Clardy's Corner - 10/29

Pac-10 play is precisely half-complete at this point, which means things are set to soon wind down - yes? Quite to the contrary, Troy Clardy is just getting warmed up. After having watched every team in the conference for now at least five minutes of televised or live action, Troy has the definitive "take" on what's up with what's going down. Read on for his latest, including several Stanford notes...

This is the exact midpoint of the conference race, with 20 Pac-10 games down and 20 Pac-10 games to go. With that in mind, it seems like a perfect time to check in and see how everyone is stacking up. You know them, you love them, it's a Clardy's Corner chock full of…

RANDOM PAC-10 THOUGHTS

Autzen Stadium is the best facility in the Pac-10, hands down. No one else even comes close. Good sightlines, good concessions, an opulent club, and (most important), a press box to die for. To paraphrase an old Bill Walsh quote, that place is Star Wars compared to everything else in college facilities…

But I'll tell you this much: Stanford Stadium's new JumboTron is better than theirs!

Mark Bradford is a superstar in the making. I can't wait to see what else he has in store for us in his career. Heck, I can't wait to see what else he has in store for us this season…

I thought two guys stood out on Stanford's defense: John Alston made some big hits (just a typical day at the office for him). With a couple of nice tackles and a deflected pass, true freshman Nick Frank made some plays while he spelled Babatunde Oshinowo throughout the game…

Last night I was watching "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown", and it dawned on me: the Stanford offense right now is like the Great Pumpkin. You believe it exists, you badly want others to believe it exists, you wait all year for it, and then when you get a tantalizing glimpse of it, it turns out to be a mirage…

If you haven't read Vancouver's breakdown of the Cardinal's breakdown at the goal line on the BootBoard Plus yet, do it. Excellent synopsis. That whole sequence was one of the more remarkable things I've ever seen, but for all the wrong reasons. I've seen goal-line stands before, but nothing ever quite like that…

Something else I've never seen before: a double-covered receiver on an end-zone fade pattern, as Evan Moore was during Stanford's second-quarter goal-line failure…

Cutback running from Terrence Whitehead killed the Stanford defense, along with Oregon's steady diet of misdirection and counter plays. Wouldn't surprise me to see a lot more of that from opponents as the season continues…

Quote of the Week, courtesy of my buddy Jeremy, who left me a voicemail on Sunday afternoon that contained the following: "Dude, I can't believe Kwame Harris just outscored the entire Stanford football team this weekend."

Question: who's the best quarterback in the Pac-10 right now? In a conference that is historically known for superior signalcallers, this was supposed to be the season that Cody Pickett and Andrew Walter dominated, while Derek Anderson burst onto the scene. None of that has happened. Pickett and Walter may actually be regressing (although Walter doesn't have the same supporting cast he had last year), while Anderson can't stop coughing up the football at an alarming rate. Right now, the Pac-10's best quarterback might be Matt Leinart, but that's probably more by default than anything else…

At the same time, defense and running have taken over the Pac-10. As I mentioned in my Pac-10 Preview, as long as I've been following this conference, the team with the best quarterback has always won all the marbles. This year may buck that trend. U$C's defense needs no introduction, and the "Tailback U" days may return if Dennis, White, and Bush keep running like they have been. Wazzu's running game isn't the most dangerous in the world, but their defense is very quick, very aggressive, and very underrated. UCLA's defense and their running game has helped carry them to the top of the Pac-10 standings. Defense and rushing have been components of the last ten Pac-10 champs, but they were never the main reasons why a team was playing in Pasadena. This year, …

Kaboom! That's the sound of Reggie Bush blowing up. Everyone knew that was just a matter of time…

Can I nominate Keary Colbert as the wide receiver for the Pac-10's All-Underappreciated and Overlooked Team?

There was actually a situation this past weekend where a team faced 3rd-and-50. That's where the Huskies found themselves down by nine to U$C in the third quarter. After recovering a Trojan fumble at the U$C 16, the Huskies were penalized on first down, then threw an incomplete pass on the first down replay. On second down, Cody Pickett was sacked, and the ball wasn't recovered until Washington lineman Khalif Barnes came up with it back at the Washington 44, a 32-yard loss. So what's in your playbook for 3rd-and-50? Normally when you complete a 21-yard pass on third down, as Pickett did, you're moving the chains. Not so in this case…

Here's a recap of Washington State's offensive possessions in the first half of their win over Oregon State: interception, punt, touchdown, downs, touchdown, interception, punt, interception, punt, fumble, punt, punt, fumble…

I would recap the second-half drives, but, quite frankly, it gave me a headache. I'll spare y'all the pain…

I think I asked this before, but I'll ask it again: where would the Beavers be without Steven Jackson?

So much for the new-and-improved Arizona Wildcats… Adimchinobe Echemandu ran through those guys like two bowls of Raisin Bran…

Not a Pac-10 thought, but… Portland International Airport is now my favorite airport ever. Expansive design. Gorgeous carpet. Easy to get around and through. Airport food that doesn't cost an arm and a leg (do yourself a favor and stop by the Rose City Café, where you can get a big double cheeseburger for about $8 and a pint of microbrew for $4… normally at an airport it seems that those items cost twice that much). And no sales tax. In short, Portland Airport rocks…


PAC-10 PICKS

Phew! My numbers ATS look like Stanford's numbers in the red zone…

UCLA @ Stanford. Stanford is having trouble scoring. The stingy UCLA defense is in town. The Stanford defense has shown flashes of brilliance. The UCLA offense is about as exciting as a trip to the DMV. Hmmmm. First team to four points wins. I like UCLA by 8.

Washington State @ U$C. The most important Pac-10 game so far. The deck may be stacked against the Cougars here; they're a bit too banged up, and they commit too many penalties. U$C wins this one, but this one might not get decided until early in the fourth quarter. I like U$C by 10.

Oregon @ Washington. The most heated rivalry in the Pac-10 heads to Seattle. Oregon got their groove back against Stanford, while Washington got knocked back to reality. The problem is that the Duck defense still can't stop the pass, which is a problem when Cody Pickett and Reggie Williams are on the opposite sideline. Charles Frederick might not play much with a chest bruise, but it might not matter. I like Washington by 8. And take the over.

Arizona @ Oregon State. Steven Jackson averages over 126 rushing yards per game. The Wildcats allow 194 rushing yards per game. You do the math. There's no reason Derek Anderson should even attempt a pass here. This won't take long. I like Oregon State by 19.

cal @ Arizona State. Andrew Walter says he'll play, but how long will his ankle hold up? More importantly, how will the A-State run defense hold up against Echemandu? Even so, I see the Bears moving the ball, but somehow I don't see them closing out many possessions with scores. I like Arizona State by 11.

Last week (straight up): 3-2, (ATS): 0-4-1.
This year (straight up): 14-6, (ATS): 7-12-1.

Got a thought on this column or on Stanford sports?  E-mail me at gocardinal@knbr.com!  The ones I like best will end up in next week's E-Mailbag…

Troy Clardy is a reporter for the Stanford Cardinal Farm Report, which airs Saturday mornings at 8:30 on Fox Sports Bay Area.


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