Monday, November 3, 2008

Inside the Pac-10 - Week Ten


Washington (0-8, 0-5 Pac-10) @ #5 USC (7-1, 5-1 Pac-10)

USC stomped all over the Huskies as expected. They pretty much did everything right--they ran the ball for 297 yards, and quarterback Mark Sanchez moved the ball through the air with ease before Coach Pete Carroll chose to sit him down rather than risk an injury in a game that was well in hand. The Trojans committed some undisciplined penalties, but from whistle to whistle, they did everything within their power to move up in the BCS rankings. However, with the Pac-10 continuing to feast upon itself, their strength of schedule keeps dropping and so did their ranking. Despite the shutout, USC fell two spots to #7 in the BCS rankings. USC is unlikely to jump up again as their competition does not get more impressive going forward. All they can do is work towards another BCS Bowl bid and hope those in front of them stumble along the way.

Meanwhile the woeful Washington Huskies continue to find new ways to struggle and are now the only FBS team without a win. There isn’t a lot to say about the team that is positive. They have heart and a young core that will get better over time. A fresh attitude and a new coach may spark some life into these players but for this season, they just need to keep their heads up and keep fighting.

There was no letdown for the Trojans this weekend as they never took their foot off the gas. Perhaps a bigger win might have made a difference in the polls, but USC cannot get wrapped up in the computers, reporters and coaches who rank them. Their focus must be on winning the Pac-10 and getting themselves ready to finish the season strong.

#24 Oregon (6-3, 4-2 Pac-10) @ California (6-2, 4-1 Pac-10)

The conditions were awful this Saturday during the Golden Bears’ 26-16 win against the Ducks, but that didn’t stop California quarterback Nate Longshore, who replaced starter Kevin Riley and led the team to victory. The rain didn’t make either team look particularly attractive, though both teams were able to move the ball on the ground to some extent. For a large part of the game, the play was as bad as the weather as there were numerous turnovers, missed snaps and field goals for both teams.

Senior Duck running back Jeremiah Johnson ran for 117 yards and a touchdown while quarterback Jeremiah Masoli had a better day on the ground than he did through the air. Masoli threw two picks which certainly offset the advantage he gave the team with his 97 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

California running back Jahvid Best continued to play well in his second game back from injury, compiling 93 yards for the Golden Bears.

But it was truly Longshore’s day to shine. He and Masoli have been rotated in and out of the lineup during the season, but when California coach Jeff Tedford called on him, the senior stepped up and led his team to victory.

The Golden Bears have now won four of the last five meetings between these teams.

Washington State (1-8, 0-6 Pac-10) @ Stanford (5-4, 4-2 Pac-10)

The Cardinal made sure there was no letdown in Saturday’s game against the Cougars, trouncing them 58-0.

Junior running back Toby Gerhart put Stanford’s offense on his back and carried them to victory, posting an astounding four touchdowns to go with his 132 rush yards.

Washington State didn’t help themselves, turning the ball over five times and floundering in the run game, unable to top even 80 yards on the ground.

Washington State has now set a single-season record for most points allowed in Pac-10 play at 350. The previous owners of that dubious record – a California Golden Bear team that coughed up 333 points – will likely be sending them a thank you note.

Stanford kept its hopes for a share of the Pac-10 title alive as they stay one win behind USC along with the Oregon schools and #21 California.

Arizona State (2-6, 1-4 Pac-10) @ Oregon State (5-3, 4-1 Pac-10)

It was a closer game than the Beavers would have liked, but a late touchdown by ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter showed the Sun Devils still have some fire left in them despite a rough season.

Arizona State surged late but came up short when Carpenter’s two-point conversion attempt was intercepted, sending the Devils home with their fourth Pac-10 loss, 27-25.

ASU junior running back Shaun DeWitty finally gave the offense a ground attack, rushing for 110 yards on 16 carries and the positive effect his effort had on the Sun Devils’ passing attack was obvious. Carpenter had his best game in some time, throwing the ball 27 times and completing 15 for 217 yards and a touchdown despite being sacked a season high five times.

The senior quarterback led an 11-play, 72- yard drive, capped off by a three-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Pettes with 21 seconds left. On the ensuing two point conversion attempt, Carpenter was flushed from the pocket and forced to throw the ball up for grabs. Oregon State picked it off and that was the game.

The Sun Devils often looked undisciplined and were flagged for 10 penalties, totaling 80 yards.

For the Beavers, the win came with the cost of a second quarter injury to starting quarterback Lyle Moevao. Junior backup Sean Canfield was a bit of a revelation though, as he threw for 218 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He didn’t come without mistakes and his one interception was brought back for touchdown by Sun Devil safety Troy Nolan just moments into the second half.

Still as caretakers go, Canfield did an able job keeping things moving with some help from freshman running back monster Jacquizz Rodgers who continued his assault on Pac-10 run defenses, posting 133 yards on ASU.

Oregon State controls its own destiny--if the Beavers can sweep the rest of their conference games, they will win the Pac-10 Championship as they hold the tiebreaker over USC due to their upset of the Trojans earlier in the season.

Collegiate Images: Collegiate Images