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Mr Pac-10’s Weekly Review
AP - Matt Sayles
Mr Pac Ten
Posted Nov 19, 2009

Collegefootballnews’ Matthew Smith Reviews all the Pac-10 Games, Week Eleven

Stanford: The biggest win they’ve had in a very long time.
Cal: This could be the start of a turnaround.
UCLA: There are signs on life in Westwood.
Oregon St: After a dominating win like this, no one will be forgetting about the other Rose Bowl contender.

Oregon: Solid effort.

Arizona: There goes the margin for error.
Arizona St: I’m really starting to wonder if they’re even trying to win anymore.
Washington St: Even worse than their usual effort.
Washington: They needed a win, and they didn’t get it, or even come close.
USC: The wheels have officially fallen off.

@ Cal (-3) 24, Arizona 16
my pick: @ Cal 35, Arizona 34

What to take from this:
If you’re Arizona:

Another loss for the Wildcats in a game which largely hinged on a fluky play. I’m not nearly ready to throw dirt on this group, especially since they’re still very much in the hunt for the Rose Bowl, but this is now twice that they’ve let lesser teams hang around all game until a bad break swings the game the wrong way. Other than winning at Corvallis, they’ve been consistently mediocre to lousy on the road. Yes, they’re capable of beating Oregon to take the driver’s seat in the Pac-10 race, but are they capable of winning at Tempe afterwards, much less at the Coliseum in a potential clinching game? I’m really starting to think they aren’t.

If you’re Cal:
This was a huge win for the Bears. Trying to come back from the injury to Jahvid Best, they were able to circle the wagons and come through with a strong performance. Especially impressive was the way the defense played; against a strong offense, they largely held them in check all game long and gave their own offense a chance to win the game late. If they can keep on playing with this intensity, they might have a chance of scoring a big upset at Stanford, win in Seattle, and end up in a pretty good bowl game, a huge turnaround from where they were sitting after losing last week to Oregon St.

Stanford 55, @ USC (-10.5) 21
my pick: @ USC 38, Stanford 28

What to take from this:
If you’re Stanford:

Last week’s win against Oregon proved that Stanford had to be taken seriously; this one proved they need to be feared. This was arguably the single best performance any team has had this year (my Compu-Picks model currently has it #2, only behind Texas Tech’s rout at Nebraska); at the least, it’s on the short list, which is one hell of an achievement. What made it especially impressive to me was that early in the second half, Gerhart had a costly fumble which USC turned into a touchdown to cut the lead down to 7. Most teams would have wilted at that point; Stanford responded with a touchdown and never let it become close again. That’s a powerful statement about the character of this team.

There’s been a lot made of Jim Harbaugh’s decision to stick it to USC. Ultimately, it’s something that fits in with his personality. This is the same sort of thing that was behind Lane Kiffin’s shots at Florida earlier this year, the desire to publicly become the one team that is the biggest threat to the current bully on the block, to challenge his team to become better and back it up, to sell recruits on the idea that this is where you have to go if you’re going to beat the best, and to make sure that his program is the one everyone is paying attention to. It’s absolutely a double-edged sword; you can’t sneak up on anyone when you do this, and USC will do its best to make them pay over the next few years, but if you want to have a great program (and it’s clear that he does), then you can’t do it by sneaking up on teams and trying to win by hoping you get their “C” game. Five years from now, we’ll look back at this game and either it’ll be the starting point for a great run, or it’ll be the beginning of the end. I don’t know which one it’ll be, but I do know that it’ll be interesting to find out.

If you’re USC:
It’s one thing to have a bad game at Washington, where there were injuries and a lackluster showing by the Trojans, or at Oregon, where they simply looked unprepared for what the Ducks were doing, but this is something totally different. Stanford didn’t have a fancy scheme, they simply came into the Coliseum and dominated USC. This may simply be a one-year blip on the radar, but it could also be a clear sign that the end has come. Over the next 13 months (the UCLA game, the Arizona game, the bowl game, and next season), USC is going to be put to the test in a way that hasn’t happened in a very long time. If they lose two more this year, or if they don’t rebound and become a big power again next year, the dynasty is over, and may not come back.

@ Oregon St (-13.5) 24, Washington 23
my pick: @ Oregon St 31, Washington 21

What to take from this:
If you’re Washington:

The Huskies just got completely rolled, and are now eliminated from the bowl race. They have a week off to stew about it, and then get two home games against Wazzu and Cal to end the year. How they respond will tell an awful lot about this team’s character and whether there’s reason to believe they can take a step forward next year. If they play hard and play well, there’s plenty of hope. But if they more or less give up like they seemed to do at times last year, it may take an entirely new set of players in another few years before they have what it takes to make noise in a league which seems to be getting better across the board.

If you’re Oregon St:
This team is almost in the driver’s seat for a Rose Bowl berth. As long as Arizona loses once more (could be to Oregon, could be to ASU, could be to USC), all they have to do is not gack at Pullman, and then find a way to score an upset win at Autzen in the Civil War. The way this team is playing, it is definitely possible.

@ Oregon (-17.5) 44, Arizona St 21
my pick: @ Oregon 28, Arizona St 13

What to take from this:

If you’re Arizona St:
It may be time for Dennis Erickson to go. Down by 17 in the fourth quarter against a team that his defense hadn’t been able to stop with any consistentcy, he punts. Just like in the Stanford game, it simply seems like he doesn’t particularly care if he loses. Even worse, he had a reasonably competent quarterback in Samson Szakacsy instead of the neverending mess he’s been carting out, and it took this long to give him any time? Yes, I know he’s been hurt, and it wouldn’t be a good idea to give him all the snaps, but why not 5-10 a game? Was throwing a touchdown against Washington so unimpressive he needed to ride the pine for a few weeks? I just don’t get it at all. Barring a miracle run against UCLA and Arizona (and getting swept is far more likely than winning both), it’s probably time for this program to move in a new direction.

If you’re Oregon:
They needed to win, and they looked great doing it. The defense was a minor concern, giving up 21 points at home to a Sun Devil offense that isn’t exactly scary, but most of those points came late, so it’s probably not a big deal. As far as Blount goes, not putting him in was a good decision by Chip Kelly. It shows that the team comes first, and in situation like this one, that’s absolutely vital, far more so than anything Blount could do on the field.

UCLA (-17.5) 43, @ Washington St 7
my pick: UCLA 24, @ Washington St 17

What to take from this:

If you’re UCLA:
The bowl hunt is alive and well. Yes, this was just Wazzu (and without their starting quarterback), but the Bruins still played extremely well, and on the road to boot. They’ll have a test coming up against ASU, but this team’s confidence is back, and that’s tremendously important with two games left that will define their season, one way or the other.

If you’re Washington St:
Just an awful showing by the Cougars. Getting rolled at home by a mediocre team like UCLA is a big step back for this team.

Pac-10 Games Record:
This Week: 4-1 SU, 1-4 ATS
Season: 48-16 SU, 23-35-2 ATS

National Games of the Week:

@ TCU (-20) 55, Utah 21
my pick: @ TCU 42, Utah 13

@ Cincinnati (-9.5) 24, West Virginia 21
my pick: @ Cincy 28, WV 17

@ Ohio St (-16.5) 27, Iowa 24 (OT)
my pick: @ Ohio St 24, Iowa 10

National Games Record:
This Week: 3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS
Season: 18-15 SU, 16-16-1 ATS

Bad Lines

Virginia +4 vs BC

Marshall +3 vs USM
Missed by 4 points

Kentucky -3 @ Vandy
Covered by 8 points

ECU +5 @ Tulsa
Covered by 32 points and outright upset

Bad Lines Record:
This Week: 2-1-1
Season: 32-25-2

Mr Pac-10's 2009 Blog

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