I was absolutely kicking myself on Saturday for not taking the time to write the previews for the WSU and UW games like I usually do.
I wouldn't have been on with the Cougs -- who I expected to keep the game close -- but I told more than one person on Friday that I thought the Huskies were ripe for an upset and were going to lose to Oregon State.
The Beavers played really well the week before against the Cougs, showing a good defense and a strong running game -- precisely the two things that could give Washington some trouble. Additionally, I just had a feeling that all these Huskies were getting just a little too full of themselves after really having not beat anyone.
Turns out I was right -- only there's no record to prove it, other than a pair of off-hand comments to friends.
Oh, well ... I guess I'll just have to take satisfaction enough in the Huskies losing to a team the Cougs beat (on the road).
Other things I noticed on Saturday ...
- I'm not sure whether to be encouraged or discouraged by the Cougs' loss to Cal. Yes, they matched the Bears yard-for-yard on offense, and their defense was the first team in nearly two months to hold them to under 40 points. But I can't help but feel like the game should have been a lot closer than 21-3. Turnovers, stalls in the red zone, a complete and total inability to convert on third or fourth down -- 2-for-17 between the two -- all contributed to their demise. Now, they're faced with the challenge of Oregon. Win that, and the prospect of eight or nine wins becomes a lot more reasonable. This weekend will say a lot about where this season will end up.
- Saturday merely confirmed what I suspected about Cal -- that the Bears are the best team in the Pac-10. What surprised me, however, was their defense, and I think that has become the key to their season. There's no doubt they can score points. If Cal can continue to play as good of defense as it has the past few weeks, it will run to the Pac-10 title without so much as a bump -- and that includes USC.
- Things don't get easier for the Huskies, either, after losing Isaiah Stanback to a foot injury. While the extent of the injury hasn't yet been made public, the consensus is that it's not good and that the Huskies might be without their best player for a while. If that's the case, a season that started with so much promise could spiral back into what it was supposed to be in the first place -- another rebuilding year. Stanback means that much to this team. To most UW fans, six wins seemed like a foregone conclusion. Now, those two wins seem a long way away, especially with road games against Cal, Oregon and WSU still on the docket.
- Tommy Tuberville took a lot of flak for his comments about the SEC needing a playoff to compete for a national championship, especially after his team's loss to Arkansas. Now, he's looking prescient. Florida, Auburn and LSU -- all considered national championship contenders before the season started -- each now have at least one loss, and that Auburn loss to the Razorbacks suddenly doesn't look so bad. And what about one-loss Tennessee? Anyone think USC, ranked No. 2 in the intial BCS standings, is a better team than any of those? I don't. Kudos to Tuberville for having the guts to stand up and say what we already knew: Winning all your games in a season doesn't necessarily mean you're the best team, or even the second-best team.
- Speaking of the BCS, how about no love for Cal? Three of the computer rankings have them ranked sixth, while the other three have them at eight, eight and nine. Yet the Bears are ranked 11th in every human poll, actually getting dropped a spot after beating Washington State. Their only loss is to Tennessee (who, by the way, has risen to No. 7 in the polls), and they've obliterated everyone but WSU. I know that it's only the first week, and I know that things tend to shake themselves out as the season goes along, but let's get real -- this puts the Pac-10 at a significant disadvantage in trying to get two teams into the BCS. Forget about the prestige that brings to a conference; that's $15 million out of the conference coffers. And people wonder why conspiracies continue to abound ...