Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Pac-12 [Print without images]

Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Top 2008 Pac-10 memories

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

The memorable 10 from the Pac-10.

Jacquizz Rodgers slicing and dicing the nation's best defense: No individual performance changed the college football season more than Rodgers, a true freshman no less, rushing for 186 yards on 37 carries with two touchdowns in Oregon State's shocking 27-21 upset over top-ranked USC.

Jahvid Best has left the building: The California running back produced eight runs of 60 yards or more this season, rushed for 311 yards in two and a half quarters vs. Washington and produced runs of 42, 32, 28 and 25 yards while carrying the Bears to an Emerald Bowl victory over Miami. He's just a sophomore but YouTube already should give him a lifetime achievement award.

The passion of the Crapple Cup: Sure, Washington and Washington State were the two worst BCS conference teams in 2008. Sure, they played a sloppy game. Sure, the stakes didn't matter outside of the state borders. But the excitement on the Cougars' sideline -- and the mob scene as their jubilant fans stormed the field at Martin Stadium -- showed that rivalry games matter deeply, whatever the circumstances.

The second quarter of the Rose Bowl: USC's 24-zip second quarter that ended the Rose Bowl before halftime was the most overwhelming show of force in college football this season. The Trojans outgained Penn State 236 to 65 in that frame, with quarterback Mark Sanchez passing for two touchdowns and running for another.

Kevin Craft's tale of two halves: UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft didn't have a good season (see 20 interceptions), but his second-half reversal against Tennessee in the season opener was stunning. His first-half numbers: 7-of-18 for 66 yards with 4 INTs. No touchdown drives. His second-half numbers: 18-of-25 for 193 yards, no picks and a touchdown pass with 27 seconds remainiung to backup TE Ryan Moya. And he led 80- and 70-yard touchdown drives.

Sept. 13th, or Black Saturday: One horrible Saturday afternoon defined the Pac-10 for the regular season. On Sept. 13, the Pac-10 went 3-7 in nonconference games (including Washington State's loss at Baylor, which was rescheduled for Friday night due to weather). Included in that dismal record was an 0-4 mark vs. the Mountain West Conference.

Tyrone Willingham vs. Seattle media: Willingham's tenure at Washington was an unmitigated disaster, see bad recruiting and a 11-37 record over four years. It was also a disaster in terms of public and media relations. Willingham began his tenure completely shutting down access to his team for both media and boosters. He then gave vague or misleading reports on what was going on with his team, on the depth chart and in regard to injuries and/or suspensions. He then refused to answer questions from the Seattle Times, the state's largest newspaper. At the end, during prickly and brief news conferences, he seemed to mostly pass the buck, see his post-Apple Cup comment: "Obviously, if you're the head coach at this time, you take responsibility for what's going on. But, it should also be noted, that the day I arrived, what the state of the program was."

Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli runs over Oklahoma State safety Quinton Moore: No play exemplified the Pac-10's 5-0 bowl season redemption more than Masoli pancaking Moore on a 41-yard touchdown run in the Ducks' 42-31 Holiday Bowl victory. Masoli led an offense that rolled up 565 yards, including 307 yards rushing. "They were more physical than us," Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said afterward.

"Write something nice about me." That's what Arizona coach Mike Stoops said to reporters after he left his postgame news conference following the Wildcats' 42-27 victory over California. The comment came off as amusing rather than bitter or paranoid and indicated that the seemingly always embattled Stoops was becoming more comfortable in his coaching shoes. An impressive Las Vegas Bowl win over BYU, the program's first bowl game in a decade, was further evidence.

The USC defense: It pitched three shutouts. Eight teams failed to score after halftime. It held foes to just nine points a game, 2.3 points less than any other defense. It gave up just six touchdown passes. Opponents averaged 3.6 yards per play. It was by nearly every measure, the nation's best defense and one of the best in the history of college football.