Oregon versus Oregon State
The biggest game of the year for the Pac-10 will be played on the national stage on Thursday, Dec. 3, and the winner gets the grandest gift of them all...a trip to the Rose Bowl.
Oregon survived a scare against Arizona to keep their championship hopes alive, setting the background for the most exciting Civil War game in recent memory.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving leftovers while watching this game, because it’s going to be a dandy.
Here are this week’s Pac-10 Power Rankings.
(Overall Record, Conference Record | Last Week's Rankings)
1. Oregon Ducks (9-2, 7-1 | 1)
With a little under three minutes left to play in regulation, Jeremiah Masoli and the Ducks did what a championship team would do. They didn’t panic, understood the situation that was presented, and calmly moved the ball 80 yards down the field for the tying score.
In overtime, Oregon scored touchdowns on both of their possessions with extreme ease.
Masoli struck with two 20-plus-yard passes in overtime to bring the Ducks inside the Wildcats’ five-yard line, providing the often-confusing Oregon option offense with two effortless touchdown scores. Masoli scored six touchdowns on the day, three with his arm and three more with his feet.
With only one game left on the schedule for the Ducks, Oregon's shot at the Pac-10 crown apparently lies squarely on Masoli’s shoulders.
2. Oregon State Beavers (8-3, 6-2 | 3)
In a game that no one in the world thought they would come close to losing, the Beavers proved everyone right. Oregon State rolled over the meager Cougars, scoring 42 points and allowing less than 200 yards on defense.
While beating up on Wazzu is all fun and good, the Beavers' biggest game of the season still lies ahead.
As you all know, the Civil War has much more than just bragging rights on the line this year. The winner takes the Pac-10 crown and receives the all-important Rose Bowl bid.
But don’t think that Oregon State has forgotten how the Ducks knocked them out of Rose Bowl contention last year. The Beavers will be out for blood, and it should be interesting to see how these two explosive offenses respond.
3. Stanford Cardinal (7-4, 6-3 | 2)
The Cardinal jumped out to an early two-touchdown lead in the first quarter of the Big Game against Cal, and things appeared to be headed in the same direction for Stanford as they had the two previous weeks. But then the Golden Bears decided to come out of hibernation.
Stanford could not find an answer for Cal’s running game, allowing the Bears to rattle off 24 straight points.
It wasn’t for a lack of effort by Toby Gerhart though. “White Thunder” rushed for his fifth straight 100-yard game and scored four touchdowns, giving him 1,531 yards and 23 touchdowns on the year.
Trailing by six, the Cardinal put together an impressive drive to end the game, but an ill-advised pass by a pressured Andrew Luck in the red zone led to an interception, sealing the game for Cal.
The final game on the Farm this year for Stanford comes against the struggling Irish, and it will be Gerhart’s last opportunity to wow Heisman voters on the national stage.
4. USC Trojans (7-3, 4-3 | 5)
The Trojans come off a much-needed bye week after getting thumped by the Cardinal, and they look to take out all of their pent-up frustrations against their crosstown rivals.
USC has won nine of the past 10 games against the Bruins, with their only loss coming three years ago in a game where the Trojans failed to score a touchdown.
This really shouldn’t be a problem this year for USC, but watch out—this is probably the best defense the Trojans have seen all season.
5. California Bears (8-3, 5-3 | 6)
Shane Vereen stole the show on Saturday in the Big Game, rushing the ball 42 times, gaining 193 yards, and scoring three touchdowns.
Vereen was the bane of the Cardinal's existence. He kept the sticks moving for the Bears and, more importantly, forced the high-caliber Stanford offense to watch from the sidelines.
Cal held a 2-to-1 edge in time of possession, collecting 31 first downs on their way to a 34-28 victory and their eighth Big Game win in the past 11 years.
The Bears play their final game of the year in Seattle, where they look to win their ninth game for the second straight season.
6. Arizona Wildcats (6-4, 4-3 | 4)
After allowing the Ducks to dominate them throughout the majority of the first two quarters, the Wildcats found new life heading into halftime, scoring 10 points within the final two minutes of the half.
Arizona took the lead halfway through the third by playing decent offense, but more significantly, they found a way to bear down and hold Masoli and the Ducks to minimal offensive production. But as the saying goes, it’s hard to keep a good man down.
The Wildcats saw their 10-point lead deteriorate, and later in the fourth, after regaining a seven-point lead, a Nick Foles interception in the end zone with under two minutes left set up Oregon for a game-tying drive. It was a valiant effort by Arizona, but they will once again be looking back at what could have been.
Two more road games are in store for the Wildcats, but with a bowl game already wrapped up, bringing back the high intensity levels of the past few weeks could be a challenge.
7. UCLA Bruins (6-5, 3-5 | 7)
The Bruins gained bowl eligibility for the first time since 2007, and they have their defense to thank.
UCLA’s defense forced a staggered Arizona State offense to turn the ball over six times in what was a rather sloppy game played by both teams.
The only two touchdowns scored by UCLA were through a 68-yard interception and a nine-yard fumble return. While their offense did surpass 300 yards gained, they had to settle for field goals whenever they got deep inside Sun Devil territory.
The Bruins' final game of the season comes against USC, but even with the disarray that Pete Carroll’s squad seems to be in, Rick Neuheisel’s team will need a mini-miracle to get his first win wearing the baby blue against the Men of Troy.
8. Washington Huskies (3-7, 2-5 | 8)
Only two games are left for the downward-spiraling Huskies, but this could be the weekend that they snap their four-game losing streak.
Fresh off a bye, Washington should completely control this weekend’s game against the pathetic Cougars, even though Wazzu has won four of the past five meetings between the state rivals.
Jake Locker has two more chances to impress scouts, and fortunately for him, he gets to do it in front of a friendly Seattle crowd.
9. Arizona State Sun Devils (4-7, 2-6 | 9)
Things aren’t getting better for the Sun Devils as the season comes to a close. ASU has lost five straight and seven of their past nine, leaving little to get excited about amongst the faithful in Tempe.
One somewhat bright spot from last Saturday’s matchup against the Bruins was senior running back Dimitri Nance. He ran for his second 100-yard game of the year, but the Sun Devil offense couldn’t get things moving otherwise.
Turning the ball over six times and collecting zero turnovers of their own would cause even the best teams to lose. Unfortunately, the Sun Devils are nowhere close to being one of the best teams in the Pac-10 or really in college football.
One last game lies ahead for ASU, and even though things look down, failing to solidify a bowl game for the second straight year, it could be possible to end things on a high note against the mentally wounded Wildcats.
10. Washington State Cougars (1-10, 0-8 | 10)
Is the season over yet?