Paul: Another year, another Civil War beatdown of the Beavers. It seems this is turning into an annual tradition, eh? How good did that feel after the 'Furd turd we dropped a couple weeks ago?
Joe: It sure beats the alternative, doesn't it? Not that either of us was terribly worried about the Biebers, of course, but rivalry games are a different beast entirely, and being the better team—even the far better team—doesn't always guarantee a successful outcome. Just ask the Huskies.
Paul: Yikes. I definitely did not expect a winless Wazzu team, mired in turmoil, to beat the surging Fuskies.
Joe: Can't say I did either. Hey, remember when Steve Sarkisian was going to reclaim Washington football from the historic depths of the Ty Willingham era? I'm thinking the honeymoon period is officially over at this point.
Paul: It sure is. And speaking of Willingham, remember when his name made the Eugene faithful cringe?
Joe: You must be referring to that time Stanford travelled to Autzen Stadium and handed Oregon its only loss of the season, derailing its national title hopes.
Paul: Make it "times," as in twice. Ouch.
Joe: Sigh. Let's rewind a couple weeks and attempt to figure out how the unthinkable (a late home loss) derailed a very special Ducks season for the second year in a row (and for the second time in a decade at the hands of the Cardinal). (1) How good is the Stanford team that did us in before Thanksgiving?
Paul: Well, it's becoming increasingly clear to me with each passing week: Stanford has as close to an SEC-caliber front seven as any team outside the SEC, save for maybe Notre Dame, and we're all well aware of how that's turned out for us the past few years. I also think it's safe to say those mounting injuries finally did take their toll on the Ducks. We managed to get through a pretty weak schedule effortlessly, but those injuries got to be too much to overcome. Oh, and our complete and utter lack of a kicking game.
Joe: Yeah, that last part's on Chip. If you don't cultivate a kicking game, you'd better not need it. Ever. I take my hat off to Stanford, regardless. They were much more athletic than I thought and, more importantly, very disciplined. They played gap control up front and then chased everything toward the sideline with great linebackers. Moreover, their corners and safeties cleaned up whenever Kenjon Barner and/or De'Anthony Thomas made it to the edge...which wasn't nearly often enough. Without watching film, I suspect this strong secondary support was a key piece to the puzzle, and possibly a wrinkle future defensive coordinators will employ to slow down the zone read attack. The price for this choice, of course -- which we don't seem to be able to make teams pay regularly—is dangerous exposure to play-action home runs. Anyhoo, it is what it is and it's time to move on. Let's not forget we only lost by three points to the likely Pac-12 champ in overtime despite squandering almost every opportunity and getting completely hosed by a replay official in the final two minutes. In other words, we're still a great team, as we proved against Oregon State. Stanford was just a better one on this particular occasion.
Paul: And unless the Bruins were throwing their game with Stanford to avoid a date at Autzen for the conference title, it appears the Cardinal will be the Pac-12's representative in Pasadena.
Joe: Where they'll square off with the crappy Big Ten's second best team? They can have it.
Paul: Yeah, considering we've been to the Rose Bowl two out of the last three seasons (including a big win last year), I'm not losing any sleep over it. Besides, the consolation prize is a better BCS matchup. We'll likely know by Saturday night what that matchup will be, but for now, let's hypothesize: (2) Who would we rather play in the Fiesta Bowl?
Joe: We get a choice? I'm actually pretty conflicted. I'd love to tango with the SEC again, the true measuring stick, but I also wouldn't mind playing someone we can pound (read: anyone else). This just in: Winning is more fun than losing.
Paul: Very profound, Brother. I'm still holding out hope for that highly anticipated date with the SEC, and with the outside chance that the Fiesta Bowl will land Florida, perhaps I'll get my wish?
Joe: Seems pretty unlikely.
Paul: Yeah, you're right. Our most likely opponent is Kansas State (assuming the Wildcats don't shit the bed on Saturday).
Joe: Anything beats playing Louisville, doesn't it?
Paul: You mean the newest member of the ACC? Anyway, assuming we do end up with K. State, (3) how do you think that matchup, once slated as our season opener (and briefly the most likely BCS title game), plays out?
Joe: Wiseguys always look at how motivated teams are when they're handicapping bowl matchups. They want to know who wants to be there and who doesn't. No matter how disappointed these two squads are right now, I think they'll realize soon enough how sweet a prize the Fiesta Bowl really is. It runs unopposed on Jan. 3 in primetime and offers the chance for a big intersectional scalp. In other words, forget about motivation. It then comes down to which defense can stop which offense. I watched a fair amount of that K. State-Baylor game when I wasn't panicking over the Ducks' eventual loss to Stanford and I'm here to tell you: The Wildcats will really struggle to slow down our boys. If Mariota's on, I think it could be a two to three TD margin at the end...in our favor, of course.
Paul: Another bona fide offensive shootout? Count me in. Speaking of which, can we talk about a different kind of scoring outburst, one of literally historic proportions?
Joe: You know I like offense, Paully. Shoot.
Paul: Well, I'm obviously referring to the absurd offensive performance from Division III Grinnell's Jack Taylor last week. In case you were under a rock, the guy shattered the NCAA scoring record, dropping 138 points on 52 of 108 shooting. No, that's not a typo. He shot the ball 108 times...and made nearly half of them. Also, he's 5'10".
Joe: Unbelievable. Literally. I think my favorite part of that box score is Taylor's assist total: zero. You mean he didn't record any dimes on a night he took ONE-HUNDRED AND EIGHT SHOTS??? Ha! When would he have had time? It was certainly the most staggering individual performance I've ever heard about, Paully, but it still doesn't qualify as the craziest box score I've ever seen. There's also this one, authored by Oregon's very own Paul Westhead. (4) Could a system like this ever be resuscitated at the D1 level and, more importantly, work? Also, could it PLEASE happen at Oregon?
Paul: I don't think the "System" (that's what it's called, by the way) Grinnell coach David Arseneault employs would work at the highest level. But I absolutely think someone could come along, cherry-pick a few of the underlying principles (platoon substitutions, an exorbitant amount of three-point attempts, etc.), and turn conventional hoops wisdom on its head. I'm actually shocked another Paul Westhead hasn't yet come along in mainstream hoops. By the way, Gary Smith, who literally wrote the book on the "System," made headlines running it at DIII Redlands up until 2007. Wanna know where he turned up as a volunteer assistant in 2008? I'll give you one guess.
Joe: These philosophical renegades typically flock together, so I'm guessing Grinnell? I think you're right the "System" wouldn't, strictly speaking, work at the D1 level. Loyola-Marymount's slightly tamer version (which sounds ridiculous to say, by the way) certainly did, but the Lions actually played some serious defense, believe it or not. Grinnell really doesn't. At all. I think you could definitely sell recruits on a breakneck pace, though, just as Chip Kelly has with football recruits.
Paul: Agreed. But as much as I'd love for Oregon to hire Arseneault and get this hoops revolution started, it'd be a pretty tough sell, especially given the way Dana Altman's got the Ducks playing right now. (5) Are the Ducks an NCAA Tourney team this year, or are we still a season or two away?
Joe: I think they're borderline, more because the profile of Pac-12 hoops has taken a serious nosedive the past couple years than anything the Ducks have done or are currently doing. If they're the fourth best team in the conference, where most people seem to have them, it's gonna be a struggle to make the Big Dance. If they sneak into the top three, I think they're in. Top two? Comfortably so.
Paul: If the Ducks' performance in Vegas last weekend was any indication, I think they're comfortably on the bubble. (Is that even possible this early?) They seemingly have enough skill and size to make waves in the Pac-12, but with six freshman and two junior college transfers, they'll lean on senior E.J. Singler for a lot more than just leadership. I guess we'll see, but I trust Altman will get the most out of them. Don't forget: This team was 24-10 last year, finished tied for second in the Pac-12, and was only a win or two away from a tourney bid.
Joe: I'm still reeling from the end of the college football regular season, so you'll have to give me a couple weeks to get into Ducks hoops. I'm just not quite...here yet. I'm more concerned about what I'm going to do with my Saturdays for the next nine months.
Paul: Well, if you'd taken advantage of that Black Friday Xbox sale, this wouldn't be an issue.
Joe: Well, if I were 14 years old, I might have. Did you send Mommy your Christmas list yet, big guy?
Paul: Yeah, I sure did. You'll probably see it sitting on the counter, since, you know, YOU STILL LIVE WITH HER! HA!
Joe: I hate you. Merry f'ing Christmas.
Paul: That was just too easy.