Wins: California, Oregon, Oregon State
Losses: Arizona State, USC, UCLA, Washington State
Prediction Results: 5-0
Season to Date: 31-9
Disappointments: USC is a huge disappointment. It's not they are playing badly, but they aren't holding up their end in the legacy department. They have lost to Washington and Oregon, should have lost to Oregon State, and almost handed a game away to Notre Dame. Who are these guys?! I gotta say, I am really impressed with Matt Barkley as a quarterback - he is going to be very, very good next year and the year after for sure. Heck, he's been good this year. But, what I think the SC offense is missing is leadership from the QB. It's not that he's not leading or that his guys aren't listening, I just think it's part of being a true freshman in this situation. I also have a feeling Pete Carroll knew this when he made Barkley the starter. You may laugh, but a season like this is what passes for rebuilding for the USC Trojans. Next year, again, watch out. I think SC loses at least one more game this year (Dec 5 @ Arizona?) - and some mid-level bowl like the Sun or the Las Vegas is going to be ecstatic at what falls into their laps.
I'm also a bit disappointed in Oregon State. For the second week in a row they had way too many miscues and they almost handed that game over to the UCLA Bruins in the fourth quarter. We were listening to the fourth quarter on the radio while watching the first quarter (because of the ridiculous tape delay) and each time UCLA pulled down a TD and scored a two-point conversion the tension got thicker. Given the way the Bruins were having their way with Oregon State in that quarter we couldn't even get too excited when James Rodgers scored the game-winning touchdown, thinking that maybe they still had left too much time on the clock. It's a silly thing to wonder when you just scored seven, but that's how scary the UCLA offense was looking (sounding?) at the time. The Bruins aren't a good team, but they are talented and dangerous enough they are bound to eventually take advantage of opportunities if you give them enough of them. I almost get the feeling the Beavers aren't concious themselves of just how good they could be. If they can shore up the miscues to win this week at California, perhaps that wakes them up. This team could end up third in the league, and they could still have a huge impact on the seasons of Oregon and Cal.
Speaking of the Beavers, I just have to say it's about time Jacquizz Rodgers threw a pass from the Wildcat formation. Now every time he lines up the defense has to be aware Quizz is capable of making that throw. Now I want to see him throw a TD to his brother James. And then in the same game have James come around on the fly sweep, pull back, and throw a bomb to Quizz for another touchdown. How sweet would that be?!
Surprises: I have to say, while I'm not surprised Oregon beat USC - that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has followed the Pac-10 this season - I am surprised by how they dominated the line of scrimmage. And how USC allowed themselves to be dominated. SC didn't fill the holes and left huge running lanes open, and they couldn't catch a quarterback still recovering from a knee injury. Jeremiah Masoli did look better this past weekend than he did the week before at Washington, but he's still not 100%. The SC linebackers looked slow and out of position, something we are absolutely not used to seeing from the Trojans.
And perhaps this shouldn't qualify as a surprise, but I know how the national media will spin the results of this game. They may say nice things about Oregon, but no matter what the net public perception will be USC isn't as good this year and so their conference losses mean the entire Pac-10 isn't good. They won't consider the fact that perhaps other teams winning - Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona, Stanford - is a product of those teams actually being better than USC. When it comes to our league it's always been USC and everyone else. This year will be no different. Perhaps it really doesn't matter, since in the end the only thing any of those rankings really help determine is the BCS standings, and I don't think any Pac-10 team is national champion material at this point. The standings determine all the rest of the bowls the Pac-10 is tied to (which are a whole other story I'll get to later in the season). Perhaps us Pac-10 fans will just have to accept the reality we have to hear the denigration in the national media. And continue to gloat when we win all those non-conference games.
AP, USA Today, BCS Rankings
Oregon - 7, 8, 8
USC - 12, 13, 12
Arizona - 21, 19, 18
California - 23, 23, 20
Oregon State - NR, 33, NR
Boise State - 5, 5, 7
The computers seem to recognize the strength of the Pac-10, as evidenced by the fact they rank Arizona and Cal higher than the actual voters. They also have Boise State lower. I'm not a big fan of the BCS at all - a playoff system should be put in place - but this year it's hard to disagree with the way the Pac-10 teams have been ranked, generally. I still think the conference gets unfairly dinged as weaker as a whole than it should be, but part of that is a product of the fact the teams tend to beat up on each other - and then dominate non-conference games.
Just one year I'd love to see the Pac-10 set up a one day challenge in September with the SEC or the Big 12. One team from each conference plays it's counterpart in the standings (given how far out they schedule, it would probably end up being four-year-old standings, but I'll take it), all on a single day. Some of the games in Pac-10 country, some not. Wouldn't this be a ratings bonanza? Couldn't we schedule them so every single one would be on TV? I mean, ESPN has three channels they show games on, so we could have it happen.
Why do all these? For respect. Apparently it's not enough the Pac-10 kicks ass in bowl games every year. Well, that, and Florida and Alabama like to schedule cupcakes to they can pad their records. And, before you SEC fans get crazy, consider this: Oregon played Boise State, Utah, and Purdue; Oregon State played Cincinnati, UNLV, and Portland State; Florida played (or plays) Charleston Southern, Troy State, Florida International, and Florida State; and Alabama played (or plays) Virginia Tech, Florida International, North Texas, and Chattanooga.
Hmmm...I count one quality non-conference opponent each for Florida and Bama, two for Oregon State, and three for Oregon. So who plays a tougher schedule?
*Oregon - 5-0, 7-1
Arizona - 3-1, 5-2
Stanford - 4-2, 5-3
*USC - 3-2, 6-2
*California - 3-2, 6-2
Oregon State - 3-2, 5-3
Arizona State - 2-3, 4-4
Washington - 2-3, 3-5
UCLA - 0-5, 3-5
Washington State - 0-5, 1-7
* Bowl Eligible
Cal became bowl-eligible with a win this past weekend.
Hey Oregon fans, before you get too excited, it should be noted that Arizona is pretty damn good. We are going to find out a lot about Zona in the next two weeks. They host Washington State then go on the road to Cal. If they manage to win in Berkeley, and if the Ducks win at Stanford and then home against ASU, that matchup between UO and UA on 11/21 could determine who goes to the Rose Bowl. And if Arizona wins that game - it's in Tucson - Oregon State would be more than happy to sweep away Rose Bowl dreams the next week in the Civil War. Actually, if Oregon wins their remaining games except for a loss to Zona, and Zona wins out, Zona goes to the Rose Bowl. Both teams would finish 8-1 in conference and Zona would hold the tie-breaker with the head-to-head win.
There are no easy games in the Pac-10...unless you get Washington State.