Only a week ago, the college football season in our state was pregnant with possibility. Washington could contend for a Pac-12 title and Washington State had a bowl game in its crosshairs.
Then came the state of Oregon, raining 97 points on the local guys. Now, for both the Huskies and Cougars, the rest of the way is about proving they’re a lot closer to what came before than what happened Saturday.
Let’s say you’re a Husky fan and you had a friendly $5 wager with your Oregon neighbor back in 2004, using the point spread. Then you went double-or-nothing the next year. If you did that every season of the 10-year streak — during which the Ducks have not only won but covered the spread every time — you’d now owe your buddy $2,560.
If your preference is crimson, today you’re wondering how your team went from being ahead by a touchdown late in the third quarter, to a head-spinning stretch of 4:47, during which WSU was intercepted three times and had a deep-snapper embed the ball into the chest of a blocking back who wasn’t expecting it.
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“We’ve got to get that out of them,” said a flummoxed WSU coach Mike Leach, referring to an absence of resilience.
For both teams, back to the salt mines. Or the sand pit.
Stanford misses Stepfan Taylor. How else to explain the decision of Cardinal coach David Shaw to throw twice after a third-and-two from the Utah 6 in a game-deciding situation in Stanford’s first loss? Tyler Gaffney had 108 yards but that wasn’t enough to convince Shaw that pounding the ball behind a menacing offensive line was going to win it for Stanford.
Utah redirected the program. Not only had the Utes been 7-13 in Pac-12 games since entering the conference in 2011, they were finishing a stretch of three straight league games at home with a treacherous road ahead. Now they’re a much more realistic proposition for the postseason at 4-2.
“It’s like we just won the national championship,” receiver Dres Anderson told reporters.
The Pac-12 game of the year has been rerouted. Thursday night, Nov. 7, was going to be the showcase, Oregon at Stanford, when somebody would gather up all the chips. Now that game’s luster has been dimmed, and the one that could be critical is UCLA at Oregon on Oct. 26. But that’s only if UCLA can go to Stanford this week and beat the Cardinal.
It’s a new day at Colorado. Midway through a rebuilding season, Buffs first-year coach Mike MacIntyre has turned to true-freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau of Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, who had been a redshirt until Connor Wood began struggling.
Liufau was 18 of 26 for 169 yards and two interceptions and a fumbled snap in a hopeless loss to Arizona State. He’s now the starter.
Coach O fixes the USC offense. Next up, the defense. The Trojans, with offensive coordinator Clay Helton calling plays, splashed 38 points on Arizona. But interim coach Ed Orgeron, whose side is the defense, has challenges with a unit that allowed the Wildcats 508 yards, atop the 612 at ASU that got Lane Kiffin fired.
The Los Angeles Times wrote that ex-coach John Robinson, a frequent visitor to practice, offered counsel to Orgeron at the encouragement of athletic director Pat Haden, something Kiffin was less apt to embrace.
“He told me I needed to be the head coach,” Orgeron said. “I needed to make a point of spending time with the offense because I had been a defensive guy. That’s all. It was perfect.”
Long season in Berkeley. After a 37-10 loss at UCLA, Cal has gone a full calendar year without a victory over an FBS team.
The highlights are UCLA at Stanford, Washington at ASU and USC at Notre Dame.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org