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Sunday, October 17, 2010
What we learned in the Pac-10: Week 7

By Ted Miller

What did we learn this week?

USC ain't dead yet: USC can't play in a bowl game due to NCAA sanctions. It was coming off consecutive losses on last-second field goals. There were lots of injuries for a thin team lacking numbers. The defense has looked wimpy. Ah, but the Trojans looked completely reborn in a 48-14 beatdown of California. They outgained the Bears 602 yards to 245. QB Matt Barkley threw five TD passes and for 352 yards. Give credit to coach Lane Kiffin for keeping his team focused when everyone was writing them off. And Oregon's visit on Oct. 30 suddenly looks really, really interesting.

Matt Barkley
USC's Matt Barkley passed for 352 yards and five touchdowns against Cal.
California might be a different team every week: Over the coming weeks, the Pac-10 blog will include stories about Cal, perhaps predicting what the Bears will do. Let's just be clear: We have no idea what Cal will do. We thought the previous two games -- a tight game at Arizona and a big win over UCLA -- indicated that the Bears could be back on track after a bad loss at Nevada. Now they have two bad losses this season. They looked terrible on both sides of the ball at USC. Senior QB Kevin Riley has not advanced. It's very likely that the Bears are going to surprise us by beating someone this season we didn't think they'd beat. And they probably will lose to someone we thought they'd beat.

Arizona needs Matt Scott to step up: QB Nick Foles is likely out at least a couple of weeks with a knee injury. That means Matt Scott takes over the offense. Scott began the 2009 season as the starter before losing his job to Foles. Scott is a good runner but is not the passer that Foles is. You'd think the Wildcats can handle Washington at home next weekend and a visit to UCLA on Oct. 30. But what about a trip to Stanford on Nov. 6? Or will Foles be back by then? Or will Scott be the man in what figures to be a big game for determining the conference pecking order? And then comes USC and a trip to Oregon.

Ryan Katz won't escape growing pains: Katz, Oregon State's impressive sophomore QB, had seemed to be improving every game, and when he threw for 393 yards in an upset win at Arizona last weekend, his upside seemed extraordinary. But he came down to earth in Seattle on Saturday. He threw three interceptions and completed just 17 of 31 passes for 206 yards in the double-overtime loss to Washington. He had just one pick in the previous five games. See: This Pac-10 stuff ain't easy.

The cannibalism has begun: Surging UCLA falls to Cal. Surging Washington loses to Arizona State. Surging Arizona loses to Oregon State. Surging Cal falls to USC. Surging Oregon State loses to Washington. If you don't like the momentum in the Pac-10, just wait a weekend. That should be a warning to Oregon and Stanford.