What we learned in the Pac-10, Week 15
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Revelations from the past weekend's action.
USC may be the nation's best team but it didn't do enough to prove it: USC was scheduled out of the national title game, and the Trojans didn't get fancy enough with the schedule they had. Sure, the Trojans have the nation's best defense. But in the beauty contest that is the BCS standings, it takes more than just winning, particularly with the widespread (though probably wildly exaggerated) perception of a down season for the Pac-10. If you watched the Trojan' 28-7 domination of UCLA, you saw a team completely in control and a score kept reasonable by three missed field goals and a lackadaisical offensive effort. But Oklahoma beat a solid Missouri team, 62-21, and Florida won by 11 over Alabama, the nation's unbeaten, No. 1 team. The Trojans would be eager -- and confident -- to play either, but it's hard to say they should be ranked ahead of either based on this season's body of work.
Best is the Best: California running back Jahvid Best needed just 19 carries to net 311 yards rushing, breaking the school single-game record and winning the Pac-10 rushing title with 1,394 yards. That total ranks fifth in the nation and his 8 yards per rush is best among backs with at least 125 carries this season. Fact is, if he'd not left the game early in the third quarter, Best would have easily broken former Washington State running back Rueben Mayes' Pac-10 single-game record of 357 yards rushing set in 1984.
Stoops has earned a breather: Gosh, how much difference can one game make? Arizona entered the Territorial Cup against rival Arizona State with some grumbling about another disappointing season under coach Mike Stoops, despite the Wildcats earning their first bowl berth since 1998. But a dominant 31-10 victory over the Sun Devils suddenly made the season feel like a success -- 7-5 feels way different than 6-6, particularly when it includes a beatdown of a hated rival that also knocks them out of bowl eligibility.
Sarkisian can't make the Huskies any worse: Steve Sarkisian's first season at Washington can't possibly end up any worse than 2008, considering the Huskies finished 0-12 and are riding a 14-game losing streak -- hey, is that LSU in the season opener! Great! Sarkisian will sign a five-year contract with Washington paying him $1.85 million a year, according to the Seattle Times. He will pull double duty as USC's offensive coordinator through the Rose Bowl, and plans to call plays as the Huskies' coach, according to the Orange County Register.
UCLA and Arizona State will still be rebuilding in 2009: The Bruins and Sun Devils both played a lot of young players this season. But they also will lose some key veterans. In other words, a dramatic, winning turnaround next season is hardly a sure-thing. The biggest issue for both is quarterback. The Sun Devils will need to replace a four-year starter in Rudy Carpenter, while the Bruins probably will want to present plenty of competition for incumbent Kevin Craft. While expectations of a bowl berth in 2009 certainly won't be out of the question, both programs figure to fall in the Pac-10's second tier.
10:50 3rd Qtr Fresno State 6 Rice 16 Final Central Michigan 48 Western Kentucky 49
Final Nevada 3 Louisiana-Lafayette 16 Final Utah State 21 UTEP 6 Final 22 Utah 45 Colorado State 10 Final Western Michigan 24 Air Force 38 Final South Alabama 28 Bowling Green 33
Final Marshall 52 Northern Illinois 23 Final Navy 17 San Diego State 16
1:00 PM ET Illinois Louisiana Tech 4:30 PM ET Rutgers North Carolina 8:00 PM ET North Carolina State UCF
1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Virginia Tech 2:00 PM ET 15 Arizona State Duke 3:30 PM ET Miami (FL) South Carolina 4:30 PM ET Boston College Penn State 8:00 PM ET Nebraska 24 USC
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State