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Pac 12 Conference News and Notes
by Matt Fargo - 09/27/2011
Week Four Rewind
The Pac 12 was filled with a mix of blowouts and exciting games this past weekend.
Oregon took care of Arizona by 25 points but give the Wildcats credit for not giving up. Trailing 35-3, Arizona cut the deficit to 11 points the third quarter before the Ducks pulled away. Anyone that watched the game saw a very undisciplined Wildcats team and one that could not tackle as they allowed 415 yards rushing on 47 carries (8.8 ypc).
USC outgained Arizona St. 402-392 but a -4 margin in turnovers did the Trojans in. They trailed 21-9 at halftime but took the lead in the third quarter by a point before the Sun Devils scored the final 22 points to run away with it. USC didn't help itself by committing 10 penalties while going a paltry 1-9 on third down.
Washington and UCLA won their respective games by eight points.
UCLA nearly blew a 21-3 lead against Oregon St. but it was able to hold on and save head coach Rick Neuheisel's job for at least one more week. Had the Bruins lost, he may have lost his job that night. The Beavers won the yardage battle 375-357 but they failed on two fourth down conversions in the fourth quarter at the UCLA 34 and 22 yard line.
The Huskies jumped ahead 21-10 but they could not hold their lead either as California stormed back to take the lead. Washington scored the game's final 10 points including a 70-yard touchdown pass with 12:13 left. The Golden Bears had a chance to tie and send the game into overtime but were stopped at the two-yard line with 21 seconds remaining.
In the only non-conference game, Colorado was no match for Ohio St., losing 37-17. The Buffaloes were outgained by only 22 total yards but 125 of their yards came in garbage time. Eight of Colorado's 12 drives consisted of three plays or fewer while the defense allowed just one three and out, the Buckeyes first possession of the game.
Heisman Hopeful Again?
No we are not talking about Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck who was off this past weekend. We are referring to Oregon running back LaMichael James who pretty much dropped out of the Heisman race after two games but has since reinserted himself.
After totaling 121 yards rushing against LSU and Nevada, James broke out with 204 yards on 12 carries against Missouri St. While that may not seem overly impressive since it was against a FCS school, he followed that up 288 yards on 23 carries against Arizona.
That impressive total was a school record and on the season, James is rushing for an unheard of 9.4 yards per carry.
"Defensively, we’re just not playing anywhere close to good enough to win against a good football team," Arizona head coach Mike Stoops said. "We can’t commit any more guys to the line of scrimmage and stop the run. I don’t know what else to say." That is not exactly confidence building coach speak.
Oregon is off this week.
While the Pac 12 has the fifth fewest ranked teams of the six BCS conferences, one thing it does possess is a slew of solid quarterbacks.
Eight conference quarterbacks are ranked among the top 40 in the nation in passing efficiency. You would think Andrew Luck is leading the way but it is two quarterbacks from The Evergreen State.
Washington St.'s Marshall Lobbestael, who took over as the starter after Jeff Tuel was hurt, is sixth in the country as he has thrown for 959 yards with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions while completing 62.4 percent of his passes.
Meanwhile Washington's Keith Price is not far behind at ninth as he has thrown for 983 yards on 67 percent completions to go along with 14 touchdowns and three picks. He is tied with Matt Schilz of Bowling Green for best in the nation with those 14 scoring strikes.
Good quarterbacking usually leads to a lot of offense and as a conference, the over is now a profitable 17-12 on the season.
Game of the Week
Washington at Utah. It may not seem like game of the week material and quite frankly, it really isn't. However it is the only game in the Pac 12 this week that features two teams above .500. It is safe to say that ESPN's College Gameday will not be making the trip to Rice-Eccles Stadium.
This is Utah's first ever Pac 12 home game and a win here will setup a showdown with Arizona St. next week. The winner of that game will have the upper hand in the Pac 12 South.