Trouble on the Palouse
It says something about Washington State's season that the most encouraging performance for the Cougars in Pac-12 play was a game in which WSU trailed UCLA by 30 points in the third quarter. The Cougars, who passed for 457 yards, rallied to within 44-36 before UCLA recovered their onside kick with 1:31 remaining Saturday.
So ended a rough week for coach Mike Leach, whose staff was accused by star receiver Marquess Wilson of tactics that "belittle, intimidate and humiliate us," as Wilson left the team.
WSU president Elson Floyd is taking those allegations seriously, asking the athletic department and the Pac-12 office to investigate. Leach is confident the findings will "dispel all the falsehoods that surround this," he said.
Dennis Simmons, a former BYU linebacker, is in the middle of the situation as Wilson's position coach.
"I know everything I've tried to do, with not just Marquess but all our players, has been genuine and been to try to make them become the best player and the best person they can be," Simmons told The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash. "If I'm wrong for that, then I can sleep at night."
Stanford takes shot at Ducks
USC and UCLA are playing Saturday for the Pac-12 South title. Yet based on television selections, the rivalry game is the undercard to Oregon vs. Stanford.
The Ducks blasted Stanford 53-30 on the road last November, when they gained only 387 total yards but forced five turnovers by Andrew Luck and the Cardinal offense.
Now, it's Stanford redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan's turn to try to match the production of quarterback Marcus Mariota, running back Kenjon Barner and the rest of the Oregon offense. And he'll have to do it in Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore.
"One thing about Stanford, they'll be poised," said Oregon State coach Mike Riley, whose team could not hold a second-half lead against the Cardinal last weekend. "That team is kind of machine-like. … They're not going to lose their minds over anything. But it is a big, big chore, for sure."
Rose Bowl update
This week's USC-UCLA winner will advance to the Pac-12 championship game, with the chance to automatically qualify for the Rose Bowl. The flaw in that plan is having to play at Oregon, presumably. Of the remaining unbeaten teams in college football, Oregon clearly has the most demanding schedule, facing Stanford, Oregon State and then the Trojans or Bruins. If the Ducks win out, they'll play in the national championship game in Miami, leaving any of four Pac-12 teams hoping for a Rose Bowl bid as an at-large BCS selection.
That can happen only if a team is in the top 14 of the BCS standings, which currently list Stanford No. 13, Oregon State No. 16, UCLA No. 17 and USC No. 18. The schedule makes it all very interesting, with remaining games including USC-UCLA, Stanford-Oregon, USC-Notre Dame, UCLA-Stanford, Oregon-Oregon State and the Pac-12 title contest.
The basic questions are whether Stanford could stay in the top 14 by losing to Oregon but beating UCLA, and whether USC or UCLA could move up sufficiently by winning its last two regular-season games and then losing to Oregon. Of course, an Oregon loss at any point alters everything.
Disregard anything you hear this week about how the best way to beat a productive offensive team such as Arizona is to dominate time of possession and keep the opposing offense off the field.
No, you actually have to stop the Wildcats with your defense. Colorado succeeded in holding the ball for 41 minutes, 48 seconds last weekend and all that got the Buffaloes was a 56-31 loss.
Arizona lost a fumble on its first offensive play and punted on two of its three drives in the fourth quarter. In between, the Wildcats scored touchdowns on seven straight possessions that lasted a total of less than 10 minutes. For the game, Arizona got the ball 11 times and scored eight TDs. That's 56 points in barely 18 minutes of possession time.