The two latest games of the Pac-12 football weekend provided decidedly different results for the league.
Stanford kept Notre Dame at bay, winning 28-14 to claim its 11th victory of the season. That ought to be enough to get the Cardinal to the Fiesta Bowl, although one bowl official I spoke with awhile back voiced some concern that a 10-2 Michigan team with Denard Robinson could squeeze Stanford out on the basis of fan travel. Michigan is indeed an exciting team with Robinson, but it would be hard to pass on an 11-win team with the consensus No. 1 pick in the NFL draft (and very possibly, the Heisman Trophy winner) in Andrew Luck.</strong
The Cardinal can nab an automatic berth in the BCS by finishing No. 4 or better in the standings. It’s currently sixth, but Arkansas’ big loss to LSU figures to drop the Razorbacks behind Stanford. The most obvious way for Stanford to move up this week is for Oklahoma State (fourth now) to lose to Oklahoma. That second BCS spot would not only inch up other Pac-12 teams to higher bowls, but it would give each school a check of some $400,000-500,000 above the Rose Bowl booty, which is much higher for each school. (Contrary to urban myth, the rest of the bowls don’t make any money for the participants; they often lose a little going to the post-season.)
Then there were the UCLA Bruins. What can you say about Rick Neuheisel’s team, other than 50-0? Fifty to nothing against USC? Funny, but I remember covering the UCLA-USC game back in 2008, because Steve Sarkisian had been named coach at Washington, and this was his swan song at USC. The Bruins acquitted themselves well, losing 28-7, and really took the fight to USC at the Rose Bowl. You had the sense Neuheisel had the Bruins on the right track. And now this.
How, exactly, does Fox make the Pac-12 title game look halfway interesting Friday night — the Bruins at Oregon? It reminds me of those NCAA-tournament games in which one side of a first-round matchup includes a 14-16 team that happened to win its conference tournament (and now it’s playing Kentucky).
The Arizona Republic is reporting that Dennis Erickson is likely done at Arizona State. Neuheisel would appear to be a goner at UCLA. Ditto Paul Wulff at Washington State. So with Rich Rodriguez having been hired at Arizona, the league could easily have four coaching changes here shortly.