Happy Friday. Welcome to the mailbag.
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To the notes.
Mike from Fullerton, Calif., writes: What are the chances that Barkley puts up better numbers than Luck this year? Barkley is now in his third year as a starter and second with his offensive coordinator. He has what appears to be a budding college superstar in Robert Woods and long list of unproven but talented skill players around him. He obviously needs some help at o-line but if they can even give him some protection he should be able to convert. Luck is coming off a monster year with a new HC and lost his number one WR. i know luck has a dump truck load of good TE but so does SC. With an unproven o-line and talented but raw RB's isn't it foreseeable that Barkley just starts hurling it all over the field?
Ted Miller: That could happen.
Barkley actually attempted more passes in 12 games last year than Luck in 13 games. Luck passed for more yards -- 257 yards per game compared to 233 -- because he completed 71 percent of his passes compared to 63 percent for Barkley.
Both teams want to be balanced, so the likelihood is neither will abandon the running game. But Stanford is better off on the offensive line, so it might be able to stick its desire to maintain balance more than the Trojans, who are thin and questionable on the O-line. And USC is more talented at receiver.
If I were betting, I'd guess Barkley's numbers are going to be better in 2011 than 2010 while Luck's will remain about the same -- mostly because it's difficult to be much better passing than Luck was in 2010.
Eric from Mountain View, Calif., writes: Ted, your post today about the New Mexico Bowl was the first I heard the Rose Bowl will not be on New Years Day. To whom do I direct my vitriol over this?
Ted Miller: I understand the tradition of the Rose Bowl always being played Jan. 1, but New Year's Day falls on a Sunday this year, meaning it could be in conflict with the NFL schedule. So no bowl games will be played on Jan. 1.
Here's the BCS release on the scheduling:
As a result of continued uncertainty involving the upcoming National Football League schedule, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) group today announced a change in dates for three of its upcoming bowl games in order to avoid possible conflicts with NFL Monday Night Football.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl will be played Tuesday, January 3; the Discover Orange Bowl will be played Wednesday, January 4; and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl will be played Thursday, January 5. The Rose Bowl presented by VIZIO will remain Monday afternoon, January 2, and the Allstate BCS National Championship game remains Monday, January 9th.
“We consulted the involved parties and made a careful decision to choose dates that will ensure a prime-time showcase for our student-athletes while also being mindful of the potential for change in the NFL’s schedule,” said BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock. “At this point in time, we want to create certainty in a somewhat uncertain scheduling environment.”
Jeff from Boston writes: With their new defensive coordinator, how good can UCLA's safeties be? Best tandem in the PAC12? I expect BIG things from Tony Dye and Riley, especially with how good our D-line can be.
Ted Miller: Tony Dye and Dietrich Riley are a very good tandem, but there are a lot of good safety tandems in the Pac-12. Dye is a proven quantity who should emerge from the Rahim Moore's considerable shadow this fall, while Riley is a touted 2010 recruit who has flashed plenty of ability.
I'd rate Stanford (Delano Howell and Michael Thomas) and Oregon (John Boyett and Eddie Pleasant) ahead of Dye-Riley at this point, in terms of best tandems. And Washington State's Deone Bucannon and Tyree Toomer are pretty good, too.
Keep in mind USC's T.J. McDonald, California's Sean Cattouse, Oregon State's Lance Mitchell and Washington's Nate Felner are back this fall, while talented youngsters not unlike Riley -- Arizona's Marquis Flowers, Arizona State's Alden Darby, Utah's Terrell Reese and Washington's Sean Parker -- will be trying to make their marks.
Safety, in fact, seems like a strong position in the conference this fall.
Michael from Salt Lake City writes: When viewing your entry about ASU's schedule I noticed there was no mention of having to play a pivotal game at Utah on Oct. 8, one week before ASU plays Oregon. If you over looked the games importance, my hope is that ASU will too? This could be a huge trap game for ASU, as they look ahead to a top ten matchup the following week. My guess is that the winner of the Oct 8th game will represent the south in the Pac 12 title game.
Ted Miller: I mentioned the game without typing "Utah."
Key stretch: Is Arizona State just a solid bowl team, or something bigger? The Sun Devils will know by Oct. 16, after a six-game stretch that includes two tough nonconference games, two games with top South Division rivals and winds up with a trip to Oregon.
The "two games with top South Division rivals" would be USC and Utah.
As for the game being a "trap," I'd expect not. To me, a trap game is one that potentially might be overlooked. The Sun Devils would be well-advised not to overlook the Utes and I don't think they will.
Jim from Bellevue, Wash., writes: I've been reading your articles since you were at the Seattle PI. Normally I think you do great work, but I've noticed lately a lack of OSU info on your "lunch links". Is that because there is just no news of late from OSU, or is it because they finished 5-7 last year, or are there too many teams to cover now in the new PAC12 and OSU is getting the slight? What gives?
Ted Miller: You can blame the Pac-12 blog for a lot of things: the weather, the economy, the inexplicable popularity of "The Situation." But not a lack of links for Pac-12 programs.
I want to find links for every school, every day, but I have to depend on the work of others. When you don't see a link from your school, know that I spent more time looking for -- and failing to find -- one than with the schools that actually get a link that day. Not finding links makes my life harder, not easier.
A lack of Oregon State links? It's because I couldn't find any articles. The present explanation for the lack of Beavers links has to do with this little baseball team of theirs taking up all their beat writers' time.
Kona from Phoenix writes: I have two wonderful questions that your blog followers are dying to know:(i) How many emails do you get in your mail bag per week?(ii) What do you feel the odds are of a person getting their question posted and answered on your blog? A ball park estimate is fine.Bonus Question: Which university in the PAC-12 has the best mascot? It is a tough call with newcomer Colorado in the mix, but I still will not cross the Devil, so my vote is for ASU.
Ted Miller: ESPN.com is a busy place. I get a lot of mail. Not sure exactly how many. I know it's too many to read each week. I often hear from friends that they sent me a note and I never responded but that's typically because I didn't read their message.
Odds of getting a question posted? Not sure. I give the mailbag a first glance Friday morning and start flagging questions that catch my fancy. Then I start typing. I try to get a handful of diverse topics and tones. My general feeling, depending on the week, is I will review about 50 notes to get five to seven questions.
Mascot? The Tree.
Tom from Chicago writes: You sound like a real loser writing a USC article like an opposing fan. Just remember, your bosses at ESPN are bigtime USC fans. I'm sure they'll enjoy reading your biased rubbish. Furthermore, I'm sure your measely paycheck reflects your opinions. Enjoy your six pack of cheap bear and deli sandwich. You wish you were a Trojan.
Ted Miller: You misspelled "measly."
And, yes, I could use a turkey sandwich and a cold Bud right now.