It was another sleepy week in the Pac-10 with just four games on the slate and all of them going in the direction of the home team, while the closest game was a 10 point win that was a 24 point margin before two fourth quarter touchdowns. While the rest of the country is slowly becoming aware of the Pac-10's strength with some calling it the country's best, it produced zero exciting games. With every team in action and the Pac-10's top three teams all hitting the road this weekend, all of that could change in what might be a thrilling week on the west coast.
Player of the Week: Darron Thomas, Oregon- Thursday night on national television just became a showcase for the Oregon offense and the man at the center of it all. When Jermiah Masoli was kicked out of school for another wrong doing this summer many questions whether the Ducks would be able to still compete for a national title, but Darron Thomas has stepped in and been even better than Masoli. Thursday night was Thomas' finest showing as he completed 22 of his 31 passes for 308 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He added 48 yards rushing in a complete performance as the Ducks put up 60 points in their win.
Stat of the Week: 2-2- Washington faced ranked opponents in four of their last five games, yet managed to go .500 in those games with wins over USC and Oregon St.
Game of the Week: Oregon at USC, 5 pm PDT, ABC- The worst thing that could happen to Oregon's trip to USC was the Trojans being banned from postseason play because the Ducks' visit to the LA Coliseum became their biggest game of the season. While bowl games usually shower teams with media coverage, USC's greatest exposure day will come Saturday with College Gameday and the polls' number one team in town. Now, Oregon will have to take SC's best shot and while it's doubtful that the Trojans' defense can stop the Ducks' offense, the Oregon defense will face a stern test in the USC offense.
Pac-10 Power Poll (First Place Votes in Parentheses)
1) Oregon Ducks, 7-0 (9)- The number one team in the polls were upset the last two weeks and there was some talk that Oregon could be the third in a row to meet the same fate, but the Ducks put that talk to rest pretty quickly. UCLA moved the ball early against Oregon, but the Bruins' first drive ended in an interception and it was all Ducks from there. Darron Thomas played his best game of his career and was so good that LaMichael James' 123 yards and two touchdowns went untalked about. Oregon will need to come out firing again because they will be facing the best USC has to offer on Saturday. Last Week: 1
2) Stanford Cardinal, 6-1- The score, 38-28, made Stanford's win over Washington St. look a lot closer than the game actually was because the Cardinal were in total control and led 38-14 before two late Cougar touchdowns. Andrew Luck wasn't asked to do much through the air, but he did throw three touchdowns while the Cardinal ran the ball 47 times for 249 yards in the ball game. This week, Stanford goes to Washington is a tough road game at Husky Stadium. It will take another efficient game from Luck and tough running from the Cardinal backs to beat the Huskies, but it is the defense that will have to step their game up versus a healthier Jake Locker than played last week. Last Week: 2
3) Arizona Wildcats, 6-1- What was supposed to be a potential upset in the making without Nick Foles turned out to be nothing of the sort for Arizona thanks to the continued strong play of their defense and good outing by backup quarterback Matt Scott. Scott completed 18 of 22 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns without throwing a pick while Keola Antolin racked up 114 yards on 14 carries. If Scott can have another great game this week against UCLA and Antolin is strong again, Arizona shouldn't have a problem with the play of their great defense, but with a back up quarterback, that is a big if. The Wildcats could also get caught looking ahead to their big game a week later at Stanford. Last Week: 3
4) USC Trojans, 5-2- When USC last played they put together what was by far their best week of defensive football in a demolishing of Cal. This past weekend, the Trojans had no game, meaning they have confidence and an extra week to prepare for what has been the country's most explosive offense. That is what the Trojans face with Oregon visiting the Coliseum for a prime time game on Saturday. With no postseason to play for, this is USC's bowl game and they should be fired up, but fired up isn't enough to stop the Ducks' offense and the USC offense will face the pressure of having to match Oregon point for point. Last Week: 4
5) Oregon St. Beavers, 3-3- A Oregon St. offense without two Rodgers' is not something that Pac-10 fans are accustomed to seeing and a Beaver passing game without a dependable receiver is the result, one that helped the Beavers drop their last game to Washington. With a week off, Oregon St. has had time to adjust their offense and now will need not only the rest of the receivers to step up, but quarterback Ryan Katz to take a step forward because avoiding mistakes won't be enough. The problem is that might not be enough either because the Beaver defense has not been very good all season long. Last Week: 5
6) California Golden Bears, 4-3- If Cal could play all their games at Memorial Stadium they might win the Pac-10, but sometimes they have to leave Strawberry Canyon and when that happens, they run into trouble. Cal remained undefeated at home this season with a 50-17 demolition of Arizona St. and have now outscored their opponents 189-34 on the season in Berkeley. Unfortunately, this weekend the Bears will hit the road, where they are 0-3 on the season. A trip to Corvallis is never easy and while Oregon St.'s defense is far from stout and they do not have James Rodgers, Cal has shown no indication that they can get the job done on the road. Last Week: 8
7) Washington Huskies, 3-4- Beating a good Arizona team on the road was always going to be tough for Washington, but with the Wildcats having to go to their backup quarterback, some thought that the Huskies had a chance. That was not the case as Washington got blown out, 44-14, in a game that was never close. Jake Locker was okay, hitting on 17 of 29 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown without an interception, but as has been proven all along, he needs to be sensational for UW to have a chance. Locker's running was limited by bruised ribs and while he should have made some improvement by Saturday, he'll need every weapon in his arsenal to beat Stanford. Last Week:6
8) Arizona St. Sun Devils, 3-4- Just when you think Arizona St. is taking steps forward they fail to show up. A win at Washington had the Sun Devils riding high and eying a bowl berth, but Cal took them to the woodshed in a 50-17 beat down that wasn't as close as the score indicated. Steven Threet again forgot what color his team was wearing before he left at halftime with an injury as he threw a pair of picks and no touchdowns, while nine penalties highlighted the continued lack of discipline on the part of the Sun Devils. A visit from Washington St. might get Arizona St. on track, but a rough finish to the season has their bowl hopes in doubt. Last Week: 7
9) UCLA Bruins, 3-4- At least UCLA didn't waste the country's time because most of it turned the game off before the end of the first quarter because it was clear the Bruins were never going to have a shot against Oregon. A 60-13 final scored proved the nation to be correct as UCLA was outplayed in every aspect of the game. Richard Brehaut's thoroughly average performance stood out as a highlight for the Bruins who will now have to take advantage of consecutive home games starting this week against Arizona if they want to make a bowl game. For that to happen, UCLA is going to need to show some more creativity and fire from entire coaching staff or the Bruins will spend December watching bowl game, not playing in them. Last Week: 9
10) Washington St. Cougars, 1-6- Once again Washington St. was never in a position to win their game, but they weren't blown out and continued to show improvement. On the road against powerful Stanford, Jeff Tuel threw a pair of interceptions, but still had a nice day in completing 21 of 28 passes for 298 and throwing for four touchdowns. In the game prior, Washington St.'s defense was solid when the offense struggled, but if they can get that offense and defense on the same page for a game, they might compete for a victory. That type of hope is something that Wazzu hasn't had in a few years and that win could come Saturday at Arizona St. Last Week: 10