Monday, November 22, 2010
Pac-10 rewind and look ahead
By Ted Miller
A look back on the week that was.
Team of the week: Oregon State was left for dead -- understandably -- after getting pushed around at home by Washington State on Nov. 13, thereby ending the Cougars 16-game Pac-10 losing streak. But there was a Beavers resurrection Saturday during a 36-7 stomping of USC.
Best game: Considering all three games this past week were decided by at least 17 points, there really wasn't a "best" game. But Stanford's overwhelming performance on both defense and offense in the Big Game at California was very impressive -- making it easy to point to the Cardinal as the nation's best one-loss team.
Andrew Luck had a commanding performance Saturday as the Cardinal dominated the Bears.
Biggest play: Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck made an early statement in the Big Game with a 58-yard run on third down in the first quarter. The "wow" moment, though, was when he flattened Cal safety Sean Cattouse.
Offensive standout: Not to be redundant but Luck was nearly perfect in the Big Game. He completed 16-of-20 for 235 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions and ran three times for 72 yards.
Defensive standout: USC just couldn't block Oregon State DT Stephen Paea, whose six tackles -- 2.5 for a loss with a sack and a forced fumble -- don't completely tell the story of how much of a nuisance he was to the Trojans.
Special teams standout: The only bright side for Cal might have been punter Bryan Anger, who averaged 54.3 yards on three punts, with a long of 71 yards. Two of the three were killed inside the Cardinal 20-yard line.
Smiley face: Good for Washington and Oregon State getting off the carpet and keeping bowl hopes -- albeit slim ones -- alive. The Beavers had lost three of four conference games, including the aforementioned face plant versus the Cougs, while the Huskies had suffered three consecutive blowout losses before upending UCLA. Showing resilience is a good thing.
Frowny face: Everyone wondered when USC would stop showing up this year due to NCAA sanctions killing postseason possibilities. Then we got so far into the season, it seemed possible they'd show up every week. Wrong. The debacle at Oregon State was embarrassing. A completely lifeless effort on offense against a struggling, injury-riddled defense.
Thought of the week: Washington's visit to California feels meaningful, and not just because it's a bowl-eligibility-elimination game. Both programs are looking for a November uptick for grumpy fan bases after disappointing seasons. If Cal wins, it could end up in the Holiday Bowl, and even the Sun Bowl is a heck of a destination for a 6-6 team. Same for the Huskies, though they also will need to win at rival Washington State on Dec. 4 to earn a sixth victory.
Questions for the week: Is there a major upset on tap? Top-ranked Oregon plays host to No. 21 Arizona and No. 6 Stanford gets a visit from again formidable Oregon State. Can both home teams survive and keep hopes for two BCS bowl teams -- and an extra $4.5 million for the conference -- alive?