Thursday’s With Raider: Pac-12 Game Previews


Nov 10, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Denver Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway before the Broncos game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s Note: This is part II of this weeks Thursday’s With Raider where we sort of preview this week’s Pac-12 Games.  Enjoy.

Oregon v. Arizona

Raider: Since the science is settled that the Ducks can beat most anybody in this conference except for Stanford, I’ll throw out some historical precedent.  Anyone else remember the 2007 season when an Oregon team lead by Dennis Dixon went into Tucson and lost whatever hope they had for a national championship when Dixon tore his ACL on the first series of game, leading to an Arizona upset of the Ducks? That 2007 season ought to be studied by scholars at some point, because during that season, USC, Cal, South Florida (!), Boston College, Oregon, Kansas, West Virginia and Missouri were ranked 2nd in the AP poll and each of them lost at one point in the season.  If there was one year to scrap the whole system in mid-stream and just have a four team playoff, that would have been the year to do it.

But I digress.  Let me deviate from how the Oregon offense probably go all “you guys are good, real good but as long as we’re here you’ll always be second best” on the Wildcats for a moment and look ahead.  Eventually, Oregon is going to win a national championship, aren’t they?  The SEC can’t win everything forever and a program like Stanford can’t be good forever.  And unless USC thinks they can keep winning with Ed Orgeron, the Ducks can’t keep coming this close in perpetuity.  It’s not like Phil Knight is going to run out of money.

MAC: I spend a lot of time watching Arizona and last year they went up to Eugene like we did, spent a half being close with the Ducks and then came out in the second half and Oregon did what Oregon does.  So Ka’Deem Carey will get his 150 yards.  BJ Denker will miss on 3 crucial passes and Oregon will do what they do.

As for the Oregon national title question.  This year the Pac-12 is clearly better than the SEC and quite frankly the best conference in the nation.  I mean we’re 4-6 and 33rd in Sagarin for God Sakes.  So, the question becomes, will anyone notice that.  Because the SEC always gets the 1 loss pass into the title game where Stanford and Oregon never do.  And as long as the Pac-12 plays 9 conference games instead of allowing 2 lower division tune ups like the SEC does, well, no Pac-12 team is running the table.

Maybe when Nick Saban takes the Raiders job.

Stanford v. Cal

Raider: Few things in life would make me laugh harder than to see a Cal team that is a shadow of its former self beat Stanford, but it isn’t for the reason you might think.  I love Bay Area sports fans–I happen to be a Bay Area sports fan–but there are times when I can’t stand Bay Area fans.  College football happens to be one of those times.  Take for example, when the Stanford fans that I follow on Twitter boast about how Stanford students “go to class, unlike [insert opponent here]”.  Ya think?  They, the student-athletes there are most likely going to class.  You, Cardinal bandwagoner, did not.  And if you did, it sure as heck wasn’t at Stanford.  There are certain rules I think a sports fan should never violate and one of them is “Don’t act like a Duke basketball fan from North Dakota”.  Stanford fan that started following that program anytime after Buddy Teevens got fired, this applies to you.  You’ve been warned.

MAC: You know who is a Stanford fan who didn’t go there.  David Locke.  And yes there are few things worse than a fan of a school who didn’t go there but thumps their chest about the features of that school.  Since we’ve also been around many a BYU fan like that we know the dealy-o.  My other two thoughts…

Why the hell did Stanford wait 30 years to retire John Elway’s number.  BTW, Hershel Walker won the Heisman Trophy in John’s Senior year.  Amazing SEC.

Why don’t Cal and Stanford play the same week as all the other rivalry games?

Arizona State v. UCLA

Raider: ASU wins, and they are in the Pac-12 Championship Game.  UCLA wins and the fun will begin.  Someone hold my Dasani, I’m about to go through some tie-breaker scenarios for the South division.  Stand back, everyone.

If UCLA wins out and ASU beats Arizona, UCLA wins the South based on the fact that they would have beaten ASU.

If UCLA beats ASU, loses to USC, and ASU beats Arizona, ASU wins the South because they would have the tiebreaker by virtue of beating USC earlier in the year (this also assumes that USC beats CU this weekend, which I already sort of assumed when I wrote that scenario).

If UCLA beats ASU but loses to USC, USC blows one against CU and Arizona beats ASU, then according to my calculations, that makes for a three-way tie for the South title at 6-3.  The Sun Devils would have beaten USC, but lost to UCLA.  USC would have beaten UCLA, but lost to ASU.  And UCLA would have lost to USC but beaten ASU.  I think it’s down to some sort of coed wet t-shirt contest as the fourth tiebreaker, but I’ll have to look that up when we get there.

And, my personal favorite, if UCLA beats ASU, loses to USC and Arizona beats ASU, then your Pac-12 South Champions will be…

MAC: If USC were to pull out the south, would Ed Orgeron be Pac-12 coach of the year?  Would it be even stranger when USC doesn’t hire him.  ASU-UCLA is a really fascinating game, I have no idea who wins.  In fact, Im not even sure who I want to win.  I have an irrational hatred of Arizona St. but UCLA is starting to think a little too much of themselves.

USC v. Colorado

Raider: …the USC Trojans!  (Assuming they win this game, of course).  I have brought this up ad nauseum since Lane Kiffin got fired.  Winning this division, hornet’s nest that it is, would be a fairly compelling case for them to just make Ed Orgeron their head coach for next season.  If they even make it to the Rose Bowl, then what?  It’s starting to seem to me that if this guy can get a conference title out of less than 50 scholarship players, maybe he is the guy that can keep them on a collision course for glory?  He’s not at Ole Miss anymore, what can possibly go wrong?

MAC: I just don’t think USC is going to hire Orgeron because he’s just not USC-y enough.  And being USC-y is very important to USC people.  This one will be fascinating to watch.  Not this game of course.

Washington v. Oregon State

Raider: This is more than likely a crappy comparison, so if this bothers anyone I apologize in advance.  As I got to thinking about the Utes upset of Stanford this year, I thought of when these two teams played back in 1985.  Consider this your “PAC History 101” lesson for the week.

The Dawgs had come off a year where they felt they could lay claim to at least some part of the national title back in 1984.  (If you think college football is a contrived beauty pageant now, it was worse back then.  I can’t begin to describe how many seasons I would cringe because the AP and UPI couldn’t come to agreement on who should be the national champion.  Another topic for another week).  The Beavs, on the other hand, made the woes of the Utes during the 80s seem mild by comparison.  Back in ’85, OSU went 3-8 and one of them was this shocking upset of Washington in Seattle, where I don’t think the ’83 Raiders could have won.

As for 2013, I am liking the Beavers and I really want that OT possession this year against Oregon State back, as I’m sure Kyle would like that back too.

MAC: Do you think Sark is out of a job if he loses this game?  He is almost certainly gone if he drops another to Wazzu.  Sark, when Kiffin was fired, was a front runner for the USC job, now he might be a front runner for the Wyoming job.

As for OT, if Walker just closes his hands an instant sooner, he picks that off.  And… well I have no idea other than we’re one game closer to a bowl game.  But damn

Utah v. Washington State

Raider: What has been said about Travis Wilson since Monday has already been said and I think to add anything further would be trite and excessive, but I will say that I haven’t seen a Ute football player this side of Eric Weddle do what Travis Wilson has done this year.  He kept this team in the Oregon State game when that one was looking like it was going to be a blowout.  Yes, he has thrown a lot of INTs, but in his defense, he can’t throw and catch the ball at the same time.  (Without it being tipped.  Don’t get smart with me).  But it’s hard to not have at least a modicum of respect for the kid.

It’s also hard not to burn an ulcer over the importance of a game like this one.  The potential to getting to 6-6, a possible bowl game and the extra practices that would entail are nice and all.  But the last road game the Utes won was against BYU and that seemed like a decade ago.  And let’s not mince words here: in recent seasons, being able to beat Wazzu was the lowest common denominator in this conference, for traditional foes or otherwise.  It might be far-fetched to think that a loss on Saturday would set the program back several seasons, but if the secret to getting ahead is getting started, beating Mike Leach in the Pullman is as good of a place as any to start.

At this point, I don’t want to read 10,000 tweets a day over the offseason about how cursed this team is at quarterback.  So do us proud, Adam.

MAC: The ESPN guys wrote a fantastic article about our injury issues.  I followed that up with an article of my own.  My great fear is that the idiots among our fan base are going louder.  And we have an Athletic Director who is shocking short sighted now (after playing the long game with Ron McBride) and give blood to the people demanding blood when leadership and patience are required.  The ESPN guys don’t get our fans being pissed and as both they and I pointed out, injuries are a reason, A BIG REASON.

So if we lose this game, my concern is the idiots among us force a make or break year next year for Utah football, when we just might be playing another redshirt freshman QB.  I hope Wilson is found with a clean bill of health and can play, but I hope more that he gets to live a long and happy life.  Next year we have five Pac-12 road games and a trip to Michigan and if we’re doing it with a freshman, well we’re all going to have to revise what I think was going to be a very special year.

And if that becomes the make or break season for Kyle, well, I’m going to be sick.  And what a happy thought to end this weeks preview on.