#1 USC and its freshman QB are good enough to compete for the national title: A massive frown creased across the face of the college football world Saturday evening. Everyone outside of Trojan faithful was ready to relegate — gleefully — USC to the rebuilding stage. But true freshman quarterback Matt Barkley, with an assist from Joe McKnight, cobbled together a signature game-winning drive at Ohio State, and the Trojans triumphed. It wasn’t a beautiful performance, but the nation should be even more concerned because USC showed it also has guts and poise to season its awe-inspiring talent.
#2 In the football part of football, the Pac-10 matches the SEC. Again: Oh, there will be excuses about why Tennessee lost AT HOME to UCLA and couldn’t exact revenge for the loss in the Rose Bowl last year. But how much more basic football do you need than a fourth-down stop on the goal line? No matter what happens with Arizona State’s visit to Georgia, the Bruins’ victory, paired with Washington’s 478 yards of offense in a close loss to LSU, not to mention the Pac-10’s 11-8 record vs. the SEC since 2000, stands as tangible evidence of the relative parity between the conferences. All else is hot air.
#3 Oregon State QB Sean Canfield is a leader: During his three-year competition with Lyle Moevao, Canfield has always been termed the more skilled quarterback, while Moevao was the gutty, charismatic leader. Moevao is a gutty, charismatic leader. But so is Canfield. Facing a do-or-die possession at UNLV, Canfield led the Beavers 64 yards in 12 plays for the game-winning field goal. On the evening, he completed 25-of-31 for 198 yards with two TDs and no interceptions. Moevao is close to being healthy again. It will be interesting to see how he will be used going forward.
#4 Washington will be competitive in the Pac-10; WSU probably won’t: Washington ended its 15-game losing streak with a solid 42-23 win over Idaho. While it wasn’t a tour-de-force performance, it’s clear that the Huskies won’t be an easy out. Meanwhile, a few miles away inside Qwest Field, Washington State was sloppy and couldn’t stop the Hawaii passing game in a 38-20 defeat — it was 35-6 at halftime. The Cougars suffered some unfortunate injuries during the week, and it’s hard to win when you turn the ball over seven times. And it’s important to note the Cougars fought back in the second half. But two games into the season, it’s not unfair to wonder if the Cougs will win a game, much less a conference game, in 2009.
#5 Sept. 19 will be ‘Measuring Stick’ Saturday: It was a fairly successful — 7-2 — weekend for the Pac-10. This coming Saturday concludes the major portion of the nonconference slate and it likely will reveal where the conference will be rated by fans and pundits nationwide. Arizona can prove itself worthy of a top-25 ranking with a visit to Iowa. UCLA needs to avoid a letdown vs. Kansas State. Oregon can move past the disaster at Boise State with a win over visiting Utah. Oregon State can make a statement vs. Cincinnati, the best team in the Big East. California needs to prove it can win on the road at Minnesota. And Washington State will try to get a win vs. SMU, which is 2-0 after winning at UAB.