Opening the mailbag: Root for Ducks?

Happy football Friday. We've already begun, though things get just a bit more interesting on Saturday.

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To the notes!

Glenn from Portland writes: Ted, I need help. I hate the SEC but I hate Oregon just as much. I hate the SEC talking smack about how great it is. But I hate Ducks fans doing that too. At least the SEC has something to talk about! So that's my problem. Who do I root for on Saturday? Living in Oregon, I'm not sure I want to endure Oregon fans celebrating a victory and talking about a "natty" again. Just imagine how bad they'd be if they actually won one of those.

Ted Miller: You know it's possible that when Oregon eventually wins a national championship, Ducks fans -- surfeit with feelings of humble gratitude toward the college football gods -- might become gracious and even-keeled adherents who love their teams but respect the fan experience of others.

"Oh, thank you Huskies," they might say. "You were correct. It does feel different when you win a national championship. I now understand that validation of ultimate arrival. To be honest, when we used to quibble, I always thought your gloating about multiple Rose Bowl victories and national titles was difficult to counter. But now, let us share a table of the finest meats and cheeses! Hey, and you Beavers, join us. I know, I know. You don't have a national title. But maybe one day you will. I certainly hope so."

It could happen!

I do understand your quandary. As the Pac-12 blogger, I firmly believe that Pac-12 fans should root for the conference, just as SEC fans do. If Oregon should prevail, the "Pac-12!" chant should include not only Ducks fans.

What I'd suggest is this: Secretly root for Oregon. Plan to use its victory in arguments with your SEC friends. Then swear you'd never do such a dastardly thing when you're back rowing with Pac-12 folks.

Dan from Olympia, Wash., writes: I get the feeling that there will be some unintended consequences if/when the PAC-12 expands to a 16 team conference. Mainly, the smaller/struggling programs like Washington State, Arizona and even Colorado might really struggle to the point where they might want to escape. I could really see Washington state or Oregon State escaping to the WAC or Colorado and Arizona escaping to the Mountain West. Sure I understand that money that PAC-super-conference will generate might make them think twice, but their chances of succeeding in a conference with USC, Texas, Oklahoma, Washington and Oregon. Besides, TCU and Boise State has taught us that you can still knock on the BCS' door if you are a 'minor' conference or even an independent.

Ted Miller: No. Absolutely not.

A Pac-16 is about revenue. The "smaller/struggling programs" want it just as badly as the big programs. They are fine with their underdog status, particularly when they still get an equal slice of the revenue pie (which should help them keep up).

No program would ever bolt an AQ conference for an non-AQ conference in order to be more competitive. That's not the way it works.

And, by the way, Washington State has been to two Rose Bowls since 1997 and produced three top-10 rankings over the past 10 years. The Cougs have won before and will win again.

Ted from Seattle writes: With [Washington State's] relatively (compared to the last few seasons) easy non-conference schedule and the improved offense I see it possible that the Cougs make a bowl game this year, but it is also just as likely that they could end up only winning 2 games. Entertaining the last scenario, what do you think the chances are that Wulff gets an early boot and doesn't make it as head coach to the end of the season?

Ted Miller: Paul Wulff is a Coug. Athletic director Bill Moos is a Coug. I find it highly unlikely that Wulff would get fired before the season ended, unless thing completely implode.

Even in a worst-case scenario, I'd envision Wulff resigning at some point and then coaching out the season. I'd imagine Moos would want to preserve as much dignity for him as possible.

Now, when the Cougs win a bowl game and Wulff asks for an extension and raise, Moos might go, "Easy there, cowboy."

Dan from Washington writes: Looking at your top 25 Pac-12 players for 2011-2012 I noticed a relative shortage of both offensive and defensive linemen. Is this mostly due to the natural tendency of skill positions to get the most attention? Or is it reflective of a conference relatively more talented at the skill positions than on the lines?

Ted Miller: Absolutely, it's more difficult for linemen, particularly for offensive linemen, to make it. And yes, that's a bias for skill guys who have fancy stats to show off.

The O-linemen who did -- Stanford's Jonathan Martin, USC's Ryan Kalil and Stanford's David DeCastro -- are super-elite. Colorado's Ryan Miller and Utah's Tony Bergstrom are first-team All-Pac-12 sorts who fell just short.

Because it's hard for a sportswriter sort to actually evaluate offensive linemen, you have to rely in large part on what the NFL folks are saying. The guys who made the list get big thumbs-up from those sorts.

As far as D-linemen go, a number of guys are talented enough to make the postseason list -- Arizona State defensive end Junior Onyeali, UCLA DE Datone Jones, USC DE Nick Perry, USC DE Devon Kennard, Arizona DT Justin Washington, Washington DE Hau'oli Jamora, etc. -- but they fell just short for whatever reason (injuries, good but not great 2010 numbers).

Keep this in mind: Ten players returned from last year's top 25, meaning only 15 spots were open. A top-25 list is pretty darn elite.

Here's the list of players who just missed my top 25.

Ray from Carlsbad, Calif., writes: Somehow you let yourself buy into the hype of LSU's defense being able to cause Oregon all kinds of problems. If you're using Auburn as the reason why, that's just too easy, isn't it? Please remember that Oregon was a couple plays away from scoring a lot more points (there was plenty of offensive production by the Ducks in that game).If you're looking at LSU's group as a dominant force, please don't forget that in their past six games against BCS competition, their defense gave up 29, 24, 21, 36, 31, and 24 points. Not exactly shut down city. And that wasn't playing against offenses as dynamic and successful as Oregon. And is LSU going to be better this year? They lost their best player at each level, so I wouldn't expect them to be all-world, especially in game one.Oh well, you'll adjust your mindset after this game, and realize that all the talk about the past three non-conference games that Oregon lost (over the past three seasons for goodness sake) is a little ridiculous to be considered a pattern.

Ted Miller: Hmm. I found this reasoning fairly solid.

We shall see.

I will say that if the Ducks score more than 30 points and gain more than 400 yards, it will rightfully bring into question that whole "The SEC invented defense!" thing we read so much about.

And, no, the logic of it being just one game won't prevail. That's not how college football fandom works.

David from San Francisco writes: Best musical act? Cal certainly gets credit for Counting Crows; sometimes it seems like Adam Duritz is on the coaching staff.But the winning act from Berkeley has got to be Green Day.

Ted Miller: Two good entries.

Duckfan99 from Eugene, Ore., writes: Fire ted miller. You are supposed to be the Pac-12 Blogger and you've been kissing LSU's butt since this game was announced. Just move out east and officially jump on the SEC's band wagon. When Oregon beats LSU I fully expect you to apologize to Oregon fans on your blog and admit that you're an idiot. Can't wait to watch you eat crow.

Ted Miller: I posted this just because I wanted to know, in advance, from you folks who are not idiots the suggested wine pairing for crow.