The worse Cal plays, the more depressing this feature becomes. Usually come late October/early November, this feature covers both football and basketball. The way things are going, I might make the full transition to hoops next week.
Did you know that six Pac-12 teams are ranked, and that two others are also receiving votes? That's two thirds of the conference! The four teams not receiving votes are Colorado, Washington State, Utah and Cal. What wonderful company we find ourselves in.
Obviously, 2012 isn't going to be a good year for Cal. But at least Stanford isn't undefeated. The only thing that can nourish our black, black hearts is the suffering of others.
Washington 17, Stanford 13
This was the only game I saw this week, so I've got plenty to say about it. So let's dive right in:
David Shaw needs to change something up, because Stanford is one of the most predictable offenses I’ve ever seen and they can’t get away with it any more.
Granted, Stanford has been somewhat predictable for the last two/three years. As it turns out, when you have the #1 pick in the draft and the best offensive line in the country, you can afford to virtually tell your opponent exactly what you’re going to do and still do it successfully.
But Stanford doesn’t have Andrew Luck, and they don’t have a completely unstoppable line. So running on 1st and 2nd down out of the power I and then throwing an underneath route to a running back or tight end over and over and over and over isn’t going to work anymore. You can only get away with a lack of creativity if you have elite, undeniable talent, and right now Stanford doesn’t have that on offense.
Washington has clearly improved on defense, but are they really that much better? Watching the game on Thursday, I felt like the Huskies mostly proved that they could stop an offense playing with one hand tied behind their metaphorical back.
This is really the first test of the Shaw era. Jim Harbaugh built the perfect template, and when he left Shaw simply had to duplicate that template last year. And I hardly blame Shaw for trying to repeat what the Cardinal did so successfully for three years, particularly considering that they still have Stepfan Taylor and plenty of talent at tight end and along the line. But Thursday’s loss (and, to a lesser extent limited offensive outputs against USC and San Jose St.) strongly indicate that if Stanford doesn’t want to lose more games in that fashion they’ll need to do something else on offense to score points.
The defense. The defense. The defense. This was unexpected. If Washington was to upset the Cardinal It would have required a mammoth game from Keith Price. Nope, the defense carried the team today. The box was stacked. John Timu tackled well, a major key. The entire defense tackled well. Danny Shelton ate up blocks on the inside and allowed the linebackers to make plays, and also freed up Josh Shirleyto rush the passer and the same with , the DT-DE tweener.
Nunes seems like a fine gentleman. It’s a testament to the difficulty of the position that you can be either fine or good in most areas of being a quarterback… and if you’re missing that last crucial piece (in Nunes’ case, actually directing the ball towards an eligible receiver), you are awful. In many ways, it’s not hard to see why Shaw would be drawn to Nunes’ qualities. And yet, what we’ve seen in the first four games hasn’t been good enough. Shaw has said the team needs to be completing passes in the 60 percent range, and has never backed off Nunes as his guy. Nunes has shown no ability to actually do what Shaw thinks he needs to do. Either Shaw is right, or he is delusional.
Should Shaw stick with Josh Nunes?
Do you credit the Washington defense or do you credit the Cardinal offense for Stanford’s 6 points of offensive production?
Oregon State 38, Arizona 35
The game of the week in terms of sheer entertainment value. And after winning behind stifling defensive efforts, perhaps it's encouraging that the Beavers won a game behind their offense. 613 total yards, and 433 from Mannion's arm? Maybe Matt Barkley isn't the best pro-style QB in the conference!
How long can Oregon State's shocking surge continue? The Beavers are 3-0, but all three wins have come by a margin of 7 points or less. On the other hand, OSU now owns two road wins and with three winnable games in a row they could very easily sit at 6-0 in late October.
Now I think we can really start to reflect on what this team has done and it would be remiss of me to not mention that the team now has matched their win total from last year of three, and this season three wins in as many games. Additionally, this is the first 3 and 0 start under Coach Riley and the first 3 and 0 start since 2002.
Oregon State currently has the 3rd best ranking in the conference. Does that ranking undervalue them, overvalue them, or accurately value them?
Oregon 51, Washington State 26
The final score looks about right, but the process in getting there was a little odd. The 23-19 halftime score was about as shocking as you'll see this year. But this game just adds to the wide body of evidence that makes me think that Oregon treats each individual game as an experiment in seeing what they can get away with before getting serious.
Regardless, it counts as a positive step forward for Mike Leach after the Colorado debacle. Heck, if Cal only gets out-gained by Oregon by 67 yards I'll party in the street.
UCLA 42, Colorado 14
This went pretty much how everybody expected, right?
The game looked like the score for the most part. Bruins had the Buffaloes outclassed in every facet of the game and it showed up on the scoreboard by the end of the game. I feel like it speaks to the heightened expectations on UCLA's program that I am not that impressed by UCLA winning this game by four touchdowns (should have been 5). This team has the potential to put up a hallmark type of season with the level of talent and the way the schedule breaks the rest of the way.
It was a game where both teams just seemed to go through the motions, not in a lack of effort sense, but in a "we are who we are and we're going to do what we do" kind of way. Sitting through the fourth quarter, I struggled with an angle to take on the recap for this game and finally decided that there wasn't one. Colorado lost to a better team.
Are you buying or selling UCLA's resurgence?
USC at Utah, 6:00 pm, ESPN
Arizona at Stanford, 12:00 pm, Fox
Washington State at Oregon State, 3:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
UCLA at Calfornia, 7:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
Washington at Oregon, 7:30 pm, ESPN
Arizona State and Colorado are enjoying bye weeks, leaving a number of potentially juicy offerings. The game of the week in terms of pure hate is Washington at Oregon, but the game that looks to be the most competitive is Arizona at Stanford. I'll be interested to see if Stanford's front 7 can pressure Arizona the same way they did USC and Washington. And can Josh Nunes get on track against an iffy Arizona secondary?
USC at Utah seemed intriguing at the beginning of the season but without Jordan Wynn it seems unlikely that Utah can earn the win. Same goes for Washington and Washington State on the road. Hell, Cal might be one of the better upset picks in what could be an ugly week of blowouts in the Pac-12.