Good omen for the Pac-10: The league is 7-3 against the SEC this decade.
Bad omen for Arizona: LSU is responsible for all three of those SEC victories.
The Wildcats will travel to Baton Rouge for a game Sept. 9, but to get this college football party started, the Pac-10 is sending its two best – plus Washington State – into SEC country this weekend.
USC plays at Arkansas; Cal is at Tennessee and the Cougars venture to Auburn.
The SEC is widely considered the top football conference in America, with, inarguably, the most rabid fans and the most glorious of Saturday cathedrals. Can’t top the tradition, and the football is darn fine, too, with special pride in the league’s toughness.
Not much rankles an SEC fan more than losing a game to the “soft” Pac-10, always seemingly in a battle to upgrade its national reputation.
“I think those two leagues have the best players, especially the best speed players,” ASU coach Dirk Koetter said Tuesday on the Pac-10 coaches teleconference. “I’m sure there are other teams that would argue, but from a speed factor, the Pac-10 and SEC have the most and the deepest. When they go head-to-head, it’s exciting football.”
Given the sometimes inequitable talent in these intersectional games, the Pac-10′s winning percentage against the SEC this decade has to be taken with a grain of salt.
UCLA swept a home-and-home series from a transitional Alabama team in 2000 and 2001. Oregon swept bad Mississippi State teams. Pete Carroll’s USC juggernaut is responsible for the other three wins.
On the SEC side of things, LSU tossed around John Mackovic’s rag-doll UA team in 2003 en route to the BCS national title. But the Tigers were a bit lucky to beat visiting Oregon State in overtime in 2004 and to pull out a victory at ASU last season.
So, the Pac-10 is a couple of missed extra points and a defensive stop away from being 9-1 against the SEC this decade.
In the next two weeks, though, USC is the only Pac-10 team in the league favored to beat its southern foe.
“I love it,” OSU coach Mike Riley, an Alabama alum, said of playing SEC teams. “These kind of games, they’re different. They make for a lot of excitement because of a little different mentality, a little different style of play.”
Doba misses wife
Washington State coach Bill Doba talked Tuesday about missing his wife, Judy, who died in April after battling ovarian cancer for four years. The couple had been married 43 years.
“It hasn’t been easy. It’s tough going home at night,” Doba said.
“Once I am here in the office, football has been my savior. With the demands of this job, you’re not home very much, and that’s a good thing. That part has been a blessing.”
Gable to star in L.A.?
The free-for-all that has been USC’s running back position in fall camp is beginning to take shape. Kind of.
Chauncy Washington, the projected starter after missing two seasons due to academics, is still somewhat of an unknown for the opener because he’s just getting back into practice after a hamstring injury.
Among the gaggle of freshman running backs, C.J. Gable, the most consistent, has taken a slight early lead. Emmanuel Moody might be the most like Reggie Bush in terms of being able to make long plays. Stafon Johnson has also had good moments in camp.
As far as a bigger back, Carroll will use yet another freshman, Allen Bradford.
“As far as I’m concerned, the competition remains wide open,” Carroll said.
Cal senior cornerback Tim Mixon, out for the season with an ACL injury, said he would apply for a sixth year of eligibility. He figures to be in good standing to receive one, considering he missed a season early in his career because of an ACL.
Redshirt freshman Syd Thompson takes over for Mixon.