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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


The Pac-10 is soft myth


This is something I hate.

The University of Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson wants everyone to believe the teams in the Big 12 are more physical than other conferences, including the Pac-10, home of the Sooners' opponent this Saturday, the University of Washington.

"We're more physical," Peterson was quoted as saying by the Seattle Times' Bob Condotta, "and run the ball with a smash-mouth style of play on both sides of the ball."

The second part of that statement is true. The Big 12 schools, as a whole, would rather run the ball through you than pass it over you.

But the first part is a bunch of BS.

The Big 12 - or the SEC or the Big Ten for that matter - isn't more physical than the Pac-10, if by physical you mean tough, which is what I believe Peterson meant here.

Just because the Pac-10 made its reputation with spread offenses and lightning-fast defenses, that doesn't mean its players are soft. Far from it. Ask anyone who has lined up again USC's O-line the past three years or tried to run through Arizona's linebackers or tried to push around Oregon's d-lineman. From top to bottom, the Pac-10 teams hit, and hit hard.

Condotta points out in his story … "of the five times (Peterson) has been held below 100 yards in games in which he was healthy, three have come against Pac-10 teams: USC in the 2005 Orange Bowl (25 carries, 85 yards), a regular-season game against UCLA last season (23-58) and the Holiday Bowl last season against Oregon (23-84)."

I watched that UCLA game and the Bruins – the gutty little Bruins – kicked his butt all over the field. They may have been wearing baby blue uniforms, but they hit Peterson in the mouth – again and again.

Pac-10 teams aren't soft. They're smart. If winning takes hitting with you, they will. But if they can make you miss them, if they can run by you, if they can make tackles and score touchdowns with speed instead of brawn, they'll do that too.

It's the ability to do both that is the key to success in modern college football. It's why Nebraska has changed its offense, why Virginia Tech is good year after year, why Texas doesn't win a national title until Vince Young comes along, why USC has won two of the past three national championships.

Soft isn't the right word. Smart is.

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