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Updated Monday, November 5, 2012 at 12:46 AM

Oregon might deserve some thanks from Pac-12 teams it has dominated

By Bud Withers
Seattle Times college football reporter

Even while Pac-12 football programs stand in a bit of awe at what Oregon is doing offensively, they need to add another emotion: Gratitude.

The Ducks' stock rose Saturday with their wild 62-51 victory at USC, and while there's no certainty they will outmaneuver Kansas State or even Notre Dame for a spot opposite Alabama in the BCS title game, such a position would be a boon to the league.

Oregon is obviously a BCS-bowl team, and if it hoists Stanford or Oregon State into the Rose Bowl, that adds both cachet and coin to the league. If the Ducks take that extra step and crash the title game, it could land the Beavers in Pasadena for the first time since the 1964 season.

The orange-and-black faithful might even have to utter thanks — OK, a quick thanks — to the Phil Knight empire.

Pac-12 bowl projections

BCS title game: Oregon

Rose, Jan. 1: Oregon State

Alamo, Dec. 29: UCLA

Holiday, Dec. 27: USC

Sun, Dec. 31: Stanford

Vegas, Dec. 22: Washington

Kraft Fight Hunger, Dec. 29: Arizona

New Mexico, Dec. 15: Arizona State

At-large: Utah

With most of November ahead, this assumes a lot, including OSU beating Stanford and UCLA beating USC. And of course, Oregon winning out, which doesn't seem like much of an assumption.

What We Learned

Nobody's beating Oregon, at least until January.

Someday, historians may puzzle at the fact Oregon's school-record 730 yards didn't come against San Jose State or Wyoming, but against USC.

Trojans defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, who didn't see this in the NFL, said about all he could say: "I've never heard of so many yards," he told the LA Times.

Kenjon Barner just bought himself a trip to New York.

Barner's 321 yards rushing and five touchdowns against the Trojans seems to ensure a spot at the Heisman Trophy ceremony, and if K-State's Collin Klein slips down the stretch, Barner just might steal it.

Matt Barkley and Marqise Lee need to play both ways.

In the past two games, Barkley has thrown for 977 yards. Lee has caught 28 passes for 502 yards. And USC is 0-2.

600 yards is the new normal.

It wasn't long ago that if an offense clicked for 400, that was a big day. Now, that's so Mike Bellotti. The two winning teams in Los Angeles, Oregon and UCLA (against Arizona), combined for 1,341 yards.

Change is coming to Stanford and Colorado.

Well, in a different way. Stanford coach David Shaw didn't definitively say he was switching quarterbacks for the OSU game, but promised, "You'll see a whole lot of Kevin Hogan."

In Boulder, after the Buffs were shut out at home by the Cardinal, 48-0, for the first time in 26 years, the Boulder Daily Camera quoted AD Mike Bohn as saying that after the season, "the intensity of reviewing all aspects of the program will increase dramatically with improvements and adjustments implemented." The article speculated that changes are more likely among Jon Embree's staff than the head coach himself.

Oregon State is resilient.

In a spot where the Beavers might have been vulnerable — with standout cornerback Jordan Poyer out, running back Storm Woods sidelined much of the game, and Arizona State needing a win badly — the Beavers turned the Sun Devils' offense to mush and won convincingly.

No wonder the East Coast thinks so little of Pac-12 football.

The ESPN2-televised Washington-Cal game was dreadful to watch, with eight combined turnovers. But credit the Huskies for gritting out the win against a team that looked like it was just waiting to be beaten.

Mike Leach is liable to say just about anything.

Enough said.

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com


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