Dirty Dozen: The Sports Psychologist Edition

Some teams simply don't matter, some teams are drowning in metaphors, and some need a comfy couch and a therapist. There are 12 teams in the conference and we can count at least that high, so really, there's no excuse not to poke a little fun at our league brethren. Illegal in 37 countries, here is this week's Dirty Dozen.

The 49-0 loss to Oregon sets a high bar for futility, but somehow I think Washington State can clear it this week. The Cats still have that win over Oklahoma State, and with UCLA's flop, as good of a shot as anyone at knocking off the Fighting O.J.'s in the South. Rich Rod better hope his offense, his defense, something, anything really, takes hold in a hurry though. Otherwise he might go three and out again, in a repeat of his Ann Arbor run.

Arizona State
Oh, who cares? We don't play you this year. Your most famous football alum has greatly underperformed in the NFL. You're good enough to make a minor bowl and not embarrass yourself a la Colorado and Washington State, but not good enough to matter. Let me know if you upset Oregon or USC, but until then, see you in 2013 and good riddance.

Washington essentially stole Cal's latest recruiting class, right? So if Shaq Thompson and the Husky defense are going to have an incredible game and shut down the Cardinal, at least it results in a loss to Washington, and not a loss to Cal. Consider it a cosmic warning, Calfan. You may be smelling blood in the water after the last few Big Games, but it is in your sporting DNA to blow great opportunities.

Yeah, the Buffali eked out what should be their only win of the season, but this week, they suffered a bigger loss yet.

Playboy's top party school list came out. Colorado was the defending champion from 2011. This year, however, the entire conference went oh-fer. Colorado, ASU, Utah (I mean, it's probably a party relative to BYU, right?) were each shut out. Meanwhile, with four of the top seven schools, the SEC can claim yet another national title.

To remedy this, I propose the Pac-12 Network launch a reality show that travels to the biggest parties and tries to find the hottest co-eds on each campus. Only problem is, given our poor showing in America's men's magazine of record, we'd have to call it Girls Gone Mild.

For the rest of the Pac-12, those rumored NCAA sanctions cannot come quickly enough. In the meanwhile, how great would it be to select the four pictures that the Ducks put on a poster board and use to call their plays? I'd go duck pate, $25,000 check, marijuana blunt and Nike sweatshop, but that's just me.

Oregon State
On the plus side, you're undefeated. On the down side, it's only 2-0 with a hurricane week one and a bye week three. On the up side, the wins are quality: vs. Wisconsin and at UCLA. On the down side, the Pac-12 North looks like the tougher half of the league, again. What's indisputable is that you're still stuck in Corvallis. Sorry about that.

Theory: Cardinal players are more likely to choke under pressure. As examples I offer Josh Nunes, Ty Montgomery, anyone under Trent Johnson who couldn't make a free throw (to a first approximation, that's everyone not named Hernandez), a few of Tara's teams that shot 48 percent on the season only to go 5-of-26 in the first half of a Final Four, and the fact that our non-revenue squads seemingly lose national championship games twice as often as they win them.

Possible explanation: Our players are more cerebral and prone to overthink. As evidence, look at Nunes, who is halfway decent making the tough throws -- firing into tight windows or deep downfield – but consistently bounce passes the wide-open swing pass. Similarly, Montgomery drops the bombs that would go for scores, but seems more likely to catch the shorter stuff that is on top of him nearly as soon as it's released. In both cases, Stanford players are messing up the easier play that gives them more time to adjust and overthink. Instead, they convert the play where circumstances force them to make tougher, quicker reactions, leaving less room for harmful thoughts.

My kingdom for a sports psychologist.

They started 3-0 on the strength of a headline-garnering upset, and with their toughest games at the end of the season, anything seemed possible. Then everything came crashing down with an unexpected loss. Stanford fans wouldn't know anything about that trajectory, right? The Bruins should lose the right to play in the Rose Bowl if they keep disappointing their fans, and no, I'm not projecting my anger.

Entitlement U, ahem, USC is thinking they'll win out and be in the national title mix as 12-1 Pac-12 champions. But voters choosing between USC and another one-loss team are going to look hard at where that loss came, and dropping one to offensively challenged Stanford doesn't look as impressive as it did before Thursday night. Basically, even in losing, Stanford managed to defeat USC yet again. And yes, we did it because we're jealous.

See Arizona State. Replace "Jake Plummer" with "Alex Smith". Rinse. Repeat.

Washington State
Pirate Mike Leach is rapidly taking on water. He is up a creek without a paddle. He wet the bed and is crying a river. His team is treading water, unimproved from one week to the next, leaving fans wondering if he should take a long walk off a short plank. Whatever your aquatic metaphor of choice, losing a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead is nearly as bad as losing to Colorado. So congrats on the two-fer, Wazzu.

I was in Seattle in 2006, when Bo McNally returned a pick for a score and Stanford won its only game of the season, ushering in the end of the Willingham era. Maybe in 2012, when Trent Murphy returned a score in Seattle, Stanford lost its only game of the season. Seemingly unlikely, and I realize this has nothing to do with Washington – but Huskies, it's not 1991 anymore. Let's talk when you're the tiniest bit nationally relevant.

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