Ten top moments of the Pac-10 season

January, 13, 2010
1/13/10
1:58
PM ET
The Pac-10 moments that stood out.

1. Pete Carroll leaves USC for the Seattle Seahawks: It wasn't just the biggest story in the Pac-10. It was the biggest story of the college football season. Carroll built a dynasty and nearly won three consecutive national titles. His run at USC -- two national championships, seven Pac-10 titles, seven consecutive top-four finishes, three Heisman Trophy winners -- ranks among the best in college football history.

[+] EnlargeLane Kiffin
Joe Robbins/Getty Images After only one season at Tennessee Lane Kiffin is headed to Southern California.
2. Lane Kiffin leaves Tennessee for USC: This one nearly equaled Carroll's departure in shock value: Kiffin, a former USC assistant, bolts his job at Tennessee after just one season to take over the Trojans. Obviously, unless you've been under a rock, you've read plenty about this one of late, including the potential inclusion of Norm Chow, presently UCLA's offensive coordinator, on Kiffin's new staff. That certainly will cool things down between the Bruins and Trojans, eh?

3. A victory in the Civil War for the Roses sends Oregon to the Rose Bowl: The Ducks 37-33 victory over rival Oregon State lived up to the pregame hype. LeGarrette Blount scored a touchdown in his first action since his meltdown at Boise State, but the stars for Oregon were running back LaMichael James (166 yards rushing, three TDs) and quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who led a masterful final possession that featured two fourth-down conversions and burned the final 6:09 off the clock.

4. The punch: Blount's punch of a Boise State player after the Ducks embarrassing 19-8 season-opening road loss became one of the most replayed highlights of the season. It also became the touchstone for the Ducks' transformation from a national joke into Pac-10 champions. And Chip Kelly from an overmatched neophyte into Pac-10 Coach of the Year.

5. Toby Gerhart is runner-up in closest Heisman race in history: Despite putting up the best numbers against the best competition during the regular season, Gerhart finished second to Alabama's Mark Ingram in the Heisman Trophy voting. Still, Gerhart won the Doak Walker Award -- over Ingram -- as the country's top running back and earned consensus first-team All-America honors.

6. Oregon crushes No. 4 USC 47-20: For anyone who had covered USC during the Carroll era, it was shocking to watch. The Ducks piled up 613 total yards -- 391 rushing -- while handing USC its worst loss since 1997.

7. Stanford runs up the score on USC, 55-21: For anyone who had covered USC during the Carroll era, it was shocking to watch. Perhaps it was possible to write off the Trojans getting blown out on the road at Oregon, but getting physically manhandled at home? The 34-point defeat was USC's worst home loss since 1966. Even more galling: Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh opted to go for a 2-point conversion with a 27-point lead and just 6:47 left, inspiring a spirited post-game handshake with Carroll, who asked Harbaugh, "What's your deal?"

8. Oregon beats Arizona 44-41 in double-overtime: It was as entertaining a game as you could see. Oregon overcame a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit because of a tour de force performance from Masoli, who scored three touchdowns running and three passing, including an 8-yard toss that tied the score with six seconds left and forced overtime, stunning Wildcats fans who already had jumped from the stands for a postgame celebration. The loss kept Arizona from playing in its first Rose Bowl.

9. California goes down by a combined 72-6 on consecutive weekends: Talk about a fall from grace. Cal went to Oregon on Sept. 26 ranked No. 6 in the country with a 3-0 record. The Bears were national title contenders and Jahvid Best was the conference's leading Heisman Trophy candidate. But a 42-3 loss to the Ducks followed by a 30-3 defeat at home against USC the following weekend made the Bears a national punchline.

10. Sarkisian bests Carroll: Fresh off a thrilling 18-15 win at Ohio State, USC carried a No. 3 ranking to Washington, which had just ended a 15-game losing streak the week before against Idaho. Most of the pregame discussion was whether Carroll would take it easy on his former offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian. But with quarterback Aaron Corp starting for an injured Matt Barkley, the Trojans couldn't get anything going on offense. Washington quarterback Jake Locker, meanwhile, engineered a thrilling 68-yard drive that ended on Erik Folk's 22-yard field goal with three seconds remaining for a shocking 16-13 victory.

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