Monday, September 20, 2010
Pac-10 rewind and look ahead
By Ted Miller
The aftermath of "Measuring Stick Saturday."
Team of the week: Arizona looked like it might blow out Iowa when it led 27-7 in the third quarter, but it actually might be more meaningful that the Wildcats held on to win 34-27 after major adversity struck. The Wildcats showed heart. And poise. Moreover, by giving up their own pick-six and a horrible special-teams miscue, the Wildcats' victory can't be written off with the, "Well, Iowa played a sloppy game" excuse.
Best game: Arizona State-'s 20-19 loss at Wisconsin was a back-and-forth affair that was far more entertaining than most thought it would be going in. And, even though it was a dispiriting defeat, the Sun Devils seemed to announce that they will be a factor instead of an afterthought in the Pac-10 this season.
In addition to throwing four touchdown passes, Andrew Luck also rushed for a score in Saturday's win.
Biggest play: Just after Iowa tied Arizona 27-27, and all the momentum going the Hawkeyes' way, quarterback Nick Foles hit David Roberts for 38 yards on first down to the Iowa 34. Eight plays later, the Wildcats scored the winning points. After the game, offensive tackle Adam Grant said he knew Arizona would win after that completion.
Offensive standout(s): Foles and Stanford's Andrew Luck share the honor. Foles completed 28 of 39 passes for 303 yards with two TDs and an interception. For the season, the nation's 14th-rated QB has completed 79 percent of his passes. Luck completed 17-of-23 for 207 yards with four TDs. He also rushed three times for 69 yards, with a 52-yard TD run. For the season, the nation's third-rated passer has 10 TD passes and no interceptions.
Defensive standout(s): Lots of possibilities from Arizona, but in the interest of diversity: Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict and UCLA linebacker Patrick Larimore. Burfict looked like the best defensive player on the field at Wisconsin, rolling up 10 tackles, two for a loss, with two pass breakups. Larimore had 11 tackles, three for a loss, a forced fumble and two pass breakups against Houston.
Special teams star (s): This is a hard one because the conference produced a bunch of big plays on special teams. Arizona's Travis Cobb went 100 yards for a TD on a kickoff return against Iowa. Arizona State's Omar Bolden went 97 yards for a TD on a kickoff return versus Wisconsin. USC's Robert Woods went 97 yards for a TD on a kickoff return at Minnesota. We may have left someone out.
Smiley face: After two bad losses that had UCLA fans turning away in disgust, the Bruins got off the canvas and whipped No. 23 Houston 31-13. It was a good effort on both sides of the ball, and it indicated that the Bruins can't be counted out in the conference.
Frowny face: Jake Locker and Washington wilted on a big stage against Nebraska. They were overmatched on both sides of the ball, and the Nebraska coaches clearly had a better plan and had their team better prepared.
Thought of the week: Notre Dame, at 1-2, isn't an elite team, but both of the Fighting Irish's losses came against now-ranked Big Ten teams in tight games. If Stanford goes into Notre Dame and delivers a whipping, the Cardinal will be taken seriously by the rest of the nation.
Thought of the week II: The eyes of the college football nation will be on Boise State-Oregon State on Saturday, and many AQ conference fans without a horse in the race will be rooting for the Beavers to knock the Broncos out of BCS bowl -- and national championship game -- contention. Conversely, all of the non-AQ fans (other than TCU and Utah), will be rooting on the Broncos. Oh, and all the BCS haters will be rooting against the Beavers, too, because they favor chaos in the system.
Quote of the week: "You know what's funny? Nobody gave us a chance. They said the defense couldn't make plays. They were giving us all kinds of letter grades that were bad, and we took it personal." -- UCLA safety Rahim Moore
Quote of the week II: "I know they lost their running back, Toby Gerhart, but that's a more veteran team than we saw last year. That's a veteran offensive line and they are impressive." -- Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe after losing at Stanford 68-24
Quote of the week III: "I didn't really hook up with anybody." -- Locker after he completed 4 of 20 passes with two interceptions against Nebraska
Big games this weekend: While Stanford is at Notre Dame and Oregon State is at No. 3 Boise State, the rest of the Pac-10 gets started with the conference schedule (though Washington has a bye). The two red-letter games: California at Arizona and Oregon at Arizona State. Will the Bears bounce back against a Wildcats team still drunk on its win over Iowa? And can a clearly improved Sun Devils squad keep up with the high-powered Ducks.