Pac-12 and Beyond: Ducks Roll; USC Disappoints; Final Four in Flux?

Oregon Avoids a Letdown as Conference Play Nears

After defeating a Top-10 opponent in Michigan State the previous week, it was only human nature for the Ducks to have a more difficult time “waking up” to face off with the Wyoming Cowboys. Throw in an 11 a.m. kickoff time, the students being very late for kickoff, and no College GameDay, it’s no surprise the Ducks were a bit slow to get going on Saturday.

The sky did not fall, however, and Oregon was able to reel off 42 straight points while cruising to an easy victory. This was Oregon’s last non-conference game, and they now prepare for a trip to Pullman to take on Mike Leach and his pass-happy Washington State Cougars.

Last year’s edition of this game ended on a sour note, so it’ll be interesting to see if that spills over into this year. As far as the playoffs go, Oregon stayed at No. 2 in the latest AP Poll, and if their offense is clicking like that, good luck beating them. Given the marquee win against the Spartans, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which an unbeaten Duck team gets passed for a spot in the Final Four.

Johnny Loyd celebrating his first career touchdown.

Johnny Loyd celebrating his first career touchdown.

Current Playoff Contenders

Top-ranked Florida State had the week off, but upcoming this weekend the Seminoles have another big game as they take on the No. 20 Clemson Tigers, in a game that will see the College GameDay crew return to Tallahassee.

Third-ranked Alabama, and No. 4 Oklahoma both wound up with comfortable victories. Alabama played Southern Miss and completely overmatched them, winning with a final score of 52-12. That ends the cream puffs for the Tide, as next week they will host the Florida Gators, a team fresh off a thrilling 3-OT victory over the Kentucky Wildcats, and a team looking to make a statement that they are back as a contender in the SEC.

And speaking of — the Sooners defeated an SEC opponent – unranked Tennessee — by the score of 34-10. Following this victory, Oklahoma faces a formidable challenge as they face off against West Virginia and TCU on the road, and then have their annual Red River Rivalry against the Texas Longhorns. If the Sooners can make it through this stretch unscathed, they will have a strong claim to a coveted playoff spot.

Mariota continued his Heisman campaign on Saturday

Mariota continued his Heisman campaign on Saturday.

Rounding out the top five, the fifth-ranked Auburn Tigers had the weekend off, and they are now prepping to travel to play an out of conference matchup with the Kansas State Wildcats. Following that, they have an easy home matchup against Louisiana Tech, before their season revs up by hosting the LSU Tigers in a key SEC matchup.

In perhaps the biggest game of the weekend, No.6 Georgia was upset on the road by the 24th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks, 38-35. Heisman hopeful Todd Gurley of the Bulldogs had another spectacular game with more than 130 rushing yards with a touchdown, but it was not enough to win on the road. Georgia will have a hard climb back into the promised land – the top four in the rankings – as they dipped to No. 13 in the rankings.

Other Pac-12 contenders had mixed results as USC failed to capitalize on early-season momentum they built by falling on the road against unranked Boston College. The Trojans were ranked No. 9 after defeating the Stanford Cardinal on the road, yet now find themselves ranked 17th.

Twelfth-ranked UCLA had another shaky, yet gritty, win — this time against the Texas Longhorns. However, star quarterback Brett Hundley suffered an injury to his left (non-throwing) elbow, so keep an eye on that going forward as we should hear more throughout the week.

Recent News in Other Fall Sports

Cross Country

Cross country has a bit of a break, as their next meet does not occur until September 26 at the Battle in Beantown.

Volleyball

This week featured a familiar foe traveling to Eugene to take on the Ducks, and a similar result handed to them. The Michigan State Spartans faced off with the Ducks in Matt Knight Arena, and were defeated by a score of three games to one.

Martenne Bettendorf led the Ducks with 16 kills, and was followed by Frankie Shebby and Liz Brenner who provided 13 and 12 kills, respectively.

The fun weekend against midwest opponents continued as the Ducks defeated the Michigan Wolverines, 3-0. The freshman Shebby provided 15 kills, as the Ducks are still undefeated at 8-0.

Top photo by Kevin Cline

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Steven Holstad

Steven Holstad

Originally from San Diego, Steven decided to take a shot on attending a school over 1000 miles from home, and he’s been happy ever since. Steven graduated from the University of Oregon in 2013, and his passion for sports has followed him into his post-college life. A huge fan of both basketball and football, Steven enjoys incorporating both statistics and his own personal beliefs into his writing. When he’s not watching sports, Steven is currently training for his first half-marathon, and is looking to run a few more in the future. You can follow Steven on Twitter at @StevenHolstad