Monday, October 4, 2010
Pac-10 rewind and look ahead
By Ted Miller
A look back on the week that was.
Team of the week: Oregon bounced back from an early 21-3 deficit to whip Stanford 52-31. The Ducks showed dominance on both sides of the ball rolling up 626 yards and shutting the Cardinal out in the second half. The performance boosted them to No. 3 in the national rankings. Hello national title contention.
Jake Locker passed for 310 yards in Washington's win over USC.
Best game: Washington and QB Jake Locker drove 61 yards -- converting on fourth-and-11 with an 18-yard completion in the process -- for a game-winning, 32-yard field goal from Erik Folk as time expired at USC. The game featured more than 1,000 yards of offense and seven lead changes.
Biggest play: Having already mentioned the Huskies' fourth-and-11 conversion, let's then tip our cap to Oregon coach Chip Kelly's brilliant -- brilliant because it worked -- decision to go for an onside kick immediately after his team had narrowed the Cardinal's early lead to 21-10. The Ducks recovered and drove for another TD, making the count 21-17
Offensive standout(s): Oregon's LaMichael James rushed for 257 yards and three TDs on 31 carries against Stanford, never getting tackled for a loss in the process. He's now the conference's top Heisman Trophy candidate. Locker is no longer a Heisman candidate, but he bounced back from a career-worst performance against Nebraska to pass for 310 yards and rush for 110 more at USC.
Defensive standout(s): Oregon State's Stephen Paea had been mostly muted by double-teams in the first three games, but he had two of the Beavers' six sacks against Arizona State. Meanwhile, UCLA DT David Carter had three sacks and two QB hurries in the Bruins' win over Washington State. Hard to not also mention Ducks cornerback Cliff Harris, who had two interceptions of Andrew Luck.
Special teams standout: Folk beat USC with a pressure-packed kick for a second consecutive season. For the evening, he was 4-for-4 on field goals with a long of 41 yards.
Smiley face: Following another case of early-season struggles -- in large part due to a brutal schedule with a pair of top-five teams -- Oregon State again figured out a way to not only endure but also improve. The win over Arizona State showcased major gains on both sides of the ball.
Frowny face: Arizona State had another close call at Oregon State, but after ending up on the wrong end of three close calls it's hard to fall back on the whole "moral" victory thing, particularly with players seemingly joking around on the sideline while the game is still hotly contested, per reports from the Arizona Republic.
Thought of the week: Kelly won't want to hear this -- and he certainly won't rhapsodize with reporters about it -- but the unbeaten, third-ranked Ducks look at this point to be favorites in the rest of their games, seeing that a visit to USC on Oct. 30 no longer feels terribly formidable. So if the Ducks hold serve ... well, you fill in the blank.
Questions for the week: Is Oregon State about to join the conference race? The Beavers were projected third in the preseason media poll, if you recall. A win at Arizona certainly would suggest the Beavers will be a factor at the top of the conference. A loss, however, might hint at a middle-of-the-pack finish.