Out of the Pac

After a 14-1 run over the past three weeks with the picks, I hit a few bumps last Saturday. But then again, didn't we all? Still, with the 3-2 of this week, the past month has been kind at 17 for 20. More bumpiness is possible this coming Saturday as well, but first back to the week that was

California 28 – Oregon 27 (Pick: Oregon 24-21) One of the three conference match-ups that were not decided until the last few seconds of the game. A first quarter PAT that hit the upright kept the Ducks and Bears from a tie; a dropped 4th and 10 pass from Kellen Clemens to Keith Allen kept the Ducks from a win. California was led by running back J.J. Arrington's 188 yards – and the Ducks regret every one of them. Aaron Rodgers used TE Craig Stevens and WR Geoff McArthur to great effect. The Pac-10 at it's best… and…

Washington State 31 – UCLA 29 (Pick: UCLA 45-12)

… this is why we love the Pac-10. Are you kidding me? The Cougs… in Pasadena… and losers of 4 straight games? No disrespect to Washington State, their season was there for the tanking and they stepped up admirably. A perfect example of why the Pac-10 is the best football conference top to bottom, and exactly why we never get any respect from the BCS…

A failed two-point conversion attempt with 42 seconds left on the clock was the margin of victory. UCLA found themselves down 15 at 31-16, with the fourth quarter 12 seconds old - a direct result of WSU's Jerome Harrison running the ball through the middle of the Bruin defense to the tune of 42 carries and 247 yards – then came storming back to be position to tie the game. However, on the conversion try, the Cougar defense flushed Bruin quarterback Drew Olson and his desperation throw fell incomplete in the end zone preserving the visitor's victory.

A couple of further points… the annual second half implosion for the Bruins is officially in progress (the 4th straight time they have been beaten by WSU); and given the Cougs youth, this victory is likely to pay dividends as this group of players matures.

Arizona 23 - Washington 13 (Pick: Arizona 13-10)

The better team won… it will be interesting to see who does actually step forward to apply for the Husky head coaching position. In the recent few years, several high profile vacancies have settled for the third or fourth entry on their wish list. Good coaches generally are self-aware to the point they understand the ingredients necessary for success need to be in place before you take the job, not as a promise they are forthcoming. Your tenure won't be long enough to enjoy those particular fruits… Perhaps it is something other than money, boosters, location, and whatever else purple and gold, that is keeping the Huskies from being a success… and if a prospective coach gets a whiff of that… Arizona State 34 - Stanford 31 (Pick: ASU 35-10)

Once again – last second heroics were the order of the day. Sun Devil quarterback Andrew Walters connected for 52 yards and a touchdown as time expired to end the first half, then with nine seconds left in the game posted another TD on a 4-yard completion. The former moved ASU into the lead 17-14 at the half, the latter for the final margin. Why is it that we like the Pac-10??? Oh yeah… an old fashioned shoot-out from two teams that had both been unable to score at all a week prior… did I mention the BCS earlier??? … ditto…

USC 28 - Oregon State 20 (Pick: USC 45-17) Sleep walking in the fog makes more sense as a plot outline for the latest imbecilic blockbuster scare movie than it does as a game strategy to employ on the road in the Pac-10. USC got away with it. A better team, and it would not have had to have been a very much better team, would have beaten the Trojans. Then again, they could have simply stepped on the accelerator a bit more firmly… and rendered the point moot. It seems with Reggie Bush able to give a jolt at any moment, the Men of Troy are able to turn it on and off at will.

And now, for the week before the week before Thanksgiving:

Oregon State @ Stanford

A dicey game to pick a winner in… both teams have strengths – neither has an area it can be dominant in… both have consistently been inconsistent. Derek Anderson is playing well, and with TE Joe Newton more involved in the offense the Beavs are more able to sustain drives that would not survive given their rushing woes. Stanford's offense isn't sufficiently potent to outscore OSU, even though both teams will feature a solid defense. OSU 21-13

Arizona @ USC

No way, no how, not going to happen… Hope the landlocked lads get to see the beach… USC 55-6.

California @ Washington What an opportunity to prepare for the upcoming Apple Cup. Get pasted at home, and then head for the Palouse… maybe it will snow by then. Cal 48-6

UCLA @ Oregon To decide fourth, perhaps third, place in the conference final standings – depending on the game below. Bowl eligibility is also a victor's share. The Bruin defense has been horrible against the rush and Oregon's defense has been capable if not dominant this season. The Ducks run the ball, keep the UCLA's offense on the sideline enough to not be threatened by an inconsistent attack suddenly finding its way. Oregon 31-13

Washington State @ Arizona State

Arizona State can lay claim to undisputed third place in the conference with a win in Pullman, and yes, I know the Sun Devils still have to play at Arizona the Saturday after Thanksgiving. How much Washington State was able to build in their victory at UCLA will be a matter of some interest in projecting the coming season – but how much of that will be visible against Arizona State is perhaps the crux of the debate. Arizona State's senior leadership will be the difference, say 28-23.

Until next week… Happy Tailgating!!!

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