4/30/2013 8:11:32 PM
The inevitable collision in Eugene is less than three weeks away. Oregon and Oregon State are neck and neck in the conference, and that will probably still be true after this weekend’s dust settles. I think it is safe to say that the Civil War will decide this year’s Pac-12 champion. This week and next week will just position the two teams for the top spot. Using the RPI this week.
This week’s games
An example ballot would look like this:
- #108 Cal at #5 OSU
- #7 Ore at #116 WSU
- #97 Stan at #15 ASU
- #113 UW at #45 Ariz
- #140 Utah at #17 UCLA
- #122 XTC (Texas Christian) at #102 USC
Week 12 Series
- OSU 2-1
- Ore 2-1
- Stan 2-1
- Ariz 3-0
- Utah 3-0
- XTC 2-1
- Cal comes to Corvallis to take on OSU. A half-game back but winning percentage points ahead of Oregon, the Beavers will distance themselves from the Ducks if they win one more game against the Bears than Oregon does against the Cougars on the road. It will probably take a sweep, and that might not be enough. But OSU will have next week against Stanford to finish the task, when Oregon has a conference bye. Then it’ll be Civil War. Cal, is under water in conference and overall, but they do have a couple of good wins. Nothing that says “consistency”, but it shows they can take an occasional game from a better team. OSU is coming off three strong starting pitching performances coupled with a very good offensive attack. If they can continue to play like they did against USC, it will be a long weekend for the Bears.
- Oregon paddles to Pullman to face Wazzu. For decades, the Cougars were the best team in the Pacific Northwest, but there are three PNW teams ahead of them these days, and one of them is the Ducks. Wazzu is ahead of USC, UW, and Utah in the standings, but ever since their conference-opening series victory in Tempe, they have lost all five subsequent series; and those three teams below them have all won two series. How much longer can Wazzu continue this losing trend? Probably another week. Ryon Healy is swinging a huge bat lately, and balls carry in the windswept Palouse. The Ducks have been pacing the Beavers for the conference lead, trailing OSU by fewer than 20 percentage points for several weeks now.
- Stanford struggles for relevance against Arizona State. After much preseason attention, and maintaining a ranking in many of the polls after losing early games to some nationally ranked teams, the Cardinal has dropped out of most of the polls now after getting swept by the Ducks. Their respectable 23-15 overall record but lackluster 9-9 conference record will not do them any postseason favors. They need to turn the jets on now. ASU started out slowly, with two series losses, but they have won all four since then, against UCLA, Oregon, USC, and Utah. A series victory over Stanford virtually guarantees them a top-half conference finish.
- Washington against Arizona. The Wildcats started off horribly but turned things around dramatically, going 0-6 then 6-0. If they want to break that .500 lock on their season, they’ll need to do well against the Huskies, because UCLA and ASU follow on their schedule. UW is still struggling to find itself. After a pair of wins on a rainy Saturday over OSU, they failed to capitalize against Cal last weekend. They have some good pitching. But Arizona has some pretty good batting.
- Utah versus UCLA in Westwood. After surprise series victories over Stanford and Washington State, it looked like this might be Utah’s year to crawl out of the cellar. But they lost 8 of the next 9 conference games, and they are 2.5 game behind next-to-last Washington. With three conference series left, they face UCLA and Oregon, sad to say. But they also play UW in Seattle. Not sure if the outlook is good for them to pass the Huskies this year. UCLA is still in the thick of the conference race, coming off two consecutive series victories, and all four of their remaining series look winnable.
- Our nonconference series has TCU visiting USC. The Horned Frogs were on everyone’s preseason polls, but they opened the season with six straight losses, and they have never recovered. They are sitting on a 20-23 record with an 8-10 conference mark in their inaugural year in the Big XII. (At least they’re better than the Longhorns, who have lost all six conference series this year. Wow, Augie.) Anyway, TCU has four signature wins: 2-1 series victories over Baylor (ISR 52) and Oklahoma State (ISR 23). The Trojans just got swept for the first time ever by Oregon State, but they also have single wins over Oklahoma (who swept TCU three games to none), Oregon, Stanford, and Arizona State.