Clardy's Corner - 10/11

Between his trip to South Bend / Chicago this past weekend and the heat of the MLB playoffs and NFL season hanging over him at ESPN Radio, it's a short week for Troy Clardy. He was thankfully still able to fire us his latest weekly waltz around Stanford and Pac-10 football. What did he see in South Bend on Saturday, and what did he hear on the radio driving back to the Windy City? Let's check in.

Can you believe it's the halfway point of Stanford's season? Believe it. Six down, six to go. Seems like as good a time as any, in this abbreviated version of the Corner, to bring you a nice dose of…

RANDOM PAC-10 THOUGHTS

Four weeks ago, if you had showed me a tape of Stanford's defensive effort against Notre Dame, I would have questioned if that was really the same defense.  They competed again this week.  Great tackling by Tim Sims and Wopamo Osaisai, and Michael Okwo was nearly brilliant.  It's amazing what this defense has been able to accomplish the past two games, relative to its first four…

That doesn't mean there still isn't room for improvement…  Notre Dame took advantage of Stanford's aggressiveness by using misdirection plays.  Heck, I would venture to say that most, if not all, of Notre Dame's more important plays came as a result of misdirection…

Stanford's opening drive was as good as this offense has been since the San Jose State game.  If you taped the game, watch the trap blocking by Stanford tight end Erik Lorig, whose big blocks helped spring Anthony Kimble for important gains…

Two years ago in South Bend, little things cost Stanford's offense against Notre Dame.  In 2006, it was the same story.  Kelton Lynn's dropped pass in the end zone, Richard Sherman's drop of a big gainer, and Trent Edwards' failed third-down sneak were all little plays that prevented Stanford from making bigger plays down the stretch…

If you've never been to Notre Dame on game day before, go.  Even if you hate Notre Dame and all the things their football program stands for, you can't deny how special that campus is on Saturday afternoons in the fall.  For better and for worse, Notre Dame is the poster child for what football can do for a university, and how powerful it can be in bringing alumni, students, and the community at large together.  It's a lesson I wish some folks in the Stanford community would learn…

Stanford and Arizona this weekend, eh?  Hmmmmmm… first one to four points wins!

I liked the fact that my rental car came with an XM satellite radio, which came in handy on the drive back to Chicago as I listened to the other Pac-10 games.  It was interesting to eavesdrop on Oregon State's Mike Parker, Arizona's Brian Jeffries, and cal's Joe Starkey).  Two of those guys didn't have much to get excited about… but what a bonanza for the other guy…

Speaking of driving to Chicago, is there a worse stretch of road in America than the Chicago Skyway?  Every time I drive across that thing, it's always under construction, always in shoddy shape, and always jam-packed.  And to top it off, you have to pay $2.50 to cross it.  Both ways!

I tuned into the UCLA-Arizona game just in time to hear that Ben Olson had just left the field due to a knee injury.  Not good.  Then came the news on Monday that he'll miss at least the next four weeks.  Who are the Bruins' next four opponents, you ask?  In order: Oregon, Notre Dame, Washington State, and cal.  Patrick Cowan looked good on Saturday, but this could be a long month for Olson and the rest of the Bruins…

I don't know what shocks me more about this week's polls, the fact that U$C is number two in the coaches' poll, or that Arkansas, on the strength of their incredible win over Auburn, is 17th.  I'm questioning whether they both should really be that high…

Stock up:  Justin Forsett, the cal running back everyone forgot about.  Stock down:  Marshawn Lynch, whose season hasn't gone quite as planned…

OK, I admit… I was wrong about cal.  Boy, was I wrong.  What a dominating performance that was.  Maybe the Ducks were shocked because their opponents were wearing more garish uniforms than they were…


PAC-10 PICKS

UCLA @ Oregon.  With Ben Olson out of commission, the key to this game is Chris Markey.  He will need to be the pace-setter for UCLA's ball-control attack.  I think Markey will get a few yards on the Duck defense, but at some point, they're going to have to throw the ball in a key situation.  That's why I like Oregon by 19.

cal @ Washington State.  The Bears' machine hums into the Palouse, and I don't think they'll miss a beat.  I like cal by 16.

Oregon State @ Washington.  The Beavers head to Seattle, where the Huskies are still mad at the final sequence of that game against U$C.  Looks like Oregon State might be heading into a buzzsaw here.  I like Washington by 18.

Arizona State @ U$C.  At some point, the Trojans have to dominate someone, don't they?  Don't they?  I like U$C by 23.

Last week: 3-1 (straight-up), 3-1 (ATS).
This year: 8-3 (straight-up), 7-4 (ATS).

Got a thought on this column, on Stanford sports, or anything else in general?  Drop me a line at troyc@thebootleg.com and the best e-mails will be answered in next week's Clardy's Corner Inbox!


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