Originally written on Oregon Sports News  |  Last updated 11/14/14
As the non-conference games wind to an end, much of the Pac-12 put their own, as well as the conference’s reputation on the line last weekend, butting heads with the ACC, Big-10, SEC, and … well … a couple representatives from leagues that shall remain nameless.  That’s right, while Oregon was playing Tennessee, Cal was playing Ohio State, and ASU was hosting last year’s Big-10 Conference Champion Wisconsin, Washington State and Arizona were tuning up against minor-league representatives the likes of Southern Utah and Texas-San Antonio. It is that time of year; Saturday’s consisting of “Big Boy” matchups resulting in useful information regarding strength outside of individual leagues, in addition to laughable mismatches reminiscent of a fraternity intramural between the Alpha Betas and Tri-Lambs.  Even Stan Gable needed a confidence boost from time to time, and what better way to do it than by publicly demoralizing college football’s “nerds” in a manner Back to the Future’s Biff would be proud. Amongst the various matchups, we were able to glean a thing or two without much debate:  Oregon is pretty good, Cal isn’t, and 50% of the rest of the conference is teetering between mediocre and “there’s always next year.”  Nearly everyone – with the exception of that team from Boulder – is capable of excitement at a given moment, but few have the depth and are as complete enough to genuinely challenge for the conference crown.  Oregon State can’t play defense, USC – while better – still can’t play offense, and UCLA, Washington, and ASU still seem closer to “fool’s gold” rather than the genuine artifact the masses are trying to sell us.  I’m always skeptical of the program working the “hard sell,” and for two weeks now it seems like everyone in or around Seattle, wearing purple, and/or a card-carrying member of the Steve Sarkisian Fan Club, have been doing everything this side of standing on the corner, dancing and spinning a billboard singing the praises of the fourth-year Husky Head Coach.  The Dawgs looked good Week 1, less good last weekend, and not-particularly-good since Rick Neuheisel got a little too aggressive with a March Madness pool in the early 2000’s.  Washington is talking the talk, but eventually they’ll have to walk it if they’re going to be taken seriously … at least by me. Now, time for my observations from the week that was in the Pac-12 Conference: Stanford is the Medusa of college football; they play the game so ugly that watching them risks turning to stone. UCLA’s offense isn’t as good as Nebraska’s defense is bad.  The Cornhuskers could’ve literally played the Seahawks’ 12th Man and they couldn’t have stopped the Bruins Saturday morning. “Unnecessary Shove” is apparently a penalty. Oregon is fast, but Gus Johnson thinks their speed is overhyped.  Enough with the hyperbole, talking heads; until three-quarters of their team runs a sub-4-second forty, there needs to be a moratorium on the maximum speed references during their games. Jim Mora can’t tell us enough how good the Bruins will be in a couple years. I’m amending my initial declaration that Utah quarterback Travis Wilson looked like Dazed and Confused’s Mitch Kramer.  After watching him last week I’ve decided he’s more of a hybrid of the alien in M. Knight Shyamalan’s Signs and Jerry McGuire’s Cush (The rookie quarterback who said he’d either surf or ski in regards to being drafted by Denver or San Diego). Speaking of physical appearance, Oregon linebacker Joe Walker appears to be a younger, more athletic version of Weird Al Yankovic.  I’m not sure who’s responsible for that lettuce on his dome, but he’s a bottle of “Soul Glow” away from a body double for Coming to America’s Darrell. If he doesn’t already, Oregon freshman tight end John Mundt will have a t-shirt before week’s end.  His performance versus Tennessee last weekend opened eyes in Eugene, and maybe the door to starter Colt Lyerla’s exit from the starting lineup.  No one knows for sure what’s going on with Lyerla, but his potential is only exceeded by his inability to live up to it.  Shake yourself Colt, you’re too talented to throw this all away! In spite of Oregon State’s logo slowly morphing into a Nutria, two thumbs up for their new unis last Saturday Night. As good as Sean Mannion’s looked in the first 3 weeks, it must be remembered that he played against Eastern Washington, Hawaii, and Utah.  Props where props are due, but I’m going to pump the brakes a bit on the level of hyperbole surrounding his performance. Mark Helfrich is getting comfortable in his role and coming into his own as a head coach. I thought Mike Leach was an offensive guru?  His reputation really can’t get him a better quarterback than Connor Halliday? Watching Arizona and Arizona State is like watching Groundhog Day.  Every year those teams seem exactly the same:  formidable looking early, anything but, late. My Conference Power Rankings this week: 1.  Oregon 7.  Oregon State 2.  Stanford 8.  Washington State 3.  Washington 9.  USC 4.  UCLA 10.  Utah 5.  Arizona State 11.  California 6.  Arizona 12.  Colorado A pretty weak slate of games await us this coming weekend as the conference wraps up the majority of their non-conference games, but #23 Arizona State plays at #5 Stanford Saturday evening in the Pac-12’s game of the week, and should give us a first look at a small sample of what two of the alleged contenders have to offer.  Enjoy the games!
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