Minnesota 35, Northwestern 24



The Gophers took care of business opening their conference schedule. And they ran the ball all over the Wildcats!

Much of the first quarter of today's game was a blur for me - though I distinctly remember the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach after watching Duane Bennett carry the ball into the end zone for Minnesota's first score. Let me say this as clearly as I can: MINNESOTA DOES NOT HAVE A RUSHING GAME! Prior to today's contest, they had two TDs on the ground through their first 3 games. Today, they had 3. That is just wrong. Perhaps the only thing stinkier than the 'Cats defensive play was Goldy the Gopher. (This one is coming straight from my Minnesota friends, who informed me after they had gone to take a picture with the mascot that his costume could seriously use a dry cleaning.)

The Wildcats actually managed to contain Eric Decker a bit, really only allowing Adam Weber to connect to him for two TDs and less than triple digit receiving yards. Which is, I suppose, better than what I was expecting going in. The theme for today, though, was the same as from the first quarter of the Syracuse game - missed tackles.

Rutgers 34, Maryland 13



Gag. If 42-3 was the worst rout ever for Cal fans, is 52-13 the most misleading opening season victory in Cal football history?

Turnovers, as they often do, undid all those plans, and the Terps lost their must-win, 34-13. Maryland turned the ball over a shocking five times, four of which came from Chris Turner and one of which was Da'Rel Scott's doing. Two of Rutgers' TDs came from Turner - the first was a pick six on the very first play from scrimmage, the second was a fumble in the endzone that Rutgers fell on.


It didn't really matter, though - turnovers were the issue, with three interceptions and two fumbles. The offense didn't look good when they didn't turn it over, either; Torrey Smith was the only reliable source of offense for Maryland, accounting for more than a third of Maryland's yardage. Turner missed a few big passes, especially later in the game, and penalties were commonplace.