Unfettered hype may now commence. The Pac-12 football game of the year, forecast and played out, is Oregon at Stanford on Nov. 7, tarnished some but not stained irreversibly by the Cardinal loss at Utah on Oct. 12 (and how’d that happen?).
Has ESPN had a better game on a Thursday night? With Stanford at No. 5 in the BCS rankings after it beat Oregon State, it suggests that it’s still all out there for the Cardinal if it can repeat last year’s victory over the No. 2 Ducks.
What We Learned
Defense is still played in the Pac-12 (as well as bad offense). You’d probably have to thumb through years of league records to find two games — Utah-USC and Stanford-Oregon State — in which neither team toted up as much as 300 yards of offense.
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The quarterbacks from UCLA and Stanford, teams that have both been in the top 10, combined to throw for 152 yards.
Brett Hundley’s 64 yards at Oregon was UCLA’s fewest since Nov. 18, 2010, the night at Husky Stadium Washington launched its three-game drive toward a bowl game, when — trumpets, please — Richard Brehaut, Clayton Tunney and Darius Bell completed nine of 25 (three to the Huskies) for 55 yards.
There are coaches with some chutzpah. Oregon, already down 7-0, and facing fourth-and-14 at its 26 in the first quarter, ran a fake punt, and the middle parted like a freeway at midnight, allowing Rodney Hardrick to run 66 yards for a first down.
Colorado, down 34-20, at its own 17 as the fourth quarter started, elected to try a fake punt on fourth-and-five. Darragh O’Neill got 1 yard and Arizona scored two plays later to take a three-touchdown lead.
Funny how these things work at Oregon but not at Colorado.
Meanwhile, file in the foolhardy category Utah’s ploy with 20 seconds left in the first half at USC and the Utes at their own 40. They inserted backup quarterback Adam Schulz, who inexplicably fired a deep pass over the middle that was intercepted and nearly run all the way back. The Trojans kicked a short field goal for a 16-3 halftime lead.
At different levels, impatience is setting in. After his team’s 44-20 loss to Arizona, Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said he’d only take three questions, saying in frustration of the Wildcats, “We can beat that team.”
In Eugene, UCLA coach Jim Mora said a halftime tie with the Ducks gave him no solace. His voice rising, he said, “It’s time for UCLA to be something different. Turn the page and win those games.”
The prognosis isn’t great for Zach Kline. Kline is the hometown boy who was going to lead Cal out of the depths bequeathed by Jeff Tedford and assumed by Sonny Dykes. Except Kline was beaten out by true freshman Jared Goff. Last week, after a reopening of the competition, Goff prevailed.
After Cal’s 41-17 loss at Washington, Dykes didn’t sound a note of optimism for Kline, saying, “We just feel Jared is the long-term solution at that position.”
The Pac-12 South is anybody’s guess. Arizona State (5-2, 3-1) leads three teams (UCLA, USC and Arizona) with a pair of league losses each. But the Sun Devils don’t have anything left resembling an easy mark.
Quote of the Week
Scott Frost, Oregon offensive coordinator, to USA Today, after the Ducks’ 42-14 victory over UCLA: “That was the toughest easy win we ever had.”
ASU comes to Pullman for a Halloween-night game, and USC visits longtime nemesis Oregon State on Friday night. On Saturday, rake leaves or clean gutters. The two-game schedule is dreadful.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org