Mr Pac-10's Weekly Review

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Sep 15, 2009

Collegefootballnews' Matthew Smith Reviews all the Pac-10 Games, Week Two

UCLA: The obvious team of the week, though Kevin Prince's injury hurts.
USC: This was the biggest game of the year so far, and they won.
Washington: They finally won a game.
Arizona: Their game wasn't noteworthy, but they get a bump after Central Michigan went into East Lansing and pulled off the big upset.

Cal: Nothing noteworthy about their game.
Oregon St: They finally get an early-season road win, but it was closer than they'd like to see.

Oregon: It's starting to look like they really are as bad as they seemed in week one.
Stanford: This was a really tough loss to swallow.
Washington St: Just a totally awful effort by the Cougars.

USC (-7) 18, @ Ohio St 15
my pick: USC 24, @ Ohio St 20

What to take from this:
Three things really struck me about this game:
1) This was the biggest crowd ever at Ohio Stadium, and the ESPN guys were saying all night that it's the loudest it had ever been. Ohio St had every inch of home field advantage going their way, except for weather (a cold November game would have been a nasty challenge for USC), and USC still pulled it out. Say what you want about how they did it, but that's a damn impressive achievement, against a legitimate top ten team no less.
2) That said, USC showed themselves vulnerable. 2004 or 2005 USC probably comes in and wins easily; ditto for superb teams of the decade like 2001 Miami, 2008 Florida, etc. This is still a very good team, but it's not up the usual standard.
3) USC was not the best team on the field; Ohio St played a better game, but USC won because their philosophy is fundamentally better. USC played aggressively, to win, and Ohio St played conservatively, not to lose. USC always goes all out, and that (along w/ the general attitude at the program) is why they never shrink away from the big moments. That, more than anything else, is why they were able to march down the field and score to take the lead, and why they held fast on defense afterwards. Of the 120 teams in the country, about 90 play soft defense after that score, maybe even prevent, and watch the other guys march down the field and score. That's why USC wins these games, and that's why you can never, ever count them out in any game.

@ Wake Forest 24, Stanford (+3) 17
my pick: Stanford 31, @ Wake 27

What to take from this:
This is the flip side of the above summary. Yes, Stanford got hosed by the officials, with the controversial clipping call and, as Phil Steele noted, a possibly errant touchdown call on the play that gave Wake the lead (I didn't see the game, so I don't really have an opinion on either). But I think the biggest point at which the game turned as late in the 3rd quarter, after Wake got a score to close within seven, and Stanford drove down the field, and then elected to kick a 44 yard field goal instead of going for it on 4th and 2. It's the sort of wimpy call that undermines a team's confidence, exactly the wrong thing to do when the other team is building momentum. Even worse, considering that they had a green kicker and were moving the ball well, they probably had a better chance of converting the first down than making the kick. Just a totally atrocious call.
All that said, though, this was a 9AM game, a cross-country road trip against a decent team, and Stanford led or tied all the way until the final Wake drive. One or two key plays go the other way and this is a win instead of a loss. It definitely hurts their bowl chances, but it's way too early to panic. As long as they don't blow either of their next two games, they'll be at 3-1 and in pretty decent position. Of course, their secondary still sucks, but they seem to be finding a way to compete anyway, which is a positive sign at least.

Oregon St (-7) 23, @ UNLV 21
my pick: Oregon St 35, @ UNLV 31

What to take from this:
I said this wouldn't be easy, and boy it wasn't, with the Beavers losing the lead late and needing a launch a last-minute drive to retake the lead and win the game. But the important thing is that they won, which is never something to take for granted in September road games for this team, so they have to be happy to walk away with the W. The secondary definitely needs some work, as they let UNLV come back with the two late touchdown drives, which is a huge concern with Cincy's high-powered passing game about to come to town. But the Beavers overall played a solid game, making good plays on offense and making the important plays when they had to, the sign of a mentally tough, well-coached, veteran team. There's certainly still work to be done, but this is a decent building block.

UCLA (+10) 19, @ Tennessee 15
my pick: @ Tennessee 28, UCLA 21

What to take from this:
UCLA was simply a better football team than Tennessee. Obviously the offense wasn't great, but the Vols have a legitimately good defense, and the UCLA D did everything it had to and more, carrying this team to one of the biggest wins of the young season. It definitely hurts to have Kevin Prince hurt, but by winning this game, UCLA has earned a tremendous amount of breathing room. At 2-0 with a reeling Kansas St on tap and both Washington schools still to come (not to mention reeling Oregon and struggling Stanford), a bowl game is a virtual lock and there is a real chance of making some major noise as the year goes on.

Hawaii 38, @ Washington St (+2.5) 20
my pick: @ Washington St 28, Hawaii 27

What to take from this:
Wazzu had five first-half turnovers and seven overall. That pretty much says it all. But in keeping with the aggressiveness theme, it was telling that, midway through the second quarter, down 35-0, with 3rd and goal on the Hawaii 3, the Cougars threw that ball and then kicked a field goal instead of trying to actually turn it into a ballgame by getting seven points. As it was, they made something of a run in the second half, but they might have actually had a chance had they gone into halftime only down 35-10 rather than a full four TD's plus one point. When you're that far down, you have nothing to lose, you should make the conscious decision to run the ball twice and tough out three yards for a score rather than screwing around with a pass and then setting for three points.

@ Oregon (-12) 38, Purdue 36
my pick: @ Oregon 35, Purdue 17

What to take from this:
This team is in deep trouble. The defense bailed out the team in this game, despite the high final score, with two touchdowns of their own plus another turnover and a number of key stops. Against what is probably one of the Big Ten's worst teams, in a must-win game at home, in a late kickoff for Purdue to overcome, the Ducks still couldn't put the game away until the final minute.

@ Washington (-20.5) 42, Idaho 23
my pick: @ Washington 34, Idaho 10

What to take from this:
The Husky defense gave up way too many yards, but other than that this was a decent effort. Other than them finally winning game, there really wasn't anything particularly remarkable about this one.

@ Arizona (NL) 34, NAU 17
my pick: @ Arizona 45, NAU 3

What to take from this:
Nothing. No injuries, not a close game, it's all good.

@ Cal (NL) 59, E Wash 7
my pick: @ Cal 45, E Wash 3

What to take from this:
Nothing. No injuries, not a close game, it's all good.

Pac-10 Games Record:
This Week: 1-1 SU, 3-4 ATS
Season: 15-3 SU, 7-6-1 ATS

National Games of the Week:

@ Michigan 38, Notre Dame (-3) 34
my pick: Notre Dame 34, @ Michigan 24

@ Georgia (-7) 41, South Carolina 37
my pick: @ Georgia 24, South Carolina 14

National Games Record:
This Week: 1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS
Season: 3-6 SU, 1-8 ATS

Bad Lines

UNC -4 @ UConn
Missed by 2 points

Minnesota -3.5 vs Air Force
Covered by 3.5 points

Auburn -14 vs Miss St
Covered by 11 points

Bad Lines Record:
This Week: 2-1
Season: 4-1

Mr Pac-10's 2009 Blog

Questions, comments or suggestions? Email me at

Related Stories
Monday Practice: The Maturation of McKnight
 -by  Sep 14, 2009
The Beginning of a Beautiful Rivalry
 -by  Sep 14, 2009
Robert Woods impressive in first two games
 -by  Sep 15, 2009