I find these entries harder to write as the season winds down. Yeah, I'm whining about the end of the 2008 college football season, but I think I have good reason to. Sure, we've had twelve weeks of great football this year. And I can always revisit those. But the end of the season is when you find players at their pinnacle and the feeling that they can play forever starts to set in. Then reality kicks in and we're reminded that bodies need to rest and all good things must come to an end. But what a ride it has been.
Week twelve ended with one dominant offense. California won The Big Game (and the Stanford Axe) against Stanford 37-16. However, the other two games were much closer. Oregon State defeated Arizona 19-17 by virtue of a last second field goal. And The Apple Cup needed two overtime periods for Washington State to keep Washington winless by a score of 16-13. Stanford's season is over, but the rest of the Pac-10 have unfinished business. And that's good for us.
The day after Thanksgiving in the US is traditionally known as "Black Friday". However, fans of UCLA and Arizona State will have to delay the start of their holiday shopping if they want to see the game that day in Sun Devil Stadium. Both teams look to extend their current winning streaks. The Bruins will be led by tailback Kahlil Bell, who in his last game rushed for 97 yards, a season high, and a pair of touchdowns. The Sun Devils's quarterback, Rudy Carpenter, seeks to extend his 41 game streak to 42, making it the longest starting streak of any collegiate QB currently playing the game. Memories are still lingering from last year's contest, as Arizona State squeaked by UCLA with a 24-20 victory in the Rose Bowl. Look for this contest to start at 7:30 MT with national coverage on ESPN2. Then again, maybe the Sun Devil and Bruin fans can go shopping early…
Saturday, the traditional day of college football, sees three games featuring Pac-10 teams. The first is unquestionably the biggest in the state of Oregon. That's when the Oregon Ducks travel to Reser Stadium in Corvallis to take on the Oregon State Beavers in what is known as The Civil War. Both teams sport identical 8-3 records, and both teams are working on winning streaks. Ducks quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week after his 298 yard passing performance, which contributed to five touchdowns against Arizona. Beavers tailback James Rodgers (brother to RB Jacquizz Rodgers) was impressive with ten rushes for 102 yards and a touchdown in their last game against Arizona. The previous Civil War required two overtime periods to decide a winner, which was Oregon State 38-31. And did I mention that, if Oregon State wins this game, then they're bound for the Rose Bowl? This Civil War will start at 4 PT with national coverage on Versus.
Next is a game that just screams heavyweight. Two schools, long in football tradition, meet for the 80th time when the Notre Dame Fighting Irish travel to Los Angeles to take on the University of Southern California Trojans. USC returns from a week off while Notre Dame seeks a win after a one point loss against Syracuse last week. Trojan middle linebacker Ray Magaluga has been named a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is given to the best defensive player in college football. Senior Irish wide receiver David Grimes had seven catches against Syracuse for a personal best 83 yards. Last year's game is still fresh in everyone's mind as USC shut out Notre Dame 38-0… in South Bend. Look for the gridiorn to heat up in LA around 5 PT. ESPN will provide the coverage.
Finally, Pac-10 football wraps up for the week as the Washington State Cougars travel across the Pacific to Honolulu, HI, to take on the Hawai'i Warriors. The Cougars are fresh off their Apple Cup victory while the Warriors are triumphant after defeating Idaho last weekend. Washington State wide receiver Brandon Gibson's 181 catches is good for second all time in Cougar history. Hawai'i linebacker Solomon Elimimian is now the Warriors all time career tackles leader. You have to go to 1999 to find the last time these two teams met, with the Cougars winning 22-14. The action will start 8 PT with the game scheduled to be carried on Pay-Per-View.
Look for us again next week as six Pac-10 teams end their regular season.