Pac-10 becoming three-headed monster worthy of our respect
In case you've only seen the scores (72-0, 48-13, 69-0) from his team's season-opening blitzkriegs, Oregon coach
"We're playing everyone on our roster on both sides of the ball," Kelly said Sunday.
Indeed, a look at the box score shows that nine different Ducks carried the ball Saturday. Seven of them had a gain of at least nine yards, including star
"I told our team that the mark of a great team is when you're supposed to beat a team, you beat a team," said Kelly. "You don't let people hang around. They've played hard no matter who we're playing."
We knew the defending Pac-10 champion Ducks were going to be good. That's why they're ranked fifth in the country. Their biggest question mark was sophomore quarterback
The real question -- and the one that's been hovering ever since the Pac-10's cross-country media blitz this summer -- was the strength of the rest of the conference. Fortunately, the Pac-10 plays enough early showcase games to get a decent read on most teams, and the early results are in. USC? Not what it used to be. Washington? Fraud. Cal? Ditto. Washington State? Don't even go there.
Two teams, however, have emerged as legitimate threats to the Ducks: Arizona and Stanford. Not coincidentally for a league long defined by its quarterbacks, the Wildcats and Cardinal boast two of the best we've seen this year.
On dueling channels Saturday night, you could watch Arizona's 79-percent passer,
On paper, the Wildcats and Cardinal entered the season as just two of several similarly bunched teams that seemed like they could go one direction or the other. Perhaps, in hindsight, we should have used the Oregon measuring stick.
"I know how good Arizona and Stanford are because we face them," said Kelly. "We had one [conference] loss last year, and it was to Stanford. We beat Arizona in double overtime. I've been a huge Nick Foles fan since he took over last year, and I think Andrew Luck IS the best quarterback in the country -- not because Jim Harbaugh said that, but since he threw [two] touchdowns on us last year."
The Ducks open conference play this week at Arizona State (which itself sent a bit of a message with its near-miss at Wisconsin on Saturday), and anyone who's watched them play likely considers them a national-title threat. But Oregon's fortunes may be closely tied to those of the Wildcats, Cardinal and the rest of the Pac-10.
For all of commissioner
Sometimes, the Pac-10's rigorous nonconference schedule can be its own worst enemy. Arizona's win over top 10 foe Iowa was arguably the most significant nonconference feat of any team to date, but it was essentially canceled out by Washington's meltdown against Nebraska the same day. USC's latest uninspiring win Saturday at Minnesota doesn't raise anyone's confidence, either.
The Pac-10 has more victories over BCS-conference foes (eight) than any other league, but it also has more FBS losses (eight) than the SEC (two), Big 12 (four) or Big Ten (five). More opportunities await this weekend, when Oregon State visits No. 3 Boise State and Stanford visits Notre Dame, both on national television.
Meanwhile, Oregon and Arizona (vs. Cal) begin their nine-game conference slates this weekend. Obviously, either could blow it at any moment (
That may be the biggest reason to start taking the West Coasters seriously.
At 11:49 p.m. Saturday night,
If that doesn't put football in perspective, I don't know what will.
Thankfully, the procedure was successful. "Coach Dantonio is resting comfortably ... and is expected to make a full recovery,"
Hopefully, Dantonio will not rush back to the sideline. Michigan State has the makings of a very good team on its hands (running backs
In the meantime,
With the Broncos set to receive the full
It was a good week in that department for the Broncos. Not only did Virginia Tech finally get back on track with a 49-27 win over East Carolina, but Nevada, Boise's toughest anticipated WAC foe, delivered an impressive 52-31 rout of Cal late Friday. Quarterback
Who knows? Maybe
The three-way Big 12 race between No. 6 Nebraska, No. 7 Texas and No. 8 Oklahoma is nearly impossible to handicap. A week after the Sooners' eye-opening rout of Florida State, the Huskers one-upped them by going on the road and throttling Washington behind a suddenly powerful rushing attack. And while Texas' offense continues to struggle, it's hard to argue with a defense that held Texas Tech to its lowest offensive output (144 yards) in 20 years. The 'Horns are my odd man out for now because they're the only group of the trio that has to play the other two (Oct. 2 vs. Oklahoma, Oct. 16 at Nebraska).
I didn't realize this until after I'd settled on the pairings, but each of the four hypothetical non-title matchups above has some added significance. Florida and Nebraska played for the 1995 national title (the game where
The Badgers may get there eventually, but right now they're a sloppy, banged-up team that required a bevy of breaks to survive Arizona State (20-19).
A week after routing BYU, the Falcons went to Norman and gave Oklahoma everything it could handle. I'd put them ahead of ranked teams Penn State and Missouri.
• Houston quarterback
Keenum finishes his career ranked on the NCAA top 10 lists for total offense (14,448 yards), passing yards (13,586) and touchdown passes (107), but we'll never know what might have been. He played a huge role in bringing Houston's long-dormant program some national relevance. Now it's up to true freshman
• Less than three weeks removed from arthroscopic knee surgery, Heisman winner
• No. 4 TCU would like to remind you that it's taking care of business. The Horned Frogs throttled Baylor, 45-10, on Saturday, with a near-perfect offensive performance. Quarterback
• Florida coach Urban Meyer's successful fake punt from his own 39-yard-line, in a game tied 10-10 at the time, changed the course of Florida's eventual 31-17 win at Tennessee. Remarkably, the Gators are now 8-of-8 on fake punts under Meyer, a slightly more flattering stat than another one
• It's feeling a lot like 2009, with LSU winning games while ranking just 91st nationally in total offense. Of the 27 teams that have started 3-0, LSU is the only one that has done so against three BCS-conference opponents. The good news: The Tigers' defense notched five interceptions (two by star
• Suffice it to say, new Oklahoma State offensive coordinator
• On the opposite end of the Big 12 South spectrum, Texas A&M needed three fourth-quarter touchdowns and a last-second defensive stand to survive Florida International, 27-20. Preseason All-Big 12 quarterback
• First year Vanderbilt coach
• Texas Tech defensive end
• N.C. State (3-0) picked up the ACC's first win in 10 tries over a BCS-conference foe in last Thursday's 30-19 rout of Cincinnati (1-2). Quarterback
• The Bearcats are hardly the lone contributors to the Big East's horrific nonconference performance. This is bad, people. The league's eight teams are just 4-9 against FBS competitors. That record rises to 12-9 if you throw in FCS competitors, but even that puts the Big East at about the same level as the WAC (12-10, 7-10 vs. FBS) and Conference USA (13-14, 8-14).
• Don't leave UCLA for dead, yet. A week after losing 35-0 to Stanford, the Bruins dismantled No. 23 Houston, even before the Cougars' QBs began dropping.
• Michigan quarterback
• News flash: Former Tennessee coach
It's time for an update on my
After squeaking out a last-second win over defending FCS champion Villanova, then winning a 13-10 overtime thriller against defending MAC champ Central Michigan, the Owls took a big step forward Saturday with a 30-16 win over Big East foe Connecticut. Lifted by a breakout 169-yard performance from previously banged-up running back
"It's a big win because we are 3-0 [for the first time since 1979], and because it was against a real physical opponent," said Temple coach
(We'll conveniently leave out the part about this year's Huskies going to Ann Arbor and getting "Denarded.")
But now comes judgment day, the single-biggest roadblock (besides the 40 teams currently ranked above them) between the Owls and a date with destiny: Saturday's trip to Golden's alma mater, Penn State. The two teams have a long and very one-sided history; the Nittany Lions are 35-3-1 against their in-state foe, with the last of those three loses coming in 1941. However, the Owls have gradually been making inroads over the past four years. Following 47-0 and 31-0 shutouts in 2006 and '07, they got to within 45-3 in '08 and 31-6 in '09.
But as Temple's official site points out, this will mark the first time since 1945 that Temple has arrived in Happy Valley undefeated.