The College Football Notebook

November 22, 2009 6:20 AM

Complications Made Simple

The Pac-10 race was complicated on Saturday morning and stood to get worse if Arizona was able to get a home win over Oregon last night. But in a thrilling double-OT finish, the Ducks won 44-41. Jeremiah Masoli and Nic Foles were both outstanding at quarterback, but Masoli got more help on the ground. Arizona's Nic Grigsby, identified on ESPN's Gameday as critical to the outcome, did nothing in the running game, while LaMichael James again went over 100 yards for Oregon. The Pac-10 now boils down to Thursday night, December 3 on ESPN. Oregon has already secured a share of the conference championship, but Oregon State can tie them and win the Rose Bowl bid if they win the big nationally televised rivalry game in ten days.

Oregon State kept themselves in it with an easy win over Washington State, 45-10. The win itself wasn't noteworthy, but a big game from Jacquizz Rodgers was. After a couple ho-hum performances, the talented running back used a game against the league's doormat to unleash for 165 yards. He now has a chance to solidfy his claim for Pac-10 MVP and put his team in Pasadena. One year ago, Oregon State was on the brink of going to the Rose Bowl when they lost badly on the road to Oregon. Now they've got them in Corvallis for the biggest game in school history.

Another step to simplifying the championship race was that Cal took out Stanford 34-28. This was a case of both running games putting on a show. If I'd said this at the start of the season, we'd have assumed it was Jahvid Best and Toby Gerhart. We would have only been half-right. Gerhart was in the house, going for 136 yards, but Shane Vereen continued to be the man for the Golden Bears, putting up triple-digit rush yards himself. After a disappointing midseason, highlighted by horrible losses to USC & Oregon, Cal is closing strong and at 8-3 is in position for a nice bowl bid. Stanford is still having a great year as well, at 7-4, with reeling Notre Dame coming to Palo Alto next week.

Notre Dame was the other place where complications were made simple. I'd have raised my voice in defense of Charlie Weis if he'd have finished 8-4, but after yesterday's 2-OT loss to UConn, that won't happen and he is history. But my own personal Heisman ballot was drastically simplified. I'm voting for Jimmy Clausen. He was exquisite again yesterday, throwing for 329 yards, no mistakes and constantly hooking up with Golden Tate and Michael Floyd. No, his team hasn't had a big year. But without him, they'd be in Division III.

Check back in later this afternoon and we'll have some more previews. The Pac-10 got simple, but some races for New Year's Day bowl spots got complicated elsewhere and we'll celebrate some teams that wrapped up divisions.

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