Nothing like finishing the season on an uptick. If Colorado hadn't pulled off an amazing upset in Utah in a game that, had the Utes won, would have pushed them into the Pac-12 championship game I would have managed a 7-0 week. Instead I went 6-1, probably my best week since preseason, pushing me to 63-27 on the season.
And now, thanks to the aforementioned Colorado upset, we have unranked 6-6 UCLA - blown out 50-0 by USC last week - visiting Oregon tonight at Autzen Stadium in Eugene at 5pm Pacific on FOX. Yes, those same Ducks who are 10-2 overall, ranked 8th overall by the Associated Press, and ranked 7th overall by the ESPN Coach's Poll.
For everyone that was overly excited about USC being punished for whatever Reggie Bush did while a "student-athlete", this is the result. How bad are things at UCLA? Sure, they are technically the Pac-12 South champions because of SC's ineligibility, but 6-6 earned coach Rick Neuheisel a pink slip. He will coach tonight, but even if they win he's out and won't coach a bowl game. And if they lose? UCLA supposedly is a top team in the conference (snort) according to tonight's matchup, but a loss leaves them 6-7 and technically not even bowl-eligible. However, they applied for a waiver to the rule and the NCAA inexplicably said they could still go to a bowl even with a sub-.500 record.
Bet that game will be well attended.
The winner of this inaugural Pac-12 championship game, of course, goes to the Rose Bowl and will face the winner of the inaugural Big Ten (yes, that conference with 12 teams) championship game (Saturday at 5:17pm on FOX, Wisconsin at Michigan State in a matchup of 10-2 teams).
If UCLA wins... Wow. First off, that would be a monumental upset and, one could argue, a good reason Neuheisel should KEEP his job. Secondly...there is no second. The likelihood of that is pretty close to zero. The Bruins aren't fast enough to keep up with LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner and DeAnthony Thomas, but what the Ducks need to do is pounce quickly. UCLA has nothing to lose and will play that way, so all the pressure is on Oregon. In games like this the longer the favorite allows the underdog to stay close the more confidence the underdog gain and the more stress the favorite faces. Scoring first and second, quickly, could end this game very early.
Prediction: Oregon 56, UCLA 10