Another Apple Cup is over and Washington has ended its two game skid against the worst team the conference has seen in over thirty years. That comment puts Saturday's 30-0 win into the correct context. Washington has a long way to go to get back to being competitive in the upper division of the Pac 10 conference. This week they get another shot to see what they do when California visits to cap off the season.
The Bears have been a surprise in the second half of the year because after losing to Oregon and USC on consecutive weekends earlier in the season everyone expected them to fold and they didn't. Teford and his team have responded well losing only to Oregon State since then.
For Washington to beat California they need to shut down the Bear running game and put the game on the shoulders of the Cal QB Kevin Riley. That has been the formula all year in stopping this team. Offensively the Huskies will have the opportunity to score some points against a Cal defense which is young but is improving. Jake needs to step it up another notch in directing the passing game for the upset to happen.
The Huskies come into this one as six point underdogs in what may be Jake Locker's last appearance in Husky Stadium. Make no doubt about the storyline this week. It is all about whether Jake will stay another season at Washington or opt to enter the NFL draft. We all know he isn't ready to start for an NFL team but we also knowit will be hard for him to turn down top ten draft choice money.
I think an NFL team would be crazy to pick Jake high in the first round. You expect to get some serious productivity out of that high of a pick not a project that will be holding a clip board on the sidelines for a year or two. Use the WSU game as an example. Jake had one of his better games of the season but despite good protection he still was plauged by happy feet and poor mechanics.
I really think Jake could use another year at Washington learning how to be a pro set QB. There is no substitute for playing in actual games compared to watching from the sideline. The money will still be there if he stays healthy and there will actually be more money in the draft and down the road if he stays one more year.
Ronnie Fouch would be first in line if Jake leaves and while he has improved under Sark and Nuss he still and will always lack the arm strength to be a top fight QB. Keith Price has drawn raves at times but he has a lot to do mechanically before anyone will take him seriously in this league. Nick Montana is the true QB of the future but he needs another year to grow and get stronger. Even a talent like Matt Barkley struggled as a true frosh behind a very competent offensive line.
Having Jake come back for one more year would be a blessing for both the player and program.
This is the time of year that heads start rolling for college football coaches across the country. The first to officially go are Virginia's Al Groh and Louisville's Steve Kragthorpe. Kansas head man Mark Mangino, Marylands Ralph Friedgren, and the legendary Bobby Bowden of Florida will officially learn their fates on Monday. Bowden would like one more year at Florida State but it is unlikely he will get it with Jimbo Fisher waiting in the wings to take over.
Next to face the executioner will be Notre Dame's Charlie Weis who reportedly cleaned out his office before heading out to Palo Alto to lose to Stanford. Weis reportedly met with the schools power brokers last week in a bid to save his job for another year by offering to reshape his contract which still has millions of dollars remaining on it if the Irish fire him on Monday.
Reportedly Weis offered to go with a year to year contract for the rest of his tenure with a one year buyout in exchange for gettting on last chance. Since he cleaned out his office it is doubtful that Notre Dame was interested in the chance to save some bucks. When you have your won national television contract with NBC you can make decisions like that without blinking.
Dan Hawkins on the other hand earned another year at Colorado by simply being too expensive to fire. The Buffs would have to pay $3.1 million just to buy out his contract plus come up with the considerable coinage it takes to hire a succesor. Oregon AD Mike Bellotti was rumored to be in line for the job if Hawkins received the axe. Expect Belotti to be a hot name in coaching circles whenever a big vacancy comes up over the next couple of years.
Rich Rodriguez who is under fire at Michigan is another guy who falls under the label of being too expensive to fire after only two seasons on the job. The installation of the spread at Michigan has been a failure so far and the NCAA is sniffing around after allegations of practice time limit improprieties. Rodriguez has an 8-16 record at Ann Arbor so if a Les Miles made it known he was interested you could see some movement in that direction.
Another guy who is too expensive to fire is Washington State's Paul Wulff who only makes $650,000 per year. Wulff has only won three games in two years and Saturday's 30-0 loss to Washington shows how far that program has to go to become competitive again. Everyone knows that Wulff is not the right guy for the job but WSU will wait till next year so they don't have to pay two coaches at the same time.
The answer at WSU may be only 15 miles to the East in the form of former WSU DC Robb Akey who has completed the impossible task of making the 7-5 Vandals competitive again wouldn't even have to put his house up for sale if he was to accept the position.
Around the Pac 10
USC 28 UCLA 7
USC piles it on a bit throwing a long touchdown pass and then celebrating it with some shamless taunting that brought the Bruins onto the field on the verge of a brawl. That was pretty much the only excitement in this one as both teams struggled on offense all day. Matt Barkley threw for 206 yards and a touchdown to lead the Trojans.
Stanford 45 Notre Dame 38
Toby Gerhart ran for 205 yards and three scores, threw an 18-yard touchdown pass and scored the game-winning touchdown with 59 seconds left to help Stanford hand Weis and the Fighting Irish a fourth straight loss to end the regular season, 45-38 Saturday night.
Arizona 20 Arizona State 17
Arizona won after ASU's Kyle Williams who had caught the tying TD pass minutes earlier muffed a punt to give the Wildcats the ball at the Sun Devils 22-yard line. Alex Zendejas kicked a 32-yard field goal as time expired.
Pac 10 Power Ratings
1. Oregon...A win on Thursday night sends the Ducks to Pasadena to play Ohio State.
2. Oregon State...The Beavers haven't been to the Rose Bowl since 1964. They can change that on Thursday.
3. California...The Bears finish the season in Seattle and have to be on guard for a cold weather let down.
4. Stanford...Gerhart has my vote for the Heisman.
5. Southern Cal...Not a great year for the Trojans who have one left against Arizona.
6. Arizona...Miracle finish against ASU gives Wildcats some momentum in time for USC.
7. Washington...From 0-12 to 4-7 with a chance for one more win. Not bad but could have been so much better if late lapses against ND, ASU, and UCLA had not happened.
8. UCLA...Rick has a lot of work to do to make that offense competitive. Count on him to respond with another top notch recruiting class.
9. Arizona State...Dennis Erickson doesn't look good. His team isn't winning and he suddenly looks very tired and old onthe sidelines.
10. Washington State...How many actual Pac 10 players do the Cougs have on the roster?
Pac 10 Player of the Week
Toby Gerhart of Stanford picked up 205 yards and three TD's against the Irish.
Husky Player of the Week
Jake Locker was responsible for nearly 300 yars of total offense against the Cougars.
Pac 10 Quote of the Week
"You're either competing or you're not," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "We've been saying it for years. We've been living it for years. If you really believe in competing, if you really do, you'll understand it."
Husky Quote of the Week
"We changed the blocking schemes," Chris Polk said. "And we ran some different plays. We ran more power and ran more straight at them instead of just trying to run around them."