JASON SAYS: On to Wisconsin (or Michigan State) for UO, after a Pac-12 title game blowout
- Jason Vondersmith
- Portland Tribune - Sports
"Prediction?" Clubber Lang says.
"Pain," he adds, lips pursed.
Much like when Clubber Lang, aka Mr. T, predicted pain inflicted on Rocky Balboa, aka Sylvester Stallone, in "Rocky III," it's hard to imagine the tough, fast and immovable force being defeated at the hands of the underdog in the Pac-12 championship game.
It's so easy to predict pain when we talk about the Oregon Ducks versus the UCLA Bruins, 5 p.m. Friday at Autzen Stadium. Pain for the woeful Bruins, pain for the people who have to endure another UO blowout of an overmatched team, which happens to have a lame duck coach Rick Neuheisel.
I mean, my goodness, 10-2 and very good (Oregon) going against 6-6 and very inconsistent (UCLA). Ugh. Why, oh why? Well, because it has been written by the Pac-12 and FOX, and it shall be done - one game between division winners for the Rose Bowl. And, that darn USC, breakin' NCAA rules and not being able to represent in the title game after demolishing UCLA 50-0, a week after ending UO's national championship hopes.
You know what? I'm giving UCLA a chance - a chance to show up and make it competitive for a quarter or so. Maybe two, keeping it close until the third quarter. Then, I think the Fast-Hard-Finish boys absolutely annihilate the Southern California gents, who will have no counter and who will be content to fly home south where it's sunny, warm and dry during the winter, and prepare for change in leadership.
UCLA has some assets for the Ducks to be worried about - running back Johnathan Franklin (912 yards, 6.1 per carry), receiver Nelson Rosario (55 catches, 1,003 yards), UCLA-recruited athletes (which used to mean something) and inspired young people who felt strongly enough about Neuheisel to carry him off the practice field Wednesday.
Quarterback Kevin Prince completed 21 of 33 passes for 261 yards and only one interception against USC. Fairly positive stats, although he was sacked four times. And, of course, the Bruins failed to score points.
Can you imagine the Bruins beating the Ducks? Yeah, it could happen, but it seems really unfathomable. Wondering if we will we see a "Rocky III" moment, where UCLA is trading blows with UO, saying "You ain't so bad, you ain't so bad." Rocky said that to Clubber. And, he won the big fight.
I tend to think something along these lines will be figuratively said between the two combatants Friday:
UCLA - "Just hit me right here and I will fall like an old Douglas Fir in a wind storm."
Oregon - "Nah, we clear cut in these parts, prepare to perish."
So, I'm thinkin' Oregon wins and formally gets invited to the Rose Bowl when the Bowl Championship Series sets its schedule Sunday. It'd be the third BCS game in three years for coach Chip Kelly, running back LaMichael James and the rest of the Ducks, who, after the UCLA win, would be 33-6 since the start of the 2009 season.
That's Urban Meyer and Bob Stoops territory for Kelly, 33 wins in 39 games.
Then again, Kelly would be looking to break his two-game losing streak in BCS games, and Wisconsin (my pick from the Big Ten title game over Michigan State) looks formidable with quarterback Russell Wilson, running back Montee Ball and receiver Nick Toon. My early pick in the Rose Bowl would be Wisconsin.
The Ducks will have their day Friday, however, beating the latest in a long line of outmatched opponents.
THE PICK: Ducks 48, Bruins 13