What we learned in the Pac-10, Week 15

December, 7, 2008
12/07/08
10:09
AM ET

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.

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PAC-12 SCOREBOARD

Wednesday, 12/24
Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12