Dirty Dozen: the 40-to-life decision

It may just be the funniest one yet. Setting a new bar in hilarity is this week's Dirty Dozen. (Oh, and I'm classifying this story so it shows up on Oregon's site. Three weeks isn't too early... let the trash talk begin.)

Arizona

Based on the way they responded to the changing of the guard, I think it's safe to assume the players were happier to see Mikey S. go than the fans were. Providing a more relaxed atmosphere is interim coach Tim "Purple" Kish, who brought back the double-eagle flex defense to shut down UCLA's cap-gun offense, and instilled a fighter's mentality in his temporary troops. If Arizona can continue to run and pass protect like this, I might have to stop referring to their young blocking unit as the (L)OL.

Arizona State

Although they squandered an opportunity to make a splash on the national stage by losing to a hobbled Oregon team, ASU sits in the catbird seat atop the hapless South Division, having all but wrapped up a championship game appearance. If they can avoid an upset in the coming weeks (their remaining opponents have a combined .361 winning percentage) and some teams ahead of them fall, they could backdoor their way into the BCS at-large discussion.

California

For once in his well-traveled career, Zach Maynard was not the worst quarterback on the field last Saturday. Even more astounding is the prospect that he may well hold that distinction two weeks in a row when the barely bears head to Westwood to play the barely bruins. Zach's sudden emergence as a credible passing threat coincided with Tedford's decision to employ the roll-out strategy used by special teams coaches who have a weak punter. Meanwhile, the anti-Stanford sentiment has reached a new level of pettiness amongst kal backers, as they have replaced the term "redshirt" with "blueshirt."

Colorado

It's really hard for me to keep a straight face when discussing Colorado's prospects for future success in the Pac 12 when they were just slapped with consecutive 30-plus point spreads in what is being referred to as a down year in the conference. I understand they lost what few playmakers they had and are still trying to mask the stink that was left behind by Dan Hawkins, but they appear to be headed for freeloader status while the other schools bring in postseason revenue and new TV contracts.

Oregon

What's this? Off-the-field issues are overshadowing Duck football? Surely you jest. Anyone could have seen this one coming as Mr. We Smoked it All visited the state that pioneered the marijuana dispensary business model. There haven't been any details released as to what got Cheech Harris flagged for a pre-game unsportsmanlike penalty, but I'm guessing it had something to do with the pregame ritual that eventually led him to field a punt at the four-yard line and run backwards. You see kids, Oregon isn't a four-year decision; it's a 40-to-life decision.

Oregon State

All of the sudden, Mike Riley is a genius again. Electing to stick with the Mannion kid over erstwhile starter Ryan Katz garnered a lot of criticism from Beaver Nation, and some humiliating losses put the coach square on the hot seat for the first time in his storied Corvallis career. That bold move has paid off and has OSU on track for another one of their patented second-half runs, much to the dismay of Utah, who up until a few weeks ago penciled this one in as their first conference win.

Stanford

Good thing we live in the digital age as Stanford continues to rewrite the record book on a weekly basis. We also live in the "look at me" age, so it is particularly gratifying to watch the world's best quarterback forgo passing glory to let his teammates roll up unprecedented numbers on the ground. That crumpling sound you heard on Saturday night was Pac-12 defensive coordinators tossing their game plans focusing on taking away the pass in the trash. That other sound you heard was the computers at the BCS headquarters crashing when trying to tabulate Stanford's margin of victory. (Oh wait…)

UCLA

I nominate we stop referring to Ricky as "Neuweasel" and instead start calling him "Neuheistal" because he has been stealing a paycheck for some time now. In addition to being out-coached by a guy who had only been on the job for a couple of days, Neuheistal forgot to sub in his goons to start a fight and ended up with four starters being suspended. On an unrelated note, a sad example of how bad the officiating has gotten in the conference came when a streaker ran onto the field dressed as a ref and commanded more respect than the actual crew.

USC

The clash between the Southern Gals and Quitting Irish provided lots of story lines and talk-show fodder this week, but more importantly, the win puts another Stanford game in the national spotlight and on primetime ABC. Kid Kiffin is already trying to get a jump on his postgame excuses by declaring the Cardinal to be the most complete team in the nation, and how Andrew is the perfect quarterback. It's hard to believe that just a few short years ago our former coach was saying the same thing about their team.

Utah

So far, Utah has been the perfect guest, boosting the Pac 12's rating by winning all of their non-conference games while padding each of their new conference mates' win totals. Coach Wittingham is finding out that quality depth at this level is harder to maintain, even more so at the signal-caller position, as Jordan Wynn's departure has crippled his offense. As it stands now, the final weekend showdown with the Buffs will be an elimination game, as the loser will have its conference membership revoked.

Washington

Perhaps the Huskies celebrated a little too much upon returning to the Top 25 for the first time in eight years, or perhaps they were just overmatched. They were so worried about being burned by Andrew Luck, they forgot that Stanford's offense begins and ends with the running game. Luckily, the cure for what ails the mutts comes into town in the form of the Pac's worst ground attack, but Nick Foles and the mildcats certainly have visions of slicing up their beleaguered secondary if UW can't bounce back mentally.

Washington State

Apparently Paul Wulff is under the impression that the "Suck for Luck" strategy is not limited to NFL teams. That 3-1 start must seem like ages ago for Coug Fan as Wazzu has skid-marked their way to a three-game losing streak, the latest L coming against an undermanned Beaver team. I don't know what was worse: that the game was moved to Seattle to accommodate more fans, or that Jeff Tuel went back on the disabled list after re-injuring his collarbone. No need to wait for the groundhog to let Pullman residents know their winter is going to be bleak and long.


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