How hectic has the Pac-10 gotten, especially in the middle? For the first time since we started doing the BN Pac-10 Power Poll at the beginning of last season, there was not a single identical ballot. Every week, there are usually two or sometimes three ballots that are identical. After all, six or so teams are usually pretty clearly in a certain spot in the conference, but this week the only consensus was that Oregon was tops in the Pac-10, Stanford was second and Washington St. was last. UCLA was a near consensus number nine pick, but everyone from three through eight was a complete toss up and everyone had a completely difference idea of who should be where. So halfway through the season, what do we know about the Pac-10? Apparently not much.
Player of the Week: Jake Locker, Washington- There was two quarterbacks who threw five touchdown passes and made compelling arguments for the conference's player of the week in Jake Locker and Matt Barkley, but Locker gets the nod here because the Huskies needed each and every one if his great plays to edge Oregon St. in double overtime, while Barkley could have been a bit off and it wouldn't have been a problem because the USC defense was stifling. Locker completed 21 of his 35 pass attempted and added 60 yards rushing to lead Washington to a crucial victory in their quest for bowl eligibility.
Stat of the Week: 20- Oregon's rise to number one in the AP Poll marks the first time in 20 years that a time has ascended to number one for the first time in program history.
Game of the Week: Washington at Arizona, 7:15 pm PDT, ESPN- The last time that Washington went on the road, they toppled USC in a thrilling game at the wire and at 3-3, the Huskies have a very realistic chance at getting into a bowl game this season. The Huskies are undoubtedly riding high, but on the flip side is Arizona, who still controls its own destiny to win the Pac-10, but will have to figure out a way to navigate the next few weeks without the services of the injured Nick Foles. There's a chance that Foles gets back in time for the Wildcats' trip to Stanford when Arizona's title hopes could be on the line, but only if back up Matt Scott, who used to start for Arizona, can get the Wildcats through the next couple weeks beginning versus the Huskies.
Pac-10 Power Poll (First Place Votes in Parentheses)
1) Oregon Ducks, 6-0 (7)- Once again, Oregon is the unanimous number one team in the Pac-10 and while it is not unanimous, the pollsters have the Ducks as the nation's top team. To put it simply, if Oregon can be as perfect in the second half of their season as they were in the first half, they'll be playing for the national title, but ask Alabama and Ohio St. how easy to is for the nation's number one team to win out. Darron Thomas is said to be back to full speed after a shoulder injury, which should mean that the Ducks' high-powered offense keeps rolling this week versus UCLA, but Kenjon Barner has yet to practice since suffering a scary head injury in Oregon's last game. Last Week: 1
2) Stanford Cardinal, 5-1- A week off has given Stanford a chance to regroup and get healthy for a second half of the season as physical as the first half. After all, physicality is the name of the Cardinal's game and they'll continue to dish it out as long as Jim Harbaugh is in charge. This weekend, Washington St. will visit Palo Alto and while the Cougars are playing better, it is still a game in which Stanford should come out on top. The key for the Cardinal will be to fine tune versus Wazzu because once they're past the Cougars they will play three of their next four on the road, a stretch that could determine if they can finish the regular season in the top ten and play in a BCS bowl. Last Week: 2
3) Arizona Wildcats, 5-1- An expected comfortable win over Washington St. was the good news for Arizona last weekend, but the unexpected knee sprain to Nick Foles was the bad news as the standout junior quarterback is now sidelined for "a few weeks." It's conceivable that Foles can be back for Arizona's key November 6 showdown with Stanford in what will likely be a "must win" game for the Wildcats to go to the Rose Bowl, but Matt Scott will have to step up for that to be the case. Arizona needs their former starter, who lost the starting job to Foles last season, to navigate through the next two games, versus a surging Washington team and then on the road versus UCLA, for Arizona's trip to Stanford and Foles' possible return to mean anything in the Rose Bowl race. Last Week: 4
4) USC Trojans, 5-2- After dropping consecutive games to Washington and Stanford on the final play of the game, it looked like USC could be staring at a four-game losing streak. After all, two were already in the bag and games versus Cal and Oregon were going to be awfully tough. Well, they were supposed to be, but the Trojans made their contest with Cal look anything but tough. The game was over long before halftime, but when the first 30 minutes were done, it was clear that the game was in the bag. Matt Barkley had already thrown his five touchdowns, two to Roberts Woods and two more to Ronald Johnson, but for all of the offensive fireworks, the defense was putting a hurting on the Golden Bears. The USC defense allowed only 245 yards all game for 10 first downs and now the Trojans get a week off to prepare for Oregon's visit. Last Week: 6
5) Oregon St. Beavers, 3-3- Few have questioned how good the Rodgers brothers are, but Jacquizz has long gotten the bulk of the publicity. It was nothing against James, but Jacquizz got the ball more and has been simply fantastic his entire Beaver career, but maybe James' impact was never fully appreciated? A week after he was lost for the season with a knee injury, Ryan Katz had his worst game of the season throwing three interceptions. Jacquizz did his best to counter it with 140 yards rushing and three touchdowns with another 49 receiving and a touchdown there, but without James, the Beavers' passing game was ineffective. In the mean time, Oregon St.'s defense couldn't handle Jake Locker's arm as he tossed five touchdowns to ruin the Beavers' comeback from 21-0 down in double overtime, 35-34. A week off gives the Beavers a chance to get back on track before a game with Cal. Last Week: 3
6) Washington Huskies, 3-3- So, that Jake Locker guy might be able to throw the ball after all. His arm strength was never a question, but on Saturday he was able to throw the ball where he wanted and five of those times resulted in Husky touchdowns. A rejuvenated Husky Stadium crowd helped the Huskies pull out a double overtime thriller, 35-34, despite blowing a 21-0 lead earlier in the game. The rest of the Washington team was average and while the win was among one of the better ones in recent Husky history, it remains clear that when Locker has a great game, Washington has a chance, but he needs to be sensational. The Huskies sure hope he'll be sensational when they go to Tucson to play Arizona because even facing the Wildcats' back-up, Locker needs to be great, not just okay, for the Huskies to come out on top, Last Week: 9
7) Arizona St. Sun Devils, 3-3- When Arizona St. last took the field they had lost three straight and Dennis Erickson's seat was feeling awfully hot. Steven Threet had thrown a total of seven interceptions in just the last two of those losses, but when they went to Seattle to play Washington two weeks ago with all of that on their minds, the Sun Devils came out and knocked the Huskies around. Threet threw just one interception and tossed a pair of touchdown passes as part of a near 300 yard game as Arizona St. helped cool Erickson's seat for the second half of the season. A bowl game is likely necessary for Erickson to keep his job and if Threet can throw the ball to the guys in the right jersey, starting Saturday against Cal, the Sun Devils may just get it done. Last Week: 7
8) California Golden Bears, 3-3- Nobody knows who the hell Cal is. They don't even know who they are. The Pac-10's most enigmatic team lived up to their billing by following up a dominating win over UCLA with an embarrassing loss to USC where they found themselves down 42-0 at halftime. All we really do know about Cal to this point is that we have no idea what to think about them, but the up and down nature of this team is just like so many other Cal teams in recent years. One week they look unbeatable, the next week they look like they could be beat by a team of cheerleaders. Kevin Riley is a Pac-10 quality quarterback only every once in a while and for every great performance by their defense, they will be annihilated like they were versus Nevada and now USC. Shane Vereen is the only dependable figure on the Bears and he should see plenty of the ball with Arizona St. coming to Berkeley. Last Week: 5
9) UCLA Bruins, 3-3- For the first time all season, there was nothing up and down about the Bruins. Of course, that is because UCLA had a bye week, but the lack of an emotional roller coaster was probably a welcome relief for the Bruin faithful. This week, there will be nothing of the sort with UCLA heading up to play Oregon on Thursday night in what is always a crazy Autzen Stadium. Oh yeah, that Oregon team is pretty good too ranked number one in the country and whatnot. The Bruins will need to play near perfect football to even have a shot against the Ducks with a defense that doesn't take a quarter or two to show up and an offense that gets it done on the ground and through the air. A strong belief in the curse of the nation's top team could help too. Last Week: 8
10) Washington St. Cougars, 1-5- Another week gone by and another loss for the Cougars, but nobody can deny that the program is really taking some positive steps. While the offense had been the source for most of Wazzu's optimism in recent weeks, it was the defense who showed some positive signs when the offense was out of sync in the Cougars' 24-7 loss to Arizona. Tyree Toomer, who had four tackles for a loss, led a Washington St. defense that racked up six sacks and kept the game within striking distance for much of the way. The Cougars still aren't winning games and likely won't this week versus Stanford, but they're not being embarrassed anymore which is a big step forward. Last Week: 10