Amy, aka Gridiron Goddess, will be joining us this season for some dispatches from the PAC-10. We’ll kick off with her recap from last week, first published on her blog, Gridiron Goddess, and look forward to her future insights. Welcome, Amy. Glad to have you for some West Coast flavor.
It was an interesting weekend for the Pac-10. With the exception of Stanford @ UCLA, the Pac-10 went undefeated against four different conferences, including future Pac-12 member Colorado. Let’s take a look:
USC vs UVA : – 17-14 USC. Where did last week’s offense go? We sputtered offensively and GOD you know I love my Trojan football but when you’re heading into the 2nd quarter and the score is still 0-0, AND you’re sitting up in Row 90 with fog rolling in… well its not all that exciting. The good news is our defense looked much better this week. The bad news is it was against a mediocre at best ACC team. USC was up 14-7 at the half, 17-7 near the end of the 4th, and then the defense allowed a late TD from the Cavaliers. Winning 17-7 is one thing. Winning 17-14 is another and it is very strange to win and feel like you lost. I am very worried for the start of Pac-10 play. With USC @ Minnesota next week and @ Washington State the following week we should head into the meat of our schedule 4-0 but have no real clear indicator of whether this team is good, out of shape, or just plain bad. Our next home game is vs. Washington and GULP-Steve Sarkisian and Jake Locker scare me.
Oregon @ Tennessee – 48-13, Oregon. The Ducks are a force to be reckoned with. They went down to Rocky Top and hung 48 points on the Volunteers. Oh and by the way, those 48 points are the most allowed @ Tennessee since Washington State scored 52 points in 1988. With Oregon now ranked #6 in the Coaches poll, they are within striking distance of being a national title contender.
Stanford @ UCLA – 35-0, Stanford. I said in my 2010 Pac-10 Preview (Part One) that I wasn’t sure Stanford would be able to match last season’s 8 wins. I have changed my mind. Stanford is the main challenger to Oregon for the Pac-10 title. The Cardinal went into Pasadena and shut out Coach Neuheisel’s Bruins. Stanford being so strong is not that much of a suprise. Andrew Luck is one hell of an efficient passer, runner and clock manager. What is shocking, even to this Trojan is how bad UCLA is. Stanford was 9-16 on 3rd down conversions to UCLA’s 1-9. UCLA turned the ball over 4 times, Stanford never did. Kevin Prince threw 2 interceptions to Luck’s zero. UCLA fumbled twice, Stanford never did. Jim Harbaugh went in and decimated the Bruins. Oh, and by the way, Stanford pitched that shutout on the road without two of their best players – LB Shayne Skov and WR Chris Owusu. It will be interesting to see how Stanford’s season plays out. UCLA – well, they might finish ahead of Washington State, but right now it’s hard to imagine them really competing in the top half of the conference.
Cal vs Colorado – 52-7 Cal. Colorado is no powerhouse, but they may be nervous about their 2012 date to join the Pac-12 after being totally dominated by the Golden Bears in Berkeley. Cal’s new defense was remarkably efficient in dominating the line of scrimmage. Colorado turned over the ball five times, lost two fumbles and QB Tyler Hansen threw three interceptions.
Washington vs Syracuse -41-20, Washington. It is clear that this Washington team is on the rise. Sure, they absolutely SHOULD have beaten Syracuse, but 2-3 years ago this game would not have been a gimme. QB Jake Lockers connected with WR Jermaine Kearse for three teams en route to their convincing victory over the “Cuse. After getting off to a slow first quarter start, the Huskies rolled with Locker completing 22 of 33 and hitting seven different receivers. Washington’s offense was expected to be one of the best in the conference with Locker under center. Last week against BYU, the Huskies faltered. By the second quarter Saturday night, they hit their stride.
Washington State vs Montana State -23-22 Wazzou. Well hey, lookie there the Cougars won a game. Never mind that it took a herculean 4th quarter effort to make it happen. The crowds were rejoicing in Pullman Saturday night. Oh and that effort was required against an FCS opponent. I’m worried about my Trojans in Pac-10 play, but I am terrified for Wazzou. This program needs wins to gain the confidence to keep winning. And I am not sure they have quite the firepower for that yet.
Arizona State vs Northern Arizona -41-20 ASU. Looks impressive, right? It really isn’t. NAU is another FCS school that the perennial Pac-10 pre-season contender (until they implode) ASU should have beat without breaking a sweat. The game was 17-10 at the half and 27-20 at the end of three. Only QB Steven Threet’s two 4th quarter passes put the game out of reach for the NAU Lumberjacks.
Arizona vs Citadel -52-6 Arizona. This was just a good old-fashioned rout of another outmatched FCS team down in Tucson. I mean, do we really gain anything beating up on non-FBS conference teams. Sure Nic Grisby rushed for three touchdowns including one that was 62 yards. Sure QB Nick Foles completed 17 0f 22 passes in three quarters, but do we really know how this team will stack up against Oregon and Stanford? That is the problem I have with these cupcake out of conference schedules. Arizona is good, but Pac-10 play is brutal and it will determine just how good these Wildcats are.
-Your Gridiron Goddess
[photo: Harry Howe, Getty Images]