Now, if the vast middle of the Pac-10 will kindly stop trading — and taking roundhouses — we can get on to one of the season's marquee matchups. USC, with a bye, got to rest and watch Oregon's tidal-wave offense, and Saturday, the Trojans have their shot at No. 1.
Now, if the vast middle of the Pac-10 will kindly stop trading — and taking roundhouses — we can get on to one of the season’s marquee matchups. USC, with a bye, got to rest and watch Oregon’s tidal-wave offense, and Saturday, the Trojans have their shot at No. 1.
A top-ranked team has played at the L.A. Coliseum a bunch in recent years, only this time it’s not the Trojans. It’s the first time since Notre Dame in 1988 that the visitor is No. 1.
What we learned
Oregon looks serious about this national-title thing. The Ducks are trashing some old ways of looking at football, like time of possession. UCLA had the ball for more than 38 minutes the other night in Eugene. Like that did a lot of good.
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Verle Sorgen, the former Pac-10 supervisor of officials who now heads up the league’s video replays, told me Saturday the Ducks are making it hard on replay officials, because they click off plays so fast the guys in the booth don’t have sufficient time to look at each play, which they do routinely.
It’s hard to get through a season with one quarterback. Jake Locker’s woes at Arizona — and Matt Scott’s remarkable response to Nick Foles’ injury for the Wildcats — underscore the importance of having a capable backup.
Arizona looks well-positioned with Scott filling in for Foles, and Nate Costa has shown to be a capable fill-in for Darron Thomas at Oregon. Now we get to find out whether Richard Brehaut can save UCLA in relief of the oft-injured Kevin Prince, and Steven Threet (concussion) could miss this week’s game with Washington State.
Andrew Luck can be pressured. Consensus has it that Stanford’s quarterback is pretty much inviolate, playing behind the Cardinal’s big, bruising offensive line.
But WSU, though it never sacked Luck, delivered some solid hits to him. It intercepted him once, and dropped another stone-cold pick. Maybe the Huskies, who get Stanford next, can go to school on that.
UCLA could be entering free-fall mode. The Bruins, now 3-4, are probably going to be underdogs in every game the rest of the way. Though Brehaut has been erratic in his appearances behind Prince (who is out for the season after knee surgery), perhaps it will help that Brehaut is clearly now the guy. It can’t have helped UCLA’s continuity that Prince missed fall camp and much of practice after that with various injuries.
Sunday, normally designated for light conditioning, was scheduled to be a full-out practice day for the Bruins.
Things aren’t exactly sunny in Tempe, either. Arizona State was held to a mere 11 first downs and 234 yards by Cal’s bipolar Bears.
Besides the headliner in L.A., Cal visits Oregon State and Stanford is at Washington, where the Huskies have their biweekly “must” game.
Times Players of the Week
Offense: Scott strafed the Huskies for 233 yards on 18 of 22 passing and ran for 65 more yards.
Defense: ‘Zona linebacker Paul Vassallo had 14 tackles, including a sack.
Special teams: Cal’s Chris Conte had a blocked punt that he returned 17 yards for a touchdown.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org