September 21, 2010 Leave a comment
If you hear a rumbling, that’s the sound of everybody jumping off the Jake Locker bandwagon all at once. The biggest game of Week 3 for the Pac-10 was Nebraska vs Washington, and Locker’s 4 for 20 performance left a lot to be desired.
I wouldn’t be too alarmed for Locker, though. Yes, he was bad, but it’s not like everyone just missed the boat on him and he went from #1 overall pick to being a schlub. The Nebraska defense is really good, and the Huskie defense didn’t exactly do Locker any favors. I’ll wait to hold judgement, and the bye week should help Sarkisian and company refocus.
Then there was Arizona’s trouncing of Iowa. This was an odd game for a few reasons. Iowa’s first possession ended in a punt block, the end result being a Wildcat touchdown. Iowa’s next possession ended with a pick-six. After Iowa scored its first touchdown, the ensuing kickoff was returned for a score.Now, I give Arizona all the credit for being opportunistic and creating turnovers, but how much can you really gauge from this game? After those first few drives, were the Hawkeyes really that into it?
It was 27-7 at half time, with those three touchdowns resulting from a blocked punt, interception and kick return. The high powered Arizona offense, when having to face the Hawkeye defense with a long field, could only muster two field goals. I’m not completely sold on Arizona just yet.
Some quick notes on a few other games:
I continue to watch USC with an eye of skepticism. They just don’t seem to possess the ability to overwhelm inferior opponents. Winning is the name of the game, but I’m just not sure the Trojans have what it takes to knock a good team out. Still watching, still waiting for some signs.
Arizona State almost shocked the world by going on the road and coming within a blocked extra point of tying #11 Wisconsin late. I had this one nearly pegged last week, but I’m still surprised. Might not be the last time I say that about the Sun Devils this year.
I take nothing away from UCLA beating a Case Keenum-less Houston team. But you beat who is in front of you, so kudos to the Bruins. Now on to Week 4…
USC vs Washington State
Here you go, Lane. While most people won’t figure there is anything to learn from this game, I’ll be watching. I want to see the Trojans whoop up on somebody, and who better than the worst team (by far) in the Pac-10. This is the time to send a message.
Stanford vs Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish are coming off two hard to swallow losses, and now they face one of the top quarterbacks in the country, Stanford’s Andrew Luck. I would be fearful of the Cardinal players being caught looking forward to next week’s Oregon matchup, but does anybody really look past Notre Dame?
I really don’t see the Irish stopping Luck. And by the way, the drinking game for this one will be all puns that include the words “Luck” and “Irish” by NBC commentators.
UCLA vs Texas
Texas might boast the best defense in the nation, and UCLA has serious offensive issues. You get blanked at home against Stanford, then what are you going to do on the road against Texas?
What they need to do is make sure the Longhorns don’t get any kind of running game going. Then take a page from Arizona’s book and look to special teams and turnovers early to knock the wind out of Texas’ sails. If this were a home game for the Bruins, I could see something like that happening, but a road game against a top ten team? I’d be surprised if the score didn’t end in double digits favoring Texas.
Oregon State vs Boise State
This week’s Pac-10 game of the week. Here’s something I find interesting: The Beavers painted their practice field blue this week to prepare for a trip to Boise. I find this very funny, but at the same time, a possibly genius move by Mike Reilly.
It also helps the Beavers that they are coming off a bye week. Then again, Boise State’s game last week against Wyoming might as well be considered a bye.
The Broncos are the better team, but the matchup favors Oregon State slightly. You want to run the ball on the Beavers, and Boise is a pass-happy team. However, OSU quarterback Ryan Katz cannot get into a shootout with Kellen Moore.
The Beavers have to make this a low-scoring game. Even if they are down, say, 17-3 at half, that’s better than having Moore and the Broncos start lighting up the scoreboard, even if OSU is keeping up early. They won’t be able to sustain that, and Boise will.
California vs Arizona
The Bears seem to be a team that does well when everybody counts them out and folds under pressure. Well, after getting mauled by Nevada last week, and Arizona picking up a signature win, the pressure is off.
The Wildcats jumped ten spots from #24 to #14 in the AP poll. Not sure if I agree with that kind of movement in the polls with the kind of game that went on last week. And really, that was the only real game Arizona has played so far, and it was over early. This is also the last game before the bye week for the Cats. I smell “trap”.
What Cal needs to do is run the ball with a vengeance. Shane Vereen needs about 25 carries for the Bears to win. Keep the ball, stop Arizona from airing it out, and you give yourself a chance. I think they will keep it close late, but Nick Foles and the Arizona passing attack will find seams against a questionable Cal secondary, and make enough big plays down the stretch to put the Bears away.
Oregon vs Arizona State
While the loss was painful, Arizona State should feel pretty good about their performance against Wisconsin. This is also Oregon’s first real game. Kind of smell an upset here, as it has all the ingredients, but there’s only one problem: Oregon is really, really good.
And should be good enough to blow the Sun Devils out. Perhaps the game will remain close in the first half, as the Ducks get up to speed, but Oregon is the best team nobody is talking about, and ASU still has a ways to go before they can be seriously thought of as a threat.
Written by Jay Fisher @jfishsports on Twitter