And then there was one. We're not even halfway through October yet, but there is already just one Pac-10 team left undefeated and they are the clear top team in the Pac-10. We are also getting to that point in the season where we realize how violent of a game football is by all the injuries and of course, how important those injuries are to how the rest of the season shakes out. Darron Thomas and Kenjon Barner both went down for Oregon, James Rodgers' knee also looked to be in bad shape, changing Oregon St.'s outlook. How those guys come back (if they come back) and who else goes down will play a big part in this season's Pac-10 Champion.
Player of the Week: Robert Woods, USC- This one was a pretty easy one to figure out as the top-rated receiver coming out of high school last season exposed Stanford's lack of team speed and athleticism on defense. Woods caught 12 passes for 224 yards and had three touchdowns in a losing effort. Put simply, the freshmen looked like he was on a whole other athletic level than the rest of the players on the field.
Stat of the Week: 290- Cal's defense was torched when they faced Nevada's pistol offense earlier this season, but the Bears held UCLA's pistol rushing attack to 26 rushing yard, which is 290 fewer yards than they allowed on the ground to the Wolfpack.
Game of the Week: Cal at USC, 12:30 pm PDT, FSN- The top three in the conference isn't as clear as it appeared earlier in the season and now it looks like Oregon and everyone else. Both Cal and USC have shown flashes of their ability to make a play for second best in the Pac-10. but have shown as many flashes of why they're merely average or worse. In a week where there are only three conference games, this battle for who might challenge the top three in the Pac-10 takes center stage.
Pac-10 Power Poll (First Place Votes in Parentheses)
1) Oregon Ducks, 6-0 (9)- For a team that made a habit of punishing poor opponents to the tune of 60 and 70 points, Oregon's performance against Washington St. was disappointing. The Ducks never managed to turn the game into a laugher and had to settle for a comfortable but hardly eye-opening 43-23 victory. Coming off of an emotional win over Stanford it isn't a shock that the Ducks weren't firing on all cylinders and now they get a week off in which they can try to get Darron Thomas and Kenjon Barner healthy, which they most definitely need. Last Week: 1
2) Stanford Cardinal, 5-1- They may be fierce, they may be tough and they may be impressive, but Stanford isn't blessed with tons of great athletes and it shows. A week after Oregon's speed and athleticism did them in, Stanford struggled with the speed that USC's offense presented their defense, specifically the athleticism of Robert Woods. Offensively, the Cardinal had no problem as Andrew Luck was super efficient and Stepfan Taylor ran for over 100 yards to allow Stanford a field goal as time expired for a 37-35 win. A week off followed by a game versus Washington St. will be important to prep for a stretch of three of four on the road. Last Week: 2
3) Oregon St. Beavers, 3-2- If Oregon St. were to ever compete for the Pac-10 title, they would need first-year starter Ryan Katz to step up. On Saturday, Katz threw his first interception of the season, but it was also his breakout game as he gave the offense the explosiveness it has lacked. After going 30-42 for 393 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Katz and the Beavers had come through with a 29-27 upset of Arizona on the road and catapulted themselves into prime position to challenge Oregon for the Pac-10 title. The only setback in the game may prove to be a giant one though as James Rodgers went down with a serious-looking knee injury. Last Week: 4
4) Arizona Wildcats, 4-1- So, what happened to that feared Arizona defense? A defense that had been so dominant was picked apart for almost 500 total yards and couldn't get stops when they were needed. The Arizona offense rolled off 541 total yards, 440 of which were thanks to Nick Foles' arm, but a missed field goal, extra point and poor punting made things tougher on everyone. In the end, Arizona walked off of their home field losers and no longer control their own destiny in their bid for a Rose Bowl berth. A trip to Washington St. should be good for another win, but it's game two of a six week stretch without a bye versus some tough conference competition. Last Week: 3
5) California Golden Bears, 3-2- Any worries about Cal not being able to handle the pistol were eased very early on in the Bears' game versus UCLA. Cal's defense was absolutely suffocating and led the way in a 35-7 whooping of the Bruins, showing that they had tightened things up (and gotten Mike Mohamed healthy) since Nevada's pistol offense destroyed the Bears' defense. Meanwhile, Kevin Riley had an easy afternoon of watching the defense and handing the ball to Shane Vereen, who torched UCLA for 151 yards, while Isi Sofele spelled him with 80 yards of his own on just 13 carries. If the Golden Bears can get a win over USC on Saturday, they'll be in position to finish in the Pac-10's top three. Last Week: 5
6) USC Trojans, 4-2- USC may have lost to Stanford, but it was arguably a more impressive performance than any of their four wins. While the Trojans' four wins were sloppy against terrible competition, they were able to compete on the road with a very good Stanford team and was their defense able to get a stop, the Trojans would have taken down the Cardinal. Matt Barkley kept finding Robert Woods, who was undoubtedly the best player on the field, and the Trojans' offense was cruising. The question is what does USC do about their defense, which has allowed long drives for game-winning field goals as time expires in consecutive weeks now. Luckily for them, Cal does their work on the ground as opposed to through the air. Last Week: 9
7) Arizona St. Sun Devils, 3-3- It took until their third try, but Arizona St. got their first conference win and it came on the road in Husky Stadium, where wins usually aren't too easy to come by. Steven Threet threw just one interception, a massive improvement, and completed passes to nine different receivers in a downpour. A touchdown just before halftime stretched the Sun Devils' lead to 14 and put them in complete control of the game, just turning it over to their strong defense. As is becoming increasingly clear, if Threet can keep from tossing the ball to the team in the wrong colors, this Arizona St. team can take down just about anyone. Last Week: 8
8) UCLA Bruins, 3-3- Usually, there are a few positive things to take away from games, but it's tough to find much for the Bruins to take away from their 35-7 shellacking at the hands of Cal in Berkeley. It was all Bears from the get-go and the Bruins looked completely overmatched. The offensive line couldn't open holes, the receivers weren't getting open or catching the ball and if Kevin Prince got time to throw and an open receiver, he usually missed him. Meanwhile, the defense was as uninspired as can be. Josh Smith was electric in kick return, but that could just be a result of all the practice he's been getting. A week off will have to result in massive improvement because a trip to Oregon will follow for UCLA. Last Week: 6
9) Washington Huskies, 2-3- Is Washington allergic success? Every time the Huskies take a step forward, they take two back. A week after taking down USC on the road, Washington got to play Arizona St. in front of 65,000 friendlies at Husky Stadium, but never led and put their bowl hopes in doubt. Jake Locker had an average game, but his team requires that he be extraordinary for them to win and the defense couldn't get the ball away from a quarterback who has done nothing but turn it over. A week off will be followed by games versus Oregon St., Arizona, Stanford and Oregon, a stretch that could knock the Huskies out of the running for a bowl a week into November. Last Week: 7
10) Washington St. Cougars, 1-4- It's really easy to bash on the Cougars for their hapless program over the last few seasons, but it appears as if Wazzu is finally taking steps in the right direction. Jeff Tuel is at the heart of the Cougars' attempted turnaround and he had a decent game against Oregon on Saturday, a game that had all the makings of a blow out, but one that Washington St. stayed pretty close in before losing 43-23. This comes a week after Wazzu had their chances on the road against UCLA, giving those in the Palouse hope that Paul Wulff's program is finally starting to go in the right direction with Arizona coming to town. Last Week: 10