Sunday, September 27, 2009

The topsy-turvy Pacific 10
If you like your eggs scrambled then you'll love the Pacific 10. The conference leads the nation in wild mood swings and disorder.
First came Washington's upset of No. 3 USC at Seattle. The Huskies hadn't won a conference game in two years until the Trojans showed up to give new coach Steve Sarkisian the ultimate football house-warming gift.
The win had so many heads spinning that AP voters lost their sense of reality and made Washington a Top 25 team.
Yesterday, California, which was ranked at No. 6 and ready to move up into the Top 5, got lambasted by the Oregon Ducks, 42-3, at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, the conference's leading house of horrors.
The Ducks, who seem to don a different style and color of uniform for every game, went to the throwbacks of the Dan Fouts era--green jerseys, yellow pants and helmets--and proceeded to throw the Golden Bears into the nearby Willamette River.
California was supposed to have one of the highly-charged offenses in the country, with Heisman Trophy contender Jahvid Best leading the way at tailback. But Best could only gain 55 of the Bears' 206 total yards against Oregon's stingy defense, which has improved dramatically since it got whomped by Boise State in the season opener.
Meanwhile, Ducks' quarterback Jeremiah Masoli did a good impersonation of Fouts by completing 21 of 25 passes, throwing for three touchdowns to help hand California its worst loss under Coach Jeff Tedford.
The schedule doesn't get any easier for Tedford and Co. because this weekend the Golden Bears play host to USC in Berkeley. The Trojans met Washington State Saturday night and managed to trudge through penalties and mistakes to a 27-6 win. In the first quarter, it looked like USC would score all of the 45 points it was favored by, rolling easily to three touchdowns before Traveler came out of the tunnel.
But the Cougars hung in and managed to get their running game going up the middle on the Trojans' vaunted front seven defenders. USC Coach Pete Carroll was grateful for the victory but felt USC should have played better and also scored more points. "Gosh, it's just not at all the kind of satisfying win we would've liked to have had," Carroll said.
Matt Barkley was back at quarterback, sore right shoulder and all. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns, including a pretty 57-yarder to wide receiver Damien Williams.
So, heading into October, Stanford has the honors of being in first place in the standings after defeating Washington at Palo Alto, followed by Arizona and Oregon. UCLA, which had a bye Saturday, is 3-0 and plays its first Pac-10 opponent Saturday, that being the Cardinal at Stanford.
The month will be a bag-packing one for USC, which has road games at Cal, Notre Dame and Oregon. The Trojans' game against the Ducks is on Halloween night at Autzen Stadium. The ghosts of disfunction wouldn't have it any other way.

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