Sunday, October 31, 2010
What we learned in the Pac-10: Week 9
By Ted Miller
What did we learn this week?
Oregon should finish unbeaten: After eight games, it's clear that Oregon is the best team in the Pac-10 and a national title contender. The Ducks are more than just a flashy offense. They can play physical football and they can play defense. They weren't at their best at USC, yet they still were in control for almost the entire game. But just because the Ducks should finish unbeaten -- ergo: play for the national title -- doesn't mean they will. They will get the best shot from the teams remaining on their schedule, and if they don't show up focused, they could see their season ruined by a single off day. But they will be at least a touchdown favorite in each game.
Arizona at Stanford is HUGE: Arizona and Stanford both took care of business this weekend. So the winner after the Wildcats' visit to Palo Alto on Saturday will be in position to claim a second BCS bowl berth if the Ducks win their remaining games and play for the national title. Or the winner could end up in the Rose Bowl if the Ducks falter. As it is, two teams that were conference bottom feeders a few years ago are now playing for a late-season, top-10 ranking.
Until Saturday night, the Huskies were not shut out at home since 1976.
Jake Locker, Washington are at "rock bottom": Locker and Washington ended their pattern of bouncing back strongly from poor performances by turning in a second consecutive bad evening. Heck, it was a historically bad night versus Stanford -- a 41-0 defeat being the program's first shutout loss in Husky Stadium since 1976. It's hard to figure what's going on with Locker, who threw two interceptions and led an offense that accounted for just 107 yards. "That's definitely the worst offensive performance I've ever been associated with," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. "We obviously hit rock bottom tonight."
Washington State ain't there yet: Just when it seemed reasonable to wonder about a Washington State turnaround, the Cougars faceplant 42-zip at Arizona State. Hard to say where the Cougars are headed, and the rotten performances doesn't help embattled coach Paul Wulff.
Oregon State is still there: The Pac-10 feels like a conference with three top teams and then a confusing pecking order below. But Oregon State is still decidedly in the race for the top third. Forget the overall record -- the Beavers are 3-1 in the conference and therefore tied for second, at least two games ahead of the six teams behind them. Further, the Beavers play UCLA and Washington State over the next two weekends, so the likelihood is they will be 5-1 in conference play before facing a gauntlet with USC, at Stanford and Oregon down the stretch. The Beavers aren't done yet.