Oregon State pulled off the costly upset this weekend.
On a night when Stanford remained in the Pac-10 hunt with a last-second win over USC and Washington continued to prove it’s not quite ready for the big time, the news that most shook up the conference race took place on one play in Arizona Stadium.
That’s where Oregon State wide receiver James Rodgers, one of the nation’s most underrated players who sometimes appears to be unguardable, was hauled down awkwardly by Arizona safety Adam Hall as he caught an apparent 56-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. The score was nullified by a penalty, and Rodgers was helped off the field with a serious injury to his left knee.
The actual severity of the injury wasn’t immediately confirmed, but Oregon State coach Mike Riley acknowledged it was serious. Rodgers may have torn his anterior cruciate ligament, which would sideline him for the season.
Although the Beavers are just 3–2 overall, they are off to a 2–0 start in Pac-10 play. With Rodgers and little brother Jacquizz leading the way at tailback, Oregon State is one of the frontrunners to compete with Oregon for the conference crown. Throw in an always-solid defense sparked by talented defensive tackle Stephen Paea, and Oregon State is much better than its record indicates.
The Beavers’ two losses are at Boise State and at TCU, currently ranked third and fourth respectively in the Associated Press top 25. They are in perfect position to contend for the Pac-10 championship. But if James Rodgers is indeed lost for the season, it will significantly alter the shape of the Pac-10 race.
That’s not to say it would put the Beavers out of it. Sophomore Markus Wheaton is emerging at wide receiver. He had seven catches for 113 yards against Arizona and could help ease the potential loss of Rodgers. But clearly a season-ending injury to Rodgers would not make the Beavers as good a team as expected.
California 35, UCLA 7
Oregon 32, Washington State 23
Oregon State 29, Arizona 27
Stanford 37, USC 35
Arizona State 24, Washington 14
Another week, another opposing kicker getting mobbed by his teammates as time expires. For the second straight game, USC could only watch as an opponent made a field goal to secure a win as the clock was extinguished. This time, it was Stanford’s Nate Whitaker easily nailing a 30-yarder for a 37–35 win.
Last week, Washington’s Erik Folk made a 32-yarder as the clock hit 0:00 for a 32–31 victory over USC.
The Trojans really had nobody to blame but themselves for this one. Their offense, especially quarterback Matt Barkley and true freshman receiver Robert Woods, were dynamite all night and helped establish a 35–34 lead with 1:08 remaining after Allen Bradford’s 3-yard touchdown run. Woods caught 12 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns. Barkley threw for 390 yards and the three scores to Woods.
But USC’s defense, continuing its troubling season-long ineffectiveness, was hurt further by an ill-advised late hit penalty on linebacker Chris Galippo. Galippo said he never heard a whistle, but he still put both hands to the face of Baldwin.
That helped Stanford quickly storm into field goal range, where Whitaker coolly nailed the game-winner.
The Trojans started the season 4–0 but are now 1–2 in Pac-10 play. They’ve also lost consecutive games for the first time since 2001, Pete Carroll’s first year at USC.
UP AND DOWN
One week after giving their fans hope, the Washington Huskies once again proved they were probably overvalued in the offseason.
Washington is now 2–3 after a disappointing home loss to Arizona State. A team that some had in the preseason top 25 now looks like it may be up against it in its quest for a bowl berth.
The Huskies eased the sting of earlier losses to BYU and Nebraska a bit by taking out USC on the road the week before. But Washington’s next four games are against arguably the top four teams in the Pac-10 — Oregon State, at Arizona, Stanford and at Oregon. If it hasn’t already, that stretch should say a lot about where the program stands in coach Steve Sarkisian’s second season.
Three weeks after getting obliterated by Nevada’s pistol offense, Cal made all the right adjustments to shut down UCLA.
The Bruins implemented the pistol offense this season, studying Nevada’s scheme to try to emulate the explosive results the Wolf Pack typically get. But UCLA obviously isn’t at the level of Nevada yet, and the Bears obviously learned from their mistakes.
Cal allowed 497 yards of offense in a 52–31 loss at Nevada on Sept. 17. Saturday, UCLA had just 144 total yards. The Bruins rushing attack, which entered the game ranked 10th nationally (262.4 yards per game), was held to just 26 yards.
Strong defensive efforts are becoming the norm at Cal under new coordinator Clancy Pendergast. In four of the Bears’ five games, they’ve allowed one touchdown or less.