Sunday, November 6, 2011
What we learned in the Pac-12: Week 10
By Ted Miller
What did we learn from Week 10 of Pac-12 action?
Stanford and Oregon reached their destination: In the preseason, Oregon-Stanford looked like the Pac-12 game of the year. Things often don't go as planned in college football, but this one did. The only way it could be better is if the Ducks had opened with a win against LSU. Stanford could play itself into the national title game, but at the very least the Pac-12 North and BCS bowls are at stake.
UCLA controls its own destiny in the Pac-12 after upsetting Arizona State at the Rose Bowl.
Rick Neuheisel and UCLA are alive! Just when you thought it was safe to start thinking about who UCLA's next coach was going to be, Neuheisel leads his team into first place in the Pac-12 South after beating Arizona State. If the Bruins win out, they will play in the Pac-12 championship game. And if they win that, they'd go to the Rose Bowl. As it is, Neuheisel now has a signature conference victory. His team, now 5-4 with three to play after winning consecutive games for the first time this season, now appears headed to a bowl game. Neuheisel is not a man who goes away easily, eh?
Utah could finish strong: When the Utes lost 34-10 at California and fell to 0-4 in Pac-12 play, many dismissed them with knowing smirks: Welcome to a real conference. Don't look now, but look at who's won two conference games in a row. And who has a good shot at winning it's next three and finishing 8-4 and 5-4 in conference play? When the Utes protect the football, good things tend to happen to them.
Paul Wulff is in trouble: Washington State started 3-1, and there was reasonable hope that the Cougars had turned a corner. But after five consecutive losses, including a pounding at Cal on Saturday, most of the early-season optimism is gone. The schedule ahead -- Arizona State, Utah and Washington -- is rugged. The Cougs will be underdogs in each game. But if coach Paul Wulff doesn't produce an upset or two, it's hard to imagine him keeping his job.
Arizona State hasn't arrived: The way the schedule set up, the Sun Devils looked to be headed to a 10-2 regular season and the Pac-12 championship game. Now they have to win-out and hope UCLA loses at some point. Truth is, there's a good chance that happens: UCLA has a tough schedule ahead, Arizona State does not. But by losing to UCLA, the Sun Devils cost themselves a special season. And a national ranking.