Monday, October 15, 2007

Is the PAC-10 this Bad?

We're 7 weeks into the schedule and the PAC-10 only has one undefeated team. That sounds about right, if you said that before the season started; USC would be undefeated and the nine dwarfs would be scrambling to keep up. Oh, but things haven't gone according to form this year, have they? ASU sits atop the conference, the lone team without a blemish on their record, and everyone else is licking their wounds from some head-scratching defeats. How did this happen? Is the PAC-10 this balanced or this bad?

Before anyone gets too excited about Arizona State, let's remember that they haven't exactly played stellar competition. They have, literally, played almost the entire bottom half of the conference as it stands today (Stanford, Washington, WSU, and Oregon State). Their out of conference opponents included SDSU and SJSU... not exactly football juggernauts. They also had Colorado, which has turned into a decent team, but otherwise it has been a bakery full of creme puffs. Every game has been at home with the exception of Stanford and WSU (which they barely won). They still have games at UCLA, at Oregon, and match ups with Cal and USC. They have played great football and were extremely under rated coming into the season, but you have to think their winning streak is about to end soon.

The Trojans are a big blemish on the conference. It has been a long time since anyone could honestly say that. Pete Carroll definitely takes the cake for "doing less with more" this season. Barely squeaking out a victory against Washington; losing to 1-3 Stanford; then barely getting past an Arizona team that only has one victory over a D1-A opponent. That hardly sounds like the gem of the conference. With pre-season hype through the roof, it is hard to think of another team (well, maybe Michigan and Louisville) that is disappointing more right now. They've had their fair share of injuries, but common, they are stacked 3-deep with All Americans.

California was looking hot until this last weekend. I'm sure some Bear fans will wring their hands and say they lost because of their backup QB. Don't believe that for a second. Riley's numbers compare very favorably with Longshore's averages for the season. His 20/24, 294 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT were better than what Longshore had against Arizona. I would take those numbers any day of the week and twice on Saturday. No, it was their defense that was suspect. Giving up 478 total yards (including almost 300 in the air) to an Oregon State offense that has struggled much of this season. Like the old saying goes, defense wins championships. Cal ain't winning a championship anytime soon.

That leaves us with Oregon, another team expected to make some noise this year. The Ducks have looked pretty good, but they were fortunate to play a Michigan team reeling from their loss to Appalachian State. The Wolverines are playing great football right now and that game probably wouldn't go down the same if it were played this weekend. On the flip side, their one loss to Cal probably should have been a victory. Still, like the Bears, they aren't playing stingy defense and with games remaining at Seattle, at Corvallis, at Pasadena, and hosting USC, they aren't going to finish with only that one loss.

No need to go into UCLA. Our pre-season top-20 ranking went down the tubes with our blow-out loss to Utah and that was back when we were still relatively healthy. With no clear starting QB, and a mountain of injuries, this team is in for a very long second-half of the season. I could say we are the biggest disappointment, but did anyone really expect this team to win the conference? We're still technically in that race, but baring some miraculous turn-around, it looks like a the middle of the conference finish for the Bruins.

You could say there is some parity here in the conference. The PAC-10 did win some big OOC games this year including victories over Tennessee, Nebraska, and Michigan. But even those games are fading as those teams rack up defeats. The bottom feeders in the conference are scoring wins they shouldn't and the top-tier teams are looking very pedestrian. Sure, everyone is losing this year to unranked teams, but even in victory our best teams look very vulnerable. Sagarin says we are the #2 conference behind the SEC. That might be true, but that gap is very wide and deep at this point. No, I think the conference is just that bad this season. We have no clear-cut leader and the top is muddled with teams that don't strike much fear into their opponents. Not exactly the sign of a good conference. We'll probably continue to bloody each other in conference play and it wouldn't surprise me if the eventual conference champ has two or more defeats. It could be an ugly bowl season this winter.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cal's defense is a fucking joke!

Anonymous said...

The Pac-10 will finish: OREGON, CAL, A-STATE, USC, UCLA, O-STATE, ZONA, UW, WAZZU, STANFORD.

KD is pink-slipped before our ceremonial Las Vegas Bowl loss to...?

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