USC's loss opens door in Pac-10 Print
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Wednesday, 01 October 2008 12:41
NCAAF Headline News

 SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -Heading into Southern California's conference opener last week, the talk around the Pac-10 and the country was about where this Trojans team ranked with Pete Carroll's other great squads and whether anybody could compete with them.
By losing 27-21 last Thursday at Oregon State, the Trojans will have to come from behind in order to win at least a share of their seventh straight conference title.
``I think it puts a lot more pressure on them,'' Arizona coach Mike Stoops said. ``That's what it does. They'll rally the troops and know they can afford another slip-up. It puts a lot more pressure on the rest of those games to win the conference.''
USC has lost two conference games and shared the title the past two years, with California in 2006 and Arizona State last season.
Next up for No. 9 USC (2-1, 0-1) is a home game on Saturday against No. 23 Oregon (4-1, 2-0). Ducks coach Mike Bellotti said there's only so much his team can take from the Beavers' success to use this week.
,'' he said. ``I'm not sure changing at this point is going to help us but we're trying to figure out some way to duplicate that.''
Cal coach Jeff Tedford said the game last week just showed that the conference is deeper than many outsiders believe.
``I've said many times it's very difficult to go through the Pac-10 season undefeated. I don't care who you are,'' Tedford said. ``SC I still think is the best team in the conference as far as top-to-bottom with their personnel. You need to give them that respect. But anything can happen.''
HOT SEAT: When the season began, Arizona's Mike Stoops and Washington's Tyrone Willingham appeared to be the two coaches facing the most pressure.
Stoops has quieted some of the talk in Tucson with the Wildcats' 3-1 start, while Willingham is being vilified by a fractured fan base ready for a change after an 0-4 start.
The Huskies and Wildcats meet this Saturday in Tucson, headed in far different directions.
``What's meant to be will be. All you can worry about is the things you can control,'' Stoops said. ``Part of my job is not to worry about my future. My job is to coach my team to the best I can. I'm sure Tyrone, I know him well enough to know that's all you can do. If it's not meant to be it won't happen.''
Locker for up to two months. Aside from a change in the offense without Locker, the defense continues to rank near the bottom of all Bowl Subdivision teams, allowing more than 500 yards per game.
Willingham, trying to avoid the first 0-5 start at Washington in 39 years, was asked Monday how he would explain to his bosses why he is still the right coach for the Huskies.
``Because I have the enthusiasm for it, the focus, the concentration for it, and I'm still very much into what I'm doing,'' he said.
UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel isn't yet feeling that pressure despite losing three straight games since upsetting Tennessee in the opener. That's in part because Neuheisel is in his first year, but he knows the fans will be demanding more success soon enough.
``I don't feel the restlessness,'' he said. ``I feel that certainly they're frustrated and would love to have it all happen now, but we'll keep pushing and eventually we'll kick in the door.''
JUST FOR KICKS: Don't be surprised if California coach Jeff Tedford is spotted at some pickup soccer games on campus.
The coach was frustrated with his kickers following last week's 42-7 win over Colorado State. David Seawright had his only field goal attempt blocked and struggled on kickoffs, sending two out of bounds to allow the Rams to start on the 40-yard line.
out of bounds, adding to the coach's frustration.
``We may have to put it out on campus to see if there are any soccer players who can kick it in bounds,'' Tedford said. ``I'm not happy at all. Obviously we cannot have our kickers kick the ball out of bounds like that three times and let them start at the 40-yard line. ... We're going to have to do something different.''
AP Sports Writer Tim Booth in Seattle contributed to this report.

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