Can’t all fall weekends be like this? UCLA wins, Southern Cal loses…even my Dolphins won. Delicious! Suddenly, the birds are chirping, my coffee tastes good and I’m ready to take on the week! With the out of conference slate now mostly over, things have been quite interesting. We all know that the transitive property doesn’t really apply to sports, it’s too hard to make sense of the chaos. But now, the conference games will begin for most teams, and we’ll get a much better idea of what they’re all about.
Player of the Week: Stepfan Taylor, Stanford – the heartbreaker, the dreammaker…Taylor rushed for 153 yards, and a TD, and had 5 receptions for 60 yards and another TD, to shut the Trogans up for good. I kind of like this tradition.
Stat of the Week: 26 – That’s how many net yards Southern Cal had against Stanford (68 yards rushing, 42 yards lost to 4 sacks). Looks like the Stanford D has not lost a step.
Game of the Week: Arizona at Oregon, 7:30 pm PT, ESPN – amazingly, there will be two battles of the unbeaten in the conference this week. Although we have more interest in UCLA’s matchup with Oregon State, this game stands out as a clash of two ranked teams, and we get to figure out if Arizona is for real and if the Oregon defense can keep up. Take cover, a shootout is coming!
Let's get to the goods after the jump.
1. Oregon (3-0): Tennessee Tech? C’mon, man. That’s just ridiculous. The Ducks had the most pathetic out of conference schedule in the conference, and should be dropped out of consideration for the top 10 for that reason alone. If that wasn’t enough, all those games were at home (and the Ducks have 7 home games this year too). Yes, they still look very good. But this might now come back to bite them in the ass, facing a surprisingly dangerous Arizona team…at home again.
2. Stanford (3-0): Is the tree blooming again? A great win at home, for its 4th consecutive one against the Trogans, who came in with all the hype and left with all the whine. It didn’t look like Stanford could pull it off, but they stuffed the Southern Cal running game and terrorized Matt Barkley to the tune of 4 sacks, while Stepfan Taylor looked like a Heisman candidate. Now Stanford gets the week off until its Thursday night matchup at Washington, which could be a trap game.
3. Oregon State (1-0): the Beavers had the week off. The last time they had a week off, they beat Wisconsin, which even though is not the Badgers team of the last few years, is still good. Then again, they almost lost to Utah State, had it not been for a missed FG at the end of the game. But Utah State beat Utah, who just beat BYU…so…aaargh, my head hurts! Bottom line: when OSU travels to UCLA this week, they have a chance to start their season by knocking off two ranked teams. Let’s hope our boys are ready, because the young Beavers look hungry.
4. Washington (2-1): I guess after traveling to play LSU, you should get a bit of a break…but that doesn’t mean you should schedule a FCS team like Portland State. I will keep criticizing and mocking those who do that. I mean come on, it was 45-0 at halftime. Apparently, it wasn’t even pretty, with Sark blowing a fuse before halftime because of sloppy play, complete with a visor spike. And now the Huskies get the week off to prepare for the showdown at home against Stanford on a Thursday night. Beware the visor!
5. Cal (1-2): I have no idea what to make of Cal’s game against Ohio State. They didn’t look that good, but they were playing in Columbus, always a tough environment. They missed 3 FGs and had a TD called back because of a controversial penalty, and pretty much dominated the second half. They had a great chance but they couldn’t pull it off. The Buckeyes hardly looked impressive, except in finding a way to win (72yd TD followed by an interception to close out the game, in the last 3 minutes). Still, this could be a big building block for Tedford who had the right game plan. Hopefully they bring their A game when they travel to play Southern Cal this week, for a nice NorCal sweep.
6. Washington State (2-1): Amazingly, it appears Mike Leach has himself two starting QBs. With Jeff Tuel out because of injury, Connor Halliday threw for 4 TDs in the first half (and he now has thrown 13 career TD passes for his first six games, which is four more than former NFL star Drew Bledsoe, who threw nine touchdowns in the first six games of his Cougars' career). UNLV may be a bad team (8 straight losses since last year), but winning an away game is always good. And this week, Colorado comes for a visit, so the Cougars have a chance to start their season at 3-1. If only they hadn’t played FCS school Eastern Washington, they might have had a shot at a bowl…
1 (tie). UCLA (3-0): our Bruins barely eked out the top spot for the poll, after a good win over Houston at home. UCLA was not without mistakes, pretty much all of which were on the offensive side of the ball. The defense was rock solid, with only the backups allowing 6 points to the visitors. These late games challenge the focus of a team, especially when the opponent is not that good, the game is not widely televised, and the stadium is not exactly rocking (though the Rose Bowl was ok that night). But JetSki had a solid game despite a defense that keyed in on him, and Hundley still threw for 320 yards to 11 (yes, 11) different receivers. May we always complain about 31-pt wins. Coach Mora and his team have passed many tests in their first 3 games. They get another big one when Oregon State visits the Rose Bowl this week.
1 (tie). Southern Cal (2-1): billboard, billboard, what do you see? I see a Heisman trophy getting away from me. The Trogans had no running game, and Matt Dorkley made enough mistakes to get run over by the drunk driving Lane Kiffin Greyhound Express...no one is safe! The hype was wrong, and the sanctions may be catching up to the Trogans who cannot afford injuries. The offense was supposed to carry this team, yet they didn’t score for the last 40 minutes of the game. This could end up being a nightmare season for the Trogans, who thought they were entitled to a national title game this year. Oops. Cal visits the Coliseum this week and could put the Trogans in an even deeper hole.
3. Arizona (3-0): RichRod’s Wildcats continue to look dangerous after a 56-0 spanking of an FCS school (the real SC State) in their third straight home game. But they still played a FCS school so they suck for that. Oh and you have to wonder about the fairness of the scheduling…Arizona gets EIGHT home games this year. WTF?! Otherwise…RichRod really got a gift with senior Matt Scott, who completed 30 of 36 passes for 288 yards and 3 TDs. The defense was also very good in this game, but again, not exactly top notch competition. That’s exactly what they’ll get this week when they travel to Oregon.
4. Arizona State (2-1): After looking impressive against a couple of rather bad opponents, ASU got its first big test of the season when it traveled to Missouri. The Sun Devils nearly passed their test but just could not put the nail in the Tigers’ coffin, who were playing without their starting QB. Up 24-7, Missouri let ASU back in the game after a botched punt at the end of the 3rd quarter. But the Sun Devils made mistakes and strange decisions (such as going for 2 after a TD that brought them to within 4), couldn’t convert a 1st and goal at the Missouri 8, and had an INT at the Missouri 21. ASU lost a big opportunity to start 3-0, and now they get a visit from Utah at home.
4. Utah (2-1): a bizarre ending to an otherwise boring game has the Utes breathing a sigh of relief. BYU had two chances to tie the game at the end of regulation, as Utah fans felt the need to rush the field (really?) and caused a penalty. But they missed both chances and Utah escaped with a win over its ranked rival after a lackluster performance by both teams. Pac-12 play begins for Utah with a visit to ASU.
6. Colorado (0-3): a grim beginning to the season took another dark turn, as the Buffaloes were eaten up in Fresno by the Bulldogs. Only 11 first downs, 278 total yards, 4 interceptions…and 69 points allowed. What on earth did Dan Hawkins do to this team?! They may hate Neuheisel in Boulder, but he didn’t crater the program. Jon Embree should obviously get some leeway…but time is running out. Hopefully the players are still buying in. A trip to the Pirate’s lair in the Paloose awaits the young Buffs.
A big weekend awaits the conference. Coach Mora should have our boys ready to make more noise after a nice tough week of practice.