Rankman's Friday mailbag: Can USC win at Washington? Is Washington State getting shafted? Oregon not only bad, it's boring.

Your letters they all say that you’re beside me now

Then why do I feel alone?

I’m standing on a ledge and your fine spider web

Is fastening my ankle to a stone.

Now so long, Marianne, it’s time that we began

For now I need your hidden love.

I’m cold as a new razor blade.

You left when I told you I was curious,

I never said that I was brave.

Oh so long, Marianne, it’s time that we began.

--Leonard Cohen

Born: Sept. 21, 1934

Died: Nov. 10, 2016

No pick on UW\SC I see…thoughts?

Mike Jelline


Wait…they playing this week?

Just kidding.

I’m struggling with this game in my mind because I’m mixing together so many teams and times of the season.

I can’t get this matchup straight in my head. That’s what many people don’t get about college football. Teams change dramatically from week to week.

USC is not the same team that got wiped out by Alabama.

Washington State is not the same team that lost to Eastern Washington.

Houston is not the same team that beat Oklahoma.

Oregon is not the same team since it went one-for-five on two-point tries in a three-point loss at Nebraska.

“When” and “where” is my answer to most matchup questions.

You can look at USC at Washington this week and draw some misleading conclusions.

USC got manhandled at Stanford on Sept. 17. Two weeks later, Stanford went to Washington and got wiped off the field. I mean…destroyed. The final score was 44-6.

So, shouldn’t Washington easily handle USC at home?

Not necessarily.

Max Browne started at quarterback against Stanford, not Sam Darnold. USC is a different team now.

Stanford also played USC after a bye week. The Cardinal was rested and ready.

Stanford played at Washington on a short week after a brutally physical win over UCLA. Christian McCaffrey suffered an injury against USC that lingered for weeks. He was not the same player…but he looks like McCaffrey now!

These things ALL matter.

USC is different now. The Trojans have won five straight with Darnold emerging as a young superstar who has rescued a team on the brink of collapse after a 1-3 start.

So how does that translate into Saturday night in Seattle?[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

This is where I hedge. I’ll take Washington because the Huskies are at home. They haven’t played a great schedule but, to me, only have one suspect win: the overtime at Arizona.

Guess what: Clemson struggled to beat Troy (at home) and should have lost to North Carolina State. Even almighty Alabama “struggled” at Ole Miss.

As good\great as Darnold is, he is still making one, or two, freshman mistakes a game. Those could be the difference in a close game against a very good team.

Remember, Darnold’s first start this year was a loss at Utah in which he contributed a critical fumble.

Here’s my prediction: If Darnold plays a clean game—no interceptions, no fumbles--USC can win—WILL win. If not, USC will lose.

It’s mid-November and a Power 5 team undefeated in conference play sits at only No. 23. When did that last happen?

Mark DeVaughn


I’ve ask my research staff (me) to get cracking on the case and get back to me ASAP. Wait, wait? My staff has already reported back.

You speak, of course, of red-hot Washington State being ranked only No. 23 in this week’s CFP ranking despite winning seven straight games after an 0-2 start. The Cougars are 6-0, tied with No. 4 Washington, in the Pac 12 North, one of the toughest divisions in college football.


I did find it interesting the committee only dropped Texas A&M four spots, to No. 8, after a loss to 3-5 Mississippi State. And jumped Washington State only two positions after a 69-7 win over Arizona.

It comes down to this: Washington State is still getting punished for its opening defeat to 1-AA Eastern Washington. That is a blight that is tough to overcome even though Eastern Washington is very good.

Two-loss Texas A&M and two-loss Penn State are WAY ahead of two-loss Washington State because they lost to No.1 Alabama and No. 3 Michigan. Never mind the combined total of those two defeats was 58 points.

Better to get creamed by a great team than lose to a good team playing out of FCS.

Is there an equivalent to the Washington State situation, or is this just another put-down of the Pac 12?

Virginia Tech, in fact, went through a similar situation in 2010, when the Hokies lost to Boise State and 1-AA James Madison.

Interestingly, Washington State’s other loss this year was at Boise State.

Virginia Tech, like Washington State, stormed back from 0-2 and went on a torrid winning streak.

The Hokies were ranked No. 20 in the BCS standings of Nov. 7 and No. 16 in the standings of Nov. 14.

That means Washington State, if it beats Cal this weekend, should jump seven spots next week.

Yeah, right.

Hard to admit and accept that the Ducks aren’t just bad but also boring to watch.

Brian Johnson


You nailed it Brian. Oregon is a Porsche running with a go-cart engine. It looks shiny and fancy on the outside but can’t get out of first gear.

Oregon set the modern-day bar for cutting edge uniforms, style of play and innovation. The Ducks, at this point, are just bad and boring.

The defense is a train wreck. Freshman quarterback Justin Herbert has potential but it seems like a lot of Ducks have checked out.

I thought Royce Freeman was the West Coast version of Leonard Fournette the last two years. This year, he’s playing with no energy or intensity. He’s lost his starting job. He’s clearly not the same player and no one’s sure why. They say he is physically fine after being slowed by an injury, but he is obviously not.

Unfortunately, Oregon is more secretive than the KGB when it comes to the inner workings of its program. That used to be annoying when people cared about the Ducks.

It’s less annoying now.[/membership]