I guess there were some football games this last weekend. Half the teams won. Not with a bang but a whimper, the last BN Power Poll for the 2014 Pac-12 football season. Ours did not. Ours did its annual rendition of Peanuts and we're all just a bunch of Charlie Browns. Maybe in a few months, we can reflect and look at this as a good season. UCLA won a lot of games after all. But right now, after not winning the one that counts, this season feels empty. As always, it's not about how many games you win, it's about which games you win. How many of you would trade that loss to Stanford with one to Memphis or Virginia, if it meant going to the championship game? No the Texas one is not available for trade because lil' Jerry deserves his moment. So here we sit, broken-hearted, tried to win, but got thwarted. It stings. Again.
Player of the Week: Nick Wilson, Arizona - Wilson ran for 178 yards and 3 TDs in Arizona's victory over ASU, which put them in the Pac-12 championship game
Stat of the Week: 0 - Number of points scored by Nel Mazzne's vaunted offense in the second half against Stanford.
Game of the Week: Arizona vs. Oregon, 6:00pm PST, FOX; Pac-12 championship. Not quite sure how I want this one to turn out.
1. Oregon (11-1, 8-1): After a brief period of shakiness that had the college football world thinking (hoping?) that the Ducks were finally on their way down, Oregon brushed off the uncertainty and is well on its way to another Pac-12 championship. The only thing standing between them and the championship and playoff is the very team that beat them earlier this season. Will the Ducks avenge that loss or does Arizona just have Oregon's number?
2. Arizona (9-2, 7-2): Playing at the same time as UCLA, Arizona was allegedly not aware of how good their chances of going to the championship were. Had they glimpsed at the first half score, they would have seen the needle turn to their favor quite a bit. I have a hard time imagining that no one on that sideline was aware of what was going on at the Rose Bowl. In any case it was a good piece of coaching by RichRod, keeping his team focused on the task at hand, something our coaching staff could learn from. Oh, and he got to the Pac-12 championship WITH A FRESHMAN QB AND A FRESHMAN RB. So the next time some moron brings up the youth excuse about UCLA, you can put them in their place. RichRod will likely be the Coach of the Year in the Pac-12. We will see if the Wildcats can make it 3 in a row against Oregon.
3 (tie). UCLA (9-3, 6-3): Mentally weak, soft, unfocused, unprepared and unimpressive. With everything on the line, the Bruins cowered and surrendered, either thinking too highly of themselves or too little. Leave it to our brilliant coaching staff to play Stanford exactly the same way as in the previous 3 losses. Horrid offensive playcalling, baffling defensive rotations and just a limp presence doomed UCLA in its biggest game of the year. Much soul searching to be done, mostly by our head coach who has to make some tough decisions regarding certain coordinators. Yes, a bowl game remains, but we have seen how well UCLA plays in bowl games after missing out on big ones. If you can't get the team motivated for Stanford, how do you hope to do so for some random bowl game? Good luck.
3 (tie). ASU (9-3, 6-3): the Sun Devils can commiserate with the Bruins, but at least they showed some fight in their last game. But their defense was about as good as UCLA's, allowing some long scoring plays to the Wildcats. The offense meanwhile continuously set up Arizona with a short field while unable to take advantage of its own positions. Strangely Graham replaced Kelly with Bercovici in the 3rd quarter, and he provided a spark and then an interception. Many mistakes and turnovers in a game that probably leaves ASU fans as stung as UCLA fans. A bowl game is next for ASU, then we'll see if Graham hangs around.
5. Stanford (7-5, 5-4): it was a strange year for the Cardinal. Likely done in by their coach's conservatism, they lost 3 games by a single field goal, games that they used to win in the past. Their running game was sputtering for some reason, having to rely more on Hogan which was not working out too well. But Stanford never forgot who they were and they reminded UCLA by pummeling them mercilessly. After giving up a quick TD, which lulled the Bruins to sleep, Stanford only allowed 3 points the rest of the way, leaving Mazzne baffled once the first thing he tried stopped working (hint: he doesn't have a second thing to try). It was Stanford's first victory over a ranked team and allowed them to keep a winning record in the conference. You can expect much of the same next year from Beefcake Central.
6. Southern Cal (8-4, 6-3): as Sarkisian usually does, his team beat up on a bad one to make themselves feel better. Sure, Kessler threw 6 TDs and the game was really a rout. But consider this: out of 12 games, Notre Dame had 8 home games. Not sure how you get away with that schedule, but I guess that's the benefit of being independent. Of their 4 away games, Notre Dame only won 1 against Navy. Sure, they got robbed a little bit against the Criminoles...and it seems their season just went up in flames after that, finishing 1-5. So it's a feel-good win for the Trogans but really not much to beat their chest about. A bowl game is next.
7. Utah (8-4, 5-4): despite an average second half of the season, it was a good turnaround for the Utes. They will likely finish ranked and will have a winning conference record. That last bit was only made possible by a fitting end to their last game against Colorado: a pick-6 while they were trailing. I still think that Kyle Wittingham is one of the best coaches in the conference and frankly he should be a dark horse candidate, if not a legitimate candidate, for the big job openings around the country. But maybe he just likes being at Utah, whose fans will be pretty excited to go bowling this year.
8. Washington (7-5, 4-5): it's always good to end the season on a blowout against your rival, and for that the Huskies fans I am sure are quite glad that Petersen is leading their team. But you can sense a bit of disappointment as well, as UW failed to take a step towards the higher echelon in the North, particularly with a loss to a struggling Stanford team. They were also 1-3 against the South but that division was loaded this year. It's pretty safe to say that Petersen will likely do better next year, but for now at least it gets to go bowling after winning the Apple Cup.
9. Oregon State (5-7, 2-7): An ugly end to an ugly season that likely will get Mike Riley on the hot seat next year, when some were thinking he could do no wrong. And while UCLA fans are grateful for the second chance he gave the team after beating ASU, that just may not be enough for the grumbling Beaver fans after a 7th straight loss to the Ducks in which they were never competitive. Either Mike riley has lost his touch, or he needs to refresh his staff to reinvigorate his program, which will stay home this bowl season.
10. Cal (5-7, 3-6): the Bears started the season 4-1 and had everyone thinking that a bowl game was as inevitable as a hippie in Berkeley. Then they finished 1-6, capped by a loss at home to BYU. I so wish they had won that sixth game...against Arizona. But it was not meant to be. There was certainly improvement after a 1-win campaign that essentially pegged them as one of if not the worst team in FBS. But Sonny Dykes has to make some waves next year to appease the Bear faithful. An average defense would be a good start.
11. Washington State (3-9, 2-7): after appearing to be the savior of Pullman, Mike Leach has not quite hit his stride. The team regressed to its 2012 record of 3-9 despite going to a bowl game last season. Even the injury to Connor Halliday cannot explain away the poor performance. A terrible defense on the other hand can very much explain it. The Cougars were 118th in points allowed, and were also 128th in rushing yards, so pretty much the worst combination possible for a football team. We get that Leach is all about letting it fly, but to take it to such an absurd level will not allow him to compete in the Pac-12. Leach took the first steps after firing the DC and the LB coach, so we will see if that pays dividends next year.
12. Colorado (2-10, 0-9): I can't remember a team being this unlucky in a season. Colorado lost two games in double overtime and while other scores in losses were not as close, the games actually were but the Buffs just didn't get the right bounces. Leading by 3 and driving with 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter, Liufau threw a regrettable pick-6 and could not take the lead back from Utah. As they have in nearly every game this season, the Buffs fought the whole game but just could not pull it off in the end. Next year is a big one for Coach MacIntyre. As if the South needed yet another competitive team.
That concludes this season's Power Polls. I hope you enjoyed them despite the final result, though this is becoming all too commonplace with our Bruins. A big shoutout still to the Seniors and we hope they go out in style with a big win in a decent bowl game.