Now that the particulars are out of the way, only three shopping days until Stanford-Oregon.
The Cardinal hosts the Ducks on Thursday night, which of course means two things: A treat on national TV for the viewing audience — the people who don’t have anything invested — and massive, unalloyed inconvenience for the home team’s fan base.
Arizona State’s visit to Washington State last week underscored the difficulty associated with the Thursday-night dates (toughest of anybody on the Cougars, who ask a large segment of their fan base to travel farther than any other school in the conference).
The game drew 20,000, smallest crowd at WSU in three years, put the school president, Elson Floyd, in the uncomfortable position of canceling afternoon classes to accommodate parking and reminded me of something about college football that makes it a game for Saturday, not Thursday.
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It is a social occasion, a time for friends to be together, and that effectively gets canceled on Thursday night. Saturdays, if you’re driving a considerable distance to attend a game, you’re likely building in some time before and/or after to tailgate, hang out or have dinner.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott’s pregame press gig was peppered with questions about the Thursday-Friday games. As he points out, the facilities boom in the league is directly reflective of the TV contracts.
But the sensitivity to the issue of weeknight games, and the proliferation of night games in general, is at a boiling point among league presidents. Be careful what you wish for: They were the ones who once urged Scott to make as much cash for the Pac-12 as possible.
Oregon-Stanford has a 6 p.m. start. That won’t be a problem for Stanford fans battling the Bay Area commute, right? Let’s call these Thursday-night games what they are: A sacrifice more than a showcase.
What we learned
The South did rise again. With dominating road victories by Arizona State and USC, it was a weekend to fete the Pac-12 South, which is looking much more formidable than it did weeks ago.
At Oregon State, the Trojans got their best victory under Ed Orgeron, and Marqise Lee again looked like the Biletnikoff Award winner. Orgeron got carried off the field on his players’ shoulders, and if this continues — like, if USC were to knock off Stanford in two weeks — there will be sentiment he should get a long look as permanent coach.
As for ASU, coach Todd Graham, in comments earlier in the week on offensive philosophy, didn’t seem to display a lot of affection for the system espoused by WSU’s Mike Leach.
“Over the years, I can figure out ways to stop things if you’re getting the ball thrown at you,” Graham told The Arizona Republic. “But if you’re just getting the ball run over you, in 28 years, I don’t have an answer for that. I can’t stand to be in a game where we have to throw the ball.”
Oregon State is getting exposed. Perhaps OSU is Exhibit A for Graham. The Beavers’ inability to run had a part in three Sean Mannion interceptions against USC and, on offense, the Trojans pounded the Beavers with the run.
The bottom-feeders get help from Tacoma. Bellarmine Prep product Sefo Liufau had a steady game at quarterback for Colorado in its competitive loss at UCLA, going 25 for 36. And California gave Arizona a tussle, as redshirt freshman cornerback Cedric Dozier of Lakes got his first start for the Bears.
“I’m excited about him,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes told reporters. “He competes hard, tackles well and is one of our more physical corners.”
Oregon-Stanford dominates the league and national picture, with Ohio State and Florida State faithful rallying around the Cardinal.
In the best game Saturday, Arizona State visits Utah.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org