|Black Saturday gives hit to Pac-10's reputation|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 17 September 2008 11:24|
While the Trojans were solidifying their No. 1 ranking with a 35-3 win over Ohio State, the rest of the conference teams seemed to be getting blown out or losing to undermatched teams in what was considered by many the worst weekend in Pac-10 history.
On a weekend that all 10 teams played nonconference games, seven of those Pac-10 teams lost, including in four head-to-head matchups with the Mountain West conference.
Whether that was an aberration or a sign of the quality of the conference's teams this year won't be known until the end of the season.
``Given the history of it, I would think it's just a bad day,'' said California coach Jeff Tedford, whose team lost to Maryland 35-27. ``I've never seen that before with our conference. I wouldn't expect to see this from our conference again at this magnitude. I think this was just a weird weekend.''
tchup between two of the worst BCS teams in the country.
It only got worse on what's now being called Black Saturday in the Pac-10. Cal sleepwalked its way through the first half against a Maryland team coming off a loss to Middle Tennessee State, losing its No. 23 ranking in the polls.
The night ended with another ranked team falling short, when Arizona State fell at home 23-20 in overtime to UNLV to drop from 15th to out of the poll. That loss took most of the luster off what should have been the highlight of this weekend, the Sun Devils' home game against No. 3 Georgia.
In between those two losses by conference contenders were a pair of blowout losses by UCLA and Washington, which were outscored by a combined 100 points. The Bruins lost 59-0 to BYU in their most lopsided loss since 1929. The Huskies, didn't fare much better, losing 55-14 in their worst home loss since that same year.
The other Pac-10 losers last Saturday were Stanford, which fell 31-14 at TCU, and Arizona, which lost 36-28 against New Mexico.
``You think about how it affects you more really than anything else,'' Arizona coach Mike Stoops said. ``It's disappointing. The Mountain West has a terrific conference. They're undervalued. The top three or four teams in that league can compete almost anywhere most of the time.''
the league plays into rankings, recruiting and bowl bids.
``That affects all of us,'' Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. ``It affects our reputation and how we're perceived nationally. We all read that stuff. In recruiting and those type of things, it's important in terms of the perception of the conference.''
The 17th-ranked Ducks were one of the few teams that survived last weekend, rallying from 17 points to win 32-26 in double overtime at Purdue.
The seven nonconference losses in one weekend were almost as many as the conference had in the entire 2007 regular season, when Pac-10 teams dropped just 10 games. Only five of those losses came against teams from non-BCS conferences.
``The conference did get hammered last week,'' USC coach Pete Carroll said. ``That's the first time I can remember that happening like that. Why it happened, I don't know.''
BEST EVER: USC's dominating wins to open the season against Virginia and Ohio State have many ready to rank these Trojans right up there with the national championship teams led by Heisman Trophy winners Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush.
Not so fast, the Trojans coach warns.
t quarter of the season yet. To figure out how we compare is hasty.''
USC has caught the attention of its rivals in the Pac-10 however, after outscoring its first two opponents 87-10.
The Trojans are off this week before visiting Oregon State for a Thursday night game on Sept. 25. Beavers coach Mike Riley says he sees similarities with this Trojans team to those champions of recent years.
``It's hard to distinguish,'' he said. ``They've had some good teams and national champions down there. It's just a really good football team. It has a lot of speed and size. On defense they are overwhelming and on offense they are very balanced. That's always very dangerous.''
SLOW START: Paul Wulff's tenure at Washington State hasn't gotten off to a very good start.
Following last week's 45-17 loss at Baylor, the Cougars dropped to 0-3 for the first time since 1999. Washington State has been outscored 150-33 in the three losses, struggling even to be competitive.
``When I arrived on campus, I didn't realize where we were at as a program,'' Wulff said. ``As we got closer to the season I realized we had a long ways to go and there was a lot of work to be done.''
Wulff, the first graduate to lead the Cougars since Phil Sarboe left after the 1949 season, looks for his first win at his alma mater against Portland State of the lower-division FCS.
ue to play the same way, we're going to struggle in every game,'' Wulff said.