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Sunday, November 22, 2009
What we learned in the Pac-10: Week 12

By Ted Miller

What did we learn from Week 12 of Pac-10 action?

1. It all comes down to the Civil War: After a frenzy of a race, the smoke has cleared and two teams are still standing: The Ducks and Beavers, who will do battle on Dec. 3 in the biggest Civil War in state of Oregon history. The winner in Autzen Stadium goes to the Rose Bowl. The loser must watch its rival celebrate with a rose between its teeth. Both teams are off this weekend, so there will be plenty of time to get healthy and prepare. And think.

2. It all comes down to the Civil War, part 2: Who's the first-team All-Pac-10 quarterback? Oregon State's Sean Canfield entered the weekend as the frontrunner and he played fairly well at Washington State with two touchdown passes, which gives him 19 for the year. But Oregon's Jeremiah Masoli made a statement with six touchdowns -- three running, three passing -- at Arizona. Masoli doesn't have the passing numbers Canfield has, but he has 12 rushing TDs to go along with 14 TD passes. That's a lot of production. The quarterback who comes out on top in the Civil War might be the one who comes out on top for postseason honors.

3. It ain't easy being the Pac-10's hot team: Stanford is the latest "hot" conference team to face-plant. It did so against California, which knows all about it. Oregon started things off with a terrible performance at Boise State after an appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated and a loss at Stanford following its big win over USC. Remember when road warrior USC was reloading, not rebuilding? Arizona was nationally ranked until it fell at Cal two weeks ago. The only contender that hasn't been the flavor of the week is Oregon State, which might become the "it" team at exactly the right time: The final weekend of the season.

4. The Rose Bowl is easy, the rest of the pecking order is hard: Consider the Pac-10 standings. Sure, things have cleared up at the top, but the rest is a muddle. Four teams -- Arizona, California, Stanford and USC -- have three conference losses, and an Oregon State loss in the Civil War would be the Beavers' third. Stanford is done with its conference schedule. Arizona and USC have two more conference games, including one against each other on Dec. 5. Cal will be favored at Washington on Dec. 5. The ultimate pecking order in completely unsettled and won't be decided until the final weekend of the regular season, and even then there may be some hurt feelings when the bowls pick teams they want for reasons other than pure merit.

5. The Pac-10 sure can put on a show: The past college football weekend was mostly a yawner -- except in the Pac-10, which produced a pair of thrillers featuring three ranked teams and a fourth, Arizona, which is pretty darn good. The Pac-10 blog is obviously not a fan of the eight-game conference schedule because it hurts the conference's national perception. But it does make every weekend of the regular season pretty darn fun, though Jim Harbaugh and Mike Stoops -- who both want to revert to an eight-game schedule -- probably aren't enjoying their Sunday.