Wednesday, September 9, 2015

PAC 12 Football--Shaky Start






All we've been hearing this year, since the PAC 12 beat the pants off the other power conferences in the last bowl season, is loud chest-thumping from league fans and players, crowing about how the PAC 12 is the best in college football.

All of a sudden, though, you don't hear a peep out of those PAC 12 braggarts. What happened? A disastrous weekend, that's what.

The worst thing was that mess at Oregon, which is the No 1 team in the conference and No. 7 nationally. Oh, the Ducks won, scoring at will, piling up 61 points on 731 yards, on a northwest patsy, Eastern Washington. But here's the ugly part. EWU scored 42 points and gained 549 yards. Could it be that the PAC 12 big dog has a lousy defense? Looking at that game, it seemed like lack of talent, rather than lack of effort, was the problem.

But Oregon was just one part of the PAC 12 meltdown. No.15 Arizona State got whipped, 38-17, by an unranked SEC team, Texas A&M.  No. 21 Stanford didn't even score a TD in its 16-6 stumble against a minor Big Ten team, Northwestern. No. 22 Arizona didn't  look very strong sneaking past a very weak opponent, Texas San Antonio, 42-32. Even the PAC 12 bottom feeders stunk, with Washington State losing  to pitiful Portland State, 24-17, and Colorado not being able to handle horrible Hawaii, bowing 28-20.  .

It wasn't all bad, though, for the PAC 12. Utah did triumph, 24-17, over Michigan, but the Wolverines, under new coach Jim Harbaugh, aren't very good and don't have a quality quarterback. The top 25 Los Angeles teams did win big, However, SC trampling little Arkansas State, 55-6, means nothing and UCLA beating a so-so ACC team, Virginia, 34-16, isn't anything to crow about. Bruin freshman QB Josh Rosen was impressive but that Virginia secondary that was supposed to be so stellar looked like one of the sieves in the Mountain West conference. Rosen could be a superstar but let's hold judgement until he faces a tougher opponent.

The other second-tier PAC 12 teams had so-what victories. Cal beating up on poor Grambling State, 73-14, and Oregon State whipping Weber State, 28-7,  is nothing for PAC fans to get worked up about.

Bottom line. Two of the PAC 12's six Top 25 teams, Stanford and Arizona State, lost and two others, Oregon and Arizona, won but looked wobbly doing so,  playing crappy defense against lowly teams.
You can't tell much about PAC 12 strength from the wins by SC and UCLA.

But you will be able to tell something about the PAC 12 after Saturday, following the biggest game of the early season, a battle of  Top10 powers, Oregon playing Michigan State in East Lansing.

For MSU, still smarting from last season's infamous 48-17 loss to the Ducks, this is a revenge game. The Spartans are coming off a lazy 37-24 win over Western Michigan in which their pass defense seemed suspect..Neither the Oregon nor the Michigan State defense looks to be superior, but MSU lives off its defense, while Oregon, with that explosive offense, can often get by with an average defense..

 This game means more to Oregon because they are the PAC 12 kingpin. If they lose to MSU,  the PAC 12 rep goes down with them. The Big Ten rep, however, lives and dies with Ohio State, not MSU.

Michigan State is favored by 3 1/2. Who wins?. I'm betting on the Oregon offense and multi-talented new QB Vernon Adams. After Saturday,  PAC 12 fans, quiet this week, will be roaring again.






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