Just looking back at my picks, and I had a pretty fair week. I was 9-3 straight up. I had Cal losing and Oregon and Oregon State winning. Against the spread, I was 8-4 since Utah didn't cover the point spread. But I will take that. This week might be a little more difficult.
It was not exactly a stellar week for the Pac 12. One of its marquee teams - Oregon - looked overmatched against LSU. USC, Utah and Washington didn't look great in wins and Oregon State and UCLA struggled.
Bruce Feldman, now of CBS sportsline, writes that the Pac 12 looks lacking this season.
The on-the-field business certainly did not reflect well for the revamped Pac-12. The conference's resident heavyweight, Oregon, faced a team that had even more distractions this offseason than they had, and Phil Knight's favorite team was short-circuited on a big national stage once again.
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Chip Kelly has a dynamic offense, but it is seeming more and more like the frenetic Ducks attack that looks so, well, awesome in league play wilts when it goes up against power teams from other leagues, or at least teams with added prep time. (See: the 2009 opener at Boise; the 2010 Rose Bowl vs. Ohio State; the 2011 BCS title game against Auburn; and now Saturday night's game against an LSU team that still had to replace an All-American DT [Drake Nevis] and the best defensive back in college football [Patrick Peterson]).Of course, it might not be the Pac 12 for long as talk of a Pac 16 featuring Texas and Oklahoma surfaced again.
Let's get to the games ...
Pac 12 North
Cal: The Bears were a little sloppy but got a win over a good Fresno State team. Columnist Tim Kawakami writes that Quarteback Zach Maynard gives the Bears hope for the future.
Oregon: The Ducks were handled quite easily by an LSU team that was missing its starting QB. Columnist John Canzano writes about LaMichael James' Heisman hopes being dashed. Columnist George Schroeder believes there's a gap between Oregon and the elite teams in college football.
Oregon State: The Beavs were stunned by Sac State in overtime. OSU hasn't hit rock bottom ... yet. One positive is the play of running back Malcolm Agnew who set a school freshman record with 223 rushing yards on 33 carries.
Stanford: The Cardinal crushed San Jose State as Andrew Luck started his Heisman campaign by throwing for two scores and running for another. Columnist Bruce Jenkins says a lot is the same at Stanford under new head coach David Shaw.
Washington State: The Cougs won big, but of course they lost QB Jeff Tuel for at least four weeks with a broken clavicle. I'm sure Marshall Lobbestael has improved immensely since I saw him last play in 2008. He's probably good enough to beat UNLV next week, but San Diego State, Colorado and UCLA on the road? Not so much. Here's the notebook from our paper.
Arizona: The Wildcats cruised to a win over NAU Receiver Juron Criner looks like he's going to be a force this season.
Columnist Bill Plaschke offers his take on the game.He didn't like USC going for two just to rub it in Minnesota's face early and watching it almost come back to haunt them.
Really? Good. I'm holding him to it. If the Trojans want to bring back some of the belief that was lost in front of the smallest opening-day Coliseum crowd in nine years, they can start by stopping with the two-point nonsense.
Such attempts reek of the sort of arrogance that knocked this program to its knees. What seemed swaggering under Pete Carroll just feels silly now. The conversion failures not only occurred on surprise plays, but odd plays, with Rhett Ellison being stopped on a run up the middle and Matt Barkley throwing a rushed pass into the ground.
Many in the crowd of 68,273 loudly booed the attempts, then sarcastically cheered when Kiffin finally ordered a kick after the Trojans' third touchdown.UCLA: And of course the Bruins looked less than stellar in a loss against a decent Houston team. QB Kevin Prince suffered a concussion.
And the best part, TJ Simers was there to watch it. He wasn't pleased when the UCLA kicker didn't talk to the media, after Rick Neuheisel talked about accountability after the game.
Neuheisel, while emphasizing accountability, had just told the media about a communication mix-up between quarterback Richard Brehaut and someone on the sideline.
"But I'm not going to name names," he said.
Every player on the field has his name across his back, so naming the goat on any play that goes badly is as simple as watching the replay.
So how do you not name names if accountability is something prized at UCLA?
The communication mix-up had derailed the Bruins' attempt to score a touchdown, eventually stopping them and requiring Smith to perform on fourth and 11.