Tag:Washington State
Posted on: November 1, 2010 4:21 pm
 

Rough weekend for injured Pac-10 quarterbacks

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

You would think that a 41-0 loss to Stanford and a 35-7 loss to Oregon State would be enough bad news for one Saturday for Washington and Cal . Unfortunately for both teams, injuries to their starting quarterbacks mean that you'd think wrong.

For the Huskies' Jake Locker , the problem is a cracked rib that had already suffered a hairline fracture before being further exacerbated by the rough treatment from the Cardinal. Though the oft-injured Locker should be able to return before missing too much action -- the early indications seem to be that he could return for the Nov. 18 meeting with UCLA , meaning he'd sit out only one game -- the timing for Washington truly could not be worse, as this week's schedule sends the Huskies to Eugene to take on No. 1 Oregon .

Taking Locker's place will be redshirt freshman Keith Price , who'll be making his first career start at Autzen Stadium and will likely triple his 9 career passing attempts. Best of luck, Keith.

Things could be so much worse for Washington, though, as the knee injury suffered by Cal's Kevin Riley early in the Bears' loss in Corvallis illustrates. When even your head coach isn't really holding out hope for your return ...

Tedford acknowledged that the injury was serious, saying, "Right now, it looks a little bit more serious than just your everyday sprained knee" ...

"He was in a lot of pain," Tedford said. "He came off the field with tears in his eyes, and I'm sure that has a lot to do with his disappointment. He felt like it was pretty significant. Kevin is a tough guy. It's unfortunate."
... things are not looking good. An MRI today should confirm the extent of Riley's injury, but if he's torn a ligament, the fifth-year senior's career at Cal will be over.

Replacing Riley will be junior Brock Mansion , who completed 14 of his 24 passes against the Beavers (including a late touchdown) but for only 5.8 yards an attempt. Mansion's a seasoned veteran compared to Price; he has 32 total career attempts.

The good news for the Bears is that Jeff Tedford has a strong track record of developing college quarterbacks, and that Mansion will have at least a week to get his feet underneath him against hapless Washington State . But unless Mansion is a stunningly quick learner (or Riley ends up OK), any hope of the Bears scoring the upset of the season when Oregon visits Nov. 13 has probably gone out the window.


Posted on: October 31, 2010 2:28 am
 

What I Learned from the Pac-10 (Oct. 30)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

1. Oregon is much more likely to make it to Glendale than not. The Ducks aren't home free just yet; that season-ending trip to Corvallis to face Mike Riley 's Oregon State team won't be easy, and God only knows what kind of Cal squad Oregon will face when they travel to Berkeley Nov. 13. But after the Ducks dismantled USC 53-32 in Los Angeles Saturday night, neither of those hypothetical stumbling blocks (to say nothing of, say, Arizona 's chances to win at Autzen Stadium) look nearly imposing enough to expect Oregon's season to end anywhere but the BCS national championship game.

The Trojans had a ton of factors working in their favor: a bye week to prepare, a red-hot quarterback, an unusually-lively Coliseum, and most of all the desperation that comes with knowing that this was their best shot at being a team that mattered this season. They called it their bowl game for a reason. And it was enough to propel them to a 32-29 lead after two shirt-field touchdowns early in the third quarter, just as Stanford had used an early burst to lead in Autzen. But just as Ducks had done against the Cardinal, the array of weapons at Chip Kelly 's disposal -- LaMichael James in the running game, Jeff Maehl and Lavasier Tuinei in the passing game, Darron Thomas in both -- simply overwhelmed their ever-weakening opposition as the second half progressed. Oregon scored the final 24 points of the game and finished with 597 total yards.

They are relentless, they are operating on all their proverbial cylinders, and even their allegedly soft defense -- always worse for the statistical wear thanks to the offense's hyperdrive tempo -- held the previously scorching Matt Barkley to a mediocre 5 yards per pass attempt and USC under 400 total yards for the game. Unless they badly underperform the same night the Golden Bears or Beavers stupendously overperform, they will become the first Pac-10 team other than their Saturday victims to play for a crystal football.

2. USC isn't going to be anything more than a middle-of-the-pack Pac-10 team until they learn how to stop the run. The charge frequently leveled at Monte Kiffin as his defenses first at Tennessee and now Southern Cal have struggled is that the 70-year-old defensive coordinator isn't sharp enough any more to adjust to the modern spread offense.

There might be something to that, given the 588 yards given up to Hawaii in USC's season opener and the 597 yielded to the Ducks. But the Trojans' biggest problem is a lot simpler: they're getting crushed up front. LaMichael James went for 239 rushing yards and the Ducks for 311 as a team. Stanford ? 193 yards, 5.4 a carry. Washington ? 225 yards, 6.6 a carry. That's not a matter of Kiffin's schemes or a misunderstanding of the spread; that's a matter of the Trojan defensive front just getting shoved around. Until they mature and start clogging up lanes in the middle of the field, USC's defense is going to continue to flail no matter what Kiffin does.

3. Cal isn't the only Jekyll-and-Hyde outfit in this conference. Speaking of Washington, the last time we saw them at home they were edging a good Oregon State team in overtime. While not many people were expecting them to upset Stanford, to get throttled 41-0 in Husky Stadium is an embarrassment ... and baffling considering how well they played just two weeks ago. With road trips to Oregon and Cal still to come and the Huskies wallowing at 3-5 overall, it doesn't look like this is the year just yet for Steve Sarkisian to break his team's eight-year bowl drought.

Arizona State , meanwhile, rebounded from losing to 33 points at Cal to shut out previously-improving Washington State 42-0 .

4. But Cal is still the original and most committed Jekyll-and-Hyde outfit. The Golden Bears trailed by 28 at halftime and lost 35-7 at Oregon State, as Kevin Riley had to be helped off the field in the first quarter. One of Cal's eight games have been decided by fewer than 21 points.

5. UCLA is as much a mess as ever. The Bruins looked to have their ship righted when they went on the road to upset Texas , but it turns out going on the road to upset Texas isn't that big a deal. And in the meantime, they've been humilated by Cal and Oregon and could have been by Matt Scott (319 yards, 71 rushing) and Arizona. A series of Wildcat failures in the red zone kept UCLA close, but getting outgained by 284 total yards and rushing for just 2.5 yards a carry at home is a sign that goes well beyond worrying. Another home loss this coming weekend, to Oregon State, and Rick Neuheisel will be staring a four- or even three-win season in the face.



Posted on: October 24, 2010 2:44 am
 

What I Learned from the Pac-10 (Oct. 23)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

All the real fireworks in the current Pac-10 and future Pac-12 came midweek with the announcement of the conference's divisional split midweek. Two teams -- USC and Oregon State -- enjoyed a bye week, and none of the four conference games were closer than 16 points at halftime. But there were still some important lessons to learn, starting with ...

1. Cal is the most Jekyll-and-Hyde team in the country. The last time we checked in with the Bears, they were getting annihilated by USC in the L.A. Coliseum, giving up six first-half touchdowns and trailing 42-0 at the break. That was a week after they'd throttled UCLA and the Bruins's pistol attack 35-7 . That result came two dates on the schedule after they'd been shredded by Nevada 's pistol attack 52-31 .

So even though Arizona State had been an excellent road team entering their visit to Berkeley, losing to Wisconsin by a point and downing Washington in Seattle, you could see this coming: 40 straight Cal points after a game-opening Sun Devil field goal, zero offensive touchdowns allowed, a 137-yard advantage in total offense, and a 50-17 rout to move the Bears to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the Pac-10. Beleaguered quarterback Kevin Riley -- whose ups and downs mirror the team's closely enough that he ought to be named the team mascot -- went 19-of-29 for 240 yards and no interceptions.

Cal has played one close game, their 10-9 loss at Arizona . The average margin of victory in the other six, for either Cal or their opponent? 32 points.

2. No one's touching Oregon at Autzen Stadium. What this observer took away first and foremost from the Ducks' 60-13 evisceration of UCLA on Thursday night was just how comfortable Chip Kelly 's team appeared. Even playing at the fastest tempo seen in college football today (and maybe ever?), the Oregon offense never seemed confused, never seemed out-of-control, never even seemed to break a sweat. They churned up and down the field with the ease of a swimmer doing laps at the Y. The Bruins never stood a chance.

So does anyone remaining on Oregon's schedule? Most certainly, but only the teams that get the advantage of hosting the Ducks, where the travel and unfamiliar stadium and hostile crowd can at least start to bump the Ducks out of the lethal comfort zone we saw Thursday. Remember: Oregon's only played one team that is not Washington State on the road thus far, Arizona State, and that team held the Ducks to 405 yards and outgained them by nearly 200.

3. If anything happens to that Cam Newton guy, LaMichael James will make for a highly worthy Heisman Trophy winner. James's stats against UCLA don't jump off the page by Heisman standards -- 20 carries, 123 yards, 2 touchdowns -- but those watching the game saw James show off his usual breathtaking combination of speed, power, agility, and mad receiving skills. No tailback in the country is playing better.

4. Nick Foles doesn't have to rush back. The Arizona starting quarterback missed the Wildcats' 44-14 beatdown of Washington with a dislocated kneecap and his return date is still TBA. But the performance of Matt Scott -- the same returning starter who Foles usurped for the job in 2009 -- suggests that there's no need for Foles to rush his timetable. Scott hit 18 of his 22 passes for 233 yards, collecting two touchdowns and going without an interception. He even showed off the legs that made him a starter in the first place, running for 64 yards on 8 carries.

Given that the schedule offers Arizona a date at reeling UCLA this week, if Foles can just get healthy by the Nov. 6 trip to Stanford , that ought to be good enough.

5. Washington State is making progress, however incremental. No, the Cougars' 38-28 loss to Stanford wasn't as close as the final score indicated; Wazzu trailed 38-14 in the final quarter and scored two late touchdowns to make things a bit more cosmetic. But facts are facts: the 10-point final margin is the closest Paul Wulff has come to a Pac-10 opponent in his three seasons, and that he managed it on the road against the No. 12 team in the country is all the more encouraging.


Posted on: October 22, 2010 5:51 pm
 

Jacobi's Insane Predictions, Week 8

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Every season, every month, every week, there are several outcomes and achievements that, frankly, nobody operating within reason would ever predict. Who could have predicted Nebraska would beat Florida for the 1995 title by 38 points, or that Boise State would pull off three late trick plays to knock off Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, or that South Carolina would fail to score a point in the second half against Kentucky a week after knocking off the Tide? Nobody... until now. We're going to try capture that lightning in a bottle by making similarly absurd predictions every week. Are they at all likely to come true? No. Do we even believe the words we're writing? No. But if we make even one correct call on these, we will never stop gloating. Ever.

Highly Unlikely

Washington State, a team that's deceptively frisky even at 1-6, picks off an unsuspecting Stanford team after Andrew Luck blows his knee out in the first half. Despondent at the loss of the game and their quarterback, Stanford drops its last five games and stays home for bowl season. Wazzu, on the other hand, uh ... OK, the Cougars lose the rest of their games too. They're still not very good. After the Cardinal finishes off its six-game losing streak with a loss to Oregon State, head coach Jim Harbaugh tells reporters, "Eh. No big deal. It's just, we win or we lose, whatever. Winning is pretty overrated."

Severely Unlikely

Iowa State blows the doors off the Texas Longhorns in the first half, racing out to a 28-0 lead before hanging on for a 28-27 victory in Austin. In the ISU locker room, head coach Paul Rhoads tells his charges, "I AM SO PROUD TO BE YOUR FOOTBALL COACH," before quarterback Austen Arnaud reminds Rhoads, "Yes, we know. You told us that last year." Which Rhoads did, in fact, after the Cyclones' 9-7 win at Nebraska. Rhoads attempts the save with a "I'm still proud to be your coach," but even he knows the moment's pretty much over. The rest of the day is a pretty subdued affair for the Cyclones. Also, DKR is burned to the ground by rioting Texas fans.

Completely Preposterous

Oregon loses its game against UCLA. By forfeit. Yes, that would be confusing, since the two teams already played on Thursday and Oregon dropped 60 on the poor Bruins' defense. However, Oregon head coach Chip Kelly commits the fatal error of "filling out his scorecard incorrectly" after Rick Neuheisel claims the zero in 60 looks like another six. With Phil Mickelson acting as guest commissioner of the Pac-10 , Oregon has no choice but to forfeit the entire game. Really, the main point here is that golf is stupid. Never watch golf. The end.

Posted on: October 22, 2010 5:23 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 5:53 pm
 

Hinnen's Insane Predictions, Week 8

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Every season, every month, every week, there are several outcomes and achievements that, frankly, nobody operating within reason would ever predict. Who could have predicted Nebraska would beat Florida for the 1995 title by 38 points, or that Boise State would pull off three late trick plays to knock off Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, or that  South Carolina would fail to score a point in the second half against Kentucky a week after knocking off the Tide? Nobody... until now. We're going to try capture that lightning in a bottle by making similarly absurd predictions every week . Are they at all likely to come true? No. Do we even believe the words we're writing? No. But if we make even one correct call on these, we will never stop gloating. Ever.

Highly Unlikely

Playing at home for interim coach Jeff Horton and that until-now foreign concept known as pride, Minnesota surprises Penn State and their ever-creaky offense with 17 first-half points, then hold on for a 17-13 upset. After the game, Joe Paterno offers up something even more surprising, issuing his resignation effective at the end of the year to ESPNU's speechless sideline reporter. To drive his point home, Paterno leaves his trademark glasses at the edge of the TCF Bank Stadium field, a la an Olympic wrestler leaving his shoes on the mat. ESPN issues a press release promising to include footage of Paterno's gesture in every college football montage from now until 2024.

Severely Unlikely

At halftime of the Missouri -Oklahoma game, the visiting Sooners hold a commanding 24-3 lead. Just before the break, Gary Pinkel is spotted pushing a button on some kind of radio-like device on his belt. A few minutes later, Bob Stoops is just about to begin his halftime team talk when there's a knock on the locker room door. It's Mizzou alumnus Jon Hamm , dressed as his famous Mad Men character Don Draper . He introduces himself as Draper and asks if he could speak to the team for a minute. Stoops, a huge Draper fan, is awestruck and concedes. Hamm/Draper has a lackey wheel in a wet bar and offers Stoops and the rest of the Sooner staff a stiff drink as he begins to pitch the rest of the Sooners on what he calls a "revolutionary" sports drink called "Gator-ade." Too polite to decline, Stoops and his staff are severely tipsy by the end of the break. 12 different second-half double-passes back to quarterback Landry Jones later, Missori escapes with a 27-24 win.

Completely Ludicrous

Washington State goes on the road and defeats No. 12 Stanford.



Posted on: October 18, 2010 2:47 pm
 

No Nick Foles is trouble for Arizona

Posted by Tom Fornelli

When Arizona quarterback Nick Foles went down with a knee injury on Saturday against Washington State, fear immediately spread throughout Tuscon that his season was done, and that Arizona's chances of going to Pasadena were done with him.  A feeling that is understandable considering that Foles is one of the biggest reasons the Wildcats have been a force this season.

The good news for the Wildcats is that Foles is only expected to miss two to three weeks with his dislocated kneecap.  The bad news is that this injury coincides with the part of Arizona's schedule that provides the biggest test of the season, and that they'll have to depend on the much-maligned Matt Scott during the stretch.

When Scott first came to Arizona three years ago, he was pegged as the future.  Scott was a dual-threat quarterback that was going to beat opponents with his arm and his legs, but the problem was that Scott spent most of his time on the field forgetting he had an arm, instead choosing to take off at will.

He was beaten out for the job by Foles last season, and now the junior finds himself thrown into the fire, trying to find the promise he had against teams like Washington, Cal and Stanford.   And that's if Foles only misses three weeks.  After a trip to Stanford the Wildcats have to face USC before heading north to take on Oregon.

Scott played pretty well against Washington State after Foles went down, throwing for 139 yards and completing 70% of his passes while showing a willingness to stay in the pocket he hadn't shown before. 

Still, that was against Washington State, the worst team in the Pac-10, and Scott still made some bad decisions in that game and threw an interception without throwing a touchdown.

Maybe there's a chance that Scott will continue to grow and play well in Foles' absence, finally figuring out how to balance his arm and his legs -- something Arizona coaches should help him with by making adjustments to this week's game plan -- and Arizona won't miss a beat.

Still, something tells me that Scott might play better, but won't be good enough to keep Arizona in contention for the Pac-10.  By the time Foles is healthy enough to return to the field, I fear it will be too late.
Posted on: October 17, 2010 3:14 am
 

What I learned from the Pac-10 (Oct. 16)

Posted by Adam Jacobi

1. Oh, right, USC. That team with an embarrassment of riches. Them. It's easy (and not altogether unwise) to forget sometimes based on their on-field "exploits," but the USC Trojans still have a ton of talent. They don't have a ton of experience and they're with a brand-new coach, but still: these guys have some innate physical advantages. Take Matt Barkley, for example. The 5-star recruit had a rough freshman campaign last season with 15 touchdowns and 14 picks, but, y'know, he's still a former 5-star recruit. And he flashed that talent in a big way today with a 25-37, 352 yard, five-touchdown, zero-interception performance against Cal in a 48-14 whipping. Even with the reserves seeing plenty of garbage time, the Trojans still racked up 32 first downs, 602 total yards, and 5.9 yards per rush. And this is against a Cal defense that held UCLA to seven points and Arizona to 10 in their two prior games (yes, 52 to Nevada prior to that, but hey). USC isn't allowed to go to a bowl, and its scholarship restrictions are going to sting for years, but every now and then these Trojans are going to lay waste to mediocre opponents. This was one of those weeks.

2. Jake Locker is here, and not a moment too soon. Washington QB Jake Locker, the much-ballyhooed freshman of three years ago, is a senior now, and whether through lousy luck with injuries, insufficient surrounding talent, or poor play of his own, he hasn't really lived up to his high expectations for any sustained amount of time. Again, not completely his fault, but it's true. To Locker's credit, he's kept his head down and stayed at the task of improving this whole time, and he was rewarded today with a five-touchdown performance in Washington's 35-34 overtime win over Oregon State. Locker made some gorgeous throws today, and the memories of his ghastly 4-20 performance against Nebraska just four weeks ago seemed much further away today. Locker wasn't perfect, and his fourth-quarter fumble in Beaver territory killed the Huskies' most promising shot at a game-winning score in regulation, but still: five touchdowns. 

3. Meanwhile, bravery and stupidity are not mutually exclusive. After seeing his team match Washington's touchdown in the second overtime, Oregon State coach Mike Riley made the commendable decision to go for the win right then and there, to tell his team that victory was only three yards away. Curiously, though, Riley declined to dial the number of Jacquizz Rodgers, who had played like a man possessed up to that point with 189 total yards and four touchdowns up to that point -- including three rushing scores from within six yards. No, Riley called on his sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz, who tried to connect with tight end Joe Halahuni on the conversion. The ball slipped through Halahuni's hands before falling harmlessly incomplete, and that was that. Now, going for two was a bold, mansome decision, but not giving the ball to Rodgers even if the defense was expecting it (much as they had for the entire game thus far) doesn't put Oregon State in the best position to succeed, and for that Oregon State now has a loss instead of a win.

4. Is Matt Scott better than last season? We're about to find out. There wasn't a whole lot to take away from each team's performance in Arizona's 24-7 win over Washington State; the Huskies are improving but still not very good, but we already knew that. The real news is that Arizona's star QB Nick Foles injured his knee after getting rolled into early in the second quarter. Early indications are that it's a dislocated kneecap, which sounds far worse than it is; Matt Barkley suffered the same injury last season, and he was practicing after a week or two. Mike Stoops told reporters he expected Foles to miss two to three weeks. If true, that's rough news for the Wildcats, who will face Washington, UCLA, and Stanford in their next three games. Backup Matt Scott came in for Foles, but he's the guy who was benched for Foles after three games last season for ineffective play. He sure didn't do much for Arizona against Washington State, and there's no guarantee he can put up points against some of the Pac-10's better defenses. For the sake of everybody on the Wildcats, let's hope Scott can put together some good games in Foles's absence, because it's incredibly disheartening to see a team's shot at a conference crown go south on account of one key injury.

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Posted on: October 15, 2010 8:15 pm
 

Insane Predictions, Week 7

Posted by the College Football Blog Staff

Every season, every month, every week, there are several outcomes and achievements that, frankly, nobody operating within reason would ever predict. Who could have predicted Nebraska would beat Florida for the 1995 title by 38 points, or that Boise State would pull off three late trick plays to knock off Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, or that Les Miles would look like the endgame genius against Urban Meyer and Florida? Nobody... until now. We're going to try capture that lightning in a bottle by making similarly absurd predictions every week. Are they at all likely to come true? No. Do we even believe the words we're writing? No. But if we make even one correct call on these, we will never stop gloating. Ever.

Highly Unlikely

Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore sprains his knee when he trips while running onto the field during pregame ceremonies, and all of a sudden, the Broncos must face San Jose State with a brand new quarterback. Boise coach Chris Peterson blames San Jose State and their groundskeeping for the mishap, and feeling untold amounts of shame, SJSU coach Mike MacIntyre forfeits the game. Moore recovers fully for the Broncos' next game, and Boise's march to a 12-0 regular season continues unabated. -- Adam Jacobi

As the closing seconds count down on the scoreboard at Ross-Ade Stadium, Tim Brewster looks up at it to see the final score: Purdue 37, Minnesota 13.  Knowing that these are probably the last few seconds that he'll spend on a sideline COMPETING and FIGHTING  with the Gophers, his emotions get the best of him.  Danny Hope begins to make his way to midfield to meet the coach, but instead Brewster bursts into tears and sprints off the field.  He then hides in a supply room deep within the bowels of the stadium, refusing to come out until eventually Minnesota AD Joel Maturi lures him out by promising he's not going to fire him.  Brewster then opens the door and comes out, his face red and blotchy, covered in tears.  "Really?" he asks Maturi.  "No, you're totally fired," says Maturi before kicking him in the groin. -- Tom Fornelli

Arizona's slide continues after falling to Oregon State despite getting some help from the replay officials.  This time, facing Washington State, the home officials give the Wildcats a taste of their own medicine and refuse to replay a game-winning touchdown that was actually an incomplete pass. Mike Stoops has no timeouts, and the Cougars quickly kick the extra point to pick up that elusive first conference win. It is later revealed that the replay official was Washington State alumnus Drew Bledsoe, who emerges from the booth in full Wazzu regalia and facepaint. The Pac-10 finds no fault in this. -- Chip Patterson

Severely Unlikely

With Texas trailing Nebraska 24-7 just before halftime, Mack Brown makes his way over to Colt McCoy who is watching the game from the sidelines.  "Listen, I need you to come to the locker room at halftime.  Give these boys a pep talk."  McCoy agrees, but Brown was lying.  Instead Brown locks Garrett Gilbert in a shed -- hey, it's popular in Texas -- and convinces McCoy to put on Gilbert's uniform.  McCoy then goes out and leads Texas to a comeback victory, finding James Kirkendoll for the game-winning touchdown with, you guessed it, one second left on the clock. -- Tom Fornelli

Michigan's defense pitches a shut out against Iowa. The Big House rocks as Denard Robinson totals 600 total yards of offense and the Wolverines bounce back from the loss to "Little Brother" with a performance for the ages as the Wolverines reclaim a spot in the Top 25 with a 48-0 win over the Hawkeyes. Adrian Clayborn, struck with grief, eats 400 cheeseburgers on the ride home and gives up on the NFL for a career in the lawn and garden industry. Turns out Clayborn is quite the green thumb. -- Chip Patterson

The Kansas football team shows up to an empty Memorial Stadium in Lawrence. Head coach Turner Gill and his Jayhawks were under the impression that their game would be played on Saturday, and thanks to various elaborate pranks by Kansas State fans, they had no idea that they had been scheduled to play on Thursday night. KSU coaches, upon finding out that Kansas had not appeared for the game, dressed their scout team in KU colors and had them put up token opposition. Somehow, they also had a scout team Turner Gill. The garbage-time touchdown Kansas State allowed to its double agents was a sublime touch. -- Adam Jacobi

Completely Ludicrous

McNeese State trots into Death Valley on Saturday night and shines under the lights. LSU quarterbacks Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson combine for an NCAA-record 11 interceptions, five of which are returned for touchdowns.  The other six picks are hideous arm-punts that prevent the Tigers from finding the end zone once. Patrick Peterson returns 4 kick offs for touchdowns, but LSU falls 35-28. -- Chip Patterson

Emboldened by reports that he was coaching with his job on the line, Tim Brewster leads his team to an emotional 35-34 victory over a frisky Purdue squad... then rips off five more wins to finish the season, culminating in a 55-0 revenge win over Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes at TCF Bank Stadium. Minnesota's 7-5 (6-2) record and a host of other conference losses among the rest of the Big Ten vault the Gophers into the Rose Bowl, making them the first five-loss team to earn a trip to Pasadena. A month before the game, Brewster announces that he's leaving the Gophers to coach his beloved Texas Longhorns; Mack Brown has retired, as expected, but the program was stunned when defensive coordinator (and presumptive next head coach) Will Muschamp pulled a simultaneous "sympathy retirement." The Gophers hire Mike Leach on the spot, and the new Pirate Gophers stun Oregon on January 1st, 45-31. -- Adam Jacobi

There's nothing out of the ordinary taking place in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night.  It's early in the fourth quarter and the Alabama Crimson Tide have a healthy 24-6 lead over the Rebels, but then suddenly a bright, white light can be seen in the sky.  Those who notice it assume that it's a comet or meteor passing by the planet, but it keeps getting bigger and bigger before everyone suddenly realizes it's coming right for them.  As it gets closer, it becomes clear that it is some kind of UFO, in fact, the space ship actually looks like a piece of fried calamari.   It lands at the 50-yard line, and out comes Admiral Ackbar.  Knowing immediately what's taking place, the new Ole Miss mascot makes a break for it before he is apprehended by members of the Rebel Alliance.  The Rebel Alliance then holds a trial on the field, determining whether or not the Bear shall live.  This does not please Nick Saban.  After a few minutes Saban walks briskly up to Admiral Ackbar, takes his gun, and executes the Bear himself before saying, "There.  NOW GET THE HELL OFF OF MY FIELD."  Ackbar and his soldiers sheepishly retreat to their ship and take off.  Not even the Rebel Alliance wants to mess with Nick Saban. -- Tom Fornelli

 
 
 
 
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