Needless to say, Pac-12 did not live up to expectations during week 1 of the 2011 college football season. The conference went 8-4 this past weekend which was only 1 more loss than what I predicted. However the wins were often close and the losses embarrassing.
1) Oregon is now the “new” Ohio State – Ohio State suffered from the “big fish in a small pond” perception from the rest of the nation between 2006 and 2008 when it laid two eggs in the National Championship Game, followed by a loss to Texas in the Fiesta Bowl and subsequently two losses to USC. The Buckeyes did not get off their monkey off their back until the 2010 Rose Bowl when they beat…..who else, Oregon. Boise State twice, Ohio State, Auburn, and now LSU have proven the spread option can be stopped with ample preparation and a disciplined defense. If Oregon fully wants to claim themselves as the new USC of the Pac-12, they are going to have to win one of these big games soon.
3) Three Cheers – Washington State starts 1-0 for the first time since 2005 and puts up 64 points. The Cougars are going to have to figure out how to win without Jeff Tuel, but there is definitely a new attitude up in the Palouse. Cal and Zach Maynard gives their fans some hope on the upcoming season with a 36-21 win over a feisty Fresno State team. The first team defense was not fully responsible for any of the Bulldog’s touchdowns, and Cal showed good balance in the passing and running game. Lastly, Andrew Luck and the Cardinals roll through San Jose State and will likely be the Pac-12’s highest ranked team until their showdown with Oregon on November 12th.
4) Four Jeers – Washington needed a late interception to hold off FCS Champion Eastern Washington. While this isn’t your “typical” FCS team, the Huskies probably should have put them away earlier. UCLA’s defense could not stop Case Keenam despite a good showing from their offense which racked up over 550 total yards of offense. The early departures of Akeem Ayers and Rahim Moore proved too much to overcome for the Bruins. In late night action, Colorado extends their losing streak away from Colorado as they still have notched a road victory since 2007. The Buffaloes rallied down 17-0 to make it 17-24, but couldn’t get the big stops they needed to beat the Rainbow Warriors. Finally, the Coliseum was filled with “boos” after the Trojan’s lackluster 19-17 victory over perennial Big-10 doormat Minnesota. The men of Troy didn’t score any points in the second half.
5) No so Beaver Nation – Oregon State joins Virginia Tech, Duke, Michigan as FBS schools to be upset by FCS schools in their own building after a 2-point conversion in Overtime lead to a 29-28 Sacramento State victory. The Beavers were without Ryan Katz for the second half a rallied from down 21-6 to have a chance to win in regulation on a field goal. Oregon State needs to regroup fast as a big win next week against Wisconsin would relieve some burns of Saturday’s defeat.