I worry. Every week, I worry. Every week, I can see how we would lose. What's amazing is that I have not been able to watch an entire game live this whole year. I've seen half of games live. The rest are viewed in several sessions of DVR replay. I don't really get to see the whole flow of a game, not even in those 60 minute replays on the Pac-12 network. So perhaps that is why I worry. The only time I did not worry was before playing New Mexico State...and even then, I worried about the team looking good enough (the eye test is always in the back of my mind). I love that these Bruins just find a way to win. I am pleased with our team's record, but know that it could have been even better, and am not yet satisfied for the year. So I will continue to worry, probably a lot for the next 10 days.
Player of the Week: Myles Jack, UCLA - 4 TDs for our freshman wonder. Keep on truckin', Myles.
Stat of the Week: 14 - That was Colorado's Pac-12 losing streak before beating Cal.
Game of the Week: ASU @ UCLA, 4:00pm PST, FOX - ASU can claim the division title with a win, while UCLA needs to win to stay alive. Two ranked teams. Huge game.
1. Oregon (9-1, 6-1): I don't think any Oregon fans will ever waste paper or pee on a tree again. Kept alive by the grace of a Stanford loss, the Ducks handled the Utah defense for a comfortable 44-21 victory to take control of the North. Mariota was his efficient self, throwing for 288 yards and 3 TDs. The Black Mamba however hardly saw any action (4 carries for 11 yards), so he may still be suffering from the lingering effects of his injury...or teams have figured out how to slow down the Ducks' rushing attack. Oregon needs to stay focused as it travels to Arizona.
2. Stanford (8-2, 6-2): thanks a lot, Furd. If you were going to lose to a team from the South that's in Los Angeles, did it have to be Southern Cal? Talk about laying an egg. Kevin Hogan has regressed significantly from last year, saving his best game for the Pac-12 championship against UCLA. And David Shaw's conservative coaching probably has NFL owners drooling. Once again the defense certainly played well enough to win, allowing only 24 net rushing yards. But the offense could not save the day on its last drive and had 3 turnovers. Now the trees only have a way outside shot at a BCS game, unless Oregon loses one of its next two games. The Big Game is coming up next and it should be a Big Joke unless Stanford has lost its will. Luckily they host Cal at home.
3 (tie). UCLA (8-2, 5-2): if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I tell you what might be broke, is anyone who stands in the way of Myles Jack and the end zone. The Bruin defense allowed the team to start on a great note, giving the offense great field position after a couple of turnovers. The game got close but UCLA pulled it out in the end and would have won much more comfortably had it not been for turnovers. Is this the new identity of the team or a temporary patch because of a decimated running back group? Who cares?! Let's enjoy the ride and...not worry! Well, do as I say, not as I do. The biggest game of the year is coming up, and it should lead to another yet bigger game the following week. The team will be fired up to take on ASU at home. Let's fill that Rose Bowl and have it rocking!
3 (tie). Southern Cal (8-3, 5-2): O-GUR, O-GUR, O-GUR. WOOOOO!!!! YEAH! LET'S BREAK SOME LEGS!!! So the Trogans finally have the win they can hang their hat on to say they're back. Ethical Pat was probably loving it, seeing students rush the field...or was he? Oh, now he has to consider Orgeron for the full time job...and hope not to get sued by those injured. I'm sure Trogan traditionalists were thrilled to see their fans rush the field. Speaking of rush, the team didn't do much of it, yet they still managed to win behind some big completions by Cody Kessler, a defense that forced 3 turnovers and a big 47yd field goal by Heidari. The scheduling folks of course did the Trojies another favor, having them play Colorado this week before the big rivalry game. I so dearly hope that they overlook the Buffs.
5. Arizona State (8-2, 6-1): the Sun Devils were off this week, though the players were certainly not taking a break from twitter and were yapping away about this week's big game against UCLA in the Rose Bowl. You never know though, Todd Graham might take another job between now and then.
6. Washington (6-4, 3-4): Another year, another disappointment for Huskies fans. Well it came at the hands of our Bruins and freshman phenom Myles Jack, so we cannot feel too sorry for them. It was a shame though, as Keith Price could not play in the second half after being beaten down by the UCLA defense. That certainly did not help matters, though his replacement quickly threw a TD to bring the game within 3 points. That was as close as the Huskies got though, as it was followed by two interceptions. It is not clear exactly what facet of the game is missing for the Huskies, who have talent spread out throughout the roster...so perhaps it points to coaches who seem to have underachieved the last couple of years. Let's see how they finish out the season, first against the Beavers then in the Apple Cup.
7. Oregon State (6-4, 4-3): the Beavers had a bye and get a chance to regroup after three straight losses before a home game against Washington.
8. Washington State (5-5, 3-4): could this game be the turning point for Mike Leach in his efforts to revive this program? Wazzu took advantage of Arizona's miscues and stole a conference game in the fourth quarter behind Connor Halliday's arm (of course). The Cougs didn't really do any one thing particularly well, except on their last TD drive of 80 yards. That was a character-building drive, and the players rightfully celebrated wildly when Arizona missed its last chance (literally by a step). Now Wazzu only needs one more win to become the 9th bowl eligible team in the Pac-12. They have a great chance playing at home against a reeling Utah team. And don't look now, but winning the Apple Cup would mean a winning conference record...and finishing ahead of their hyped rival.
9 (tie). Arizona (6-4, 3-4): the Wildcats lost their second game in a row at home, this time to Wazzu, allowing the Cougars to go 80 yards in the fourth quarter for the go-ahead touchdown. Sadly, this game was lost by their special teams, which was responsible for two missed field goals and a botched punt that eventually resulted in a TD for the Cougars. Now Arizona is left to merely try to improve its bowl game position. Unfortunately, their next visitor on their homestand is Oregon, and the rivalry game against ASU will follow.
9 (tie). Utah (4-6, 1-6): losing so many close games cannot be good for morale. The Utes still fought well against Oregon and did a good job of limiting their rushing attack, but in the end they were no match either. It has been a rough go for the Utes in the Pac-12, despite being annually picked to compete for the South division. It is certainly not for lack of good coaching, but probably some bad luck. QB Travis Wilson was playing quite well before some illness and injuries, and their defense has been pretty consistent all year. It is not all over for the Utes, who could still earn a bowl berth by winning their next two games. It begins at Wazzu this week before finishing things off at home against Colorado.
11. Colorado (4-6, 1-6): 14 straight losses in the Pac-12. The cure for that? Cal. Colorado dominated the Bears in all facets of the game, with QB Sefo Liufau putting up 364 yards and 3 TDs. It was a thorough beatdown, despite allowing two Cal TDs in garbage time. Perhaps this was Coach MacIntyre's way of rubbing it in the face of Cal AD Sandy Barbour, who interviewed MacIntyre but passed him over. Technically, the Buffs could still become bowl eligible, though it is a tall task. They would have to first get by Southern Cal who visits this week after their big win. It would be great if the Buffs could catch them napping.
12. Cal (1-10, 0-8): the Golden Bears aren't just the worst team in the conference, they are the worst team by 17 points. What modicum of pride was left was wiped away by a pathetic performance against Colorado. Is Cal about to enter its darkest period yet? Oh brother Tedford where art thou? You have to think that the team can only be better next year. And I bet it can't come fast enough, but first there is the matter of the Big Game. So far this season, Cal had its lowest point total (10 points) against UCLA. Hopefully, Stanford doesn't ruin that.
It's that time of the year, folks. UCLA in the thick of the race, every game a huge game. When the going gets tough, the Bruins get going!