By Fred Delkin
Best Duck team ever? Alabama coach Nick Saban must think so…his silly criticism of the spreading use of no-huddle, spread offenses, a Duck trademark, certifies that Saban feels threatened. He coaches a “huddle up and overpower ‘em” attack, the antithesis of Chip Kelly’s emphasis on speed. Halfway through this season, it looks as if these contrasting philosophies may clash in January for a national title. No, Saban, the Kelly-style offense is no more likely to cause player injuries than your playing method. Yes, we agree that an Alabama/Oregon title match could happen. But there’s a lot of games to play before then.
The Ducks get a rest this week, while their Willamette Valley neighbors travel to BYU without their injury-idled QB star. Next up for the Quackers is a trip to Arizona State next week, and those host Sun Devils have forked their way to a 4-1 record to date and will be 5-1 this weekend after beating up poor Colorado. Stanford and Southern California also enter weekend clashes with 4-1 records, but each faces a worthy foe. Heres how Pigskin sees this week’s outcomes, buoyed by our 5-1 record last week, with only a revived underdog Cal’s upset of UCLA clouding our crystal…
OREGON STATE at BRIGHAM YOUNG–the unbeaten Beavers have lost their star QB Sean Mannion, to knee surgery, and walk into a stadium notoriously hard on visitors. We figure this one to be close, but the home folks get our call. OSU does have a great defense, but replacement QB Cody Vaz can expected to struggle a bit in his initial starting role. BYU by 3.
SOUTHERN CAL at WASHINGTON–the Dawgs couldn’t handle Oregon’s play on both sides of the ball, but, then, who has? UW coach Steve Sarkisian is a former offensive coordinator for the visiting Trojans and the Huskies won’t go easily. Udub defensive coach Justin Wilcox will guide his charges in a ferocious pass rush that will inhibit a dazzling SC aerial attack, and the shores of Lake Washington have been the scene of some historic upsets of visiting Trojans. However, SC still has big postseason hopes riding on its 4-1 mark to date. SC by 3.
UTAH at UCLA–the host Bruins are coming off a very debilitating journey to Cal, and should be in a mood to redeem themselves on their home Rose Bowl turf. Utah is a solid squad, but thin in numbers. The Bruins should enhance their 4-2 mark with another win. UCLA by 10.
CALIFORNIA at WASHINGTON STATE–the Golden Bears may have rescued their coach Jeff Tedford from getting the axe, but the visitors 2-4 mark to date is only equal to their hosts’ record. If this game were in November, the Cougars would be a good bet to be a rude host, but weather in the Palouse now resembles a nice Indian summer. If Cal QB Zach Maynard has found a steadier approach he showed for the first time vs. UCLA, WSU will succumb to a deeper, stronger foe. CAL by 7.
ARIZONA STATE at COLORADO–the Sun Devils and their 4-1 record to date now loom as a potential contender for the Pac12 southern division title. Colorado resembled a real football team when it hosted UCLA last week, but we believe that was an aberration. The visitors will win this in a walkaway and will look forward to hosting Oregon next week. ASU by 21.
STANFORD at NOTRE DAME–this is a nationally televised contest, and we believe Stanford has the tools to impress the audience. However, next week, the traditional ‘Big Game’ with Cal looms in the Cardinals’ minds. Thus, we think the Irish will maintain their unbeaten (5-0) status. NOTRE DAME by 6.
Arizona and Oregon draw byes. PORTLAND STATE finally found another team it could beat, but then, everyone has gotten fat from feeding on poor lil’ Idaho State. This week, PSU also draws a bye.
ROSES & RASPBERRIES…the Vikings don’t deserve a rest, after fooling us all before 2012 play started that they were a national FCS playoff candidate, but they aren’t even a threat for Big Sky dominance…roses keep on falling around Aloha high school runner Thomas Tyner, who committed to Oregon and plans to leave the prep scene early and take his state record-setting exploits to play in the Ducks’ spring scrimmage…no boos are loud or numerous enough to give the Portland Timbers’ sorry soccer bums their due…a corsage has been earned by OSU’s Sean Mannion’s father, who is in the process of coaching Silverton high to its best season ever, after following his son north from California.