With Jeff Tedford no longer a genius, Stanford players muscling up and UW fans storming the field after beating Oregon State, it's a new world in the Pac-12.
Used to be, there were things you could count on in Pac-12 football:
Jeff Tedford was a genius. Stanford had all these finesse players who could run around and catch a football. Washington beat Oregon State with the regularity of the electric bill.
Now Tedford is an oaf, or so he’s judged by a swelling faction of disgruntled Cal backers. Stanford’s guys look like dock workers, and its weakness is a lack of finesse guys who can catch the football.
And nowadays, when Washington beats Oregon State, the students storm the field.
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What We Learned
Oregon scores 70, and it’s a bad day. Yes, the Ducks were almost impeccable in beating Colorado 70-14. But they lost defensive end Dion Jordan to injury, and two teams they’re contesting for a possible BCS title-game berth, Kansas State and Notre Dame, brushed off what were supposed to be big challenges to stay unbeaten.
Not only that, the losses by USC and Oregon State diminish Oregon’s strength of schedule in the computers.
CenturyLink Field has been a pretty good rental for the Huskies. Often, when programs are uprooted for stadium remodels, the temporary home is less than satisfactory. But Washington and its fans have made the best of the hiatus from Husky Stadium, beating everybody but USC and downing ranked teams in Stanford and Oregon State.
Lane Kiffin got clocked in Tucson. In the final seconds of USC’s 39-36 loss at Arizona, the USC coach opted to signal in a play to quarterback Matt Barkley, rather than have him spike the ball at the Wildcats’ 48 and squeeze in an extra play, which could have set up a tying field goal.
All that would have meant was overtime, which could have meant victory, which could have preserved a possible run at a national championship.
Among other things, Kiffin is also getting questioned in Los Angeles for USC’s 23 penalties in two weeks.
Matt Scott got his pound of flesh. Arizona’s abrupt rise under first-year coach Rich Rodriguez is startling, and a lot it has to do with Scott. Honk if you’ve got a better choice today for all-league quarterback.
As a high school quarterback at Centennial in Corona, Calif., Scott lost a celebrated game to Barkley’s Mater Dei team, 51-37, in which, like Saturday, both teams put up all sorts of extreme numbers.
The Pac-12 South is a complete mess. USC is 4-2, Arizona State and UCLA 3-2 and Arizona 2-3. There are four head-to-head games left involving them, so November will sort it all out.
The Bears have left the building. Apparently so, anyway, after Cal’s 49-27 loss to a Utah team that had been shy of offense, dropping the Bears’ record to 3-6 and almost ensuring that this will be a second season in three without a bowl game.
Tedford denied to the Oakland Tribune that the Bears have bunched it in, saying, “Not at all, no way. We have not lost this team.”
Washington State may be building something on defense. The Cougars have shut down Oregon State and Stanford and for a good portion of the game, troubled Oregon’s explosive offense.
WSU needs help on the back end, but with the exception of standout senior Travis Long, just about everybody returns to that unit next year.
Jim Mora avoids another kicker moment. Remember when Mora, as Seahawks coach in 2009, called out kicker Olindo Mare for missing field goals in a loss to the Bears? At Pac-12 media day, Mora admitted he “lost a little bit in the locker room” and promised, “I’ll never do it again.”
Saturday at Arizona State, Mora had another weird kicker experience when punter Jeff Locke, part of the coin-toss ceremony before the game, mistakenly said, “We’ll kick,” instead of “defer,” and officials were bound to let ASU receive at the start of both halves.
The Bruins survived it, won 45-43, and Mora took the blame for Locke’s faux pas. In his first year as a college coach, Mora has the Bruins at 6-2, their earliest bowl eligibility since 2005, when they began 8-0.
The long-awaited USC-Oregon game arrives in L.A., with a lot less luster than was once projected. Arizona and UCLA meet, also in Los Angeles, and Friday night, revitalized Washington tests Cal’s resolve.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org