Pac-10 Parity Is Good For Everyone

TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 09: Wide receiver James Rodgers #8 of the Oregon State Beavers runs with the ball after a reception past Robert Golden #1 of the Arizona Wildcats during the second quarter of the college football game at Arizona Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Action-packed games and unpredictability are making Pac-10 football very entertaining this year.

As Chris Jericho once said in a WWE promo, "What you do know is...."

It doesn't matter what Y2J said after that. But what you who follow Pac-10 football do know is, Oregon is No. 2 in both the AP and USA Today polls. And in the AP poll three other teams from the conference are in the top 25. It's Stanford at 14, Arizona at 17 and Oregon State at 24.

All are solid teams who are still alive for the conference championship and Rose Bowl berth. Oregon State beat Arizona last week in Tucson and is, as others have said, the best 3-2 team in America. 

What about the rest of the conference? Cal is 3-2 and after blasting UCLA 35-7, the same UCLA team thought to be much better after it dismantled Texas in Austin. Seems like the Bears have learned from getting pistol-whipped (I mean the offensive formation) by  Nevada earlier in the season. USC is  4-2 and has lost back-to-back conference games, but both losses were close and the Trojans, while ineligible for a bowl game, could still impact the BCS/conference title race. 

Arizona State seems to be a better team than its 3-3 record would indicate and its two Pac-10 losses are to Oregon and Oregon State. Winning at Washington in the rain was impressive. The Huskies have Jake Locker, and now they face a must-win situation this weekend at home against the Beavers. 

You never know which Rick Neuheisel team is going to show up. And Washington State, the last-place team in the conference, hung tough with Oregon for a half and with UCLA for three quarters the week before that, and if nothing else the Cougs have shown they're better than last year's team.

The Ducks have a tough road ahead to try and stay undefeated and get to Glendale for the BCS title game. Their offense, assuming running back Kenjon Barner and quarterback Darron Thomas are healthy, should be potent enough to beat UCLA and Washington at home and USC on the road in their next three games, though the Trojans with Matt Barkley at QB could make that game a shootout. Oregon's two biggest games are its last two - at home against Arizona on Nov. 26 and at Oregon State in the Civil War Dec. 4. Arizona always seems to play Oregon close, and the Civil War might be the Beavers' chance to thwart the Ducks' national title hopes after Oregon knocked them out of the Rose Bowl last year by winning that game. 

Bottom line: From what we've seen so far, any team from 1 through 9 (Oregon through UCLA) can beat another from one week to the next, home or away. 

One more thing before I close - a report from ESPN.com Tuesday night said the California schools are holding up the process of dividing what will be the Pac-12 next year into divisions. The Cali schools want Stanford and Cal to be in the same division as USC, UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State, leaving the Oregon and Washington schools in a division with newcomers Utah and Colorado. 

But a compromise that would put Cal and Stanford in the North Division with the Northwest schools and put Utah and Colorado in the South is in the works. 

Please Mr. Commissioner Larry Scott. Just get it done so that everyone is somewhat satisfied. And don't bow down to the California schools' whims. It's not good for the conference as a whole. Split up the Bay Area and SoCal schools into the different divisions. The only real rivalries that matter in the conference are the interstate or crosstown ones. 

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