Sunday, December 4, 2011

December 04, 2011
A Look Back the Pac-12 Title Game


Offense:  The Ducks were able, for the most part, to impose their will on UCLA. There were some missed opportunities and some familiar traits to the start of this game that have garnered attention amongst some. Still, the Ducks led 21-7 at the end of the first quarter and this game was never really in doubt. UCLA played inspired early after feeling some new life granted by Utah's loss and pride/guilt at playing for Rick Neuheisel. 

Darron Thomas played good but not great and was not helped out by his receivers much early in the game. Late int he game, witha  chance to put the nail in the Bruins coffin, Thomas threw a beautiful pass into the end-zone for Josh Huff that was dropped.

The rushing attack showed why it is the best in the conference as LaMichael James capped, possibly, his career at Autzen with his fourth 200 yard game of the season. Darron Thomas proved that even a few carries by him will keep an opponent honest and Kenjon Barner quietly surpassed 900 rushing yards this season.

Defense:UCLA gave Oregon a few troubles, but not as many as many might believe. The Bruins had two long drives in the game that gave them 168 yards. In their other 12 possessions, the Bruins accounted for only 169 yards. From the second quarter until the last drive by the Bruins, the Ducks limited UCLA to 158 yards on 34 plays for an average of 4.6 yards per play.

This UCLA team came in averaging 193.2 yards per game on the ground. The Ducks had held them to 126 yards. Overall, the Ducks still held the Bruins to just 160 yards. Considering the plan UCLA had to control the ball with the ground game, the defense played well. They gave up a couple of big plays, but it is tough to argue with the overall results.

Coaching: Chip Kelly was as aggressive as always and it turned out well for him in most cases. Chip used the clock effectively and managed the teams emotions very well. When De'Anthony Thomas went down, Kelly made the choice to use Kenjon at the tazer position rather than move Huff inside. Though many voiced the opinion that Huff should have been moved inside to the slot and let Hawkins fill Huff's spot, this was a better decision that allowed the best players to be on the field at the same time.

Around the rest of the conference:

Arizona State: ASU also fired their coach this week. There are a lot of benefits to coaching at ASU and if the next coach is good at exploiting those benefits, teh Pac-12 South may become a very tough place to win football games.

Arizona: Arizona made a home run hire. While the spread may not have worked in Michigane it will likely have great success in Arizona. Rich Rodriguez will have access tot he type of athletes he needs being so close to Texas and California.

California: The Golden Bears finished 7-5, but their play late int eh season gives them hope for next season. The defense played well at times this year, but the problem was their inconsistent QB play. As the season came to a close, Maynard looked to be "getting it" and that should give them some reason to believe next year will be better.

Colorado: The Buffaloes found that the Pac-12 is no easier than the old Big 12 was. They were able, however, to make a statement by winning their first road game in 24 tries as well as ruin Utah's dreams of a Rose Bowl.

Oregon State: The Beavers have had their worst season since 1997. With their second consecutive losing season, the Beavers will need to fill a lot of holes and do some serious soul searching as a staff int he off-season. Will Mike Riley be on a hot seat next season?

Stanford: The Cardinal once again finished 12-1 and will play ina  BCS bowl. Their loss to Oregon, though, kept them from a conference title and probably National Championship Game match-up with LSU. Will Andrew Luck go to the NFL? Will Luck's departure send the team back to the middle of the conference? Time will tell.
USC: The Trojans have made their statement; they believe that they will be back next seasona nd contend for a national title. That hope, though, depends on Matt Barkley's decision. If he leaves for the draft, there is at least one other player, Ryan Kalil, who has said he will do whatever Barkley does. If that happens, expect the Trojans to take a small step backwards as there is no experience at the QB position behind Barkley.

UCLA: UCLA is now at a crossrods. Two consecutive bad coaching hires have left them rudderless. With USC still having not entered the worst part of their sanctions, one more bad hire could leave the Bruins permanently out of the picture in the LA sports scene for high school football players.

Utah: Utah learned that the Pac-12 is tougher than the Mountain West. You have to play your best every week to win in this conference. By losing to Colorado, the Utes also lost out ona  Pac-12 Conference Championship Game match with the Ducks. But the Utes have a very good defense and will be a tough game for everyone next season.

Washington: Steve Sarkisian has done a great job turning around the Huskies. But to contend for division and conference titles, he is going to have to get a lot more depth. He has done a nice job of getting quality starters in Seattle, but they need depth to stay competitive throughout an entire season.

Washington State: The Cougars took a gamble and hired a coach with some baggage. But that is what they needed. Mike Leach is a brilliant football mind and will bring some instant credibility to their offense. Will he win? Not right away, but he will make every game they play exciting

PAC-12 Bowl Schedule:
(All Times PST)

Dec. 22
Las Vegas Bowl—Arizona State vs. Boise State (11-1) (5 p.m. ESPN)
Dec. 28
Holiday Bowl—California  (7-5) vs. Texas (7-5) (5 p.m. ESPN)
Dec. 29
Alamo Bowl—Washington (7-5) vs. Baylor (9-3) (6 p.m. ESPN)
Dec. 31
Sun Bowl—Georgia Tech (8-4) vs. Utah Utes (7-5) (11 a.m. CBS)
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl—Illinois (6-6) vs. UCLA (6-7) (12:30 p.m. ESPN)
Jan. 2, 2012
Rose Bowl—Wisconsin (11-2) vs. Oregon (11-2) (2 p.m. ESPN)
Fiesta Bowl—Stanford (11-1) vs. Oklahoma State (11-1) (5:30 p.m. ESPN)


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