Pac-12 Hangover – Week 9

Why so defensive?

The Pac-12 Conference is and has been known for a number of things over the years:  Quarterbacks, explosive offenses, and playmakers on special teams.  However, rarely since the days of Don James’ early ‘90’s Washington Huskies, Arizona’s “Desert Swarm,” and an anomaly like Oregon’s “Gang Green” has defense carried a conversation regarding Left Coast Football. 

Until now.

Last week’s action strayed from the norm.  While Saturdays in the Pac-12 are usually filled with rhetoric revolving around 400-yard passing, 100+ yard rushing and receiving, and 50-point performances by individual players and teams, last weekend’s games were decided by second-half defensive domination normally reserved for everyone’s darling, the SEC.  USC and Oregon shutout their opponents in the second half, Arizona held Colorado to 7 points, and Stanford and Washington held Oregon State and Cal to 10 points or less in games decided late Saturday night.

They say defense wins championships, and if that’s the case, the Pac-12 appears to be closer to capable then any year in recent memory.  Stanford is elite, Oregon and UCLA have become above average, and USC , Washington, and Arizona State have the personnel to cause even the best offenses problems for extended periods of games.  Last week’s losers averaged a mere 5.2 points in the second half, and 2.6 in the fourth quarter, with Cal and Oregon State being the only of them to score at all.  The “Steel Curtain” most are not, but a low-end steel substitute much of the league has become.

On that note, on to what was during last week’s slate of games:

  • Stanford’s Trent Murphy looks like a poor man’s J.J. Watt.  If the late 1980’s icon MC Hammer needed money, he’d certainly show-up in a promo singing “Too Legit to Quit” regarding the Cardinal and their front-7, and Murphy would likely be fronting said parody with him.  Oh, wait … okay, I expect to see that sometime prior to season’s end.
  • USC needs to send an assistant to the beach to find Johnny Utah and see if he’s got any eligibility left.  In spite of their 19-3 win over the Utes last weekend, the Trojans look more like a Big-10 team with the football, and Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, and Mark Sanchez … Cody Kessler ain’t.  If Keanu Reeves can beat Bodhi, Roach, and Nathanial in a pick-up game after having his “knee bent 90 degrees in the wrong direction” in the Rose Bowl, then he certainly can pilot the Men of Troy to a couple scores against the conference’s bottom-half.
  • UCLA has a bunch of freshmen playing this season.  How do I know that?  Because Brent Musberger reminded me every third play during his broadcast of the Ducks/Bruins game.
  • Sean Mannion, in spite of his subpar performance against Stanford, was nails in the pocket in the face of significant pressure.  Props to the Oregon State signal-caller for continuing to impress during a season I never saw coming.
  • DeAnthony Thomas gets to be hurt.  People’s insistence that there’s more to DAT’s second-half absence last weekend is a desperate attempt to create drama.  The guy’s got a bum wheel; those things never fully heal in the midst of a season.  Let it go.
  • Arizona needs to play in a meaningful game … soon.  Every week I try to give these guys a go, but every week I’m swayed by a better game, a 90210 rerun, or paint drying.  I can’t put my finger on it, but the Wildcats could put a teething baby on Adderall to sleep
    Chip Kelly ruined Mike Riley.  Four years of watching the ex-Oregon coach repeatedly go for it on 4th down drained Riley of his sense regarding his own team and their game situations.  Play “your” game Mike.
  • Oregon kicker Alejandro Maldanado has reached ex-Seattle Mariner closer Bobby Ayala status.  When he comes in the game, you can literally feel the failure emanating from the television screen.  I think season ticket holders should have the option of putting the bowling bumpers up on any attempt outside of 30 yards.
  • USC tailback Silas Redd needs to tap his cleats together 3 times and recite, “There’s no place like Penn State.  There’s no place like Penn State.  There’s no place like Penn State,” in hopes of returning to his previous school and finishing the career he was, and should’ve continued to have.  This guy was a potential first-round pick prior to transferring amidst the Sandusky controversy, and now he’s an afterthought by those who follow the game closest.  Ten rushes for 0 yards last weekend versus Utah … sad.
  • California coach Sonny Dykes has to sleep with the hippies in the trees in Berkeley until he proves to me that his team is better than the Texas State Armadillos of Unnecessary Roughness fame.  I’d say I’m done picking on Coach Dykes … but I’m not.
  • What’s with the sombreros in the crowd in Reser Stadium?

Highlight Of The Week – Oregon’s fake punt on 4th and 14 early in the first quarter against UCLA.  Duck fan or not, you had to appreciate the cojones on first-year coach Mark Helfrich to pull the trigger on that play so deep in his own territory.

Lowlight Of The Week – Washington fans complaining about the sad passing of Hall of Fame Husky coach Don James not being talked about enough during various programming, including ESPN’s Game Day.  Another display of Husky fans’ myopia.  Don James was a great Husky, but being a great Husky doesn’t make you relevant to college football fans nationwide.


This week’s Diva Award goes to UCLA’s Jordan Zumwalt.  Why?  Because of his numerous gestures following seemingly every tackle against Oregon.  How he wasn’t flagged for taunting, while standing over DeAnthony Thomas making a sleeping motion after a big hit across the middle, is beyond me and another display of Pac-12 officials’ inconsistency.

My Conference Power Rankings this week:

1.  Oregon

7. Arizona

2.  Stanford

8. USC

3.  Arizona State

9.  Utah

4.  Oregon State

10. Washington State

5.  UCLA

11.  California

6.  Washington

12.  Colorado

With that I bid week nine adieu, and the best of luck to you and yours next weekend.

Enjoy the games!

About Arran Gimba