What did we learn this week?
Oregon's offense isn't unstoppable: Did California provide a map for at least slowing down the Oregon offense? The Bears didn't do anything fancy. They mostly just played man coverage, used seven guys in the box to stop the run and the defensive line played downhill, driving to penetrate, making it hard for Oregon's spread-option to move laterally in the backfield. Or was it just a bad day for the Ducks? In any event, the performance by the Bears showed that -- as good as the Ducks are -- Oregon's offense isn't a supernatural force.
There is hope for Washington State: The Cougars have been more competitive this year, yes, but a lot of the praise in that respect felt like a pat on the head. But winning big at Oregon State is much different. That's something that can be a linchpin of a transformation. Bottom line: For the first time in 16 Pac-10 games, the Cougs were smiling when the clock struck zero.
Lane Kiffin might be a good coach: There is evidence that, perhaps, Kiffin advanced more quickly through the coaching ranks than he deserved. There is evidence that Kiffin sometimes says things he will regret, or that qualify as trash talking. But, please, show me some evidence that he can't coach. And, as a counter to the lame evidence Kiffin's critics produce, consider the Trojans' win at Arizona. And how the Trojans are a better team today than they were a year ago, when they were deeper and more talented.
Stanford's defense has turned the corner: Stanford used to be seen as soft on defense. It stopped being that under Jim Harbaugh, but then it was slow. Now? Stanford looks pretty darn good. A week after holding Arizona to just 17 points, the Cardinal held Arizona State to 12 first downs and 268 total yards. When you look at one-loss teams, who looks better than Stanford? The answer: No one.
Oregon State? Heck if I know: The Beavers were projected as the No. 3 team in the Pac-10 during the preseason. Perhaps that was respect for the program. And just two weeks ago, the Beavers were still in control of their Rose Bowl fate. But now, after their third loss in four games, they look like a long shot to earn bowl eligibility. Oh, and they now are the trivia answer to: Who did Washington State beat to end a 16-game Pac-10 losing streak? Where the Beavers are is not where anyone expected them to be.