Cardinal's sinful loss bad news for Pac-12, USC title hopes

Chris Dufresne takes time out (he gets three per half) each Friday during the season to answer questions on college football. This week's topics: Stanford's big hangover, belittling the Big Ten and the usual other 'brilliant' stuff.

Chris Dufresne

September 29, 2012


Unbuckling the mailbag:

Question: USC hangover? As a Stanford fan, this is painful but familiar.

Alicia Dingsdale

Answer: You're not kidding. Stanford looked like it spent its bye week after USC wasting away again in Margaritaville.

Blew out my flip-flop, stepped on a pop-top, cut my heel, had to cruise on back home (to Palo Alto).

Stanford played like it was sleeping off four double shots of Walt Harris with a Buddy Teevens chaser.

The 17-13 loss at Washington takes Stanford football back to the discombobulated, pre-Jim Harbaugh days. Stanford was besieged by dropped passes, delay-of-game penalties and unimaginative play-calling.

Washington stacked the box all night with eight defenders and not once did the campus of "outside the box" consider a misdirection play?

Stanford still had a chance to win until an offside penalty allowed Washington to run out the clock.

We should all appreciate now the true greatness of Andrew Luck. Any chance they could give him this year's Heisman Trophy?

The defeat did not bode well for the Pac-12 or for USC, which was hoping a strong Stanford showing could help mitigate the Trojans' Sept. 15 defeat.

Instead, USC just became "Wait a minute: You lost to the team that lost to the team that lost to LSU by 38?"

Good luck climbing back from that.

Maybe the Washington game was an aberration, but it's frightening to think of Stanford taking Thursday night's outfit into Notre Dame on Oct. 13.

Q: If you want to disparage the BIG (Ten) for its lackluster season so far, that's fine. However, the Rust Belt comment is uncalled for. Would you call the South the Redneck or Hillbilly Belt?

Pamela Mason

Lawrenceville, N.J.

(The Ohio State University, Class of '76)

A: I actually refer to people from Florida as living in the "Sansabelt." And anyone with a hunting license from Arkansas, situated in the general area between Fayetteville and Little Rock, I refer to as "Living Inside the Pelt Way."

You graduated from Ohio State at the height of Big Ten powers, so you know the conference is nowhere near the level it was then when Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler roamed the Earth.

And what a No. 1 Ohio State team you had in 1975 before having it all go "poof" in the Rose Bowl against a gutty little UCLA team you crushed, 41-20, early in the season.

OK, I'm sorry. That's hitting below the rust belt!

Q: If you rank any Big Ten team this week, you're nuts. I can never remember the conference so pitiful. We are absolutely awful.

Nebraska the class of the conference?

Watch Purdue go to the Rose Bowl.

Joel Schechter

A: I'd love to see Purdue back in the Rose Bowl — but only if Drew Brees came back to play quarterback.

Q: I agree K-State certainly seems to be the "flavor of the month." Does their schedule set up favorably for October and November?

Michael J. Hennessey

A: Kansas State is one of the great early-season stories, but I wonder how long these guys can keep this up. Bill Snyder's Wildcats should get to 6-0 with upcoming games against Kansas and Iowa State, but then it gets tricky. Kansas State plays at West Virginia on Oct. 20 and later travels to Texas Christian and Baylor before closing the season at home against Texas.

I don't see a national title run, but another 10-3 season should earn Snyder another coach-of-the-year award.

Q: I do take umbrage with your points about Kansas State and its boring program.... Dude, I get it. You're media and want to give your readers the most controversial quote possible, but is it not refreshing to every once in a while hear an athlete, college or otherwise, speak in the first person and talk about the concept of team and not just toot his own horn?

John Maholm

A: This is going to shock you, but Chris Dufresne thinks you are right. It is refreshing to see a team come together for a collective purpose.

There's nothing worse than jocks speaking in the third person and thinking they are "all that." I used to hate "Bo knows this" and "Bo knows that" and all that "The Boz" stuff at Oklahoma.

Chris Dufresne is here to tell you it's more than Chris Dufresne that puts this mailbag together every Friday. It would not be possible without the diligent effort of you, the letter contributors, not to mention copy editors, designers and headline writers. And all the other people out there, like Al Gore, who made the Internet possible.

Chris Dufresne thanks you.

Q: What is a lucky shutout? Any such thing as an unlucky shutout?


A: Yes. An unlucky shutout is when you hold your opponent to no points but your team bus blows a tire on the way back to the airport. And then the baggage handlers mislabel your team's equipment and you end up with the clown suits and juggling balls from Circus Vargas.

Listen, the point I was making with Oregon's 49-0 win over Arizona last Saturday was that it wasn't as impressive as it looked.

Arizona was 0 for 6 in the red zone. You'd think the Wildcats could score three points by accident.

Oregon won big despite rushing for only 4.3 yards per carry. That was the Ducks' lowest average per carry since an opening loss to LSU last year.

I've always maintained Oregon's defense is underrated. People forget coordinator Nick Aliotti's schemes held Cam Newton's Auburn team to 22 points in the BCS title game. Oregon didn't get near enough credit for that.

Yet, I'm not ready to compare Oregon's defense with Alabama's or Georgia's. The Ducks don't stack up, size-wise, but they look plenty good enough to win the Pac-12.

Q: Should the Ducks be No. 1? Who knows? It is far too early to tell based on early schedules. Now, if you can engineer the Pac-12 Networks to be picked up by DirecTV, I will nominate you for the Pulitzer, Kennedy Center Honors and the Nobel Prize.

Anthony Traglio


A: Funny. The more I see of the Pac-12 the less I seem to want the Pac-12 Network son my DirecTV package.

And, please, no on those nominations. My shelves are already stuffed with trophies. I used to work for a paper that handed out awards just for "writer" participation. I have 10 "Golden Typewriter" certificates just for not getting the paper sued for libel.

Should the Ducks be No. 1? No.

Should the Ducks be No. 2? Yes.

Would I like to see Alabama vs. Oregon in the BCS title game? I certainly would pay to see that, although I will get in for free.

Q: Cal vs. USC of the SEC? Surely someone in the Pac-12 has a worse record against Southern Cal than the University of California. Besides, after 100-plus games, Cal's winning percentage against Southern Cal is a respectable .313 compared with the dismal .158 Ole Miss has against Alabama.

Give us a break. It has been a tough season.

Michael McBride

Albany, Calif.

A: I was actually referring to the fact that Ole Miss has not defeated Alabama since 2003. That also happens to be the last time Cal beat USC.

I didn't look deeper into the comparison — but I will now.

Ole Miss owns a 9-48-2 record against Alabama. Since 1950, Cal owns a 12-48-2 record against USC.

Ole Miss is famous for picnics in its "The Grove" on game day. Cal has a strawberry "Canyon."

One more thing Cal and Ole Miss have in common: Neither has been to a Rose Bowl since 1959.

Q: You are … brilliant. One of the best college football writers in America. Forget America. The Universe.

Don Norcross

A: Oh, please … continue.