The fact that the USC lost to Oregon last week was disappointing, but not shocking. After all, this was a team that lost to previously winless Washington. The big surprise was the fact that the Trojans did not really compete. I suspect that the Ducks do not have a single player with enough individual talent to start for the Trojans. Those teeny, tiny, medium speed running backs are not in the same class with those of the Trojans. In addition, their quarterback Jeremiah Masoli looks like some bargain basement athlete, who they picked up at the 99 cent store. He is not the picture-perfect drop back passer so prized by USC and the rest of the PAC 10.
The questions that many sports fans have been asking are, "Is Oregon that good, or is USC that bad?" The answer is probably some of both. I think that USC was confident they would win the game. After all, Oregon lost their first game of the season to Boise State. So, how good could they be? USC conveniently forgot that they lost to the University of Washington, so how good could they be? Oregon does not have the best athletes in the world, but it does have a superior coaching staff. This is a well coached, highly disciplined, tightly focused football team. They might possibly finish the regular season undefeated.
As it stands right now, they are the odds on favorite to play in this year's Rose Bowl. If they do, the Rose Bowl will benefit from hosting the most stylish team in the nation. Their uniforms are designed and donated by Nike. Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, graduated from the University of Oregon. He generously supports athletic and other programs at that school. The letter "O" is now a prominent in anything that is written about that school, or worn by their students. If Oregon does come to the Rose Bowl, I would not be surprised, if they change their uniforms at halftime, and came back to the field with a totally different look. They may not do that, but they are going to come up with something, that has never been done before. Just watch and see.
Meanwhile, a shocked and A's USC is preparing to travel to Arizona and play Arizona State at 5 PM on Saturday. ASU at 4-4, is not exactly a walk in the park. They have seen that the Trojans are all too human, so they have to feel better about their own chances. Everyone wants to try to kick you, when they think you are down.
I had predicted in my column last week that the Trojans were in jeopardy, because of their almost total reliance on the forward pass. When football historians discuss the running game, they always say, "Use it or lose it." The team has several great running backs, but none of them get to play enough, to fully develop their skills. In addition, the offensive line is not good enough game experience in blocking for them. So, in an emergency, where the team would like to run the ball, they are unable to do so. The Trojans have a great running back named Allen Bradford. He is almost unstoppable, and year after he will be known in this column as "Buffalo Bradford." A great athlete can benefit from having a nickname. I am hopeful that fans will begin to call him Buffalo, and that Pete Carroll will hear them, and then give Buffalo Bradford more opportunities to carry the ball.
UCLA 3-5, and Washington 3-5, will meet Saturday at 12:30 p.m., at the Rose Bowl. Since they both can't lose this game, one of them will be forced to win. UCLA has been terrible, but they have been improving. So, I am predicting a victory for the Bruins this weekend. I am making the prediction, but I am not that confident, so don't bet the cookie jar. UCLA is in the middle of the Rick Neuheisel's third year as head coach. Everyone knew that this would be a rebuilding job, but most expected that things would be better by the third year, if not before. There is now some impatience and uneasiness about Neuheisel's future at UCLA. At this point, it would be a very good idea if he beat USC. This week, that seems like more of a possibility, than it did a few days ago.
I want to confess to all of you that I tried really hard to get interested in the World Series.
When it started, I expected it to end eventually, and I also expected that the Yankees would win. They should win because they have the largest payroll, and they have bought more of the star players than any other team could afford. So, that alone, takes some of the sport out of it. Also the games are played at night, in very chilly weather. The baseball owners are ignoring the fact that baseball is a warm weather sport, and that it is hockey that should be played when it is cold. Another thing that ruins the games is that they stretch them out in order to have as many games as possible on prime time television on Sundays. This may make the owners a lot more money, but it makes the Series very forgettable.