The Pac-12 South is a funny place. You've got a little probation here, a sprinkle of interim-head-coach there, and a healthy helping of year-one-in-a-WSU-level-program-reboot. Mix it all up and you have UCLA, with presumed lame-duck Rick Neuheisel, just three wins away from the inaugural Pac-12 championship game.
Allow me to paint a picture for you all. On November 12th UCLA travels to Salt Lake City and Jon Hays throws two interceptions, and the Bruins escape with a 24-20 win. Meanwhile, Arizona St. blows out Washington St. A week later UCLA gets by a broken Colorado team while Arizona St. claims a Territorial Cup win over Arizona. On Saturday, November 25th, the Bruins get blown out by an angry Lane Kiffin and Matt Barkley . . . but they're going to the Pac-12 title game anyway with a conference record of 6-3! Why? Because with everything to play for, Dennis Erickson blew it against a California squad that has had ASU's number throughout the Tedford era!
I'll leave it up to the individual reader to decide if aspects of this all-too-possible scenario excite or terrify you. It involves an upset Cal win. That's good! It directly benefits UCLA. That's bad! But it might result in Rick Neuheisel getting another year in Westwood. That's good! But Stanford might get to play UCLA in the Pac-12 title game, and that's very, very bad.
UCLA 29, Arizona St. 28
How do you out gain a team and win the turnover battle by two and still lose? (I apologize for those who just suffered stress flashbacks to the Cal/Washington game). You miss three field goals! Granted, two of them were from beyond 45 yards, but Arizona St.'s failure to turn their yards into points means that, improbably, UCLA now controls their own destiny. This means they will now go 0-3 to finish the season. Yes, I know they play Colorado. It has been written.
Last night was one game. And while it is fine and appropriate to celebrate a victory, that one game has to be taken in context. Beyond last night's win, there was still Arizona 2 weeks ago. And there was still Texas this year. And there were still San Jose and Wazzu. And Stanford the last 2 years. And BYU and Arizona and Cal and ASU 3 years ago. And Oregon and Arizona and Cal and 2 years ago. And Cal and Oregon and Washington and ASU last year. And there was *Sc every year. How many wins like last night do we have to balance those losses?
Once thought as an absolute certainty, the Sun Devils' dream of a Pac-12 South division title and spot in the conference championship game are now in jeopardy after their game against UCLA. Last season's on-going nightmare--misses in the kicking game--returned with a malicious vengeance on Saturday night.
Who do you think will win the Pac-12 South?
Utah 34, Arizona 21
I'd just like to point out Zach Maynard had a higher completion percentage and higher yards/attempt against the Utah defense than Nick Foles did. Does that mean that Maynard is a better QB than Foles? I'll let you draw your own conclusions.
Meanwhile, Arizona probably would have won this game but they basically had 5 turnovers (2 interceptions, 1 fumble and 2 turnover-on-downs). Is it just me, or has every Utah game had a turnover margin of +4 or +5? Utah alternates between being the luckiest and unluckiest team in the nation, and that's why they're 5-4 right now.
Now, Arizona is fighting for a respect. The Wildcats are out of the bowl conversation officially, and the questions now lead to who's next in the head coaching position. Whether it's Rich Rodgriguez, Mike Bellottti, Mike Leach, or someone else, it's clear that even though Mike Stoops left a talented football team, the next in line must clean up a roster of broken mentalities.
How's it feel having one BCS-level win in a dozen games? Probably lost.
Stanford 38, Oregon St. 13
Inevitable blowout #1. In fairness, this game stayed close well into the 3rd quarter, and if an Oregon St. interception return for a touchdown wasn't called back by a penalty, things might have gotten truly interesting. Still, the Stanford onslaught was merely delayed rather than prevented, and the Beavers never looked likely to mount a legitimate threat. And unfortunately Chris Owusu was carted off the field after receiving yet another vicious hit over the middle.
Head coach David Shaw said so himself: Stanford played a 30-minute game, and for the most part did not improve from last week. If anything, Stanford regressed in almost every area of play. Defensively, the secondary had difficulty again covering receivers while James Rodgers ran over, under, and around Stanford's D-Line in a bad omen for Stanford's defense facing the Duck's stellar running back LaMichael James next weekend.
Oregon St. (2-7, 2-4) has now been eliminated from any chance of a bowl game, and is assured of their second consecutive losing season. It's the first time either has happened prior to the end of the regular season since 1998, the second year of coach Mike Riley's second season.
The Beavers have now lost 12 of their last 16 games (75%), and 16 of their last 23, dating back to season before last.
Does OSU's bowl ineligibility make you feel more confident or more DOOOOOMy?
Oregon 34, Washington 17
Inevitable blowout #2. In fairness, this game stayed close well into the 3rd quarter, and if . . . wait, why am I just repeating myself?!? I . . . I just can't do it any more. I can't pretend to care about recapping different versions of [Oregon/Stanford] beat [overmatched Pac-12 rival] by [double digit amount] with a 2nd half surge. I tried to be strong, but it's just . . . too . . . boring.
We all hoped and prayed that the Oregon nightmare would end last night and once again it didn't happen.
One small piece of solace we all can share is that it wasn't a blow out, we were in the game most of the night, and honestly there simply aren't more than a handful of teams out there that can beat the Ducks this year.
USC 42, Colorado 17
Inevitable blowout #3. I just feel bad about Colorado games. It's not fun to be snarky, it's not fun to make jokes. It's just sad. Nobody enjoyed it when Washington St. lost nearly every game by 20 or more points, and this isn't any different. This league needs everybody to be at least vaguely competitive. Maybe next year.
I am not going to break this game down too much, CU is not a good a team and with USC coming off an emotional loss I just wanted a win. USC got the win and in the process Matt Barkley broke the programs touchdown record.
Admit it - you're just a little bummed that USC has sanctions because they'd be 1,000,000x more entertaining in the Pac-12 title game?
Arizona at Colorado, 11:30
Washington at USC, 12:30, FX
Oregon St. at Cal, 3:30, CSNBA
UCLA at Utah, 3:30
Oregon at Stanford, 5:00, ABC
Arizona St. at Washington St., 7:30, Versus
Oregon, our Alma Mater, we will guard thee on and on.
Fellows gather ‘round and cheer her; chant her glory, Oregon.
Roar the praises of her warriors, sing the story, Oregon;
On to victory urge the heroes of our Mighty Oregon.
We will march, march, on down the field, fighting for Oregon.
Plough through the foeman's line their strength we'll defy.
We'll give a long cheer for our men. We're out to win again.
OSU may fight to the end but we will win.
Washington will attempt to extend their inexplicable streak over USC, Cal will fight desperately both for a bowl and for revenge, UCLA and Utah will play a game with one team still alive in the conference race - but not the one we all thought! And our weekly prayer goes out to Colorado and Washington St. Godspeed, gentlemen. Also there's some other game that people will probably make a big deal out of. I strongly suggest ignoring them, attending the Cal game, and then going out drinking for multiple hours at your favorite San Francisco bar that doesn't have televisions plastered all over the wall.