Monday, September 5, 2011

Pac-12: An Embarrassing Start

Sorry to say it, Pac-12, but you should be embarrassed at your first week.
Yes, you won more games than you lost. Yes, you scored a lot of points. But let’s take a look at how your week really went.
The Pac-12 teams finished 8-4. That’s not too bad, but when they are claiming to be among the BCS elite it’s pretty pathetic. Let’s examine some of the others. The Big 12 (now ten) went 10-0 for the first week, in the middle of talk that the conference could soon die as its best members were pillaged—by the Pac-12. The Big East (which we have all known for years does not deserve its automatic bid) went 8-0. The Big Ten (now twelve) went 10-2. Now, I’ll grant, one of those two losses was to Pac-12 heavyweight USC, but that almost imploded in the Pac-12’s collective face once again.
Shall we take a look at their week?
First, let’s examine Utah, my own neighborhood team. They celebrated their first game as a BCS AQ team in the fashion of most AQ teams: scheduling an unimpressive team from the FCS (formerly division I-AA) at home. A scheduled win. Utah got the win it scheduled, 27-10. I watched most of the game, but almost none of the scoring. Utah got a few scores off of defensive gains, but from what I saw of the game, Montana State actually won 10-3. It was pretty pathetic.
But perhaps that’s not the pattern of the conference. Let’s move instead to Washington, who hosted Eastern Washington. Hmm. They squea a win out of that but they needed an interception to stay ahead 30-27.
OK, let’s move on. USC hosted a Big Ten team, a bold move to open the season. Of course, they chose last year’s last place team in the Big Ten. They led 19-3 at halftime then let Minnesota steadily come back until the Trojans had to just hold on for a 19-17 win.
So three of the conference’s eight wins could easily have been losses. The other wins were all at home against fairly weak teams. Those five all scored a lot of points, but each of them but Stanford allowed the weak visitor to score at least ten. But the real embarrassment for the Pac-12 should come from the four losses.
The least embarrassing loss is Oregon’s, of course. They played the marquee matchup of the week. They went to Dallas to play against LSU, a fight between two top five teams. LSU played like a champion (and deserve to be ranked # 1 when the rankings come out tomorrow). No shame in losing. Unless you came a field goal away from winning the national championship last year, and your main offensive producer from that season (LaMichael James) is still on the team. So Oregon should have done better.
Two other Pac-12 teams—Colorado and UCLA—went on the road against FBS (Division I) teams. Yet they chose teams from the WAC (Hawaii) and C-USA (Houston), conferences that perennially get the short end of the stick. Both Pac-12 teams lost. Neither game was ever close.
But we have left off one Pac-12 team that hosted an FCS team for its opener. Oregon State scheduled a win against Sacramento State. The game was not as close as the score says. The Beavers had to catch up with their lowly visitor to force overtime—15 points in the fourth quarter to tie the game. Then they lost the overtime battle anyway, 29-28.
The Pac-12 still thinks it’s among college football’s elite. If that is so, it needs to get a lot better.

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