Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Pacific Ten Conference

Brace yourselves. NCAA football season is here which means this blog may become littered with inane posts about the team I root for as well as the team I love to hate.

But before I alienate some of my favorite bloggers (while charming others), let me state right here that we Angelinos on both sides of the sun and surf ball can come together. It's true. There is a uniting force larger than our cross town rivalry.

Give it up for... the Pac Ten.

As a southern Californian in exile in the middle west, it gets more than a little tedious to hear nothing but praise for the Big Ten and SEC, as though every program west of the Mississippi is the equivalent of Tomahawk football, lucky to be in big boy college ball. Insulting. It's not the west coast's fault that their games are never aired in the east, or that their time zone renders them unwatchable when the games start after 7 p.m. PST. USC is not their only powerhouse (three programs ranked in the top twenty-five right now) and SC's schedule is tough because they play every other Pac Ten team all season long... a punishing schedule some experts say.

Hey Michigan - why don't you try that? - playing every Big Ten team all season long? Choosing Appalachian State as your opener - shame on you! Planning a trouncing in the first game of the season to bolster your standings in the BCS.... And a trouncing it was... for Appalachian State! I'll bet you'll get sick of hearing that this was the BIGGEST UPSET IN SPORTS HISTORY! Yeah, it sucks to be you today. (But my Buckeye-bound daughter is all smiles this morning and she doesn't even like football.)

Back to the Pac-Ten.

USC may have a machine-like program under Pete Carroll, but we can't forget the other teams... like, oh say, the Bruins? UCLA beat those Trojan tushies last December 2, 2006 in a game for the decade, ruining SC's dreams of a national title and sugar plums dancing in their heads. Ahhh. One can never relive that moment often enough.

But back to the Pac-Ten.

USC, UCLA... What about Cal? Last night they played the much vaunted Volunteers (the Golden Bears were beat 35-zip last year when they played in Daniel Boone country). It was a real football game where both teams were evenly matched, where scoring happened at regular crowd-pleasing intervals, where the defense stopped touchdowns on the one-yard line on both sides of the ball, where the passing game of both teams looked in control and balanced...

The real show, though, came from the various weapons on the Cal offense. Look out for Desean Jackson (1) (his 77 yd. punt return, while outsmarting three or four attempted tackles en route to the endzone, is destined to be the highlight reel of the season), Justin Forsett (20) who is, in a word, ridiculous (he simply turns every carry into multiple yards while pushing, leaping over and turning the corner around big guys), while Jahvid Best (4) and Lavelle Hawkins (7) turned in incredible running and catching performances, too. It was the most creative set of plays and runs I've seen in a football game in years. Just when I thought it couldn't get better, it did. Robert Jordan (2) did a spectacular lateral leap over the body of his opponent into the end zone, both legs flying at the most gymnastically awkward angles, after a great little run up the middle in the second quarter.

Okay, enough of that.

Still, let's review shall we? Cal played TN, a team that beat them 35-0 in their season opener last year. They didn't pay Appalachian State to come to their opener to show off for the TV, to bolster their rankings, to please alums. (Well, apparently U of M didn't do that either, come to think of it.)

UCLA beat Stanford, USC beat Idaho (not a tough thing to do, but their schedule gets tougher), Cal beat TN.

Good start for our three ranked teams. Go Pac Ten!


Ampersand said...

Forget your other weekly column. You need to be published as a sports columnist.


I don't even appreciate NCAA football, and this was fun to read.

Dave said...

I agree with Kim, this was a nice column from a fan's perspective.

I would like to know more of the story about how U of M (not Michigan State, who won 55-18 in the debut of former U of Cinci head coach Mark Dantonio) arranged for App St. to appear in their home opener. It's easy to second-guess now but I don't think it was a bad move, nor was it set up to provide an easy cakewalk win. I think the Wolverines deserve credit for avoiding "patsie" matchups (like, say, Youngstown State) in their early non-conference games. They've had that reputation of willing to take on tough opponents from outside the Big Ten for a long time, going back at least to the Bo Schembechler era. And on several occasions it has cost them. The Colorado Buffalos famously beat them 13 Septembers ago on a big play featuring Kordell Stewart tossing a 64-yard TD to Michael Westbrook as time ran out. That's just one that comes to mind.

The way the Spartans played yesterday, with a revved up offensive attack, could draw in some new fans who've gotten weary of Lloyd Carr's plodding predictability.

Check out this link if you want to get a sample of the lashing that Carr is getting from the locals today!

julieunplugged said...

U of M was being soundly chastised for the App choice as was OSU on some of the sports talk shows on ESPN radio. I knew nothing about App State prior. Yes, they were a good team in their division, but the truth is - this has never happened before - that a AA team beat a single A in season play. It was a pretty big upset, no matter how you slice it.

Yes, OSU - patsy game. Totally agree. (I'm no OSU homer, remember.)

I'm thrilled for Mich St. We really liked that coach so good news for you guys. :)

julieunplugged said...

I knew it was U of M - just noticed my typo after rereading because I wondered at your comment. Sorry. Typo.

I really do know the difference between the two - have to! It's required before they allow you to purchase a house in Ohio.

Bilbo said...

Hi Julie,

You know where my allegiance is...but...I'll throw out a little hope for you and the other Pac-10 fans out there. I watched the USC game against Idaho last night and while it was entertaining I am now a bit concerned...Watching USC play is like watching an all-star game...but...the problem with all-star teams is that they often lack chemistry and other intangibles. USC has the best talent in the country, hands down, but they have yet to prove they have the chemistry and the "intangibles"...I'll have a better sense of where USC is when they go play at Nebraska...Cal did look awfully good. Alot of excellent skill players. Just don't know if there line play can hold up for an entire game against the likes of USC...

Robert said...

As a wolverine fan I thank dave for his comments. This will be a huge one to get over especially since it happened in the Big House. Michigan does travel like they did here to ducks country a few years back. I hope they use this as fuel to motivate themselves for the rest of the season How abour florida buckeyes??? Great post julie

julieunplugged said...

Robert - touche! :)

When we went to orientation for OSU, the orientation leader had each of the various students stand up according to state. Then at the end, she said there were two states she was especially glad to see in OSU country: Michigan (naturally) and the newer nemisis: Florida. :) Gave me a chuckle, but yes, OSU got the smackdown twice in one year and I think they have most definitely smarted from that.

I must confess to feeling sympathy for the Wolverines. That ain't no way to start a season.

Steve said...

Julie. Come now, that was far to football-ecumenical. You must stay with the general theme that no good thing can come from SC Land. Please, for the love of all things Bruin.

Dave said...

I am not exactly "pleased" that Michigan lost to Appalachian State, but given that the situation is what it is, I am drawing some enjoyment from all the angst and teeth-gnashing in the local sports media. Certainly has generated a lot more interest in the college football season on my end than if Michigan had won in a routine blowout.

W Chan said...

go bruins, add me on twitter julie!