Thursday, October 13, 2011

"The Replacements" - Story of the PAC-12

The PAC-12 has seen it's fair share of injuries this year...with some being bigger than others. None bigger than Oregon RB LaMichael James. (More on that in a bit) Although injuries have always been a part of the game, you hate to see games, divisions and championships decided by the loss of a key individual. Looking around the conference, each of the PAC-12 contenders are relying on replacement players to keep their team going.


Stanford: Andrew Luck is the key to the offense...and so far, so good on the health. But to win the PAC-12 Championship...and especially the National Championship...they need a strong defense. With the loss of Shayne Skov, The Cardinal D isn't as strong. Although they're the #9 best defense in points against...the competition hasn't been there. We'll see what happens against Washington, Oregon, USC and Notre Dame.

Arizona: There's no doubt that something needed to change in Tucson...but I'm not positive it was firing coach Mike Stoops. No, this isn't an "injury"...but the Wildcats did lose a key contributor. I said last week that this was a big game for Arizona...and for Stoops' future, it was ginormous. Replacement coach Tim Kish (Defensive Coordinator) will have his hands full for the remainder of this season.

Utah: the Ute's had high hopes going into their inaugural PAC-12 season. And after the loss of QB Jordan Wynn, they will be doing nothing more than trying to salvage their season. I liked the look of replacement Jon Hays...up until he threw 3 picks last week. Limit the turnovers, and you'll be bowl eligible.

Oregon State: Opening the season with 7 freshman starters as injury replacements, posting an L against Sacramento State...and losing true freshman RB Malcom Agnew, who is still the leading rusher with 33 carries and 223 yards in only one game...congrats on your first win.

Washington State: Backup QB Marshall Lobbestael has been carrying the load as of late. But with starter Jeff Tuel cleared for play, who's going to lead the Cougars from here on out?

UCLA: It was anything but cheers on Saturday when once starter QB Kevin Prince stepped back on the stage, replacing injured QB Richard Brehat. With Brehaut now out with a broken leg, let's see if the QB Formerly Known as Prince can win over Hollywood hearts.

AND THE BIGGEST INJURY OF ALL...
Oregon: LaMichael James. Heisman candidate front runner. Questionable against Arizona State. Dislocated elbow. Now, we can't tell for sure how severe the injury...because the Ducks aren't telling us anything. Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas will be carrying the load if James is out...which makes me nervous. They're "good" backs...and they're at home...and the Ducks can't afford to give this one away. This win is for a shot at the Conference Championship.

Arizona State: RB Cam Marshall was able to bounce back from a knee injury earlier this year...and they're internally hoping that LaMichael James can not. ASU was dinged up going into the season, but are now poised to seal the PAC-12 South Divisional title. A win over the wounded Ducks would be an unexpected surprise.


PAC-12 WEEK 7 Preview (times eastern)

USC -3 @ California (Thurs 9p)
The Trojans are coming off a bye week. That's big. Because I'm pretty sure Cal is is still sucking wind from the Oregon game. I expected this line to be slightly higher...in which case Cal was my sleeper pick. USC gave up 41 against Arizona, but that's not going to be the case under the lights. USC 31-27

Utah @ Pitt -7 (Noon)
This Pitt team has been up-and-down-and-all-around this season. They scored 12 at Notre Dame, blew out South Florida, and got rocked by Rutgers. This is a recipe for a Utah win, right? Well the Utes are the same sort of team. Pitt 27-18

Colorado @ Washington -14.5 (3:30p)
Washington. This is your game to really shine. I mean, really shine. Flex your defense muscle, play turnover-free offense...and run away with this one. The spreads an interesting one, though. Wash 34-17

BYU +2 @ Oregon State (4:00p)
I don't know why...but I don't think the Beavers have 2 in a row. BYU 24-21 on a final scoring drive field goal.

Stanford @ Washington State +21 (7:30p)
Just like every other week...I'm not convinced Stanford can cover the spread. Washington State can score. Stanford 41-21...in a win that's only not good enough in Vegas.

GAME OF THE WEEK
Arizona State +16 @ Oregon (10:15p)
If you're not a PAC-12 fan, or living on the west coast...well one, rethink your life. Secondly, make sure you're in front of the TV for this one. First reason, we'll want to see if James is indeed okay. And if he is...he's putting up numbers again...and taking the lead for Heisman. If he's out...let's just see what Osweiler and crew can do. Props to Vegas for setting a great spread, yet again. Oregon 38-24...so ASU covers...


Dear LaMichael,
I really like watching you play. You're fast. And get to have cool shoes. I saw you hurt your arm last week. If it was me...I would have cried. Actually, I did tear up a little in my living room. My dad gave me a disapproving look for it, and I'd tried to look tough, so I yelled at you on TV, by saying "Get up and rub some dirt on it!" I didn't mean it...it was all an act. Shhhh, he bought it.
I'm not sure if you're playing on Saturday, but I'll be at my friends birthday party ready to watch. I just hope I can stay up that late. Sometimes my bedtime on Saturday is 8p.
I hope your arm feels better...



BYE WEEK: Arizona, UCLA

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