If the blog seems to have been quiet the past few days, forgive me. I’ve been buried under pirate costumes and the prolific passing numbers in the dossier of one Mike Leach.
Friday night, it’s UCLA at Oregon in one of the more bizarre matchups imaginable. Takes me back to the first Pac-12 media day in July, when somebody asked Dennis Erickson of Arizona State whether he’d take getting to the game as a runnerup. He replied, of course. (And given what’s happened to him since then, I’m sure he’d take it.)
When the season began with USC ineligible for the Pac-12 title game, I don’t think anybody envisioned what a yawning gap would exist between the South winner (the Trojans) and the runnerup — like 50-0 worth, or the result in the USC-UCLA game last week.
Now Rick Neuheisel has been fired at UCLA, and the other day, his team carried him off the field on its shoulders after practice. He was asked afterward what that meant, and he got choked up. No matter what you think of Neuheisel, it’s hard to see somebody put heart and soul into something, especially at your alma mater, and not see it through to success. Not that that steely, implacable Pac-12 Confidential has gone soft on you, but . . . good luck to him.
As for the game, it’s mind-bending to think that a 29.5-point line could now be bet up to 32. Before I got flooded with Leach-related work, I was going to explore what the biggest previous line was for a league-championship game. Never got to it, but I have to believe this is not only the biggest, it’s probably the biggest by 10 points.
I’m not going to suggest that UCLA can hang with Oregon, but it’s awfully tough to lay the lumber, as they say in the sportsbooks, when it gets this high. I’m doubting Oregon, even though it knows the Rose Bowl is at stake, is playing at a fever pitch, and the Bruins may lay it on the line one final time for Neuheisel (having said this, I recognize fully this team has burned me badly more than once). Pick: Oregon, 44-20.