The bye weekend always gives you a chance to look at other conference teams a little closer. What we saw this weekend was more balance than I expected and a stunner in Eugene which paves the way for a new league champion this season.
Just about everyone picked USC beacuse of their defense to win a very close game with Oregon on the road. History was on the Trojans side. They tend to take care of business and be almost unbeatable this time of year. The experts were wrong and the Oregon offense rolled for 613 yards of total offense and a 47-20 thrashing of the #5 Trojans who fell to 6-2 on the season. That loss effectively eliminates USC from championship contention because the Ducks would have to lose three of their final four conference games for USC to pass them up.
When the season started we all thought the wheels were about to fall off in Eugene after a disasterous loss to Boise State which cost the Ducks their potential All- American running back. After stumbling for a couple of weeks and pulling out last second wins against Purdue and Utah the Ducks have been on fire. Nobody has been able to figure out how to stop their offense when Jeremiah Masoli is at the reigns.
Chip Kelly did a great job facing the challenges of holding this team together early in the season. The key to this team in comparison to Duck teams of the recent past is these guys can play defense. Special teams have also been a source of pride for this squad. The Ducks are playing as well as any team in the country right now. Chances are very good they won't lose another game.
Next up UCLA
With most of the conference now playing for second place the Huskies travel to Pasadena this week with hopes of keeping their bowl hopes alive. Washington has a 15 game losing streak on the road and until the team breaks that horrible streak they will be pretenders not contenders.
UCLA is the perfect place to get that all turned around. The Bruins have struggled on offense all season and are enduring a five game losing streak of their own. A defense which was supposed to carry them past the offensive struggles has had problems of their own.
This is a very winnable game for Washington. The Huskies need to win three of the next four to even their schedule and become bowl eligible. Coming off a bye week the Huskies should be a lot fresher than the Bruins. With two on the road and two to finish the season at home this is must win if the Huskies are going to accomplish that goal.
Around the Pac 10
Oregon 47 USC 20
Jeremiah Masoli threw for 222 yards and a touchdown and ran for 164 more yards with another score and the 10th-ranked Ducks trampled Southern California (No. 5 BCS, No. 4 AP) 47-20 Saturday night, the Trojans' worst loss since 1997. Redshirt freshman LaMichael James ran for 183 yards and a score as the Ducks (7-1, 5-0 Pac-10) racked up 391 yards on the ground against the Trojans, who came into the game with the fifth-best rush defense in the nation (79.9 yards a game).
California 23 Arizona State 21
Giorgio Tavecchio kicked a 24-yard field goal with 21 seconds left, and California (No. 24 BCS) rallied for a sloppy 23-21 victory over Arizona State on Saturday afternoon.Tavecchio's kick capped an 11-play, 74-yard drive that began at Cal's 19 with 3:16 to go. Golden Bears quarterback Kevin Riley was 5-of-6 on that march, and he finished with 351 passing yards and two touchdowns. The Golden Bears (6-2, 3-2 Pac-10) have won three straight.
Oregon State 26 UCLA 19
Jacquizz Rodgers had 112 yards rushing, 96 yards receiving and a touchdown pass, his brother James Rodgers ran for the winning score, and Oregon State had to scramble for a 26-19 win over UCLA on Saturday. UCLA tied the game at 19 after Prince threw for two touchdowns and two two-point conversions, but the Beavers marched down the field for a 70-yard drive that James Rodgers capped with a 17-yard run on a fly sweep for the go-ahead touchdown. That left Prince and the Bruins with 44 seconds and only one timeout to make a final drive, but time ran out after a completion to Taylor Embree at the Beaver 27. Sean Canfield was 25-of-34 for 305 yards for the Beavers (5-3, 3-2), who beat the Bruins at in Corvallis for the first time since 1999.
Notre Dame 40 Washington State 14
Jimmy Clausen threw two touchdowns, including a desperation heave that Golden Tate spectacularly pulled down to end the first half, and Notre Dame clobbered Washington State 40-14 on Saturday night. The Irish who beat Washington earlier this season have now proven to be the best team in Washington State. Perhaps we should just ship them the Apple Cup Trophy? The first half ended and the Irish were up 30-7 after three TDs in the second quarter...ouch!
Pac Ten Power Ratings
1. Oregon...The Ducks have the championship about wrapped up but keep in mind they still have four more conference games to get through. Pac 10 champions are made in November. Up next is a tough contest with Stanford on the road in Palo Alto.
2. USC...The Trojans hold on the Pac 10 championship trophy is pretty much over. There is still quite a bit to play for and up next is ASU in Tempe. If two loss teams are considered for BCS games the Trojans are always a big draw. Don't expect them to drop too much in the polls.
3. Arizona...The Wildcats are still in the race with only one conference loss so far this season. This coming weekend they get to beat the crap out of Washington State.
4. Oregon State...The Beavers weren't that impressive against a struggling UCLA squad. Once again the defense was suspect and almost let the Bruins get close enough to pull it out. This week the stakes are a lot higher since they hit the road to play a Golde Bear team that has won three in a row.
5. California...The Bears were even less impressive than the Beavers in squeeking out a last second win on the road against ASU.
6. Stanford...The Cards had the week off which is always a good thing at this point of the year. The bad thing is they get the Ducks at home. On paper these two teams match up pretty well so expect a closer game especially if Stanford can control the clock with their running game and Oregon has a USc hangover.
7. Washington...The Huskies need to win three of their last four to become bowl eligible. They head to Pasadena to take on a team that has lost five in a row and is in the same position.
8. Arizona State...The Devil defense put together a close but no cigar finish against Cal. This week they get to host some very angry Trojans at home.
9. UCLA...Rick returned to Seattle last season and picked up a W against a crippled Washington football team. His after the game antics were kind of pathetic considering the circumstances. This week Sark returns to his roots in LA trying to get his second win in his first season against the LA schools. Win this one and UW is back in the bowl picture and even more importantly it will make an impact in recruiting.
10. Washington State...WSU picked up $1.5 million of needed cash by playing Notre Dame at a neutral site. You have to wonder why then ND AD picked the Coug's and not a team from Texas for this one. Next loss is on the road in Tucson this coming weekend.
Pac 10 Offensive Player of the Week
QB Jeremiah Masoli of Oregon who threw for 222 yards and ran for another 164 in the victory over USC.
Pac 10 Defensive Player of the Week
The entire Oregon defense for shutting 327 total yards and only 20 points.
Quote of the Week
TJ Simmers of the LA Times:
The Bruins still stink and remain a disgrace, a big-time school with a small-time football program. They are winless in the Pacific 10 Conference like Washington State, losers of five straight games and if you're starting to count moral victories, then why did they ever get rid of Karl Dorrell?