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This Week In The Pac: A Tale Of Two Halves

Really, Oregon?  13-13 at halftime?  I know Neyland is a tough, tough stadium to play in and Tennessee has some talent, but they just aren't the same Tennessee as in years past and you're supposed to be the best team in the Pac-10.  It's time to start . . .

Oh.  Oh God.  Make it stop.  That's not right!  I . . . I have no words.

But is there hope? Can the beast be killed? Did Tennessee's determined first half offer some kind of solace for those who fear the Oregon death star?

There were some issues that Oregon will want to work on before Pac-10 play:  problems controlling the power run game, so issues on both lines both with getting push and with penalties (Carson York had three holding penalties), and Darron Thomas is still working on his accuracy (though he had a very good game overall).  However, it could be said that going into SEC country and blowing Tennessee out while still having things to work on and keep the team focused is the best possible result in this situation.

Tennessee found some success running the ball early against Oregon, kept the ball away from Chip Kelly's offense and Darron Thomas showed that he may actually have some growing pains to go through in 2010.  Was Oregon @ Tennessee a sign that the Ducks are vulnerable, or an example of how their offense is nearly impossible to keep down for 60 minutes?

Hit the jump as we analyze a week in which every Pac-10 team can consider a success on some level except for the suddenly reeling southern extension of the UC system.

Stanford 35, UCLA 0

Meanwhile, Stanford and UCLA faced off in the Rose Bowl in 2010's first Evil Bowl of the year, and it turned into a rather ugly affair.  Andrew Luck's struggles were completely overshadowed by Kevin Prince's epically painful struggles.  Stanford's committee of running backs averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and did little to convince those that are skeptical about a Toby Gerhart-less Cardinal backfield.  But UCLA's determination to give away the ball (four total turnovers) prevented the Bruins from making a game of it.  BruinsNation takes stock:

We are now 2 games into Rick Neuheisel's  third season in Westwood. With 27 games on his record (11-16) the identity of this football team is unclear at best and still Dorrellian (no other way to describe what we witnessed last night) at worst. From what we have seen from the football team on the field, we are still seeing a team that is guided by conservative principles on both sides of the field.

So with two Pac-10 teams we'll hand out two questions:

1.  Will UCLA be at all relevant in the Pac-10 title race, even if the role is that of a spoiler?

2.  Is Stanford's defense improved enough to compete for the title, or was their shutout more a reflection on the dire condition of UCLA's attack?

USC 17, Virginia 14

Against a team 3,000 miles from home and generally predicted to occupy the bottom of the ACC standings, USC struggled to put away the Cavaliers. USC was actually outgained at home by Virginia and escaped in part because the Cavaliers missed 45 and 35 yard field goals.  A week after a poor defensive effort caused concerns amongst Trojan backers the USC offense was the focus of worry:

The offense looked OK, but Barkley made some terrible throws tonight. The idea that we had to hit home runs against a lacking secondary when all you had to do was dink and dunk or run the ball a little bit more was a bit of head scratcher.  I am not sure what Lane Kiffin was thinking with some of the play calling tonight...

Despite USC's struggles against two presumably weak foes, the Trojans should remain undefeated with Minnesota and Washington St. next on the schedule.  Prior to the season Cal fans thought that the Bears had a .35 (35%) chance of beating USC in L.A.  What odds would you give the Bears after USC's first two games?

Washington 41, Syracuse 20.

A week after a tough loss to BYU (who went on to get pantsed by Air Force) UW rebounded with a convincing victory over Syracuse highlighted by Jake Locker and Jermaine Kearse schooling the Syracase secondary.  Sound familiar, Cal fans?  UWDawgpound describes how UW fell behind before waking up:

The Huskies started slow with four straight miscues on special teams in the first quarter. For awhile it looked like a replay of last week when Washington was stifled by field position the entire game because of special teams errors. Syracuse used the disparity in field position to rush out to a 10-0 first quarter lead but Washington settled down to rally and take a 13-10 lead going into the half.

Based on what you've seen from Cal in the first two games, is Cal's defense better equipped to deal with Locker, Kearse and Polk?

Yes, a shaky cellphone video with weird commentary was the best I could find.

Washington St. 23, Montana St. 22

The Cougs avoided a winless season, a mean feat after falling behind 22-7 in the 3rd quarter.  But Cougcenter isn't in a mood to celebrate:

I've never felt so terrible and angry after a win. I don't like this feeling. It hurts, it bothers me and it's embarrassing.

It's tough to find a relevant question to ask about this game, so let's all channel our inner Nostradamus.  In what year will WSU next make a bowl game?

Arizona 52, Citadel 6 and Arizona St. 41, Northern Arizona 20

Another week, another nearly meaningless matchup for both Arizona schools.  Arizona St. hinted at some problems by struggling to put away their in-state win generator, while Arizona successfully won in the manner in which they were supposed to win.

Same question as last week:  Did the events in these games have any impact on how you view these teams?

'Measuring Stick' Saturday

Uncle Ted provided the catchy moniker because next week is the defining non-conference week for the Pac-10.  Cal, Arizona, Arizona St. and Washington all face their most difficult non-conference tests and only one team plays an FCS team.  These games are very likely to define the Pac-10's national perception for much of the season.  Here's the schedule:

Friday (All times Pacific Standard)

Cal @ Nevada, 7:00,  ESPN2


#8 Nebraska @ Washington, 12:30, ABC (regional)
Arizona St. @ #11 Wisconsin, 12:30, ABC (regional)
#18 USC @ Minnesota, 12:30, ESPN
Washington St. @ SMU, 12:30
Louisville @ #25 Oregon St., 2:30
Portland St. @ #5 Oregon, 3:15
#9 Iowa @ Arizona, 7:30, ESPN
#23 Houston @ UCLA, 7:30
Wake Forest @ #19 Stanford, 8:15, ESPN2

Predict the Pac-10's record next weekend, and predict each individual outcome if you want the extra credit!