Monday, November 17, 2008

Inside the Pac-10 - Week Twelve


#6 USC 45 - Stanford 23
Four three quarters, USC had themselves another scare as the Stanford Cardinal kept pace up until the last frame when the Trojans ran off with the game.

USC again seemed to come out disjointed and undisciplined, compiling penalty after penalty as they did last season. Stanford dominated the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense, frustrating USC even further.

But as the game went on, the Trojans calmed down, cut the penalties out and wore the Cardinal defense down with a very effective rushing attack led by Stafon Johnson’s 115 yards and two touchdowns.

Both teams were keenly aware of last year’s upset in Los Angeles, despite the best efforts of Coach Carroll and Coach Harbaugh to downplay its significance or the significance of this game.

In the end, Stanford was unable to win the game needed to become Bowl Eligible for the first time since 2001. USC was able to keep pace with Oregon State, who still owns the Pac-10 conference lead.

Oregon State 34 - California 21

With this win over Cal, the Oregon State Beavers have once again found their way into the tail end of the BCS Top 25. However, that is likely not half as enjoyable as the continued lead they have over the USC Trojans in the Pac-10. Oregon State has only to hold serve for two more games in order to lock up the title, traveling to Arizona and then facing the Oregon Ducks in their yearly showdown.

The tale of Oregon State’s victory over the California Golden Bears once again centered around the Rodgers brothers, Jacquizz and James.

Younger brother Jacquizz put on another display of rushing prowess, compiling 144 yards and a touchdown while running the ball with the elusiveness Pac-10 fans have marveled at for the entire season. Older brother James was a frequent target of quarterback Lyle Moeveo but also added two touchdowns, one on the ground and one on an 86-yard kickoff return right after Kevin Riley threw his only touchdown.

California had their own weapons on display as running back Jahvid Best had his most effective outing since October 25th against UCLA, rushing for 116 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Kevin Riley threw for 117 yards but found himself sacked five times.

Oregon State kept that pressure up all game and it was definitely a factor in the pair of turnovers California had, and in the Bears’ inability to get up from the mat in the fourth quarter.

Arizona State 31 - Washington State 0

Rudy Carpenter and the Sun Devils continued their solid play as Carpenter threw for 213 yards and a trio of touchdowns in the shutout of the hapless Cougars.

While Carpenter was on his back three times in this match-up, he was able to keep the offense moving through the air. The success of the aerial attack in turn created room for the running game to compile 141 total yards, which in turn created even more room and time for Carpenter to get the ball to his receivers--offensive rhythm indeed.

The Cougars were unable to get anything going, compiling just 123 total yards and only seven yards on the ground. Washington State almost scored midway through the first quarter, but missed a field goal and barely sniffed the Sun Devil side of the field again.

With his three touchdowns, Carpenter now has 80 for his career, placing him third in Pac-10 history in total touchdown passes.

Oregon 55 - Arizona 45
In what became a wild shootout, Oregon ran out to a big first half lead, only to see the Wildcats surge back late… then fade again as Duck’s running back LeGarrette Blount made a 40-yard dash to the house with just under four minutes left in the game.

But for the Ducks, the story was quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who had a tremendous night. Masoli threw for a career high 298 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 89 yards and a trio of touchdowns—a solid all around game to say the least

Arizona had a tremendous comeback led by freshman Keola Antolin’s four touchdowns, three of which came during the fourth quarter surge. Quarterback Willie Tuitama continued his recent trend of turning the ball over, doing it twice. The turnovers almost overshadowed an otherwise great game, as the senior complied 328 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

But in the end, the game was sealed by Blount’s fourth quarter touchdown which not only won the game but allowed Blount to tie the Oregon record for touchdowns in a single season at 15.

UCLA 27 - Washington 7
The Bruins got the job done on the ground and on the defensive side of the ball, racking up 157 yards on the ground and forcing five turnovers in Coach Rick Neuheisel’s triumphant return to Husky Stadium.

However, it wasn’t all fun and games for Neuheisel, who must be frustrated overquarterback Kevin Craft’s continued inability to protect the football. Craft threw three interceptions but fortunately for him and the Bruins, Washington only scored as a result of the first and then lapsed into its usual mistake filled and inept brand of football.

Washington couldn’t mount anything resembling an offense, barely putting together 135 total yards. The passing game couldn’t amass more than 39, a true mark of just how futile this team’s time on offense often is.

For the Bruins, senior running back Kahlil Bell ran for 97 yards and a pair of touchdowns, leading a ground attack that totaled 157 yards in the game. Craft was able to rebound as well, putting together a solid 92-yard drive to close the third quarter out, setting up Bell’s touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Still, one of Neuheisel’s first jobs of the off-season will be to insure that he has a signal-caller who can protect the ball better. If he fails to do so, the Bruins will be facing more 4-6 seasons like the one they are going through now.

Photo Credit: Collegiate Images, John Pyle (Brian Cushing)