What we learned in the Pac-10: Week 12
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Revelations from the past weekend's action.
1. Oregon State is for real: Ten weeks might seem a long time for a complete buy-in, but Oregon State hadn't posted a quality win since it upset USC on Sept. 25. That wasn't the Beavers' fault; the schedule just lined up four weak foes in a row. But the impressive performance on both sides of the ball in the 34-21 win over California makes the Beavers' Rose Bowl dreams seem reasonable. They whipped Cal with quarterback Lyle Moevao out of sync after returning from a shoulder injury with a dominating defense that rolled up five sacks and an offense keyed by freshman running back Jacquizz Rodgers. The Bears knew exactly what Oregon State wanted to do. They were just helpless to stop them. That suggests clear superiority over a Pac-10 contender.
2. USC's defense showed it, much like USC, can look average at times: USC coach Pete Carroll has said he's not looking for style points, and that's becoming obvious. Stanford outgained USC 210 yards to 90 in the first half and the game was tied at 17-17 well into the third quarter. Sure, the Trojans stepped on the gas and were completely dominant down the stretch in their 45-23 win, but giving up a season-high 367 yards to a limited offense won't win over many pollsters. On the plus side, more than a few Trojans fans -- and reporters -- believed the USC offense could dominate most foes just by handing the ball off every play and playing pure smashmouth instead of trying to create an offense of perfect metaphysical balance. That's what they did in the second half, with 30 rushing plays producing 243 of their 282 total yards on the ground.
3. Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli answered his critics (now about that defense...): A week after getting booed for being completely out of sync passing the ball, Masoli completed 21 of 26 -- 81 percent -- of his passes for a career-high 298 yards in the Ducks' wild 55-45 win over Arizona (At last! Real Pac-10 football!). He passed for two touchdowns and ran for three; he also rushed for 89 yards on 10 carries. He gave the Ducks a 48-17 lead before things, shall we say, got interesting. Things didn't go nearly as well in the second half -- see five three-and-outs -- but Masoli isn't responsible for the 527 yards surrendered by the Ducks' defense.
4. Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA are still fighting for bowl berths: The Pac-10 has seven bowl contracts. It presently has five bowl-eligible teams, with the possibility of two BCS bowl berths (Oregon State and USC). Yet don't be surprised if at least a sixth team backdoors it into bowl eligibility. Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA each showed fight over the weekend, suggesting they haven't packed it in and accepted losing seasons just yet. Stanford, at 5-6, needs to win at rival California on Saturday in the Big Game. The winner of the UCLA's visit to Arizona State on Nov. 28 advances to its rivalry game with a shot at a sixth victory. Rivalry games with actual stakes! Fun!
5. The Apple Cup will be the worst rivalry showdown in BCS conference history: Two teams with no wins over FBS competition between them. Both play terrible defense. Both play terrible offense. One, Washington, has fired its coach. Another, Washington State, might start its No. 4 quarterback, true freshman J.T. Levenseller, because starter Kevin Lopina was knocked out of the 31-zip loss to Arizona State with a concussion. You may want to cover your eyes. Or perhaps you'll sneak a peek just to know what Putrid on the Palouse will look like.