Monday, November 28, 2011
Weekend rewind: Pac-12
By Ted Miller
Taking stock of the 12th week of games in the Pac-12.
Toney Clemons and the Buffaloes end their regular season on a high note, beating Utah 17-14.
Team of the week: Colorado didn't quit on its season, and it was rewarded -- finally -- with a 17-14 win at Utah, a victory that ended a 24-game losing streak outside the state of Colorado. It was a nice way for 26 seniors to go out -- with a smile after a long, difficult season -- and an even better way for the players who will be back to hit the offseason with some positive momentum. And, by winning, Colorado pushed UCLA into the Pac-12 championship game against Oregon. Wait. Is that good?
Best game: The Buffaloes' win over Utah wasn't decided until Utes kicker Coleman Petersen missed a 48-yard field goal try with two seconds remaining.
Biggest play: Can there be a "big play" in a 50-0 game? We think so. After USC took a quick 7-0 lead on UCLA, the Bruins efficiently drove 79 yards to the Trojans' 1-yard line, where they faced a fourth-down decision. Coach Rick Neuheisel did the only thing he could do: He went for it. After a timeout, the ball went to Derrick Coleman, but he was stopped for no gain by Dion Bailey and Jawanza Starling. You sort of knew right then this wasn't going to be Neuheisel's night.
Offensive standout: USC QB Matt Barkley completed 35 of 42 passes for 423 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions in the win against UCLA. He set a conference record with 39 TD passes this season. And there's a decent shot he'll get invited to the Heisman Trophy ceremony.
Defensive standout: Stanford OLB Chase Thomas had five tackles, two sacks, three tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and two QB hurries in Stanford's 28-14 win over Notre Dame.
Special-teams standout: California kicker Giorgio Tavecchio was 4-of-4 on field goals and 5-of-5 on PATs in the Bears' 47-38 win at Arizona State.
Smiley face: Tim Kish went 3-3 as Arizona's interim head coach, beating rival Arizona State along the way. Kish is a hard guy not to like, but this isn't about that. It's about a guy being a good soldier for his school and his players. Kish excelled in a thankless job, stepping in after Mike Stoops was fired. Kish is a highly respected assistant. New Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez should give him a long look for his new staff.
Frowny face: 50-0? Really? Does that accurately represent the gap between UCLA and USC? Perhaps in pride even more so than athletic ability. It's clear Neuheisel is going to pay for that result as well as his inability to get the Bruins to play consistently good football. But there are a lot of players who should be ashamed of their performance and effort, which was bad and lacking. Let's put it like this: 50-0 will be the single biggest memory of the 2011 season for every Bruin and Trojan. That should sting for the folks in Westwood.
Thought of the week: It appears the Pac-12 will again get two teams in BCS bowl games. That's good news even if you're not a Stanford or Oregon fan. Why? Well, last year a second BCS bowl team meant an extra $6 million distributed to the conference on top of the $21.2 million the conference got for one berth. All the bowl money is divided evenly among the conference teams, so we're talking an extra $500,000 per team, which is nice.
Questions for the week: Does UCLA have any chance at all against Oregon? Will the Bruins even show up? Or are we talking another 50-point blowout? Vegas has set a 31-point spread. So the expectations is ugly for Friday night.