Power in conference continues to shift toward Eugene.
It was all set up for USC. The Trojans had Oregon at home, in front of 80,000 friends. They had the revenge motive on their side after a bruising in Eugene last year. They had a bye.
Despite all they’ve been through, they still had talent.
All that turned out to be worth a three-touchdown defeat against Oregon. And the axis of power in the Pac-10 seemed to continue shifting.
What we learned
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Oregon has a Glendale kind of look to it. Glendale, as in Arizona, where the BCS national-title game is Jan. 10.
It now looks pretty apparent that Auburn and Oregon control their destiny in the BCS race. And it takes a lot of imagination to see Oregon losing. Washington can’t stop much of anybody, let alone the Ducks.
Oregon has a history of problems at California, but the Bears likely will have an inexperienced quarterback under center.
Arizona, on Nov. 26, is problematic, but it’s in Eugene. And Oregon State isn’t as salty defensively as the past two years, when Oregon put up 102 points on the Beavers. The game is, however, in Corvallis.
John Canzano, Oregonian columnist, quoted former Oregon athletic director Pat Kilkenny as saying of the Oregon-USC game, “I wrote Chip (Kelly, the coach) a letter and said I’d never ask for anything else if he could beat their brains in for us.”
The lower-rung Pac-10 bowl affiliates are sweating. Arizona State (4-4), Cal (4-4) and Washington (3-5) are all dicey. ASU might need to win three more among USC, Stanford, UCLA and Arizona because it has two non-FBS victories and can count only one.
The Cal-Washington game Nov. 27 could be a bowl entry elimination game.
Steve Sarkisian has learned a hard lesson. The UW coach got ahead of his skis with optimism, both when he arrived and in fall camp this year. With three blowout defeats — and two hairbreadth victories — that talk looks empty now.
But the bigger message is one they’re learning at Arizona State, at UCLA and at Washington State. It takes time, people, it takes time.
Cal begins a new era. The career of the Bears’ Kevin Riley might be done after he sustained what looks to be a serious knee injury at OSU. Now Brock Mansion takes over, and backup Beau Sweeney could play this week at Washington State against his old high school teammate, Jeff Tuel.
When Riley was helped off the field, tears in his eyes, coach Jeff Tedford met him and appeared to kiss him on the forehead. It was a heartwarming gesture, and a reminder that there’s more to all this than whether your coach is on the hot seat or your team covers the spread.
Best game is Arizona at Stanford. The Wildcats should have quarterback Nick Foles available (not that they’ve missed him a lot). They also have the benefit in that they have two guys who present vastly different looks.
Times players of the week
Offense — LaMichael James, Oregon, was a 36-carry workhorse for 239 yards.
Defense — Matt Masifilo, Stanford defensive end, had two sacks among his five tackles in the historic shutout of Washington.
Special teams — Oregon’s Jackson Rice averaged 46.4 yards on five punts, two inside the 20.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or email@example.com