|UCLA win over Tennessee generates conference pride|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 03 September 2008 13:11|
That made for plenty of interested observers when UCLA knocked off No. 18 Tennessee 27-24 in overtime in coach Rick Neuheisel's first game as Bruins coach.
``We get a lot of stuff from the SEC,'' Southern California coach Pete Carroll said. ``I think it was a great statement that UCLA was able to knock those guys off for the arguments. I don't know what they'll say from the other end of it. I think you can't make a stronger statement than one of their top-ranked teams gets beaten by a team in its first opportunity for a new coach. That was a great win for UCLA and I think it does make a great statement.''
The win by the Bruins was part of an impressive opening weekend for Pac-10 teams, who went 5-1 in nonconference games. Included in that total were three wins against teams from other BCS conferences.
California beat Michigan State of the Big Ten 38-31, USC overwhelmed Virginia of the ACC 52-7 on the road, and UCLA upended Tennessee. Washington State was the only team to lose a nonconference game, falling 39-13 to Oklahoma State.
``The Pac-10 had a really dominating weekend,'' Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh said. ``It really gives you a lot of pride as a member of the Pac-10 conference the way all of our teams played this weekend.''
That's nothing new for the Pac-10. The conference went 25-12 in nonleague games last year, including an 8-4 mark against teams from BCS conferences.
TIGHTEN THE TY: After Washington opened the season with its worst loss to rival Oregon in 35 years, the Huskies fans were predictably upset.
Following the 44-10 loss to the Ducks, Internet message boards and radio talk shows have been inundated with comments from disgruntled fans upset with coach Tyrone Willingham.
One fan calling a radio show said he planned to show up at Saturday's home opener against No. 15 BYU wearing a shirt reading ``Save Husky Football ... Fire Tyrone Willingham.''
``I'm aware of it,'' Willingham said of the criticism. ``I'm as disappointed as they are. I think all of our football team is.''
The schedule doesn't get any easier for the Huskies, who host No. 4 Oklahoma following this week's game against BYU.
Ducks coach Mike Bellotti offered some support to his beleaguered rival, saying the Huskies are a young team that will improve as the season goes on.
``I do think they're going in the right direction,'' Bellotti said. ``I think it's very early, way too early to make any assumptions or decisions about any football team.''
REACHING OUT: Oregon State coach Mike Riley figures most of his players probably saw rival Oregon lose a key game last year to California when Cameron Colvin fumbled while trying to stretch the ball over the goal line for the tying touchdown in the final minute.
But now he hopes the lesson on ball security will really resonate after the Beavers lost a game the same way.
With Oregon State trailing Stanford 36-28 in the final minute last week, Darrell Catchings caught a pass and tried to stretch the ball over the goal line. Then Taylor Skaufel poked the ball out of Catchings' hands and out of the end zone for a touchback that sealed the victory for the Cardinal.
That's just what happened to Oregon a year ago, when Colvin's fumble with 22 seconds to go gave Cal a 31-24 victory.
``We use lessons from games for our team all the time,'' Riley said. ``Like I told our team, 'We have our own lesson. It's our story now.' There was absolutely no need to put the game at risk with 47 seconds left and a timeout on the 1 yard line. It's a very hard lesson to learn but it's our lesson to learn and it comes in a hard way.''
It's a lesson many players apparently need to learn. Because two days later, Arizona State Mike Jones lost the ball the same way, only this fumble only cost the Sun Devils a score instead of a possible win as Arizona State beat Northern Arizona 30-13.
``Hopefully they'll watch it and see there are not a lot of good things happening,'' coach Dennis Erickson said. ``You don't want to stop them from competing, but then again you have to be smart with the football.''
SCORING MACHINE: It's hard to imagine a better start for the Arizona offense.
The Wildcats opened the season with a 70-0 victory over Idaho, the third highest-scoring game in school history and the most since 1921.
``I don't think there's any question offensively that we're a whole lot better than we were at any point last year,'' coach Mike Stoops said. ``We started scoring some points in bunches at the end of the year last year. I don't think there's any comparison to our offense compared to last year where it's at this year. And we did that without one of our best offensive players.''
The Wildcats didn't miss tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the game with an illness. Willie Tuitama completed 17 of 21 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns to break the school record for career TD passes with 47. Nic Grigsby added 169 yards on 19 carries.
``Willie's decision making and confidence is at an all-time high right now,'' Stoops said. ``We feel really good about our offensive football team. We feel like we have more balance running the football as opposed to any time last year. We're excited about what we're doing.''