Hello world, meet Toby Gerhart. Even at .500, Notre Dame draws viewers and it's a good thing because it finally gave the rest of the country a chance to see what the Pac-10 has known all year. Elsewhere, a pair of rivalries went to the favorites, USC and Arizona, while nobody without a rooting interest really cared because the Pac-10 title is riding on a game to be played this Saturday. Who needs a conference championship game when you have Oregon vs. Oregon St. this Saturday?
Player of the Week: Toby Gerhart, Stanford- If he played for Notre Dame or Texas or Florida, we'd have already handed him the Heisman Trophy by now. Well, playing Notre Dame gave Gerhart the stage he needed and boy did he deliver. 205 yards rushing, three touchdowns on the ground and a touchdown pass to add. The beast couldn't be stopped and nothing will stop him from making his way to New York now.
Stat of the Week: 22- In the last two seasons, Washington St. has lost 22 games. Talent depleted or not, that's some feat.
Game of the Week: Oregon St. at Oregon, Thursday, 6 pm PST, ESPN- I'm pretty sure that playing for the conference title and spot in the Rose Bowl qualifies as Pac-10 Game of the Year so Game of the Week is a given. This year's edition of the Civil War has implications unlike any previous one and not only is everything on the line, but it features two tremendous offenses. Sean Canfield and the Rodgers brothers makes OSU alone worth watching. Jeremiah Masoli and LaMichael James makes Oregon alone worth watching. They'll all be on the field Thursday at Autzen Stadium.
Pac-10 Power Poll
1) Oregon Ducks, 9-2 (four first place votes)- Can the Oregon defense run with the Rodgers brothers? The defense that dominated in the season's first half is giving up 39 points per game in their last three. The explosive Oregon St. offense versus the struggling Ducks defense doesn't look like it will go well for the home side so Jeremiah Masoli and Lamichael James will have to be on their games. Considering that the Ducks average 38 points per game for the year, odds are the offense will be there. Last Week: 1
2) Oregon St. Beavers, 8-3- The last time Oregon St. went to the Rose Bowl? 1965. Being a game away from the conference title and has the Beaver faithful jumping for joy, but having to win that game at Autzen Stadium? That's not the easiest of ways to clinch a Rose Bowl berth. The offense will have to carry the load and having Sean Canfield, who leads the conference in completion percentage, Jacquizz Rodgers, second in the conference in rushing yards and James Rodgers, who leads the conference in receiving yards, will certainly help. Last Week: 2
3) Stanford Cardinal, 8-4- Did the Cardinal really almost lose to Notre Dame at home? They did, but it's much easier to win with Toby Gerhart in the backfield. Gerhart did a bit of everything, running and throwing for points as he punched his ticket to New York. The Stanford defense is still too slow to run with faster teams so their chances in a bowl game are very match-up based, but an eight win season in Jim Harbaugh's third season is awfully impressive. Last Week: 5
4) California Golden Bears, 8-3- The season took a major dive in the middle, but the campaign that started with such high hopes can still end up a 10 win year. Coming off of their big win over Stanford, Cal for a bye week and now has to take down Washington on the road, then prevail in their bowl game for their first double-digit win season since 2006. Stopping Jake Locker will be the key for the Bears and their recently rejuvenated defense. Last Week: 4
5) Arizona Wildcats, 7-4- It took a muffed punt for the Wildcats to top their rivals, Arizona St., but a win is a win. Now Arizona will have to take on USC at the Coliseum and another late game collapse, as they've done versus Oregon, Washington and Arizona St. now, won't cut it. Another 148 yard performance from Nick Foles won't cut it either as he'll need to have a big day combined with a rushing performance like last week. Last Week: 3
6) USC Trojans, 8-3- The Trojans were far from impressive versus UCLA, but they did what the Bruins couldn't. USC held onto the football. Matt Barkley's string of unimpressive performances continued, but the defense stepped up and dominated the game. Not only did the defense keep the Bruins from scoring until late, but it got the game off to the start USC wanted with a interception return for a touchdown. Next up is Senior Day with Arizona in town. Last Week: 6
7) UCLA Bruins, 6-6- Could any more be asked of the defense? They shut down the USC offense and did their part to get the W, but the offense couldn't hold onto the ball. UCLA essentially played USC to a draw, but the Bruins turned the ball over when USC didn't. The Bruins showed they're close, but close didn't cut it on Saturday and now UCLA is holding out slim hope for the bowl game that a win would have clinched. Last Week: 7
8) Washington Huskies, 4-7- Any positive steps Washington took this season would have been wiped out by a loss to Washington St. last Saturday in the Apple Cup. The Huskies came out ready to go though, holding Wazzu to 163 yards and shutting out the Cougars in the 30-0 win. Already with four more wins than a year ago, the Huskies have a chance to make it five when Cal visits Husky Stadium on Saturday in the season's final contest. Last Week: 8
9) Arizona St. Sun Devils, 4-8- Dennis Erickson will surely be feeling the heat going into next season. Yet another Sun Devils victory was ruined by a lack of discipline and mistakes. Arizona St. entered the game with the most penalties in the country and will remain in that place as they racked up ten more in their loss to Arizona last Saturday. That, combined with a muffed punt late spelled doom for the Devils, whose season has come to a disappointing end. Last Week: 9
10) Washington St. Cougars, 1-11- Wazzu is reaching unprecedented levels of futility and there isn't even much hope to cling to. Last season, a season-ending win over Washington gave the Cougs something to hang their hat on, but after being thoroughly beaten by the Huskies this year, what can Cougar fans find hope in this year? The lack of talent within the program and a recruiting class that is mediocre at best won't be enough to get out of the cellar either. Last Week: 10