College Football Week 4: Beware the Pac-10
That bastion of college football analysis, the Wall Street Journal, last week made a declaration. Dismiss the Pacific-10 Conference at your own risk.
The WSJ studied head-to-head matchups this decade among teams from the BCS’ automatic-qualifier conferences. And the results were stunning.
The Pac-10 is the nation’s best league. The Pac-10 is 81-63 against the other five conferences in the 2000s, a winning percentage of .562 that is better than even the SEC’s .531.
Even taking out Southern Cal’s 19-3 record, the Pac-10 is above .500.
So why does the Pac-10 not get in the debates with SEC and Big 12 devotees? No good reason, other than hype and geography. The Pac-10 does not have an ESPN contract, and its games often finish after newspaper deadlines.
But facts are facts. The complete standings:
Pac-10: 81-63, .562
SEC: 95-84, .531
Big 12: 81-85, .488
Big East: 79-85, .481
ACC: 100-110, .476
Big Ten: 84-93, .475
In 2009, the SEC is the clear leader so far, with a 6-2 record. But the SEC still has six games remaining against other BCS league foes: Georgia Tech at Mississippi State, Arkansas-Texas A&M at Arlington, Georgia Tech at Vanderbilt, Florida State at Florida, Georgia at Georgia Tech and Clemson at South Carolina.
The Pac-10 is next at 6-5, followed by the Big East 5-6, Big Ten 4-5, Big 12 3-4 and ACC 4-6.
The Big 12 has only three games left: Colorado at West Virginia, Texas A&M-Arkansas and OU at Miami.
Colorado isn’t likely to win in Morgantown, which means the pressure is on A&M and the Sooners to keep the Big 12 from being last in the 2009 conference standings.
TEN BIGGEST LOSERS OF THE WEEK
10. Jimbo Fisher: Rough September for the Florida State offensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting; 19 rushing yards vs. South Florida in a 17-7 loss, 19 points vs. I-AA Jacksonville State. Despite a contract that guarantees it, Fisher shouldn’t count on replacing Bobby Bowden.
9. Dan Mullen: With a chance for a monumental win in his first month of games, the Mississippi State coach failed in a 30-24 home loss to LSU. On 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the final moments, Mullen had quarterback Tyson Lee throw a jump pass. Mullen must have thought he still was at Florida with Tim Tebow. The pass was knocked down, and Lee was stuffed on fourth down.
8. Mike Locksley: A new New Mexico coach’s worst nightmare. A loss to a bad New Mexico State. Locksley’s Lobos are 0-4 after a 20-17 loss to New Mexico State, which beat Prairie View by the same margin, 21-18.
7. Veteran quarterbacks: Rough Saturday for three guys who seem like they’ve been around forever. Illinois’ Juice Williams, who engineered a huge upset at Ohio State in 2007, returned to Columbus, but the Illini managed just 170 total yards in a 30-0 loss to the Buckeyes. Riley Skinner, who quarterbacked Wake Forest to the ACC title in 2006, lost a fumble in overtime, allowing Boston College to escape with a 27-24 victory. And Tim Tebow suffered a concussion against Kentucky that sent him to a Lexington hospital for an overnight stay.
6. Galen Hall: The 69-year-old Penn State offensive coordinator first coached on the college level at Oklahoma in 1966. He’s had a grand career. But Hall’s Nittany Lion offense was a dud vs. Iowa. After Daryll Clark threw a 79-yard TD pass 105 seconds into the game, Penn State’s offense went into hibernation and the Hawkeyes won 21-10. The Nittanys finished with 307 total yards.
5. Indiana: Since their Rose Bowl season of 1967, the Hoosiers were 1-30 vs. Michigan. But IU had the Wolverines in peril Saturday, only to settle for four field goals, all from the red zone, and Michigan survived 36-33.
4. Pac-10: Some believe the Pac-10 needs a new champion, that Southern Cal’s dominance is holding back the league. Some thought Cal could be the team to break USC’s seven-year stronghold on the championship. Think again. Oregon routed the Golden Bears 42-3.
3. Danny Hope: The first-year Purdue coach - and Howard Schnellenberger’s offensive line coach at OU in 1995 - had a chance at a memorable victory, leading Notre Dame 21-17 late in the game. But the Irish drove deep into Purdue territory. Out of timeouts, the Irish reached the 2-yard line and faced 3rd-and-goal with the clocking ticking. But Purdue called timeout with 36 seconds left to set its defense. That in effect gave Notre Dame two chances from the two, instead of one, and the Irish needed both. Jimmy Clausen threw a fourth-down TD pass to beat the Boilermakers.
2. Baylor: All hope and optimism was sucked out of the Baylor season when quarterback Robert Griffin suffered a torn ACL. The 3-1 Bears have to go 3-5 in the Big 12 to become bowl eligible. Without Griffin, Baylor likely is to go 0-8.
1. Jevan Snead: Few No. 4-ranked teams have looked worse than Ole Miss in a 16-10 loss at South Carolina. Few Heisman Trophy contenders have looked worse than Snead, who completed just seven of 21 passes for 107 yards.
10. Brigham Young: Cougars still getting credit for beating the Sooners.
9. LSU: Tigers rewarded for winning on road, at Washington and Mississippi State.
8. Southern Cal: Loss at Washington will haunt Trojans all season.
7. Oregon: Three good home wins (Purdue, Utah, Cal), but will Ducks repeat road meltdown shown at Boise State?
6. Georgia: Three good wins - South Carolina, Arizona State and at Arkansas - counter loss at OSU.
5. Alabama: Crimson Tide’s win over Virginia Tech looking better and better.
4. Houston: Two great wins (Texas Tech and at Oklahoma State) but same problem as Boise State.
3. Boise State: Broncos’ strength of schedule about to wither. Toughest game left is at Tulsa.
2. Iowa: Win at Penn State ranks with USC’s victory at Ohio State as most impressive of the season so far.
1. Cincinnati: Hard for any team to get three quality wins in September, but the Bearcats have done it. At Rutgers, at Oregon State, home against Fresno State.
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