With only two more weeks in the college football regular season, I know it's tough to keep up with our Colorado Buffaloes. They've had a tough year, so I can imagine you don't want to spend the few minutes it would take to read about our opponents here in 2011, but I urge you to. Why, you might ask? Because the Pac 12 is in the middle of a pretty crazy season. And you don't want to be the one guy or gal at the water hole that doesn't know what's been happening! Or something like that... Anyway, I say it behooves you to know what's going on amongst the teams we play this season. There are possible coaching changes on the horizon for a few of them (CSU, OSU, OSU, 'Zona, WSU, ASU, UCLA) and players to keep your eye on. Also, I make a joke or two somewhere in here.
So, please read on, folks! Keep paying attention to your Buffaloes! They may not be playing well, but they are still our Buffs!
Hawaii Warriors (5-6, 3-4 WAC)
The Warriors fell behind 17-0, before storming back to take the lead, all without Bryant Moniz, before Fresno State scored the final touchdown and winning the game. Hawaii plays 2 more games, both at home against non-conference opponents. Next up for Hawaii is struggling Tulane.
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California Golden Bears (6-5, 3-5 Pac 12)
The Bears got a pretty good game out of Zach Maynard (who had slightly better numbers than Luck), but they couldn't quite complete the comeback in he 2011 edition of the Big Game. The finish up their season against ASU Friday night.
Colorado St. Rams (3-7, 1-4 MWC)
Starting true freshman Garrett Grayson in place of the injured Pete Thomas, CSU played TCU surprisingly tough, but they were no match for the Horned Frogs, despite a lackluster effort from Gary Patterson's team to clinch at least a share of the MWC title. Grayson threw for nearly 250 yards and a TD, and the team racked up more than 400 yards, but TCU's defense held them to 10 points. Next week they face Air Force in an in-state, bottom-of-the-MWC grunge match.
Ohio St. Buckeyes (6-5, 3-4 B1G)
They lost to the B1G Leaders division leading Penn State and they finish up their season next week against Michigan. (Interim) Head Coach Luke Fickell is getting more and more questions about his future as the OSU coach, and we still don't know if the Buckeyes performance this year will lead to him becoming the full time HC, or if they'll go somewhere else.
Washington St. Cougars (4-7, 2-6 Pac 12)
The Cougs were officially eliminated from bowl contention (do you remember how they started the year?) by the Utes in a snowy game that they tried hard to lose, but couldn't until overtime. Connor Halliday threw 4 Interceptions one week after he threw for 4 TDs. Paul Wulff can't be feeling too comfortable going into their last game of the season, though a win at struggling Washington might get him one more year to get things turned around.
Stanford Cardinal (10-1, 8-1 Pac 12) #6 BCS
The Tree held on to the lead and recovered an onside kick to preserve a victory in the Big Game (now that I've typed this twice, does anyone else think it's the absolute worst name for a rivaly game?) against Cal. Levine Toilolo and Ryan Hewitt caught TD passes (of course it was a TE and a FB) in the win. The Cardinal will be interesting to watch next season, because they're losing a TON of talent this year. They finish up the season with a game against Notre Dame, and they can still hold out hope that OSU will beat the Ducks, paving the way for Stanford to play in the Pac 12 Championship game instead of Oregon.
Washington Huskies (6-5, 4-4 Pac 12)
Yikes, remember how badly they beat us? Since then they've lost 3 of 4, including this past weekend to Oregon State. Nick Montana (son of Joe) got the start, but only passed for 79 yards and an interception, though he did get a TD, in place of Keith Price who was injured two weeks ago. Price came in in the 4th quarter and threw a TD, but was also intercepted, leading to a 99 yard OSU TD drive. Polk hit 100 yards on the ground yet again. They finish up against rival Washington State, so we'll see which QB starts that game for the Huskies.
Oregon Ducks (9-2, 7-1 Pac 12) #10 BCS
The longest home winning streak in the nation came to an end after 21 victories as Oregon saw their chances of playing in the national championship game for the second straight year dashed by USC. The Ducks nearly stormed back to tie the game as time expired, but a missed FG ensured that USC would leave Autzen Stadium with the W. Kenjon Barner went for 123 yards and 2 TDs on the ground, while LaMichael James added in 78 yards and a TD, but the Ducks lost 35-38. As long as they beat Oregon State this week, they'll still be playing in the Pac 12 Championship game, but a loss to OSU means Stanford goes in their place. Can the Ducks recover from the disappointment this weekend?
Arizona St. Sun Devils (6-5, 4-4 Pac 12)
It was just three weeks ago that ASU was sitting pretty in the Pac 12 South Division lead at 6-2, 4-1 in the conference. But three straight losses to UCLA, WSU and this past weekend against struggling, Coach-less Arizona, have left their status for the conference championship game in question, as has heated up Dennis Erickson's seat quite a bit. To represent the south, they have to win AND hope for UCLA to lose to USC, though that seems likely. What doesn't seem so likely is ASU's ability to win the game.
USC Trojans (9-2, 6-2 Pac 12) #10 AP
The Trojans are determined to show folks that they are one of the best teams in the conference despite not being allowed to participate in Post-Season play. I know we've all made jokes about Lane Kiffin's abilities as a head coach (or lack thereof), but I think he's finally proving himself to be a pretty good one. Matt Barkley tossed four TDs in the game, and the only reason the Ducks were in position to kick a FG at the end of regulation was a fumble by Marc Tyler in the redzone on USC's final drive. They were about to put it out of reach after allowing Oregon to storm back to within 3 points. So it wasn't the prettiest win, but it was a win over the top team in the conference. Next up they've got their rivals UCLA at home to end the season. UCLA is playing for a chance to play in the conference championship game, but USC isn't going to roll over for them.
Arizona Wildcats (3-8, 2-7 Pac 12)
Even after beating them, they still have a better conference record than we do...feh. The Wildcats managed to beat rival ASU after another good game by Nick Foles (370 yards and 2 TDs), and a nice pass by backup Bryson Beirne to Juron Criner on the final drive after Foles was knocked out of the game. They finish up with a very winnable game against Louisiana-Lafayette this weekend. Finishing 2011 with consecutive victories would unfortunately help them keep some of those recruits who are starting to look elsewhere.
UCLA Bruins (6-5, 5-3 Pac 12)
Yeah...the Bruins looked pretty darn good against us (much of that is our fault, but I won't get into that here). Prince threw for 4 TDs and racked up 45 points after being held to 6 last week against Utah. They have a chance to secure their spot in the conference game by beating rival USC, though USC looks as good as anyone in the Pac 12 right now.
Utah Utes (7-4, 4-4 Pac 12)
They need UCLA and ASU to lose and a victory against us to make it into the conference championship game, but it's definitely possible. They beat Washington State this weekend in overtime behind another huge day by White, their running back, with 186 yards and two TDs. They held the ball for nearly 35 minutes. It will not be an easy game for us on Friday, but we need to get that road monkey off of our backs, and it would be nice to add a little fire to our "rivalry" by helping to eliminate them from contention in the Pac 12.
***Oregon St. Beavers*** (3-8, 3-5 Pac 12)
The Beavers are feeling pretty good after beating the Huskies this weekend. Sean Mannion threw for 339 yards and two TDs as Oregon State continues to show up to some games this year. They have a chance to shock the college football world this weekend when they play Oregon. If they beat the Ducks, they don't go to the Pac 12 Championship game. Don't you love rivalry games? This one should be good to watch.