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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)
» UA sports Throwback Thursday: Lowell-Stevens Football opens
» Wildcats earn academic honors
» Photos: UA's smartest athletes 2013-14
» Wildcats: Who's gonna be the QB?

Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» 5-star linebacker Houston checking out ASU
» Top 2016 tight end Naseir Upshur likes ASU
» ASU football overview: Defensive backs
» Why is Sendek watching film of VCU, Louisville?

California (East Bay Tribune)
» Wilner: 49ers, Levi's Stadium pursue college football's potential
» Levi's Stadium: Three college football games this year
» College football: Key dates for Cal, Stanford, San Jose State
» Cal's injury-plagued defense mended, ready to go

Colorado (Denver Post)
» Former CU Buff Chris Copeland enjoys NBA after years of overseas play
» Pac-12 living up to tradition as tops in quarterbacks
» Changes in college football a cause of excitement and concern
» Pac-12 media days: Colorado eager to turn things around

Oregon (The Oregonian)
» Steve Prefontaine, Kevin Love, others in Oregon's Greatest Athlete Round of 32 Day 4 (vote)
» Oregon Ducks target Josh Sweat climbs ESPN rankings; Damian Lillard draws more praise: The Oregonian sports top 5
» Oregon Ducks say signee Ray Kasongo isn't expected to join basketball team
» Ducks' freshman denied admission, Damian Lillard's rivals praise his game: The Oregonian sports top 5 at 5

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)
» Wilner: 49ers, Levi's Stadium pursue college football's potential
» Levi's Stadium: Three college football games this year
» Stanford receiver Ty Montgomery says he's close to being ready
» College football: Key dates for Cal, Stanford, San Jose State

UCLA (Los Angeles Daily News)
» UCLA Football Notebook: Running back Malcolm Jones loses appeal for extra season
» College Football: Position coach Adrian Klemm says UCLA offensive line a work in progress
» 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

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)
» Huskies fall camp position preview: Linebackers
» Morning links: More love for Huskies' Shaq Thompson
» Morning links: Pauley Pavilion flooded
» Huskies to open three fall-camp practices to the public

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» Looking at the WSU pre-camp depth chart
» Washington works on body, mind
» Wednesday WSU chat
» To paraphrase Frank, it was a very good day



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