Sunday, September 30, 2012
What we learned in the Pac-12: Week 5
By Ted Miller
What did we learn in Week 5? Read on.
Upon further review, the post-Andrew Luck transition won't be easy: While you can't entirely pin Stanford's loss at Washington on quarterback Josh Nunes by any stretch of analysis, his first road start was a rough one. The Huskies ganged up against the run and were successful, holding the Cardinal to 65 yards rushing. That put the ball in Nunes' hands, and he struggled. He completed just 18 of 37 passes for 170 yards with an interception. To be fair, he was victimized by a number of drops, but he also missed more than a few open guys.
Sean Mannion threw for 433 yards and three touchdowns as Oregon State remained undefeated.
Justin Wilcox has made a difference for Washington: The defensive performance against Stanford is why Steve Sarkisian paid big money to lure Wilcox away from Tennessee. The Huskies were owned the previous three years by Stanford, particularly against the run. The Cardinal rushed for 321 yards in 2009, 278 in 2010 and a school-record 446 in 2011. This time, the Huskies won the battle. Sure, Luck wasn't distracting Wilcox's defense, as it was former coordinator Nick Holt's, but the numbers reversal was dramatic. Now what will Wilcox do against Oregon and Chip Kelly?
Mannion, Oregon State prove mettle: Oregon State trailed for the first time this season at Arizona. A number of times in the second half, it seemed the Wildcats were gaining decisive momentum. The Beavers' defense looked worn out, and their offense seemed out of rhythm. It would have been a prime time for the Beavers to just accept some parting gifts as a soon-to-be-unranked team. But quarterback Sean Mannion led a game-winning drive, going 6-for-6 for 52 yards while doing so, and the Beavers outlasted the Wildcats 38-35. It was Oregon State's third quality victory this season, and Mannion and the offense showed they could bail out the defense.
A road win at Cal gives Arizona State legitimacy: As well as Arizona State has played this season, it has led a bit of a charmed existence with opposing starting QBs getting hurt, and the loss at Missouri has looked worse based on the Tigers' poor-to-middling play since then. But the win over California, a team that pushed Ohio State to the brink, should win over more skeptics. For one, the Sun Devils hadn't won at Cal since 1997. Second, it was a clean win with good and disciplined play on both sides of the ball. The Sun Devils could join the national rankings this weekend, which would bolster the attention on a visit from Oregon on Oct. 18, a Thursday game that will be televised on ESPN.
It may be a long season for Cal, coach Jeff Tedford: Cal fell to 1-4 and 0-2 after getting handled fairly easily by the Sun Devils. Tedford was widely viewed as entering the season on the hot seat. A 1-4 start has done little to cool things down for him. And when you look at the schedule, it's not difficult to imagine a losing record, which would mean no bowl game. Which would be bad for Tedford. If newly remodeled Memorial Stadium starts to show empty seats as fans become progressively more disillusioned, Tedford's status will become precarious.