For the first time ever, there are 6 conference games. No byes, no non-conference games, and no games on odd days. Just Saturday afternoon and evening Pac-12 football spread across 5 states. As Halloween approaches, the Bay Area invades LA (for the first time ever *), the first day game of the year in the dessert is on tap, and there is only one game that isn't inter-divisional.
* Stanford and California have never both played the LA schools in LA on the same day before. The Pac-12 schedule just continues to make history.
Washington St. (3-4, 1-3) at #7 Oregon (6-1, 4-0) at Noon on ROOT Sports and FSN.
The Cougars expect Jeff Tuel, who missed the second half of Washington St.'s 44-21 loss to Oregon St. with a bruised shoulder, to return and revitalize their passing attack. Tuel completed 11 of 13 passes, and had Washington St. in a tie with the Beavers until Oregon St. ran off 10 points just before halftime. Marshall Lobestael only completed half of his passes in the second half in relief of Tuel, and Oregon St, pulled away.
Oregon may rest quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James for at least part of another game, since their absence didn't slow the Ducks down in their 45-2 rout of Colorado in Boulder. Bryan Bennett threw for 2 first quarter scores, and Kenjon Barner ran for 2, as Oregon opened a 29-0 first quarter lead, and never looked back. The win made the Ducks the second Pac-12 team to qualify for a bowl game, and the Buffs the first conference team eliminated from the post season this year on the basis of losses.
Oregon St.'s win was the 25th. loss by 20 or more points in Cougar coach Paul Wulff's career. The story of this game may be determining at what point the Ducks make the margin of victory 20 points for the 26th. time.
The Buffs' list of missing or hampered players may be longer than the list of those that aren't, and that had a lot to do with being out-gained 527 yards to 231 against Oregon. The Sun Devils had the week off to regroup after their 41-27 loss to the Ducks.
The results from the last two Oregon games reveals that neither Arizona St. not Colorado are close to being at Oregon's level, but the Sun Devils are a lot closer than the Buffs, at least the ones that healthy, are.
The Beavers picked up their second win in their last 3 games in Seattle, and suddenly that's a much more important stat than the 10 losses Oregon St. had suffered in 13 games before taking out their frustrations on the Cougars. A second consecutive road win would equal the best stretch the Beavers have had in almost 2 years.
The Utes fell behind 34-0 before California called off there sturdiest Bears, and suffered a 34-10 defeat, their fourth Pac-12 loss by a multiple scores. Utah fans hope a "Blackout" will infuse their team with enough energy to light up the night, and turn their season around.
The Golden Bears only allowed Utah 13 rushing yards, bad news for the Bruins, who rely on their running game to have a chance to compete. UCLA got only 37 rushing yards in their 48-12 loss at Arizona, and another similar performance against California may make it impossible for Bruin coach Rick Neuheisel, and maybe even Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, to survive the season. An incredible thought, considering that UCLA still technically controls their own destiny as far as reaching the Rose Bowl for other than a regularly scheduled home game!
Cal's win over Utah snapped a 3 game losing streak, and a win over UCLA would move the Bears within one win of qualifying for a bowl game before the beginning of November. And cool down Jeff Tedford's seat as much as it would melt Neuheisel's.
ESPN Gameday is also coming to the LA Coliseum for the game of the day in the Pac-12.
The Cardinal trampled Washington for 446 of their 615 yards, and 5 of their 8 touchdowns, on the ground in their 65-21 win. And they have Andrew Luck, the top NFL quarterback prospect as well. Luck has completed 72% of his passes, and has a quarterback rating of 180.0. Stanford has not only the nation's longest winning streak, 15 games, but also a streak of 10 straight wins by 27 or more points, the first time that's been done since the advent of the"bowl era", and the "modern" era of college football rules and scheduling following the Great Depression in the 1930's.
The Trojans made a statement of sorts as well with their 31-17 win at Notre Dame, which avenged a temporary interruption of USC's recent dominance of the Irish, which had reached 8 straight wins before an upset by Notre Dame last year. The statement was about balance, something the Trojans have been striving for more than they have accomplished, as USC ran for 219 yards, 118 by Curtis McNeal, and Matt Barkley threw for 224 yards (and 3 touchdowns), 119 (and 2 of the scores) to Robert Woods. The defense also came up with not just a goal line stand, but also a defensive score as a result of the fumble they forced protecting that goal line, and a 7 point lead.
The 'Cats got their first win against an FBS opponent since the last time they played UCLA, 11 games, and almost a calendar year, ago, as Nick Foles threw for 291 yards and 3 scores in the rout of the Bruins. Arizona also got 3 touchdowns on the ground, and a win for interim coach Tim Kish in his first game as a head coach. The Wildcat defense, defenseless much of the season, also rose up, forcing 4 UCLA turnovers.
Another dangerous offense isn't what the Huskies, of at least their defense, is looking for, particularly with Oregon and USC also just over the horizon. Washington will need yet another solid offensive performance from Chris Polk, who ran for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns against Stanford, though both scores and 107 of those yards came on just 2 of his 15 carries, and also another good game from Keith Price, who threw for 247 yards and a touchdown over the Trees, in order to be sure they can score enough to avoid a repeat of their 44-14 loss last season to the 'Cats, a game Arizona rolled up 467 yards in, 233 throwing and 234 rushing (114 by Keola Antolin), without the services of an injured Foles.
Here's the complete National Schedule, unadjusted for us west coast unbiased football fans.
The regional networks pick up the bulk of the coverage again, while ABC again ignores the conference during the early afternoon time slot, though they are showing up for the game of the day, involving, of course, USC. And the much ballyhooed deal with FX for more coverage, and national exposure, continues to be almost a non-event.