Oregon's fans can be uplifting for the Ducks or be upset with them
Oregon is unbeaten and deserves to be the highest rated Pac-12 football team without a fan base that is 100 percent behind the Ducks.
Opponents can't beat Oregon, which is 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the Pac-12. Evidently, the Ducks' fans can't bring them down either no matter how hard some of them may try.
John Canzano of the Oregonian created quite a stir this week publishing a letter written by an unnamed former Oregon player criticizing unruly Ducks fans. How shocking that a team does not have unwavering support of every single fan at a place like Autzen Stadium that seats 54,000?
As the No. 2 team in the BCS standings, Oregon's postseason projection includes a trip to the national title game against No. 1 Alabama. The Ducks should have a huge following at the Rose Bowl for that game, including some who might voice their displeasure over a punt, incomplete pass or turnover. No big deal. Oregon has shown it can win regardless.
Fans booing and voicing displeasure with players for all to hear is part of the territory of a program that has put itself in a position of scrutiny because of its success. Oregon should be more concerned if its fans were indifferent or not demanding.
As it is, the Ducks are rolling along despite the supposed catcalls. Coaches tell their players to avoid the noise. Oregon is making good practice of that.
Here are this week's Pac-12 football ratings:
1. Oregon (8-0 overall, 5-0 Pac-12): Oregon coach Mark Helfrich wants his team to concentrate only on itself in terms of the BCS standings. Good luck with that. The Ducks will keep an eye on the scoreboard when Florida State plays Miami this weekend. It's only natural the Ducks want all the other contenders to lose while they keep winning. Last week: No. 1. Postseason prediction: BCS title game vs. Alabama.
2. Stanford (7-1, 5-1): Oregon State scored at least 33 points in every game this season before being limited to 12 by the Cardinal, which won despite scoring just 20 points, The Cardinal defense got bad news, however, when standout defensive end Ben Gardner was diagnosed with a torn pectoral muscle and is out for the rest of the season. Stanford is still good and experienced enough to combat Oregon's high-octane offense at home next Thursday. Last week: No. 3. Postseason prediction: Rose Bowl vs. Ohio State.
3. Oregon State (6-2, 4-1): The Beavers face another tough defense Friday in USC, which will undoubtedly load the box and go after Sean Mannion. Stanford sacked Mannion eight times in the Beavers' 20-12 loss last week. USC has the defensive front to apply the same kind of pressure on Mannion. Last week: No. 2. Postseason prediction: Holiday Bowl vs. Oklahoma State.
4. Arizona State (5-2, 3-1): Taylor Kelly is the best quarterback in the nation nobody is talking about. He is in the top 20 nationally in passing touchdowns (18), total offense (355 yards per game), completions (24.7 per game) and passing (2,236 yards). ASU is 14th nationally in passing yards per game at 332.0. Last week: No. 5. Postseason prediction: Alamo Bowl vs. Oklahoma.
5. UCLA (5-2, 2-2): Some of UCLA's bruised and battered offensive linemen are starting to regain their health. The Bruins started three true freshmen on the line against Oregon last week because of the injuries. Another injured player, tailback Jordon James, is reported to be no longer hobbling. This team is capable of a late-season surge. Last week: No. 4. Postseason prediction: Sun Bowl vs. Virginia Tech.
6. Washington (5-3, 2-3): The season-ending fractured leg injury of wide receiver Kasen Williams is significant but it will not stop quarterback Keith Price from producing. After 77 receptions last year, Williams has only only 29 through eight games this year. Jaydon Mickens and Kevin Smith have 75 combined receptions and seven of the Huskies' 17 touchdowns receptions. Last week: No. 6. Postseason prediction: Fight Hunger Bowl vs. BYU.
7. USC (5-3, 2-2): This is how ugly USC's season has become: The Trojans went 3-for-15 with their third-down conversions against Utah last week, dropping to 116th among FBS schools with a 28-percent success rate. USC tailback Silas Redd was completely shut down, gaining no yards on 10 carries and the Trojans won by 16. USC's defense does not take a back seat to any team, including Stanford's unit. Last week: No. 7. Postseason prediction: No bowl game (interim coaching staff and poor following at Sun Bowl last season).
8. Arizona (5-2, 2-2): Rich Rodriguez will coach only his 21st game with Arizona on Saturday at Cal. With a victory, he will be one win shy of what he achieved in Michigan in three full seasons. Rodriguez was shown the door after a 15-22 record. He is 13-7 overall at Arizona and 6-7 in Pac-12 games. He was 6-18 in the Big Ten at Michigan. No, he is not missing Ann Arbor and the circus there one bit. Last week: No. 8. Postseason prediction: Las Vegas Bowl vs. Fresno State.
9. Washington State (4-4, 2-3): A big game from quarterback Connor Halliday would keep the Cougars' hopes alive to play in a bowl game. The last time the Sun Devils visited Pullman, Halliday came off the bench to throw for 494 yards and four touchdowns to win the game. That was before Mike Leach and his pass-happy offense came to Pullman. Last week: No. 10. Postseason prediction: New Mexico Bowl vs. San Jose State.
10. Utah (4-4, 1-4): The Utes have a defense worthy of a bowl game, but their offense is holding them down. Utah quarterback Travis Wilson, who has his own coaches questioning whether he's worthy enough to continue starting, is getting little help from a running game that is sorely lacking. Wilson was the leading rusher last week at USC with 12 carries for 42 yards while running backs Lucky Radley, Kelvin York and Bubba Poole combined for only 57 yards on 20 carries. Last week: No. 9. Postseason prediction: No bowl game.
11. Colorado (3-4, 0-4): Colorado has lost 12 straight Pac-12 Conference games dating back to its conference opener last year against Washington State. Despite this streak, the Buffaloes are not a laughingstock. They were within a touchdown of Arizona last week in the third quarter before the Wildcats scored 17 unanswered points for a 44-20 win. Count on a bowl game next season for Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre. Last Week: No. 11. Postseason prediction: No bowl game.
12. California (1-6, 0-4): With games against USC, Colorado and Stanford remaining after the Arizona game Saturday, the young, injury-marred Bears will try to avoid becoming the first team since 2009 to go winless in the conference. Their chance for victory might be Nov. 16 against Colorado but the game is on the road and the Buffaloes are showing improvement. Last Week: No. 12. Postseason prediction: No bowl game.
Please check out Javier Morales' blog at TucsonCitizen.com.