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Blog Entry

What I Learned from the Pac-10 (Nov. 20)

Posted on: November 21, 2010 12:26 am
 
Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Only three games in the Pac-10 this week, but we still learned a few things:

1. Stanford deserves a BCS bowl berth. The Cardinal caught a break in catching Cal in the "horrific" week of their solid/horrific yo-yo-routine; after the Bears put together such an impressive performance against Oregon last week, the proper bet regarding their performance this week was the house, on collapse .

But that still shouldn't take anything away from the kind of dominance Jim Harbaugh 's team has shown the past few weeks. The Cardinal simply annihilated Cal from the opening gun, watching Andrew Luck hit 16-of-20 without an interception and even embarrassing a Bear defender on a long run just for kicks ... holding the Bears scoreless through the first three quarters ... scoring on their first eight possessions, every one Luck directed ... leading 45-0. It was the sort of display usually reserved for beatdowns of bottom-rung FCS teams, and it all came in "The Game," Cal's biggest rivalry game of the year, on the road in Berkeley.

Between this performance, the thumping of Arizona two weeks ago, and the 41-0 road whitewashing of Washington three weeks back, it's safe to rank Stanford alongside the likes of Auburn and Boise State as one of the hottest teams in the country and the hottest in the Pac-10 . Assuming they wrap up the season at 11-1, they'll deserve to have a shot at playing in one of the big-money BCS games rather than having to slink off the Holiday Bowl . That may or may not happen -- it'll be helpful if Auburn loses and opens up a slot in the BCS title game for a non-AQ team that will otherwise hog a spot in the Rose Bowl -- but there shouldn't be any "may or may not," not the way the Cardinal are playing.

2. Corvallis is USC's own personal house of horrors. You can't really argue that Oregon State 's Reser Stadium is a "tough place to play," not this year, not after the Beavers got trounced at home by Washington State last week. (Yes, that Washington State. Yes, that actually happened.) But apparently it doesn't matter how welcoming a host OSU might be for anyone else; they are always going to be at maximum hostility for USC .

In 2006, the Trojans were third-ranked and favored to return to the BCS title game for the third time in three years when they went to Corvallis; they turned the ball over four times and lost 33-31, snapping their 27-game Pac-10 winning streak. In 2008, USC had just defeated No. 5 Ohio State 35-3 and were the No. 1 team in the country; Jacquizz Rodgers exploded for 186 yards against one of the best defenses of college football's past decade and the Beavers won 27-21. Obviously the 2010 Trojans can't measure up to the '06 or '08 versions (who finished with a combined record of 23-2), but they had won three of their last four and beaten a good Arizona team on the road just last week. And, you know, Washington State.

No matter. Matt Barkley had his ankle bent into all kinds of incorrect directions ; Mitch Mustain went only 8-of-17 in relief; Rodgers went off for another 128 yards and a score; Beaver QB Ryan Katz recovered from a terrible week against Wazzu to hit 17-of-24 with two touchdowns and no picks; the Trojans lost the turnover battle 0-2 and only gained 255 total yards; and in the end, the Beavers crushed the Trojans 36-7 .

Corvallis: home sweet home to Wazzu, the worst place imaginable for the Trojans. Go figure.

3. UCLA's offense is ... well ... you know. We know the Bruins are struggling with quarterback issues and with a scheme conversion to the pistol that has been, to put it as politely as we possibly can, a work in progress.

But there's a point at which politeness isn't really appropriate anymore, and once you've scored zero points over the final three quarters and netted all of 163 yards (over 61 plays, an unbelievably terrible average gain of 2.67 yards per-play) against a team that entered the game ranked 109th in the FBS in total defense, that point has long since past. We've posted this portrait of UCLA's offense before, and after the stinkbomb the Bruins laid up in Seattle last Thursday, we feel we have no choice but to post it again:



It's a shame, because the Bruin defense -- which hounded Jake Locker into another "that guy is a first-rounder?!?" performance (10/21, 68 yards, 0 TD 1 INT) -- isn't great but is good enough to get UCLA to the postseason they desperately want . The offense, however, will be lucky to drag UCLA past their current four wins.  


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