Its another week for the roundtable, and I'm fashionably late again. Pitchfork Nation is hosting this week. Here goes"
The Pacific-10 Conference expanded to its current state in 1978 when Arizona and Arizona State left the WAC to create the dysfunctional family we now are all members of today. In the 30 years in our current state, I think it's pretty obvious that we did not see a weekend as pathetic as we did last week when seven teams lost, four of them to Mountain West Conference foes, one as a 25 1/2 point favorite, one to Baylor (no more explanation needed) and one which was their worst loss since the Great Depression.
Thankfully, last week is over and we move on to this weekend, where there's a primetime televised matchup (Georgia/ASU), a middling conference game and three others. The question is, how does the conference save face this week?
Conquest Chronicles, if you feel like stretching out and passing on this question, feel free. You're more than excused
Hey now, can we be excused? I know it wasn't pretty, but we did go on the road a beat a BCS school. We held up our end of the bargain!
It was a bad weekend in terms of national perception. The bottom half of this conference in downright putrid. UW and WSU are two of the worst BCS teams in teh country, so you have to hold out hope that OSU, Stanford, Arizona, or UCLA can make some headway. You'd like to see one or two of those teams do okay, because if we couldn't fill in all our bowl slots, that would be embarrassing. I don't know what to make of ASU now, there was no excuse to lose that game. And, while Cal is suspect defensively, I still think they'll be okay.
But USC is clearly #1 with a big gap, and Oregon is clearly #2 with a big gap to #3. The damage of last weekend was done, and it won't be undone in a week (unless maybe ASU pulls off a miracle against Georgia.
After everything that happened this past weekend, the two teams that are left nationally ranked are the Trojans and the Ducks. The Trojans did it in stunningly efficient fashion over a clearly overmatched Ohio State team while the Ducks pulled off a rousing comeback with a backup QB in a very hostile Purdue environment.
We've touched on this question before, but we're rehashing it this week. After seeing some pretty true colors last Saturday, can anyone in this conference challenge USC for the crown this year, and can Oregon continue to win with the now oft-injured Justin Roper on the sidelines?
First off, this is Justin Roper's first injury, so to call him "oft-injured" is misinformed. That said, USC is clearly head and shoulder above everyone else right now. They just have too much talent. Oregon is the only team that can beat them, but it would take a perfect gem of a game to do so.
And, yes, Oregon can keep winning even if they play musical chairs with quarterbacks. People point to Oregon's performance after Dennis Dixon went down last year, but fail to point out that two starting wideouts (Brian Paysinger and Cameron Colvin) as well as our 1A running back (Jeremiah Johnson) also went down. The drop off between Roper and Masoli is nowhere near the drop off between Dixon and Leaf, and Masoli and Harper have been getting first string time in practice for quite some time. No worries about Oregon's quarterback situation. Heck, when Roper does return in a couple of weeks, he may be beaten out for the job. He wasn't playing that well anyway.
3) The Washington Huskies nearly pulled off a UNLV-style upset last week when they came within one point and a crap excessive celebration penalty away from sending their game with BYU to overtime. With a chance to prove that they might actually have more spunk and grit than originally thought on Saturday, Oklahoma was up 34-0 before you could spit out "How much will it cost to buy out Tyrone Willingham, again?" At the same time, Washington State was rolled by Baylor. Yeah, that Baylor.
However, Washington and WSU are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the state of their programs. WSU is breaking in a new coach and trying to find a quarterback of the future, while the Huskies have a star under center but are chasing their boss out of town.
Which of these programs, then, is closer to edging back toward respectability?
I hate to say it, but UW is closer to respectability. The fact of the matter is that WSU is the most difficult job in the Pac-10. Both teams suck, but at least UW can sell Seattle to recruits. He can sell tradition. And maybe get around the facilities issue a little bit by hyping the rebuild of Husky Stadium that is being proposed. We know that Ty will be fired, but even the new guy will be light years ahead of WSU.
WSU can't sell Pullman, and they can't sell tradition. And it doesn't hurt that they've had nine scholarships taken away for not meeting APR. The right coach and some headway on facilities can easily get UW back to respect in a hurry. At WSU, you need a truly outstanding coach to be consistently good.
4) Those pesky Wildcats are at it again. Their fan base got super excited after starting 2-0 and putting up a ton of points to open the season, but at the first sign of adversity on the road at New Mexico this week, they once again folded like Charlie Weis' kneecap.
Mike Stoops is already on the hot seat for not taking several paper tigers to the postseason in previous seasons, and now the stove just got turned back up after losing on the road to a Lobos team that they're clearly better than. The perception down here in the Grand Canyon State is that Little Brother has to get the U of A to a bowl...any bowl...to save his job. Give me your perception of the state of the Arizona Wildcats.
The Arizona Wildcats suck. They have the worst coach in the conference and haven't been relevant since I was an underclassman. In high school. At best, Arizona goes 6-6 and backs into a bowl. But Stoops is not the answer there. I've never seen him on TV do anything except yell at someone. I don't know why anyone would want to play for him. I see no way that they make any statement, and see no way little brother keeps his job.
5) Might as well address the giant elephant in the room. A game that was so hyped across America had its stock fall faster than...well...the stock market on Monday afternoon. I'm not good at puns. Anyway, like it or not, Georgia is still visiting Arizona State on Saturday in a game that the Devils need to save face after their embarrassing loss to the Rebels last week.
Georgia looked like a team that could be beaten against South Carolina as the Gamecocks were able to get plenty of pressure on Matt Stafford and Chris Smelley picked apart the Bulldogs secondary.
Can the Sun Devils still beat Georgia this weekend? And what would a win over one of the SEC's finest mean for the conference?
A win would be huge for the conference and, while it wouldn't undo the damage of last weekend, its really the most we can hope for. That said, ASU still doesn't have a defense, and Knowshon Moreno will probably carve them up like a Butterball Turkey. It would have helped if UGA had some arrogance issues coming into this game, but after their own performance last week, that's not going to happen. I give ASU a 10% chance to win this game (but will be very pleased if they do).