Whether we like to admit it in these parts or not, it’s the SEC’s world still and we’re just living in it. Sure, the SEC might be ready to die, but until that meat-wagon shows up and someone else is holding that crystal football on the night of January 6th, we must treat the Southeastern Conference as a real thing. However, the Pac-12 has touted Oregon and Stanford pretty vocally since the fall of Troy in South Central Los Angeles, and that’s a real thing too.
Without question, the conference is on its way up, ready to take the reigns of College Football supremacy out of the South and East, in order to bring it home to the wake of the Pacific Ocean. We didn’t get to see the conference’s golden child or its understudy, both given the week off to prepare for an epic showdown at Stanford Stadium on Thursday night, but we did get a glimpse of the conference’s under-cards, if that’s even a fair name for the Pac-12 South’s finest. The smart money is on 2-time Pac-12 South Champ UCLA, and they do control their own destiny; however, that same sentiment reigns true for Arizona and Arizona State as well. USC needs some help, but they aren’t exactly out of it just yet.
Needless to say, a lot of these teams that play after many on the east coast hit the rack are moving on up in the world…like Elevators, so let’s offer Outkast, the duo from the heart of SEC country, a chance to tell us what was happening in the conference that might be the next best thing, even if the Pac-12 doesn’t necessarily have dibs on NEXT.
Arizona State 55 Washington State 21
Just trying to find that hookup
Now everyday we look up at the ceiling
Watching ceiling fans go round, trying to catch that feeling
Talk about a team and a program that desperately need the right people to respect and promote what Todd Graham has done with this program in Tempe. In the same way that Big Boi and Andre used to ride public transport around Atlanta waiting to be discovered, these Sun Devils want to purge the brutal memories a national audience might have of their trips to Palo Alto and Arlington. This trip to the Paloose was a good start, even if Martin Stadium doesn’t exactly tickle the ear drums as a tough place to play like Autzen Stadium or Death Valley at night might.
Still, with the Thursday night atmosphere, and it was Halloween Night to boot, this was a game I’d indicated as a “circle game” for the Cougars in my Pac-12 Preview, so I believe Mike Leach might have some tricks or treats under his sleeve out of the game. Instead, we were treated to the same crap-tastic mess that has been Washington State football over the last decade. On the other hand, Taylor Kelly and company came from Arizona on a mission, and spoke it in the form of three 1st quarter touchdowns on four possessions. Things might have gotten a little bit better for Connor Halliday and the home team, who scored through the air on the first and last plays of the 2nd quarter, but everything that happened in between made it 42-14 Sun Devils at intermission.
Halliday threw for 300 yards and 2 touchdowns in the loss, a noticeable drop-off from the 557 yards and 4 touchdowns in Eugene on October 19th, but it was the same type of stat-padding in a lopsided loss that we’ve become accustomed to from Leach’s teams. For the victors, contributions came from all over; the Sun Devils, who out-rushed the Cougars 282-2, got a 94-yard night from Marion Grice and a 66-yard effort from quarterback Taylor Kelly, who found the end zone twice with his legs and 5 times with his arm. Richard Smith, Jaelen Strong, and Chris Coyle each hauled in a touchdown reception, while running back DJ Foster stole the show with 7 catches for 77 yards and 2 scores as a receiver.
USC 31 Oregon State 14
Writing rhymes, trying to find our spot off in that light
Light off in that spot, knowing that we could rock
Doing the hole in the wall clubs – this (stuff) here must stop
With so many viewing options in College Football, it’s hard to put yourself in the spotlight, and even more difficult to stay there with the bright lights shining upon you. Sure, USC was in the spotlight, all throughout the follies of Lane Kiffin, but take them out of the national title picture, be entertained by the LAX pink-slipping of a Head Coach, then lose any and all interest in what they’re doing. That’s how it goes, but this team is doing all they can with what they’ve got left, to exorcise the demons of Washington State and Arizona State, but the road ahead is just as congested as the 405 Freeway on a Monday morning commute.
The state of Oregon has not been very kind to the traveling Trojans of late, and the aerial assault of Sean Mannion promised to keep it that way on Friday night. The big-play men of Troy had different ideas, setting the tone early with a Marqise Lee 71-yard scoring catch early in the action to silence the crowd at Reser Stadium in Corvallis. A Javorius Allen 9-yard scoring run made it 14-0 USC, after the first 15 minutes of play. The Beavers stuck around for a while, getting on the board on Brandin Cooks 14th touchdown reception of the season in the 2nd quarter, then tying it up on a Ryan Murphy pick-six, just 14 seconds later.
USC tightened up on defense in the second half, and added a few scores in the third quarter to put the game out of reach at 31-14, the final nail being Allen’s 52-yard touchdown run, his second of the night. The Trojans D held Mannion to under 300 yards, a feat only equaled by Stanford this season, and limited Cooks to 6 catches on the night, a season low for him. Ed Orgeron got big production out of his backfield, seeing Allen and Silas Redd both running for more than 130 yards, but the game’s biggest play swung the momentum into the away team’s favor when Cody Kessler hit Nelson Aglohor for 62 yards on the first play of the third quarter, setting up a field goal, which gave the Trojans a two-possession lead.
Arizona 33 Cal 28
Thangs changed in the hood
Where I live at, them rats know, “Mama I want to sing, but
Mama I want to trick, and Mama I’m sucking (something) now”
The only team from the original Pac-10 that has never represented this Pacific Coast conference in the Rose Bowl. They dream of it every August in Tucson, but come November, they’re singing to the heavens about a December 21st date with the Mountain West Champ (or something like it) in Las Vegas. Not that we want to promote tricking or hooking in Vegas, but the drop-off is comparable for an aspiring starlet from the wrong side of the track, especially in Pre-Idol America.
Ka’Deem Carey became the first Wildcat to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons in over a decade and BJ Denker scored multiple touchdowns on the ground for the fourth time this season in a game that got away from Sonny Dyke’s Golden Bears in the second half. Jared Goff’s arm got Cal out to an early 7-0 lead and pulled the home team to within 5 points at halftime with his second touchdown pass, but every time Cal made it a 1-score game, Arizona’s quarterback would widen the gap.
Despite being held to just 44 yards on the ground, Rich Rodriguez’s senior quarterback did find the end zone three times, each time answering a Goff touchdown pass. Denker did not need to counter Kenny Lawler’s third touchdown reception of the day, that came with 1:42 on the clock, after the Wildcats recovered Cal’s ill-fated onside kick attempt. Even when Arizona failed to score, as they did on Carey’s negative gain on 4th and 2, Arizona took the teachable moment and salvaged two points out of it on a safety.
UCLA 45 Colorado 23
True, I’ve got more fans than the average man
But not enough loot to last me to the end of the week
I live by the beat, like you live check-to-check
Where good faith meets ‘what have you done for me lately?’, UCLA gladly took on a home game with the Colorado Buffaloes after a rough pair of road games in Pac-12 North country, trying to earn back that good faith earned against opponents not named Stanford or Oregon. The Rose Bowl is much more than just a home venue for the Bruins; for Jim Mora’s squad, The Rose Bowl Game is a real-live goal, and they’d like to be playing there in January. Nothing is saved up, and they are living check-to-check, but if you can’t negotiate the speed-bumps, good luck at the actual roadblocks that exist in Arizona and across town at USC.
The Bruins were a bit lethargic out of the gate, but woke up just before the end of the 1st quarter on Brett Hundley’s 76-yard touchdown pass to Devin Fuller, the first of two scores the quarterback-receiver tandem would connect for on the afternoon. Colorado would actually re-claim the lead on Paul Richardson’s 2nd quarter touchdown reception from Sefo Liufau, Richardson’s eighth score of the season, but the fun stopped there. Hundley ran one in, and hooked up with Fuller for six, again, in the second quarter to put UCLA up 21-10, before a Will Oliver field goal shortened the lead to 21-13 at the half.
When the dust settled, it was 35-13 after three quarters of play, and Fuller put an exclamation point on his day with a 4th quarter rushing touchdown, from 8 yards away. Fuller had 99 yards receiving on 3 catches on what amounted to a very average day throwing for Hundley, who was 19-of-24 for 273 yards. The sophomore quarterback did his work on the ground, running 11 times for 72 yards and two touchdowns.
Oregon, Stanford, Utah, Washington (IDLE)
Me and you, your momma and your cousin too
Rolling down the strip on Vogues
Coming up, slamming Cadillac doors
If we’ve learned anything from the SEC over the past half-decade or so, it’s that you CAN take it with you; your mama, your cousin, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, whoever! Remember, it’s not teams in a conference that win championships; it’s the conference itself. So, with that said, Utah and Washington ought to be just as hyped for the match-up in Palo Alto on Thursday as Stanford and Oregon are. It’s not just me and you, but the reality is nobody from the Pac-12 is moving on up like elevators, unless its Oregon, but we shall see.
Washington travels to UCLA on Friday night, to take on the Bruins. Utah will host Arizona State on Saturday.