Thursday, September 06, 2007

Sports Illustrated: Pac-10 Moves Up After Cal's Big Win Over Tennessee

Here is the link.

The chant came thundering down Strawberry Canyon on a picturesque Saturday night in Berkeley. The Golden Bears were on their way to avenging an embarrassing loss to Tennessee in convincing fashion, and the backdrop to the cross-country matchup had a voice: "Pac-Ten Foot-Ball," cried the masses inside Memorial Stadium. "Pac-Ten Foot-Ball."

Rarely has such a non-traditional matchup driven such passion between not only two teams, but two conferences. A small plane towed a sign that read "SEC rules, Pac-10 drools" before Saturday's game, and that belief stemmed mostly from last year's 35-17 Tennessee win last September. Cal certainly earned its revenge, and you can be certain nine other schools on the West Coast were extremely pleased when the 45-31 final score reached their respective campuses.  With only one regular season game for the Pac-10 against the standard-bearing SEC, the Pacific Coasters can point all season long to decisive win against one of the SEC's best. Even though Tennessee's quarterback had a broken finger, its best running back was suspended and the Vols had to travel over 2,000 miles, there was no doubt who the better team was, and if the two teams knocked heads again, the Bears would win again.  It was a strong weekend for the the Pac-10 overall, and it made a nice jump in this week's power rankings.


1. SEC

Last week: 1

Skinny: Tennessee did not represent on opening weekend, and the rest of the conference didn't really do much, either. The league went 9-1 in nonconference games, but four wins came at the expense of I-AA (or FCS) opponents. Ole Miss needed to stop a two-point conversion to hold off a bad Memphis team, Auburn trailed pretty much the whole night at home against Kansas State and South Carolina was a 14-point winner against Sun Belt member Louisiana-Lafayette. Georgia, an under-the-preseason-radar squad, was clearly the most impressive. The Bulldogs smoked an Oklahoma State team that had high hopes. Outside of that, there wasn't much to pound the chest over. Another mediocre week and the conference kings may slip down a notch.


Key game this weekend: Virginia Tech at LSU

This is a matchup of two top-10 teams, but LSU is expected to win fairly easily and will need to do so to continue to comfortably reside in that No. 2 spot. The Tigers are 12.5-point favorites after clocking Mississippi State on the road. (Virginia Tech struggled with East Carolina.) The Hokies played under difficult circumstances, but the circumstances get much more difficult this week -- mainly because of the LSU defensive line. LSU is carrying the SEC flag right now, and a loss here would create a crack in conference foundation.


2. Pac-10

Last week: 5

Skinny: This goes beyond Cal's signature win against Tennessee. The conference compiled a 6-2 non-league record and did not schedule a 1-AA (FCS) opponent. The slight edge the Pac-10 earned over the Big 12 was a 2-1 record vs. BCS opponents. Cal beat Tennessee, Washington won at Syracuse and Washington State lost to Wisconsin. The Washington win was significant because it gave the bottom of the conference a boost, and it showed hyped quarterback Jake Locker may be all he's cracked up to be. The Huskies could be back sooner rather than later.


See above link for the rest of the article.

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