What did we learn this week?
The blueprint was more of a sketch: California held Oregon to just one offensive TD on Nov. 13, and everyone yelled, "Eureka! Blueprint!" Ducks coach Chip Kelly noted that plenty of folks had played man-free -- man coverage with a safety spying the quarterback -- against his offense before. Cal just had good players who executed well, and his team never got in sync. Well, Arizona used some of the same schemes with a pretty good defense and the Ducks rolled up 48 points, including five second-half touchdowns. A good scheme executed by good players can slow down Oregon, just as it can slow down any offense. But Kelly's offense isn't a math problem that can be solved. It's more of a chess game. And, yes, there's some luck involved with educated guessing.
Arizona-Arizona State is sneaky meaningful: Rivalry games are meaningful, but there's some more heft here. The Sun Devils have suffered through a second consecutive snake-bit season, while the Wildcats have flirted with -- but fallen short of -- taking a step forward within the national and Pac-10 pecking order. The Sun Devils have a lot coming back next year. So much, in fact, that if you're looking for a darkhorse in next year's conference race, ASU looks like a nice pick. The Wildcats also figure to be a top-half team, but they (again) will have some questions to answer during the offseason. This game feels like a a measuring stick in the state. If the Wildcats win, they don't finish the regular-season riding a four-game losing streak, and that probably will help bowl preparations. If the Sun Devils triumph, they will have momentum heading into an offseason that could presage a 2011 breakthrough.
Andrew Luck and Stanford deserve reward: It will be a travesty if Stanford doesn't earn a BCS bowl berth. There is no question the Cardinal is one of the nation's elite teams. And it will be ridiculous if Luck doesn't get serious Heisman Trophy consideration. Character matters -- for programs and for individuals.
Huskies have fight: Washington had lost three consecutive games by 30, 41 and 37 points from Oct. 23 to Nov. 6. Those overwhelming defeats seemed to indicate the season was over. But two consecutive wins means the Huskies need only win the Apple Cup to earn bowl eligibility. A disappointing season? A Holiday Bowl invitation isn't so bad.
The verdict is still out on Lane Kiffin: After USC won at Arizona to improve to 7-3 on Nov. 13, a 10-win season seemed reasonable, which would have been a heck of a way for the Kiffin Era to begin. That would have given him validation. But after losing at Oregon State and at home to Notre Dame, the season feels different. The momentum is lost, even if the Trojans end the regular season with a win over UCLA. It appears we will head into the offseason not really knowing what to make of Kiffin, just yet.