Sunday, October 10, 2010

What We Learned - Week Six of Pac-10 Football

The Pac-10 football season is half over. What did we learn this week?

Oregon (6-0 overall, 3-0 in Pac-10 play) beat WSU (1-5, 0-2) by the score of 43-23 in Pullman. We learned that Oregon, even when playing relatively poorly, is still good enough to beat WSU by three touchdowns. We learned that Nate Costa is indeed the "1B" QB for the Ducks as he looked just as good as starter Thomas when the later had to leave due to a minor shoulder injury. And we learned YET AGAIN, that fumbling the frickin' football - especially on kick returns - keeps the other team in the game and a threat. Indeed, if you take a way the gift kick fumble at the Oregon six yard line and the ensuing quick TD by WSU, this game is at least 43-17. And, there were two other fumbles lost by the Ducks that did not lead Cougar points, but that terminated promising drives that could have ended in scores.

We learned once again that no team in the Pac-10 should be overlooked, and that winning on the road is a significant feat in any season. We learned that WSU has a heartbeat and can get jacked up enough for a game at home to put a scare into other teams. We also learned that even this is not enough to win for them.

Oh, and we learned that if you had to listen to the WSU radio broadcast of the game (as I had to given that no TV deal could be reached to show the game in Seattle) that you actually had no idea what was happening through most of the game. The two announcers seemed to be enjoying the game themselves, but being able to describe little things like how many yards were gained on a play, what down it was, who was making tackles or running the ball, how much time was left or even telling the difference between a punt return and a regular offensive play...well, that was too much to ask of them.

Most important, we learned that football is just a game and unimportant compared to a person's health.  Oregon RB and kick returner Kenyon Barner took a vicious hit to the head by a WSU player and had to be helped off the field after laying there for 10 minutes. He walked off, but was quickly put into an ambulance and taken to the hospital for observation. Reports are that he is OK, but in any case those type of things put sports into perspective.

Arizona State (3-3, 1-2) beat Washington (2-3, 1-1) by the score of 24-14 in Seattle. We learned that ASU is not down the tubes after a couple disappointing losses. We learned that the UW defense is pretty dang bad. We learned that UW hopes for a bowl game are on life support now, and we were...well, more reminded, than learned...that despite and to the contrary of all the hoopla, UW QB Jake Locker is not that good. Good luck to him in the NFL (and hey, if ends up on the Seahawks and is their savior...count me in big time), but for now and in college...he'd just not up to snuff to win games for the UW on a consistent or meaningful basis.

Oregon State (3-2, 2-0) beat Arizona (4-1, 1-1) by the score of 29-27 in Tucson. We learned that Arizona is not an unbeatable juggernaut. We learned that a bye week and home filed does not translate into a win. And we learned - as we always seem to about this time of year and onward - that Oregon State is a ballsy team to reckon with. They are right on track to be at the top of their game for the Civil War.

Stanford (5-1, 2-1) beat USC (4-2, 1-1) by the score of 37-35 in Palo Alto. We learned that Stanford can bounce back after a tough loss and has the weapons to beat anybody in the conference - especially at home. We learned that USC may be on a downslide now that their hopes of a "statement" by going undefeated or competing for the league title are gone.

Cal (3-2, 1-1) beat UCLA (3-3. 1-2) by the score of 35-7 in Berkley. We learned that Cal isn't dead yet and UCLA is, as always, inconsistent.

What have we learned overall now that the season is half over?

  • While beatable, Oregon is the best team so far and the road to the league championship goes through Eugene. Expectations are winning the Pac-10 at minimum.
  • Oregon State and Stanford are the next best teams with expectations set on either winning the league or finishing in the top three for appearances in decent bowls.
  • Arizona is a very close fourth with the same expectations at this point as Stanford and OSU.
  • Cal, UCLA and USC are in the same orbit with all but USC (on probation) seeking to win more than they lose to get to any bowl game.
  • UW is not good and will probably not make a bowl game. 
  • WSU is still going to finish last.

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