KVAL Sports Blog:
Ranking the Pac-10 (week 11)
By Brian Elder KVAL Sports
The rankings return after a two week break, and there's plenty of shakeup in the standings.
Eugene, OR - For the first time this year we have a new number one team. Thanks to its two impressive wins in back-to-back weeks, the Stanford Cardinal has earned the top spot.
The Cardinal is playing as good as any team in the country right now, and Jim Harbaugh's name will be thrown around when some coaching jobs come open at the end of the season.
But as good as Stanford has been, the Cardinal still looks like a long shot to make it to the Rose Bowl. That's because Oregon State - like Stanford - has been red hot as of late, and the Beavers own the tie-breaker thanks to a 38-28 win over the Cardinal on October 10th.
Arizona is also blocking Stanford's path to Pasadena. The Wildcats rallied from a 15-point deficit to beat the Cardinal in Tucson 43-38, giving them the head-to-head tie-breaker as well.
So in order to win the race for the Rose Bowl, Stanford will need Arizona to beat Oregon this week and then lose to either ASU or USC. The Cardinal would also need the Ducks to beat OSU in the Civil War. Certainly possible, but the other Rose Bowl contenders have an easier path.
Oregon is the lone team that has only one conference loss. So for the Ducks it's simple: Win and you're in. If Oregon wins its final two games it will be headed for Pasadena.
Arizona also controls its own destiny, but the Cats have two tough road games following this week's matchup with the Ducks. If Arizona can beat Oregon it will have to win at Arizona State and then head to the Coliseum and beat USC to claim the school's first ever Rose Bowl berth.
The Beavers will need a little help to get to the Grand Daddy of Them All. OSU needs Arizona to lose one of its final three games, and then the Beavs would have to beat the Ducks at Autzen in the Civil War. If Oregon is able to beat Arizona this weekend, then for the first time in the modern era the Civil War will send the winner to Pasadena.
It should be a very interesting and exciting final few weeks of the season.
1. Stanford - You'd be hard pressed to find a team playing better than the Cardinal right now. Stanford probably won't make it to the Rose Bowl, but an upper tier bowl game for a program that hasn't played in the post season since losing to Georgia Tech in the inaugural (and now defunct) Seattle Bowl 24-14 isn't a bad consolation prize.
2. Oregon - A win at Arizona would send the Ducks rocketing back to the top of the rankings next week. But Oregon has to prove that it can beat a quality opponent on the road (UCLA and Washington don't count as you'll see farther down the list). Tucson has also had more than its share of bad voodoo for the Ducks lately. In 2005 Oregon lost Kellen Clemens for the season when he broke his leg, but the Ducks still managed to escape with a victory. They weren't as lucky in 2007, when Dennis Dixon, his Heisman hopes and any chance for a berth in the BCS title game all disappeared. We'll see if this group can finally get by the Tucson trap.
3. Oregon State - The gap between the top three teams is razor thin. OSU is surging - as usual - as the season winds down, and the Beavers have caught the scent of roses again, despite suffering two conference losses. The Beavers are doing things a little differently this year, with Sean Canfield and the offense carrying the load. But the Oregon State defense has really improved in recent weeks, and even though Washington is terrible, holding Jake Locker to -13 yards rushing and just 153 yards passing is almost unheard of.
4. Arizona - The Wildcats suffered a hiccup last week at Cal, but Arizona is still a dangerous team. Nick Foles is capable of moving the Air Zona offense down the field in a hurry, and the Cats also have one of the Pac-10's better ground attacks. Arizona is also second in the conference in total defense (305.1 ypg). A chance to get to the school's first Rose Bowl should be motivation enough for this week's showdown with Oregon, but the presence of ESPN's College Gameday will add some fuel to the inferno.
5. USC - This is so strange. The Trojans have been so dominant that to put them at the five spot feels wrong. Seven straight Pac-10 titles. Seven straight BCS bowl appearances, with six of those being victories. Three Heisman Trophy winners. Two national championships. That's what Pete Carrol has accomplished since the 2002 season. But one of the most dominant runs in college football history came to an end last Saturday - at least for one season. USC will be back, make no mistake. But for now, the king is dead.
6. California - The win over Arizona last week could have saved Cal's season. The Bears were staring the Poinsettia Bowl in the face, but now they still have a chance to get a decent bowl game. If Cal can upset Stanford in the Big Game this weekend, the Bears will be in great shape.
7. UCLA - The Bruins have a great shot to become the seventh Pac-10 team to earn bowl eligibility against Arizona State at home this week. UCLA has won back-to-back (albeit against the Washington schools) games for the first time since winning three straight to open the season. ASU comes into the game losers of five in a row. If the Bruins don't win this one, they'll have to beat USC in order to get their sixth victory.
8. Arizona State - The Sun Devils haven't been eliminated from bowl contention yet, but one more loss will do just that. The Devils have to beat UCLA and Arizona to break even at 6-6. Two weeks ago the odds looked long, but they did get a nice spark from Samson Szakacsy who moved the offense at times against Oregon. His mobility gave the Ducks problems at times, and he could earn his spot on top of the depth chart by leading ASU to a couple of wins to close the season.
9. Washington - The Dawgs are still the Dawgs. Steve Sarkisian teased Husky fans with a couple of early season victories, but since then UW has come crashing back to earth by losing six of its last seven. Sarkisian hasn't helped his cause by putting handcuffs on Jake Locker. In 2007 Locker set a single season Pac-10 record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 986 to go with 13 touchdowns. This year Sarkisian has taken away Locker's freedom to run - which has been what has made him so difficult to defend - and he has only rushed for 217 yards and four touchdowns.
10. Washington State - Is it basketball season yet? The Cougars are counting the days until the end of the season. If they can make it two straight over the Huskies it would take away some of the sting from another very disappointing season. But the odds will be long playing in Seattle.
Tale of 3 Taxes
Storm clouds help make some beautiful sunrays before and during sunset. These were taken 05/21/2013 around the Salmon Harbor Marina.
While I was in Winchester Bay to take sunset photos Sunday night, I saw such a huge number of seagulls soaring very high in the sky. There were tens of thousands of them and they were flying hundreds of feet in the air.
I always enjoy attending these reenactments. Especially since at one time I was a member of this group. A really nice bunch of people.