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Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon
Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon cover the Pac-12 for The Salt Lake Tribune.

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Wednesday morning: What happens when a tiger meets the Huskies?

Usually when coaches are leading their teams into wild atmospheres, they do things like pipe in crowd noise to simulate gameday. Not Steve Sarkisian. The Washington coach, also a former BYU quarterback, went straight to bengal tiger.

The Huskies travel to Baton Rouge, La., on Saturday to play No. 3 LSU, and is a three-touchdown underdog, despite playing pretty well in their opener against San Diego State. Rather than allowing the slightest possibility that the Huskies will be intimidated by Mike VI, the 800-pounder, Sark attempted to fight back with his own tiger, one named Sheena, on loan from a game preserve and refuge in Canby, Ore.

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It awaited the players at practice on Tuesday.

"The whole emphasis is just to get used to it now, so when we get down there no one is surprised or gets distracted by it," center Drew Schaefer said in the Tacoma News-Tribune. "It's to focus on the task at hand."

Of course, having Sheena around may be about as fun as things get for the Huskies this week. LSU is 6-0 against Pac-12 teams in games since 2003, and didn't have much of a history against West Coast schools before that. The Huskies, lost to the Tigers in Seattle in 2009.

Rawr.

Jerry Brewer of The Seattle Times broke down the separation gap between the Southeastern Conference and everyone else in his Tuesday column, pointing out that the Pac-12 is 12-11 against the SEC since 2000. However, this is a big week for the Pac-12. Seven of the 12 teams play opponents from BCS conference schools, and if the conference wants to restore some of its lost image, which I wrote about in today's Tribune, it needs to earn some wins.

One of those opportunities will come Saturday in Corvallis, when Oregon State plays Wisconsin after what coach Mike Riley called "the world's longest training camp." The Beavers' opener against Nicholls State was canceled due to Hurricane Isaac. Now, the Beavers open with a much tougher opponent from the Big Ten, leading Riley to call it "as big a nonconference game as Oregon State has ever hosted."

One of my big questions that didn't make it into today's column had to do with Stanford: After the Andrew Luck era, shouldn't the Cardinal be riding more momentum? One would think David Shaw would have been able to sell top recruits on Palo Alto while they were romping past Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Looks like the issue, though, might be up front with the offensive line, which allowed the Cardinal to rush for just 37 yards in the second half of a too-close-for-comfort win over San Jose State.

As for what's going on down in the desert (including with Utah's first Pac-12 opponent, Arizona State), ESPN's Ted Miller has a good look at the fast-paced (and we mean fast) development of the Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats.

Finally, check out my weekly Pac-12 power rankings. I get called a homer for ranking Utah No. 3 (I'm from Oregon, man), but in a relatively weak Pac-12, I don't see any team that is inarguably better. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Much more going on in the Pac-12 this week, check out the links at the bottom of this page. They refresh automatically as trusted news outlets around the conference update their websites.

As always, follow me on Twitter (@oramb) for faster, shorter, (sometimes) funnier updates.

— Bill Oram

PAC-12 Links
Links from around the Pac-12
Arizona (Tucson Citizen)
» Renovated McKale 'really coming together'
» Wildcats: College football preview section
» UA football: On Bondurant, Hill and the quarterbacks
» Photos: UA sports Throwback Thursday Chase Budinger

Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» ASU football practice report from Friday
» Watch: Haller discusses Friday's practice
» Former top recruit Cox 'still learning' at ASU
» Berryhill scores twice to help ASU tie Texas

California (East Bay Tribune)
» Cal football: Safety Lowe shapes up, holds job
» Cal's goal in Dykes' second season is to establish running game
» Stanford 11th in AP's top 25 preseason football poll; Florida State No. 1
» AP Top 25 Preseason Poll

Colorado (Denver Post)
» Yuri Wright pushing his way up CU Buffs depth chart in return
» Colorado feels fortunate to have avoided a rash of preseason injuries
» Colorado senior receiver D.D. Goodson: not overlooked by coaches
» Colorado redshirt freshman Phillip Lindsay: two touchdown runs in scrimmage gave me confidence

Oregon (The Oregonian)
» Former Oregon Ducks running back Jonathan Stewart scores twice for Carolina Panthers against Kansas City
» Under pressure: Oregon Ducks' title expectations fuel another season played under the microscope
» Q&A with Oregon Ducks' Matt Wogan, on adding weight and confidence in his kicks
» Oregon Ducks beat reporter Tyson Alger's favorite stories from fall camp

Oregon State (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
» Oregon State hires longtime trainer hired Fred Tedeschi
» Beavers hire Mark Massari as deputy athletics director
» Oregon State hands out Bennys to top athletes, coaches and teams
» OSU fishing: MacDonald, Martinez win conference tournament

Stanford (San Jose Mercury-News)
» Stanford football: Backup QB Evan Crower is ready, just in case
» Stanford football: Defensive coordinator learns from 49ers counterpart
» Stanford 11th in AP's top 25 preseason football poll; Florida State No. 1
» AP Top 25 Preseason Poll

UCLA (Los Angeles Daily News)
» UCLA Football Notebook: Running back Malcolm Jones loses appeal for extra season
» COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Improving UCLA has questions to answer during preseason football camp
» COLLEGE FOOTBALL: UCLA's prized recruit Eddie Vanderdoes cleared to play by NCAA after leaving Notre Dame
» Pac-12 Media Day: Eyes on Anthony Barr for UCLA's 2013 hopes

USC (Los Angeles Daily News)
» USC Football Notebook: Marqise Lee's injury not too serious
» USC Football Notebook: QBs Max Wittek, Cody Kessler present dilemma for Trojans coach Lane Kiffin
» USC FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel thinks Trojans might not miss QB Matt Barkley
» USC FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Dion Bailey says it's 'now or never'

Washington (Seattle Times)
» Freshman safety Lavon Washington dismissed from UW football team; Derrick Brown suspended
» Jeff Lindquist will be starting quarterback in Huskies' opener
» Washington women's soccer opens with 4-1 victory over Kentucky
» Husky coach Chris Petersen is a perfectionist with a personal touch

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» The M's rallied and so did the fans
» Pac-12 morning links: Nugent remains undefeated
» No practice report, but some game notes
» Some things matter tonight, others don't



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