Boot Power Ratings: Nov. 15

Like the rapper Ludacris, Stanford is gunning for that No. 1 spot. Unlike Ludacris, however, the Cardinal could end up there in three weeks' time, with a little luck from the rest of the Pac-10. The BPR takes note in this week's Ratings and, as always, skewers the rest of the conference mercilessly.

1. Oregon 88

(Before any Stanford fans channel their inner Weenie and complain: Oregon is alone atop the Pac-10 and so they're our No. 1. Wouldn't make much sense to put someone else No. 1, only for them to end up in the Sun Bowl. Similarly, we normally don't pay head-to-head any special consideration, but Oregon State simply beat the snot out of Stanford for a solid half, final score notwithstanding, so they get the two slot.) Anyhow, the BPR's favorite moment from Saturday night's Oregon game proved that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. Arizona State used some turnovers to cut Oregon's lead to 10 near the start of the fourth quarter, and the Ducks faced a key third down at Autzen. Instead of shutting up and letting their team huddle, Oregon's fans are busy chanting, We want Blount," (though it did sound like "We want blunt, which also would make sense.) Throughout this, LeGarette Blount, a guy who absolutely needs to be on his best behavior if he ever wants to see the field, is motioning with both arms above his head for the crowd to keep cheering for him and louder -- nevermind actually letting the offense on the field have the best chance of winning the game. You'd think he'd have learnt to pay more attention to off-the-field shenanigans than on-field happenings. Unsurprisingly, Blount didn't see the field in Oregon's 44-21 win.
LaLa ran for 150 and three scores in the win. Upon hearing this, Toby Gerhart yawned and carried four USC defenders for another 12-yard carry.

2. Oregon State 87

Sean Canfield decided Halloween came two weeks late in Corvallis, as he dressed up as Peyton Manning to complete 21 of 29 passes for four touchdowns against the Huskies, who do seem to make every opposing quarterback into a Manning or an Elway. After clobbering Washington 48-21 in their home finale, the Beavers will attempt to gnaw through the logjam atop the Pac-10 standings, as the schedule now is Pullman, bye week, and then a visit to Eugene, possibly for a Rose Bowl trip. Oregon State's losses are by five, six and ten points to Arizona, USC and Cincinnati, respectively. No offense Stanford, but I think this is the best three-loss team in the nation.

3. Stanford 86

The instant Stanford kept its offense on the field when the score reached 48, I knew exactly what was going on, though I couldn't believe my eyes. Jim Harbaugh instantly conjured up the ghost of Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, who himself (Hayes, not his ghost) famously dialed up a successful two-point conversion with Ohio State up 48-14 on Michigan in 1968, in order to hang half-a-hundred on the Wolverines and win 50-14. Hayes later said, when asked why he went for two, "Because I couldn't go for three." Just one year later, the stakes were so high that when the Wolverines upset Ohio State 24-12, Michigan's players called it the greatest football game ever played -- and they meant it, and even today, forty years later, the decision has become part of Michigan/Ohio State lore, right along with Bo, Jim Harbaugh's former head coach, pushing the car back to Michigan to avoid paying Ohio sales tax.
They don't make larger-than-life coaches like they used to, but with two absolutely iconic victories over USC, Jim Harbaugh is channelling his old mentor Bo, and attempting to make the USC-Stanford rivalry every bit as bitter -- and every bit as nationally recognized -- as Michigan-Ohio State. Given the history associated with going for two when you're sitting on 48, which Harbaugh MUST have known as a Michigan quarterback coached by Bo, Jim Harbaugh just did the college football equivalent of tapping home plate with his bat and pointing to right-center, Babe Ruth-style, before launching a home run. Hard to make raise stakes higher than that. Consider 2007 and 2009 opening salvos in what's shaping up to be a ten-year war between USC and Stanford. Here at the BPR, we absolutely love it.

Bonus: By raising the stakes so high in the Stanford-USC rivalry, Harbaugh is also implicitly denigrating the Stanford-Cal rivalry, saying in effect that Stanford is too strong of a team for Cal to be its archrival (much like Harbaugh's alma mater doesn't consider Michigan State its main rival). If Stanford fans start to adapt that attitude and consider USC, not Cal, our main archrival, it will drive Weenies absolutely nuts, which we at the BPR also wholly endorse.

4. Arizona 85

The rose is off the bloom for Nick Foles, who caught his batted pass nine yards behind the line of scrimmage and then tried to pass it again, resulting in a 14-yard penalty that took the Cats out of game-winning field goal range and into a fourth-and-17 on their final drive. Oops. Soon, the rose will likely be off the bloom for the rest of the Cats, who managed only 273 total yards, allowed Cal's Shane Vereen 159 rushing yards when his quarterback was Kevin Riley, and still have ASU, USC and Oregon. Stanford needs the Cats over the Ducks in Tuscon this week, so let's hope Foles learns to drop the ball in the meanwhile (and can do better than five yards per pass).

5. Cal 82

Georgio Tavecchio kicked four field goals for the win, and, alongside LeGarrette Blount, is our nominee for this week's life is stranger than fiction award. From the AP recap: "[Arizona's] Travis Cobb took the ensuing kickoff [with five minutes left in the game] and looked like he was going to take it back a long way before Tavecchio somehow managed to trip him up at the 38. Coach Jeff Tedford said Tavecchio might be the team's worst tackler, making the play even more improbable. 'I just remember him cutting inside and I don't why, I kind of stuck my foot out," said Tavecchio, who needed stitches in his right leg after the tackle. "It must have been a reflex from my soccer days. I felt contact and looked behind me and the guy was on the ground. I got up and was like, 'Was that me?' It's a dream. I've never tackled anyone before.
Yes, Chris Owusu, you may start salivating now.

6. USC 55 (honorary)

The Trojans get an honorary score of 55. The reason escapes me at the moment, so maybe visiting USC fans would be kind enough to remind us of why on the message boards. Also, I don't see why Trojans are upset that the Cardinal went for two when they reached 48. Yeah, it's not the move you want your fourth-grader's Pee Wee coach attempting. Then again, seeing as Stanford ran for 325 yards, I think that two-point conversion was the only thing USC stopped all day. Speaking of which, it's said that USC is a Heisman trophy factory, and after 178 rushing yards and three touchdowns against the Magnums, Toby Gerhart can't help but agree.

7. Arizona State 67

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride for ASU, who lost by two two weeks ago, five last week, and pulled within ten late against Oregon before getting summarily obliterated, 44-21. The Devils have lost four in a row and six of their last eight, but could go to a bowl with wins over UCLA and Arizona, and might have found their quarterback of the future in Samson Szakacsy, the third-stringer who looked more impressive than his 13-of-22 line suggests. Don't know much about the quarterback's on-field talents, but I do know his first name is the stuff of dreams for punny headline writers, while his last name is the stuff of nightmares for copy editors. Weird stat of the week: how does Oregon go just 3-of-11 on third downs, yet score 44 points on the Devils? Crazy.

8. UCLA 54

SC fans call them the bRUINs, and the Bruins could indeed ruin the Pac-10's bowl record should they beat either Arizona State or USC down the stretch to reach win No. 6. Kevin "Hey, at least I'm not Kevin Riley" Prince somehow passed for 314 yards and no picks on 40 attempts -- oh right, they were playing Wazzu -- but more remarkable to the BPR is that even against Wazzu, UCLA didn't have a single running back go over 50 yards. Take away the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's scrambles, and the Bruins barely averaged five yards per carry, a number Stanford's offense could manage even if instead of facing a human D, it lined up against the Great Wall of China. But hey, UCLA, basketball season is underway!

9. Washington 48

Remember when the Huskies were ranked No. 24? Yeah, us neither. Perhaps that's because, after falling by 27 in Corvallis, the Huskies have now lost six of their last seven. The Huskies get a bye week to prepare for the Apple Cup, a game which could set the sport back to the Cold War era. My favorite footnote on this team: 3-7 Washington's wins have come against Idaho, Arizona and, of course, USC. That's some fine company to be in, Trojans. As for Washington, hey, basketball season is underway! (Speaking of which, Stanford football or Stanford basketball, which team wins more games this season?)

10. Washington State 4

Quarterback Marshall Lobbestael's line? 2-of-6 passing for six yards with three interceptions, for a quarterback rating of -58.27, per I'm 100 percent serious. He also had three sacks for -22 yards. The less said the better.

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