Sunday, November 27, 2011
What we learned in the Pac-12: Week 13
By Ted Miller
What did we learn from Week 13 of Pac-12 action?
UCLA is the South champ; USC is the South's best team: USC left no doubt about who the best team in the Pac-12 South Division is this season with a 50-zip win over UCLA, no matter how unfair NCAA sanctions have contorted reality. Perhaps this is karma for UCLA fans who gloated about those sanctions and continue to pretend they believe those sanctions to be fair, a position no clear-thinking person authentically holds? In any event, USC's dominant victory settles on the field the question of division supremacy. But the Bruins will be in Eugene on Friday to play Oregon. Bureaucracy dictates that.
Matt Barkley and Co. proved that USC is the South's best team, even if UCLA is division champ.
Dennis Erickson, Paul Wulff and Rick Neuheisel are in trouble: It appears that three other Pac-12 coaches will join Arizona's Mike Stoops on the unemployment line: Arizona State's Erickson, Washington State's Wulff and UCLA's Neuheisel. All three seemed to be in position to at least give themselves a chance to survive with victories this weekend. All three lost. And none of their teams played terribly well. We're going to need name tags at Pac-12 media day next summer.
Andrew Luck is great, but his Heisman campaign is threatened: Stanford's quarterback completed 20 of 30 passes for 233 yards with four touchdowns and an interception in the 28-14 win over Notre Dame. It was another strong but not brilliant performance, one that probably won't catch the fancy of Heisman Trophy voters. Oh, well, he'll have to settle for another 11-1 regular season. Prior to 2010, Stanford had never won 11 games in a season.
There's hope in Cal's strong finish: The Bears have played good football in November, winning three of four, the lone loss coming 31-28 at Stanford. They likely are headed to the Holiday Bowl, where they will have a chance to record an eighth win against a quality Big 12 foe. There's a good core group coming back next fall, and the best news is that quarterback Zach Maynard has flashed signs that he might be the guy to lead a resurgence in 2012. Wait: The best news is a return to a renovated Memorial Stadium in Strawberry Canyon.
Utah, welcome to the Pac-12 way: Utah figured out that consistency is frowned upon in the Pac-12. The Utes, with their home loss to Colorado, figured out that it's darn near required within the conference's muddled middle that teams inexplicably face-plant at least once (or twice a year). So you have Cal getting bricked at UCLA, Arizona State throwing up on itself at Washington State, UCLA getting bombed at Arizona and Washington flopping at Oregon State. The Utes are typically great at home. Colorado had lost 24 in a row away from its home stadium. But logic doesn't always rule in the Pac-12. The rule is inexplicable results are part of the conference's annual tapestry.