Pac-12 helmet stickers: Week 6

October, 9, 2011
Who gets a helmet sticker for a job well done on Week 5?

LaMichael James, Oregon: The Ducks running back rushed for 239 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries before dislocating his elbow in the fourth quarter of a the victory over California.

Keenan Allen, California: The Bears receiver caught nine passes for 170 yards and a TD in the loss to Oregon.

Brock Osweiler, Arizona State: The Sun Devils QB completed 25 of 41 passes for 325 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in the win over Utah. He also rushed for 34 yards on seven carries.

Lance Mitchell, Oregon State: The Beavers safety, who is playing hurt, had seven tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery in the victory over Arizona.

Andrew Luck, Stanford: Old What's-His Name-completed 25 of 33 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns. He had an interception, too, in the win over Colorado, but it was a deflection of a perfect pass off WR Chris Owusu's hands.

Kevin Prince, UCLA: The UCLA QB came off the bench to lead the Bruins to a crucial win over Washington State. He threw two touchdown passes, completing 8 of 13 throws for 173 yards. He also ran four times for 25 yards.

Final: UCLA 28, Washington State 25

October, 9, 2011
UCLA fans booed when Kevin Prince entered the game, but he delivered when the screws tightened.

And coach Rick Neuheisel really needed that.

Prince came off the bench for an injured Richard Brehaut and led the Bruins to a 28-25 victory over Washington State. The Cougars led 22-14 early in the fourth quarter, but the Bruins rallied.

A 58-yard pass from Prince to Nelson Rosario set up the Bruins go-ahead score, which included a 2-point conversion. Andrew Abbott intercepted Washington State QB Marshall Lobbestael on the next possession, and Prince and the Bruins were able to run off the final two minutes off the clock.

UCLA improves to 3-3 and 2-1 in the Pac-12. Washington State falls to 3-2 and 1-1.

The Bruins are off until they visit Arizona on Thursday, Oct. 20. The Cougars host Stanford next weekend.

Stanford all attitude in victory

October, 9, 2011

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Considering the score and considering the field position, there really wasn’t much need for Stanford to go for it on fourth-and-2 at the Colorado 13. The Cardinal were up by 20 coming out of the locker room and were more than in control on their opening drive of the second half. A field goal would have made it a three-possession game against a team that was hardly moving the ball.

But in David Shaw’s eyes, a field goal wasn’t enough. It wasn’t going to make the point that the Stanford head coach wanted to make. It would have been a comma. He wanted an exclamation point.

“Attitude. Attitude. Our attitude is that if it’s close, with the line that we have, with the fullbacks we have, with the tight ends we have, with the backs that we have we should pick up anything that’s less than fourth-and-3,” Shaw said. “We should pick it up. We don’t bat an eyelash. We don’t think about it. We don’t even talk about it on the headset. We just get the next call ready. That’s the kind of mentality we need to have up front in order for us to play games the way we want to play them.”

The Cardinal exerted their will -- and their attitude -- on Colorado in a 48-7 win at Stanford Stadium. No. 7 Stanford (5-0, 3-0) has won nine straight games at home while extending the nation’s longest winning streak to 13.

For all the funky formations and misdirection motions on offense; for all the exotic looks and blitz packages on defense; at its core, Stanford is very simplistic in its approach to the game: smash-mouth. Hit first, ask questions during film.

“Everything starts with being physical,” said co-defensive coordinator Jason Tarver. “We start with three things; alignment, angle departure and vision progression. We get aligned right, we go in the angle we’re supposed to, we look where we’re supposed to look and we hit whatever is on those lines.”

It's an attitude thing.

[+] EnlargeTyler Gaffney
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireStanford is hoping that Tyler Gaffney can return to his 2011 form, where he averaged 6.1 yards per carry.
From the opening kickoff, the Cardinal were in a hole but dug themselves out. Jeremy Stewart fumbled the kickoff and Colorado recovered at the Stanford 36. Suddenly the defense found itself on the field sooner than expected.

“When there is a sudden change, we don’t see it as a momentum swing, we see it as an opportunity,” said safety Michael Thomas, who nabbed Stanford’s first interception of the season later in the game. “Opportunity is knocking and it was time for us stand up.”

And they did, yielding to their own 12 before forcing Colorado into field goal formation. Linebacker Max Bergen came plowing through the line untouched, blocked the kick, picked up the one-hopper and returned it 75 yards for the game’s opening score. The Cardinal are yet to trail a game this season.

The Cardinal continued to mix up their looks on offense. They ran the no-huddle for the second-straight week, motioned tight ends in and out and piled on 553 yards of total offense -- their second highest total of the season (567 at Arizona).

“We want the [opposing] defense to move,” Shaw said. “We want them to move and communicate. We try to put them at a disadvantage to a certain degree … we’ve got personnel that we can do those things. We’ve got three tight ends that are NFL tight ends that are athletic and can run all kinds of routes and we can flex them out and then we can bring them back in and pound the rock. We’ve got a guy like Ryan Hewitt that was recruited as tight end but playing fullback. We can flex him out and play like a tight end. The guys we have allow us to do the thing we do.”

And they’ve got quarterback Andrew Luck -- who turned in another sensational performance on 26-of-33 passing for 370 yards and three touchdowns. The lone stain on his stat sheet was an interception off the hands of wide receiver Chris Owusu that fell right into the hands of Colorado defensive back Terrel Smith.

Luck was liberal with the football, connecting with 10 different receivers. Hewitt had touchdown catches of 1- and 10 yards and receiver Griff Whalen added four catches for 92 yards and a score.

“Luck’s the best quarterback, no doubt,” said Colorado head coach Jon Embree. “He’s got a good enough arm that he can throw the ball down the field without putting a lot of air on it. Not a lot of kids at college can do that like that. Like I said, he runs their offense to a tee.”

Stanford's running game started slowly, netting just 19 yards on eight carries in the first quarter. That was to be expected, Shaw said.

“We knew it was going to be tough sledding early on,” Shaw said. “We know a lot of games it’s going to be like that running the ball because we will put a lot of bodies in the box and we will cram it in there. We’re going to run the ball between the tackles a whole lot. And we do it early in games to establish who we are.”

It’s an attitude thing.

Eventually, those 1- and 2-yard runs gave way to bursts of 21 and 18 yards. Tyler Gaffney led all Stanford rushers with 61 yards on nine carries. He rushed for a score, as did Stepfan Taylor (13-58) and Stewart (4-12). The Cardinal finished with 161 rushing yards, averaging 4.6 per carry.

Colorado, meanwhile, struggled on the ground, as teams tend to do against Stanford. Through three quarters, it had just 38 yards on 19 carries. The Buffs (1-5, 0-2) totaled 264 yards. A huge chunk came on a 76-yard screen pass to Rodney Stewart. Safety Devon Carrington sniffed out the play and was in position, but failed to make the tackle.

“We need to make sure we put our face on guys and not lunge and dive,” Shaw said. “… there is no credit for almost making a play.”

It’s an attitude thing.

Still, Stanford’s players were dissatisfied with their effort.

“We need to pick it up on the physical end,” said Bergen.

“I think we need to improve. It wasn’t good enough,” Luck said.

“When we look at the film, we’ll see some plays we left out there,” said Thomas.

Shaw gave a devilish smile when informed none of his players were satisfied with the 41-point victory.

“They better have said that,” Shaw said. “It’s the truth. We can’t let the scoreboard dictate our feeling about how we played. If we can play better, we should know it and we should play better.”

It’s an attitude thing.

Halftime: Washington State 9, UCLA 7

October, 9, 2011
Both UCLA and Washington State probably feel like they left a lot on the field, but the official tabulation has the Cougars leading 9-7 over the Bruins via three field goals.

The big news for UCLA is another QB change/injury. Bruins starter Richard Brehaut suffered a high ankle sprain, which brought on Kevin Prince.

Prince almost immediately threw a 41-yard pass that set up the Bruins TD. He then threw an interception in the end zone to kill a scoring opportunity just before the half.

Heading into this game, it didn't seem like a potential defensive struggle. For one, if someone said the Cougars would outrush the Bruins -- 71 yards to 66 -- most would figure a big Cougs lead.

The Cougars got three short field goals from Andrew Furney, but that also meant they failed to get touchdowns in the redzone. Washington State even got a second shot after an odd "leaping" penalty on a missed field goal -- no, I have no idea what the official saw -- but couldn't punch the ball in after typically reliable receiver Jared Karstetter dropped a sure TD pass.

Final: Stanford 48, Colorado 7

October, 8, 2011
Andrew Luck and Stanford continue to stomp on overmatched foes, which is making all of us root for the Cardinal to be tested by an elite foe.

Colorado showed some scrap at times, but it was physically overmatched in a 48-7 Stanford victory.

QB Andrew Luck completed 26 of 33 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns as the No. 7 Cardinal won a 13th consecutive game, the nation's longest winning streak.

The Cardinal outgained Colorado 553 yards to 264. Colorado rushed for just 60 yards. Stanford had 27 first down. Colorado had 11.

Stanford improves to 5-0 and 3-0 in the Pac-12. Colorado falls to 1-5 and 0-2. Stanford visits Washington State next weekend. Colorado is at Washington.

Halftime: Stanford 27, Colorado 7

October, 8, 2011
Colorado is fighting, but Andrew Luck and No. 7 Stanford have some pretty good karate.

Stanford didn't play its best but it's up 27-7 over Colorado at halftime.

The Cardinal outgained the Buffaloes 298 yards to 185, but had two turnovers, including an interception from quarterback Andrew Luck. Of course, the interception came on a perfect pass to wide receiver Chris Owusu, but the ball bounced off Owusu's hands.

Luck completed 14 of 18 for 219 yards with a score in the first half.

Colorado moved the ball well at times, at least through the air. Quarterback Tyler Hansen passed for 186 yards, including a 76-yard pass to running back Rodney Stewart.

Colorado had negative-1 yards rushing in the first half.

Final: Oregon State 37, Arizona 27

October, 8, 2011
Two desperate teams put on a strange game in Corvallis, and Oregon State managed to notch its first win, 37-27, at reeling Arizona's expense.

Oregon State charged to a 30-6 lead early in the third quarter as the Wildcats were sloppy and, seemingly, indifferent.

Then the Wildcats and QB Nick Foles -- who looked like he might be knocked out of the game at one point -- stormed back to close the gap to 30-27 early in the fourth quarter.

What once looked like a disaster for embattled coach Mike Stoops now looked like one for embattled coach Mike Riley.

But the Beavers used a 63-yard punt to gain a critical field position advantage -- pinning the Wildcats on their 5-yard line -- and then drove 43 yards for a critical, game-salvaging TD. The Beavers scored said TD on a fourth-and-2 pass from Sean Mannion to Joe Halahuni.

The Wildcats then drove to the Beavers 1-yard line, but a seeming TD pass from Foles to WR Dan Buckner was dropped.

Foles completed 29-of-39 for 354 yards with two interceptions and a TD.

Mannion completed 32-of-41 for 267 yards with two TDs and two interceptions.

The Wildcats also had two fumbles, but the bigger difference might have been the running game. The Beavers produced one -- 123 yards -- and the Wildcats couldn't -- 53 yards.

Oregon State is now 1-4 and 1-2 with BYU visiting next weekend.

Arizona falls to 1-5 and 0-4. It's off until playing host to UCLA on Oct. 20, a Thursday night game.

Previously, the Wildcats tough schedule was a reasonable excuse for their poor record. No longer.

The heat on Stoops is going to kick up a few notches.

Final: Arizona State 35, Utah 14

October, 8, 2011

Utah already faced a tough task against No. 22 Arizona State without starting quarterback Jordan Wynn, but if you lose the turnover battle 5-0 you probably wouldn't win with Andrew Luck at quarterback.

The Sun Devils dominated the second half against the sloppy Utes and turned a close game into a 35-14 blowout.

Arizona State improves to 5-1 and, most important, 3-0 in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils are in control in the South Division. The Utes, widely considered the Sun Devils top competition in the South, fall to 2-3 overall and, most important, 0-3 in the conference.

Wynn's replacement, Jon Hays, completed 18 of 30 passes for 199 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. The Utes also fumbled twice.

Utah, in fact, saw three second-half drives end with turnovers.

Meanwhile, the Sun Devils, who have been known to be sloppy in the past, protected the football and got a push with penalties.

While it wasn't always pretty, quarterback Brock Osweiler had a strong game, completing 25 of 41 passes for 325 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 34 yards on seven carries.

Arizona State visits Oregon next weekend. The Ducks will be without running back LaMichael James.

Utah heads east for a game at Pittsburgh.

Video: Colorado-Stanford preview

October, 8, 2011

Kevin Gemmell previews Saturday night’s Colorado-Stanford game.

Halftime: Oregon State 27, Arizona 6

October, 8, 2011
Oregon State is playing well and playing with fire, leading Arizona 27-6 at the break.

Arizona? The Wildcats are playing like they don't care about their coach.

If this one doesn't change trajectory, Mike Stoops will officially be on the hot seat Saturday night.

How bad are things for Arizona? Kicker Alex Zendejas missed a PAT and a chip-shot field goal.

How bad? Jack Baucus' indifferent effort on a dribbled kickoff with 16 seconds left ended up as a fumble to the Beavers, which turned into three more points as time expired.

Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion is outplaying Nick Foles, too. Mannion completed 20 of 25 passes for 165 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Foles completed 13 of 18 for 131 yards with a TD and a pick.

Arizona came roaring back at USC last weekend. Do the Wildcats have another comeback in them?

Or are things about to get really uncomfortable for Stoops in Tucson?

Halftime: Arizona State 10, Utah 7

October, 8, 2011
New new quarterback Jon Jays had some good moments, but he tossed a late interception that cost the Utes points against Arizona State.

Just after the Sun Devils jumped ahead, Hays drove the Utes 64 yards to the Sun Devils' 16-yard line. But on third and 10 he tossed an interception in the endzone to Eddie Elder.

Hays was 9 of 18 for 94 yards with two interceptions in the first half. He also had three passes dropped.

The Sun Devils struggled on offense against the Utes, only rushing for 46 yards. Quarterback Brock Osweiler completed 14 of 25 for 168 yards.

The difference? The Sun Devils are winning the turnover tally 2-0. And their touchdown drive was made possible by a personal foul penalty against Utah.

So the Sun Devils are playing it smart and close to the vest on the road. And winning.

Kiffin on Al Davis death

October, 8, 2011
A statement from USC coach Lane Kiffin, who was the Oakland Raiders coach from 2007-08, on the passing of Al Davis.
I was very saddened this morning to learn of the passing of Al Davis. He was an iconic figure in the history of professional football and built a truly legendary franchise with the Raiders. I consider myself fortunate to have known him and to have been a part of that Raiders history. Even though our relationship did not end the way I would have liked, I have nothing but the greatest respect for Mr. Davis and I truly appreciate the opportunity he afforded me and so many young coaches, players and staff. My thoughts go out to his family and to the family and fans of the Raiders past and present.

Ready for early games?

October, 8, 2011
I'm in the cockpit at the home office -- no press box this weekend -- getting ready to click back and forth between Utah-Arizona State and Arizona-Oregon State.

One game is big in the South Division. One game is big for a team trying to avoid total disaster.

Feel free to get in any last minute trash talk.

Final Pac-12 injury report

October, 8, 2011
Final Pac-12 injury report. For more injury information, see the

OG Chris Putton, questionable, ankle
OG Shane Zink, foot, out
DT Justin Washington, knee, out
FS Adam Hall, knee, questionable
LB Jake Fischer, knee, doubtful

Arizona State
C Garth Gerhart, ankle, doubtful
OT Evan Finkenberg, knee, out
OT Aderious Simmons, ankle, probable

CB Brian Lockridge, ankle, doubtful
CB Parker Orms, suspension, out
CB Ayodeji Olatoye, suspension, out
CB Paul Vigo, suspension, out
CB Josh Moten, suspension, out
LB Liloa Nobriga, suspension, out
OL Shawn Daniels, calf, questionable
CB Travis Sandersfeld, leg, out
CB Jared Bell, knee, out
CB Vince Ewing, knee, doubtful

Oregon State
RB Malcolm Agnew, hamstring, out
OG Josh Andrews, knee, out
CB Sean Martin, foot, out
DE Taylor Henry, glute, questionable
OG Grant Enger, shoulder, probable
C Grant Johnson, back, probable

CB Wayne Lyons, foot, out
WR Drew Terrell, undisclosed, questionable
CB Barry Browning, back, probable

CB Sheldon Price, knee, out
SS Alex Mascarenas, concussion, out
DT Justin Edison, concussion, out
FS Tony Dye, neck, questionable
LB Glenn Love, shoulder, questionable
LB Sean Westgate, hand, probable
SS Dalton Hilliard, shoulder, probable
OG Chris Ward, shoulder, out
RB Damian Thigpen, hamstring, out
K Kip Smith, hip, doubtful

QB Jordan Wynn, shoulder, out
TE Kendrick Moeai, undisclosed, probable
OT Tony Bergstrom, knee, probable
TE Jake Murphy, knee, probable
WR Luke Matthews, shoulder, probable

Washington State
QB Jeff Tuel, shoulder, questionable
OT Wade Jacobson, back, questionable
TE Aaron Dunn, quad, questionable

Opening the mailbag: Why did SEC rise?

October, 7, 2011
Happy Friday.

Lead me on Twitter!

To the notes!

John from Los Angeles writes: What, in your opinion, do you think, has made the SEC the preeminent conference in the country? I remember the good old days when Washington, Colorado, UCLA, and USC were in the top 5 and top 10, with some National Championships along the way (Personally, I thought it had a lot to do with recruiting the Los Angeles area). But with the rise of the SEC do you think it has more to do with the changing of the game? More specifically, the move to more spread offenses and the need for speedier athletes, which the SEC currently has? Or do you think it has a lot to do with the defensive lineman in the SEC, who seem to be so much better than West Coast d-lineman? A lot of people say conference strength is cyclical, but is the current change in the game really cyclical or has it just evolved? Maybe it is demographics, as more and more people move to the Sunbelt and the talent pool has gotten bigger? Sorry, a lot to digest here from a concerned West Coast football fan.

Ted Miller: This could be a 15,000-word essay. Or a 400-page book. But here's a CliffsNotes version.
  • Money: The SEC's rise parallels the rise of the BCS and the game growing from a pretty big business to a multi-billion dollar business. The SEC always had huge stadiums packed to overflow, but over the past 15 or so years, the conference has been able to monetize its popularity. What does money do? It hires elite coaches like Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier and it pays top assistant coaches what head coaches make in other conferences.
  • Recruiting: Demographics have concentrated more talent in the Southeast than anywhere else. You've got big guys and fast guys and fast big guys. (I mean Anthony Johnson: Are you kidding me?). The population may be greater in California, which still produces the premium quarterbacks, but a walk across a football field on a Friday night in the Southeast will have you asking if these are truly high school teams.
  • Culture: College football is king in the South (not the NFL, as it is everywhere else). Almost all the best athletes play football, and dream of playing in college, even though playing the most physically and mentally taxing sport in the Southeast humidity is worse than anywhere else. Want to know where all the West Coast linemen are? Playing basketball. Go to a big high school hoops tournament this winter. See all those 6-foot-5 guys? They will never sniff a Division I basketball court but they could have become NFL tight ends or offensive tackles. 100s of young men on the West Coast miss out every year on Pac-12 scholarships because they choose -- or are steered to -- basketball.
  • Self-fulfilling prophecy: Those who have been reading the Pac-12 blog since 2008, know I've taken on the topic of the SEC's dominance multiple times. Three years ago, I was more resistant to it. Not because I was a "Pac-10 homer," but because I didn't completely buy the "SEC rules" argument. That was three SEC national titles ago, including one lost by a Pac-10 team -- Oregon -- that I thought was going to stomp the team it lost to (Auburn). My feeling is all that "SEC rules!" talk, which has been around since Bear Bryant was the toast to of Tuscaloosa, was repeated so often, it became a recognized truth before it actually was true. And that perception helped the conference grow stronger and stronger until it became true. How? It also became a potent recruiting selling point. Consider the words of former top-rated recruit Ronald Powell of Moreno Valley, Calif. Yeah, not easy to hear for Pac-12 defensive coaches.

By the way, I know some of you might be tired of this topic. It seems like we take it on a few times a year. The reason I do that, though, is because it appears in the mailbag at least a handful of times every week. It seems like a topic that continues to be of genuine interest.

Brian from Beaverton, Ore., writes: While you can't argue with the overall effectiveness of James at running back this year, have you noticed that even though they are running the spread offense, the majority of these running plays do not appear to be as read heavy between [QB Darron] Thomas and [RB LaMichael] James as they were last year? With Thomas being such an effective duel threat quarterback they are effectively removing an offensive weapon when he isn't taking the read option as much. This is allowing the defense to load up the tackle box and focus on the running back. Last year the defense had to be more honest because Thomas was more effective at holding onto the option and rushing himself. Do you see this as a fundamental change within the system or am I reading too much into it?

Ted Miller: Chip Kelly has said repeatedly that Thomas is just doing his proper reads and has not been steered away from running the ball.

Of course, sometimes Chip just says "high" because a reporter said "low." I know that an opposing coach who was talking to me about the 3-4 looks Oregon sometimes uses on defense laughed in my face when I told him that Kelly said they didn't use a 3-4 defense. His response, which employed several colorful terms, was Kelly is full of malarkey and that reporters are stupid.

Thomas rushed for 486 yards in 13 games last year. He's rushed for 100 yards through five games. That does seem like a statistical trend suggesting he's running less. Is that just him reading what the defense gives him? I doubt it.

That said, Thomas rushed 10 times for 52 yards and scored both his rushing TDs against Arizona. So the threat is still there.

And, if I were going to crawl inside Chip Kelly's head and look around, I'd say that's exactly what he wants.

Because the Ducks run a spread-option, an opposing defense has to spend time accounting for the QB run. That takes up precious time. And if a defense coordinator takes note that Thomas rushed only five times in the first three games and decides to de-emphasize that possibility, he could get burned -- see Arizona.

Coaches spend a lot of time thinking about tendencies and what their opposition might be thinking. I think Kelly -- quite reasonably -- likes the idea of Thomas running less because it puts him at less risk for injury. But he also likes burning your butt when you start to think Thomas won't run.

Mark from La Quinta, Calif., writes: Do you agree with your colleague Jesse Palmer when he stated that Cal had the two best wide outs in the conference? Or was he hyping the game as a lot of announcers tend to do on games they are broadcasting?

Ted Miller: There are so many good receiver combos in the Pac-12 it's hard to choose, but Palmer's position is defensible: Entering the weekend, Keenan Allen ranked third and Marvin Jones sixth in the Pac-12 in receiving yards per game. No other tandem matched that. And that's notable because QB Zach Maynard only ranked fifth in passing yards per game (268.2).

Allen will be in the mix with USC's Robert Woods, Washington State's Marquess Wilson and Arizona's Juron Criner for first-team All-Pac-10. He's a big-time player. I suspect Jones will get drafted this spring.

So these guys are both good, experienced, A-list players.

So do I share Palmer's take? I might not have in the preseason, and I might not at season's end, but at this point, yes, they are the best 1-2 punch in the conference.

Jacob from Fort Hood, Texas, writes: I feel as though Foles is getting the shaft because he is on a losing record team, but can you tell me why he isn't even being considered for the Heisman award even though he has more passing yardage than nearly every qb in the country? It doesn't make sense to me. Maybe you can shed some light on how the voting works and who is deserving in reality of the Heisman trophy. Is it more of a beauty pageant than an award for shear talent? Also, if Foles continues down the path that he is heading what round of the draft do you think that he will be picked up in?

Ted Miller: The Heisman Trophy goes to a player for one of two reasons (and sometimes both). 1. Outrageous numbers; 2. Best player on best team. Often, those two are blended.

To start, Foles wasn't billed as a top candidate entering the season. Further, he is hurt because his team is 1-4.

To overcome those two issues, Foles would have to have outrageous numbers. He's got very good numbers, but not outrageous ones. He presently ranks 22nd in the nation in passing efficiency. And though he's piled up a lot of yards, 10 other QBs match or beat Foles' 14 TD passes.

As for the NFL draft, it's hard to say. I would be more surprised if he lasted past the third round than if he was selected in the first round. If you've ever chatted with him, he's a lot like Andrew Luck in terms of makeup. Smart, humble, eager to give credit to his teammates. And clearly very competitive.

Evan from Charlottesville, Va., writes: You've written a couple times on the puzzling exclusion of LaMichael James from the current Heisman discussion. What is particularly confusing to me, however, is the fact that you yourself left him off of your ESPN Heisman Watch ballot this week. Assuming you vote Andrew Luck at number one, who filled out the rest of your ballot in spots two through five? And if you rated any other running backs ahead of James, what was your reasoning?

Ted Miller: We do a top-five for each week. Here's mine from last week.

1. Andrew Luck. 2. Kellen Moore; 3. Trent Richardson; 4. Robert Griffin; 5. Marcus Lattimore

(In retrospect, I should have dropped Lattimore after two straight underwhelming games).

My reasoning for leaving James off the ballot was twofold: 1. He didn't play well on a big stage against LSU (which he admitted); 2. His competition since then has been weak. His performance this week against a solid Cal defense will likely push him into my top five. Of course, now he's hurt and likely to miss at least a couple of weeks.

And if he doesn't, that would certainly add to his aura of being Heisman-worthy.

Spencer from Baton Rouge, La., writes: Because I live a couple thousand miles away from the West Coast, Thursday's game against Oregon was the first time I have watched Cal play this season. Having listened to the other games via online radio streams, I knew Maynard struggled with accuracy. But I was shocked to see how poor his throwing mechanics are. How does a QB guru such as Jeff Tedford let such play fly? Granted, Maynard has not yet thrown the interceptions that Riley and Mansion did (which I attribute to poor decision making), but it is extremely surprising that Tedford would feel comfortable with the way Maynard throws the ball.

Ted Miller: Without asking Tedford, my guess is that he chose not to mess with Maynard's natural throwing motion too much. Maynard is 22-years-old. Making drastic changes wouldn't be easy, especially with Maynard arriving at Cal as a junior, not a true freshman.

Sure, Maynard did have to sit out last year after transferring from Buffalo, meaning he could have refined his technique to a degree. I suspect Tedford has worked with him on his technique. But it might have been pretty late in the game for wholesale changes.

And I'm guessing that Maynard will get lots of work with Tedford based on how he threw at Oregon.

Rotfogel from Oakland writes: You have Cal only scoring 17? Oregon's porous defense is going to hold the Pac 12's best WR tandem and offensive to 17? Maybe, highly unlikely but as you've said, Oregon is a tough place to play. I'm kinda happy you made that the score though, Cal's defense is far and away the Pac 12s best, hopefully they show it tonight.

Ted Miller: I predicted 44-17. Oregon won 43-15.

I know: Gloating is unseemly. So sorry about that.

And is it just me or does it seem like the mailbag fills up more when I'm wrong than when I'm right?

Pete from Los Angeles writes: Not sure if you saw this, but the Times of London's prestigious international rankings of the top 400 universities was released this week, and the Pac 12 has 4 schools in the top the world! No other AQ conference comes close. Once again shows that the Pac 12 is dominant in at least one category!

Ted Miller: We are so smart.

Will I pick up any second-hand smart from hanging around with you guys?