Sunday, September 20, 2009
What we learned in the Pac-10
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
What did we learn from Week 2 of Pac-10 action?
1. Washington is nobody's patsy: A corpse was rolled out of Husky Stadium on Saturday evening. It was Sucky Husky, who went 12-47 from 2004 until 2008. He's been on life support since Steve Sarkisian was hired and injected him with enthusiasm and hope, which proved deadly for Sucky Husky, who finally succumbed when Erik Folk's short field goal gave Washington a 16-13 victory over No. 3 USC. Suffice it to say, the funeral will be sparsely attended. Washington once was the top alternative to USC in the Pac-10. It was once a program that groused about playing in the Sun Bowl. In a few years, it feels certain that Husky fans will once again grouse about playing in the Sun Bowl.
2. USC is vulnerable. Seriously. Well, maybe: Let's pause for a moment and be fair to USC. The Trojans, who lost at Washington were missing their starting quarterback, their two-time All-American free safety, their starting cornerback, their starting defensive end, their starting wide receiver and their nickelback. Still, this is USC; the Trojans are just supposed to plug-and-play. After the game, coach Pete Carroll talked about turnovers and penalties and pointed a finger at himself. The Trojans haven't looked this beatable since 2001. Oh, but don't be too hasty throwing a handful of dirt on them. Let's wait for them to lose a second Pac-10 game before we completely write them off. But feel free to practice saying this, "USC has accepted an invitation to the Holiday Bowl."
3. Jahvid Best is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate: It's not just that Best scored five TDs and eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the seventh consecutive time in the Bears' 35-21 win at Minnesota. It's that Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford is hurt and Texas quarterback Colt McCoy and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow haven't looked very good. Moreover, McCoy plays a weak schedule that won't help his cause, and -- fair or unfair -- there's a certain amount of "Tebow exhaustion" among the masses. Cal folks, by the way, might want to loosen the reins on Best. Best has a personality, but it seems like someone sent him the "Tyrone Willingham's Interview Techniques" DVD.
4. Did you write off Oregon? Not smart: After the Boise State debacle, Ducks fans seemed to panic, and Duck haters seemed ready to predict the certain demise of the Chip Kelly era after just one game. Those of us -- yeah, I'm taking credit for it -- who said, "Er, one game" and preached patience probably feel like gloating. But we won't because gloating is, well, often a lot of fun. It's not that Oregon doesn't have issues. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli's continued struggles is chief among them. And this might not be a 10-win team. But the idea that the program was on the cusp of spinning into the morass was absurd. And I'm still not selling my Masoli stock.
5. The Pac-10 is 9 1/2-teams deep: Look at the Pac-10, top-to-bottom. It's fair to say now that nine teams presently are threats to win at least six games and earn bowl eligibility. And, heck, Washington State just beat a 2-0 SMU team, never mind the final statistics. Last week, it looked like the Cougs were the only automatic out, but now even they have shown signs of life. While the apparent depth is a good thing, it also suggests that going undefeated -- or even losing just once -- will be a heck of a task. Don't be surprised if we end up with co-Pac-10 champs who both own two conference defeats.