What did we learn this week?
1. Oregon is this close to looking like a national title contender: Steve Spurrier relished pounding Tennessee in the 1990s, but he never scored 48 points in Neyland Stadium like Oregon did on Saturday. In fact, the Ducks 48 points -- 45 of which went unanswered -- is the most allowed in Neyland since Washington State scored 52 in 1988 (Notice a common theme there?). But forget all the fancypants offense. While the final stats say Tennessee gained 333 yards, only 89 of that came in the second half. That's a great number against any team in any venue, but against an SEC team in its own house, well, that demands respect. And expect the Ducks to get even more respect in the national polls.
2. Stanford is more than the Andrew Luck show: Stanford dominated UCLA 35-0 with Andrew Luck making more plays with his feet than with his golden arm. That bodes well for the Cardinal. There were times in 2009 that it seemed folks saw the Cardinal as the Stanford Toby Gerharts. The big question heading into the season was defense, and Stanford just pitched a shutout on the road without two of its best players (LB Shayne Skov and WR Chris Owusu). Stanford has made an early stake as the top potential foil for Oregon in the conference race.
3. Rumors of California's irrelevancy may have been exaggerated: Colorado may not be very good, but watching California dismantle the Buffaloes 52-7 suggests that the Bears might be. The Bears dominated on both sides of the ball in the blowout. The new attacking defense dominated the line of scrimmage and was all over QB Tyler Hansen. The offense was balanced and efficient.
4. The jury remains out on USC, Arizona State and Washington, but probably not on Washington State and UCLA: USC nipped Virginia 17-14 and coach Lane Kiffin was unhappy. Arizona State allowed Northern Arizona, its second consecutive FCS opponent, to hang around. Washington looked bad at BYU but came home and outclassed Syracuse. It doesn't seem like we have a good measure of any of these three. As for Washington State, which needed a big comeback to nip Montana State, and UCLA, which got bricked at home vs. Stanford, it seems like we know where things stand: Both are going to finish in the bottom third of the conference.
5. There's momentum heading into Measuring Stick Saturday: The Pac-10 went undefeated Saturday (other than UCLA vs. Stanford), including a 4-0 mark vs. four different BCS conferences. That's good after a relatively bad opening week. But Saturday is big for the conference. Consider this list: Iowa at Arizona, Arizona State at Wisconsin, Nebraska at Washington, Cal at Nevada, Wake Forest at Stanford, Houston at UCLA, USC at Minnesota, Washington State at SMU and Louisville at Oregon State. Winning six or so next weekend would do wonders for the Pac-10's national image.