So, it was an interesting weekend last week in the Pac-10. SC and Oregon St. were the only two teams that won comfortably while the Ducks needed OT to dispatch Purdue.
This week's Roundtable is hosted by Pitchfork Nation. We will link up the other sites as their answers get posted.
DC Trojan takes this weeks questions...the particulars after the jump.
1) The Pacific-10 Conference expanded to its current state in 1978 when Arizona and Arizona State left the WAC to create the dysfunctional family we now are all members of today. In the 30 years in our current state, I think it's pretty obvious that we did not see a weekend as pathetic as we did last week when seven teams lost, four of them to Mountain West Conference foes, one as a 25 1/2 point favorite, one to Baylor (no more explanation needed) and one which was their worst loss since the Great Depression.
Thankfully, last week is over and we move on to this weekend, where there's a primetime televised matchup (Georgia/ASU), a middling conference game and three others. The question is, how does the conference save face this week?
Stanford needs to beat San Jose State, Oregon needs to beat Boise State, and somehow (borrowing players from someone else) Washington State has to beat Portland State. Whatever Arizona and UCLA do, it can't look like a cripple fight - both teams must score and get into double digits. Anything else is a loss of face. As for ASU - Georgia, I have no idea what to make of that game. Perhaps the converse of both teams struggling against inferior-on-paper opponents last week, is that they will have a game for the ages this weekend.
2) After everything that happened this past weekend, the two teams that are left nationally ranked are the Trojans and the Ducks. The Trojans did it in stunningly efficient fashion over a clearly overmatched Ohio State team while the Ducks pulled off a rousing comeback with a backup QB in a very hostile Purdue environment.
We've touched on this question before, but we're rehashing it this week. After seeing some pretty true colors last Saturday, can anyone in this conference challenge USC for the crown this year, and can Oregon continue to win with the now oft-injured Justin Roper on the sidelines?
There are at least two challengers to the crown. Oregon has a sound defense and they still have two quarterbacks who are capable of keeping the ball moving until Roper comes back. It's hard to believe that Cal is going to put in another performance of the caliber of the Maryland game. I firmly believe that both games reflected the results of taking too short a time to acclimate to time - and in the case of the Maryland game, climate. I'll hold off on ASU until after the Georgia game - there's a lot of talent in Tempe, but sometimes they don't seem to be able to deploy it when it counts.
3) The Washington Huskies nearly pulled off a UNLV-style upset last week when they came within one point and a crap excessive celebration penalty away from sending their game with BYU to overtime. With a chance to prove that they might actually have more spunk and grit than originally thought on Saturday, Oklahoma was up 34-0 before you could spit out "How much will it cost to buy out Tyrone Willingham, again?" At the same time, Washington State was rolled by Baylor. Yeah, that Baylor.
However, Washington and WSU are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the state of their programs. WSU is breaking in a new coach and trying to find a quarterback of the future, while the Huskies have a star under center but are chasing their boss out of town.
Which of these programs, then, is closer to edging back toward respectability?
I'd argue Washington State, actually, if only because their definition of respectability is probably less ambitious than Washington's. I can't judge whether giving Willingham the hook would reveal a demoralized group of players who are better than their coaching, or demonstrate that he's left behind a group that just won't cut it for Husky ambitions of getting back up the mountain. Wulff at least has the benefit of starting from scratch.
4) Those pesky Wildcats are at it again. Their fan base got super excited after starting 2-0 and putting up a ton of points to open the season, but at the first sign of adversity on the road at New Mexico this week, they once again folded like Charlie Weis' kneecap.
Mike Stoops is already on the hot seat for not taking several paper tigers to the postseason in previous seasons, and now the stove just got turned back up after losing on the road to a Lobos team that they're clearly better than. The perception down here in the Grand Canyon State is that Little Brother has to get the U of A to a bowl...any bowl...to save his job. Give me your perception of the state of the Arizona Wildcats.
Hugely hugely inconsistent. Capable of good defense, and the quality of their offense varies like the mood swings of an 11 year old girl. They just don't seem to be able to string together any sort of consistent results, or show any sort of resilience. In other words, it looks like the head coach is coaching what he knows and no-one's setting the tone for the players overall.
5) Might as well address the giant elephant in the room. A game that was so hyped across America had its stock fall faster than...well...the stock market on Monday afternoon. I'm not good at puns. Anyway, like it or not, Georgia is still visiting Arizona State on Saturday in a game that the Devils need to save face after their embarrassing loss to the Rebels last week.
Georgia looked like a team that could be beaten against South Carolina as the Gamecocks were able to get plenty of pressure on Matt Stafford and Chris Smelley picked apart the Bulldogs secondary.
Can the Sun Devils still beat Georgia this weekend? And what would a win over one of the SEC's finest mean for the conference?
My entirely uninformed opinion is that ASU has to keep Rudy Carpenter upright, pressure the hell out of Stafford, and find a way to stop Knowshon Moreno to have a hope of winning this game. Georgia's treatment of Colt Brennan in the Sugar Bowl should have had a parental advisory on it; if ASU's offensive line folds, the Sun Devils won't have a chance to score the points to stay ahead of any defensive lapses.