Sunday, November 1, 2009
What we learned in the Pac-10: Week 9
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
What did we learn from Week 9 of Pac-10 action?
1. Oregon is a national title contender: Sure, the national title game looks like it's going to be the SEC champ vs. Texas. Or maybe Iowa. Sure, the Ducks still have to answer for the loss at Boise State way, way, way back in the Paleolithic era. But no one is playing better all-around football right now than Oregon. No one. All the other national title contenders will watch highlights of the Ducks' 47-20 win over USC and go, "Thanks, Boise State, we sure don't want to play those Ducks!" Now, Stanford, which plays host to the Ducks on Saturday, might not be saying that.
2. USC is no longer USC: 613 yards? Are you kidding me? After poor-to-middling efforts in wins over Notre Dame and Oregon State, the Ducks unmasked the Trojans, who may see a streak of seven consecutive Pac-10 titles end. The Trojans were outgained 613 yards to 327 in the biggest mauling of the Pete Carroll era. It will be interesting to see how the Trojans bounce back at Arizona State, which isn't exactly flying high itself.
3. Jacquizz Rodgers should be a leading Heisman candidate: He's rushed for 922 yards and 14 touchdowns. He's caught 49 passes for 371 yards and a score. And now he's passed for a touchdown. If Oregon State continues to win -- it's got a meaningful game at Cal on Saturday -- Rodgers should get an invitation to New York.
4. California is getting off the carpet: Very quietly and, well, without much flair, California has played its way back to respectability. The Bears, now 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the Pac-10, will likely take another step or two up in the BCS standings, which rated them 24th last week. The Bears have put three consecutive conference wins between themselves and that combined 72-6 disaster on consecutive weekends vs. Oregon and USC.
5. UCLA found its quarterback: The Bruins are sagging, having matched their worst start in Pac-10 play (0-5). But the quarterback controversy may be over after Kevin Prince led a fourth-quarter comeback at Oregon State. He completed 22 of 34 for 323 yards with two touchdown and no interceptions against the Beavers. He was nine of 13 for 198 yards in the fourth quarter, when he led the Bruins back from a 19-3 deficit. Prince will try to get the Bruins their first conference win when Washington comes to town on Saturday.