Stunning Weekend Raises New Questions for Pac-10 Hierarchy
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Category: Sports > Fall > Football
What did Saturday's near-upset say about Cal's chances in the Pac-10?
Friday's debacle at Nevada was a sobering moment for the Bears' defense, raising questions about Cal's chances against high-octane Pac-10 attacks.
Then came Tucson.
Clancy Pendergast's unit put on an inspired performance, shutting down what was the conference's top passing offense for 57 minutes. Nine of 11 Arizona drives amassed less than 39 yards. The discipline, sure tackling, and timely stops that eluded the Bears in Reno appeared against Arizona.
Still, Cal's own sputtering offense has raised questions. The Bears converted just two third downs on Saturday, failing to turn red zone drives into touchdowns. Even 501 yards against the Wolf Pack were marred by three costly interceptions in the opponent's territory.
If the Bears keep up their defensive intensity, they will stay in every game. Yet, potential wins will once again go the other way if Cal's offense can't execute when it matters most.
Is the football monopoly in Los Angeles finally over?
Four days ago, UCLA wrote a new definition for "giant-killer." Too bad it was scrawled in pencil.
The Bruins' 34-12 upset of then-No. 7 Texas was one of the biggest shockers of the decade, but the result had more to do with the home squad's implosion.
I guarantee you'll never see another victorious college quarterback connect on just five of his eight passes.
Kevin Prince was fortunate enough to start a drive on the two-yard line after the Longhorns fumbled a punt return, the second of their four first-half turnovers. His first completion of the game was a one-yard touchdown.
The Bruins pounded out 264 of their 294 offensive yards on the ground.
The defense does boast a number of stellar playmakers, but as Cal fans saw, bad things tend to happen when you're only competent on one side of the ball.
UCLA might smack around Washington State on Saturday, but don't bet on it matching USC's margin of victory.
What did we learn from the Beavers' brutal early non-conference slate?
We've seen Oregon State play TCU and the Broncos tough, and we've seen it squeak out a win over Louisville, but it's fair to say we still don't know much about how the Beavers will fare in conference play.
Quarterback Ryan Katz has been no great revelation. He's completing just about 46 percent of his passes, an unimpressive number even against quality squads like Boise State and TCU.
His shortcomings have hurt his biggest offensive weapons, too. The Rodgers brothers - running back Jacquizz and receiver James - were held to under 120 combined yards for the first time in their careers together last week. James is only averaging 37.7 yards receiving per game; Quizz, 84.3 rushing.
The competitiveness (and inconsistency) of the Pac-10 is making the Beavers' preseason optimism look a little thin. Until Katz can prove a capable leader for their offense, it could be a future full of more close losses for Oregon State.
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