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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.


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)
» Photos: Arizona 49, Cal 45
» Rich Rod and players discuss their tough win
» UA football: Report card for Cal game
» UA football coaches, opponents, results since 1899

Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» Jordan Simone goes from walk-on to playmaker
» How ASU football's commits fared Friday night
» ASU soccer wins its sixth consecutive match
» Colorado State volleyball holds off ASU

California (East Bay Tribune)
» Cal Bears' big night in Arizona ends in nightmare finish
» Local sports digest: Stanford, Cal in water polo showdown
» Cal to release report next week on how to improve athletes' classwork
» Fact box: Cal at Arizona

Colorado (Denver Post)
» Speedy freshman Donovan Lee gives CU Buffs another playmaker
» Colorado coached to avoid coin-toss glitches, MacIntyre says
» Colorado's MacIntyre gratified Buffs practiced hard Monday
» CU Buffs tackle Jeromy Irwin might play vs. Hawaii after concussion

Oregon (The Oregonian)
» Oregon Ducks open up Autzen Stadium doors for Fan Fest: Photo gallery
» No. 2 Oregon 38, Washington State Cougars 31: Mark Helfrich on the road win (video)
» About Last Night: Ducks beat Cougars, with benefit of no-call Mark Helfrich doesn't want to talk about
» Oregon Ducks report card: Grade the performance against the Washington State Cougars

Oregon State (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
» Oregon State roundup (Sept. 19)
» OSU men's basketball: Tinkle says positive steps being made
» Spencer to become new AD at Evansville
» BeaversSalute program gives tickets to military personnel and veterans

Stanford (San Jose Mercury-News)
» Local sports digest: Stanford, Cal in water polo showdown
» Stanford coach David Shaw goes digging
» Cal, Stanford Pac-12 men's basketball schedules announced
» Local sports digest: Stanford's Maverick McNealy ties for medalist honors

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)
» Huskies morning links: UW wakes up from first-half nap to rout Georgia State
» Video: UW's Danny Shelton, John Timu after victory over Georgia State
» Nelson, Meyers win Sundodger titles for Huskies
» Huskies don't appear ready for Pac-12 play

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» One of these years, it will be corrected
» Day after Oregon links
» Video: Xavier Cooper after Oregon
» Video: Connor Halliday after Oregon

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