It's time for the first conference media day in the downtown San Francisco office, and women's basketball gets to set the precedent. The beginning of the college basketball season is just two and a half weeks away, and many Pac-12 teams are poised to make a big splash in 2012-13. With 12 athletes and 12 coaches in the house, here are a few things I'm going to be keeping an ear out for:
The Oregon Ducks passed their first true road test of the season with flying colors by handling Arizona State, 43-21, in Tempe. Those 43 points all came in the first 20 minutes of the game before the Ducks more or less shut it down with a 36-point lead at the time - that’s dominance. Unfortunately for the team from Eugene, Alabama, Florida and Kansas State dominated as well, so Oregon drops a spot to No. 4 in the latest BCS standings.
Director of Talent and Development Kristin Bredes looked at over 3,000 audition tapes while hiring for the Pac-12 Networks, but when it came to Mike Yam, that really wasn’t necessary.
“When his agent said Mike was interested, I said ‘Get out! Are you kidding?,’” Bredes said. “He was my no-brainer.”
After auditioning in person, the opinion inside the Pac-12 Enterprises headquarters was unanimous.
“Every single person said, ‘That’s our guy,’” Bredes said.
Three straight losses and a bye week had the Wildcats hungry to get back on the winning track. This was no more evident than in the play calling of Rich Rodriguez, who dialed up home run balls all night long against Justin Wilcox's defense. Matt Scott made RichRod look like a genius, hitting Austin Hill on a 53-yard touchdown pass so nicely that Ted Robinson called it a touchdown before Hill even caught the pass.
Sean Parker, meet Austin Hill's left arm. The last replay shows it best.
USC's win over Colorado on Saturday was the Matt Barkley-Robert Woods Show. Records fell left and right.
Barkley became the first quarterback in the Pac-12 to throw 100 career touchdown passes, breaking Matt Leinart's record. Barkley finished the game with 102 career TD passes. Here's the historic moment:
Arizona's first half of the season was a ride that Felix Baumgartner would think twice about taking. The Wildcats racked up three straight impressive wins to open the season and move into the AP Top 25. Then they suffered a 49-0 thrashing at the hands of Oregon, close losses to Oregon State and Stanford, and fell back to earth.
Washington too has played inspired football at times, yet is on a losing streak. Both teams are eager to start their second half on the right foot when they square off on Saturday night in Tucson (7 p.m. Pac-12 Networks).
USC's talent is overwhelming but Colorado's effort and enthusiasm will be felt when the Trojans and Buffs square off on Saturday in Los Angeles (3 p.m. Pac-12 Networks). If Colorado is going to give USC a fight, it'll start up front. The Buffs' pass rush has caused trouble for opposing signal-callers all season.
[Related: Watch a preview of Colorado vs. USC]
Stanford staved off an upset-minded Washington State squad Thursday night due in large part to Cardinal goalkeeper Emily Oliver. She saved the day not once, but twice with a pair of remarkable stops to preserve Stanford's undefeated record in conference and 62-match winning streak at home.
Here's her first save:
Don't call Oregon redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota a dual-threat quarterback. It wouldn't be doing him justice. In the Ducks' win over Arizona State Thursday night, Mariota completed the offensive trifecta: throwing for a touchdown, running for a touchdown and, catching a touchdown pass. All in the first half no less.
Mariota's catch came with a significant assist from Oregon's backup QB Bryan Bennett, who improvised this play: