Monday, December 8, 2008

Inside the Pac-10 - Week Fifteen


No. 5 USC @ UCLA

While it is clear that Bruin Coach Neuheisel has a great deal of work to do, the Bruins showed that they have the will to play hard. However hard work alone cannot win conference championships and the Bruins are clearly lacking in the talent department compared to their cross-town rivals. UCLA was unable to repeat their stunning upset victory of two years ago and were run over by a Rose Bowl-bound Trojan squad, 28-7.

UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft did a better job protecting the ball than he did in previous weeks. However he and the rest of Norm Chow’s crew were unable to generate any offense against the smothering USC defense.

The Trojan offense had no such issues, piling up nearly 500 yards of offense. UCLA could not stop either phase of the USC attack as quarterback Mark Sanchez compiled 269 yards and a pair of touchdowns while the ground attack was led by Joe McKnight’s touchdown and 99 yards. Overall the rushing attack

With the win, USC secured its seventh straight 11-win season and a slot in the Rose Bowl for the fourth year in a row. While the Trojans had hopes for a National Championship, they will have to settle for a second trip to Pasadena and a battle against a much tougher opponent.

Washington at California

With their 48-7 annihilation at the hands of the California Golden Bears, the Washington Huskies have just finished one of the worst seasons in their school’s history, becoming the first Pac-10 team to ever go winless. They have now lost 14 straight games going back to last season. The winless Huskies allowed California running back Jahvid Best to run up a stunning 311 yards and four touchdowns. Best galloped for186 of those yards and three of his TDs before halftime.

Best’s record broke the old record of 283 yards and will add to his overall season total --already the fourth best in school history--when the Golden Bears head to the Emerald Bowl on December 27th.

Coach Tyrone Willingham finished his tenure as coach of the Huskies with yet another loss and the school is expected to announce on Monday that USC Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian will be their next Head Coach.

Arizona State at Arizona

With their victory over the Arizona Sun Devils, the Arizona Wildcats secured their first winning season since 1998.

Led by a superb game from senior quarterback Willie Tuitama, who totaled 284 yards and a pair of touchdowns, the Wildcats inflicted a 31-10 beating on their in-state rivals. Running back Nic Grigsby continued his solid play as well, contributing 114 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

The Arizona defense stepped up, with cornerback Marquis Hundley intercepting a Rudy Carpenter pass and returning it all the way to the Arizona State 34 to set up Grigsby’s touchdown. Special teams contributed to the win as well. Mike Thomas’ dynamite 52-yard punt return for a touchdown highlighted their efforts.

Still, both teams looked relatively sloppy for much of the night, especially in the first half where they committed an excessive amount of penalties and made numerous physical errors .

As has often been the case during his career, Carpenter was under constant pressure and the Arizona State running game was nonexistent, unable to top more than 38 yards.

Photo Credit: College Press Box (USC)