Oregon: They’re finally back to the Rose Bowl.
Washington: This was the best game they played all year.
Arizona: This was another important step forward for this program.
Oregon St: A good showing, but a win would have been truly huge for this program.
USC: We won’t know until next year, but the dynasty might really be over.
Cal: That’s the third dominating loss they suffered this year as a favorite.
@ Oregon (-9.5) 37, Oregon St 33
my pick: @ Oregon 38, Oregon St 31
What to take from this:
If you’re Oregon St:
For the second straight year, Oregon St came into the Civil War needing a win to make the Rose Bowl. And for the second straight year, they couldn’t get it done. Yes, they fought hard, yes, they pushed Oregon about as hard as they could be pushed without actually pulling off the upset… but in the end, they still lost to their biggest rivals in the most important Civil War ever. This was a solid season, a nice building block for the future, but it could have been more than that. Still, if they win their bowl game, they’ll have a nine-win season, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
If you’re Oregon:
They’re finally back in the Rose Bowl! It’s been a long time since they last made it there, and it’s a huge step forward for this program. No matter what happens there, this season has been a huge success. Considering how poorly the first game went, how slowly the offense started the year, and how many players they needed to fill in on defense (and that’s not even mentioning the injuries), this team has succeeded beyond any reasonable expectations. If Chip Kelly isn’t coach of the year, I have no clue who is. He’s just done an absolutely fantastic job in year one of his tenure. Year to year consistency has been a problem for this program in the past, and they’re going to have a major target on their backs next year, but for now things are looking very, very good in Eugene.
Arizona 21, @ USC (-7) 17
my pick: @ USC 28, Arizona 24
What to take from this:
If you’re Arizona:
Once again the Wildcats were in a battle late in the game on the road, but this time they pulled it out, capping a fantastic season for them. Just as importantly, it showed themselves that they could actually get it done in a tight game on the road against a good team, something which has been hugely difficult for them, not just this year but for the last few years. If they can build on this and start to win more of the close games than they lose in the future, this is a serious Pac-10 contender in 2010.
If you’re USC:
This team is going to be the hot conversation topic in the offseason. Was this a one-year aberration, like 2007 for Florida, or was this the crumbling of a dynasty, like 2006 for Miami? With what will surely be yet another strong recruiting class and a huge kick in the pants to work harder and get better over the offseason, I’m inclined to think they’ll still be the Pac-10 favorites next year, but it’s far from certain that they’ll get that status, much less actually win the league. That’s how far they’ve fallen in 2009. And should they somehow blow their bowl game, it’ll only get worse.
@ Washington 42, Cal (-7) 10
my pick: Cal 31, @ Washington 28
What to take from this:
If you’re Cal:
This program officially has a problem: for the fourth time this year, the Bears got their asses kicked, and for the second time, it came in a road game where they were vulnerable to not being totally focused and prepared for it (Oregon hadn’t looked particularly imposing before Cal came to town, and after two straight wins over good teams, it was all too easy to see Washington as an easy pushover). For that matter, 2008’s trip to Maryland (though they made a late comeback effort) and arguably the trip to Arizona (though that got away late so it doesn’t quite fit the pattern), 2006’s trip to Tennessee, 2004’s bowl game against Texas Tech… it’s a pattern for them to get hammered in games where they are feeling a little too confident about their chances.
And that’s just the blowouts. Throw in the 2007 tailspin, most of Oregon St’s wins at Berkeley, a number of scattered road losses, and it’s pretty clear that this team just doesn’t do at all well in games where the intangibles aren’t working. This was supposed to be the year they made a serious Rose Bowl run, and it wasn’t even close. Instead Oregon and Oregon St have passed them as USC’s biggest threats, and now Arizona and Stanford look to be around the same level as the Bears. If they ever want to move forward, they either have to stop the USC-like eggs they lay (and Cal’s eggs tend to be bigger and more frequent), or get USC-like talent.
If you’re Washington:
Jake Locker may well choose to go pro this offseason, but if he stays (which seems extremely likely right now), this is a bowl-eligible team in 2010. They came very close this year, with a loss by 1 point, two losses by seven (one of them in OT), and one by eight; if just one went the other way, this is a six-win team. They’ll lose some important players, but they should overall be improved, and shouldn’t slide too far in the case that Locker changes his mind and leaves. This program is absolutely moving in the right direction.
Pac-10 Games Record:
This Week: 1-2 SU, 3-0 ATS
Season: 54-21 SU, 29-39-3 ATS
National Games of the Week:
Alabama 32, Florida (-5.5) 13
my pick: Alabama 28, Florida 27
Texas (-14.5) 13, Nebraska 12
my pick: Texas 21, Nebraska 10
Georgia Tech (pick) 39, Clemson 34
my pick: Clemson 31, Georgia Tech 27
Cincinnati (-2) 45, @ Pitt 44
my pick: Cincy 31, @ Pitt 27
National Games Record:
This Week: 3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS
Season: 26-17 SU, 20-22-1 ATS
Fresno +3 @ Illinois
Covered by 4 points and outright upset.
Hawaii +12.5 vs Wisconsin
Missed by 28.5 points
ECU +2.5 vs Houston
Covered by 8 points and outright upset.
Bad Lines Record:
This Week: 2-1
Mr Pac-10's 2009 Blog
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