Posted on: November 28, 2010 1:57 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
1. The Ducks are who we thought they were. It's just not accurate to say we learned anything new about Oregon in their 48-29 Friday night win over Arizona . We knew already they were as dominant a second-half team as any in the country (save maybe their likely BCS title game foils at Auburn ), and that's how they played. We knew already with weapons like LaMichael James, Darron Thomas and even the ever-more-terrifying Josh Huff , the Ducks could put up nearly 50 points without even being particularly sharp in the first half, and that's what they did. We knew that playing in the comfort zone of Autzen Stadium, they were going to win and win comfortably when all was said and done, and in the end the Wildcats feel by nearly three touchdowns. (We also knew their defense could have the occasional
In short, we knew that Oregon was the 2010 Pac-10 champion and almost certainly on their way to the BCS championship game, and that's what we still know. If there was anything surprising about their dismantling of the Wildcats, it was the realization that by this point of the season, Oregon's championship-caliber excellence isn't even surprising any more.
2. And yeah, you can forget about them choking away that title berth in the Civil War. Mike Riley will almost certainly have his Oregon State team ready to play a competitive game against their archrivals at home in Corvallis, but it's hard to imagine that he has the horses to actually finish off the hypothetical shocker of the season, not when two of the Beavers' previous three results are a home loss to Washington State and today's hideous 38-0 whitewashing at the hands of Stanford . The Cardinal are legitimately playing as well as any team in the country right now, but still; fewer than 300 total yards an zero points doesn't exactly portend the kind of offensive explosion that will be necessary to stay with the Ducks.
3. USC is ready for its season to be over. The Oregon State result sandwiched between the aforementioned losses to Wazzu and Stanford? An inexplicable-looking 36-7 demolition of the Trojans that this space immediately chalked up to USC's longtime tendency to break into football hives upon crossing the Oregon border. But after watching USC's listless, often yawn-inducing performance in a 20-16 loss to a Notre Dame team that at times seemed determined to give the game away -- Irish quarterback Tommy Rees threw three interceptions, more than one of the highly charitable variety -- it may be time to wonder if Lane Kiffin is still able to get through to a team with nothing to play for other than pride.
Now, true, the Trojans still would have pulled out the victory if Ronald Johnson hadn't dropped a certain game-winning reception late, and the absence of Matt Barkley (coupled with a shaky-looking first start from Mitch Mustain , who averaged less than 5 yards an attempt and failed to throw a touchdown pass) no doubt didn't help USC's cause in the least, either. But for a team playing its oldest and arguably biggest rival, the spark needed to really get the Trojan blood pumping (and the crowd involved) seemed curiously absent. Maybe it was the rain. But maybe it's just Week 12 of a season whose self-described bowl game took place a month ago.
4. The end to one team's bowl streak is just the start of someone else's. Or so it would appear after Washington edged Cal 16-13 to pull within a game of bowl eligibility at 5-6, with only the feeble specter of Washington State (surely not due for two major upsets this season) standing in the way of the Huskies' first postseason appearance since 2002. Steve Sarkisian 's second season in charge hasn't always lived up to the outsized expectations of the preseason, but at least he can point towards some concrete progress.
Unfortunately for Jeff Tedford , unless you count the upcoming long-since-overdue renovations to the Bears' Memorial Stadium, "concrete progress" seems further away than ever. Kevin Riley 's career-ending injury a few weeks back appears to have been a fatal dagger for Cal's bowl hopes, which finally dissolved in the loss and resulting final record of 5-7. The record is the worst of Tedford's nine-year Cal tenure, with the Bears missing the postseason for the first time since -- whaddya know -- 2002. Tedford's not in any kind of trouble just yet (don't forget that Cal was hands-down the worst program in the Pac-10 when he took over), but the heady mid-aughts days when the Bears were serious Rose Bowl and BCS contenders have never seemed further away than they did on Saturday.
5. Rick Neuheisel had better have something more up his sleeve this offseason than just canning Norm Chow. Because when you give up 55 points to Arizona State 's backup quarterback , your offensive coordinator is pretty obviously not the only thing wrong with your football team.
Posted on: November 22, 2010 12:35 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Unlike Dillon Baxter, if USC quarterback Matt Barkley is seen riding around campus this week on a golf cart, it's only because it's easier than walking right now thanks to a high-ankle sprain he suffered against Oregon State on Saturday. Barkley was carted off the field just before halftime of USC's 36-7 loss, and though he didn't play very well before the injury, his replacement Mitch Mustain didn't do anything to instill confidence in his teammates and coaches.
Which is probably why Lane Kiffin is holding out hope that Barkley can return to the field this Saturday against Notre Dame.
"We're gonna work to hopefully have him healthy this week," Kiffin said. "As far as Matt coming back, obviously we're extremely hopeful.
"We're prepared to start Mitch. We have great confidence in Mitch. He's played well for us in scrimmages."
Odds are that Kiffin is going to need to have confidence in Mitch, because high ankle sprains generally take several weeks to recover from, not several days. So while it's possible that Barkley will be able to play through the injury this weekend, I wouldn't bet money on it. If the Trojans were playing the same Notre Dame team that got beat by Tulsa three weeks ago, losing Barkley may not be that big of a deal, but the Irish defense has looked pretty stout the last few weeks, allowing only six points in two games against Utah and Army.
Posted on: November 22, 2010 11:24 am
Edited on: November 22, 2010 11:33 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Lost somewhat in the excitement over Georgia agreeing to play Boise State in the annual Chick-Fil-A-Kickoff game next season was the fact that both the Bulldogs and Broncos already had opponents scheduled to open the 2011 season: Louisville in Georgia's case, and Ole Miss in Boise's.
That's where the ripples from the Georgia-Boise rock thrown into the puddle of college football scheduling start, but they radiate out much, much further from there, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution describes by listing the incredible eight teams whose 2011 slates have already been altered to accomodate the matchup:
Georgia, Boise State, Louisville (dropped from Georgia’s schedule), North Carolina (added to Louisville’s schedule to replace Georgia), James Madison (switching dates on North Carolina’s schedule to accommodate the UNC-Louisville game), Ole Miss (moved a scheduled 2011 season opener against Boise State to 2014), BYU (replaced Boise on Ole Miss’ 2011 schedule) and Oregon State (changed dates on BYU’s schedule to accommodate the BYU-Ole Miss game).This isn't to say that several of these teams aren't happy with the changes; Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone called delaying his school's meeting with the Broncos until 2014 so it could be that year's Chick-Fil-A Kickoff "a dream come true."
But still: maneuvering this many moving pieces into place just for one high-profile made-for-TV game should tell you how much weight ESPN currently has to throw around in college football's sphere of influence. And with the WWL somewhat fortunate the Beavers could switch dates so easily and keep the daisy-chain at only eight teams, it begs the question: at what point do teams start putting their foot down and telling television that some things aren't worth the money being thrown at them? Is there such a point?
Judging by the number of dominoes knocked over to bring together Georgia and Boise, ESPN's going to find out if there is sometime soon.
Posted on: November 21, 2010 12:26 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Only three games in the Pac-10 this week, but we still learned a few things:
1. Stanford deserves a BCS bowl berth. The Cardinal caught a break in catching Cal in the "horrific" week of their solid/horrific yo-yo-routine; after the Bears put together such an impressive performance against Oregon last week, the proper bet regarding their performance this week was the house, on collapse .
But that still shouldn't take anything away from the kind of dominance Jim Harbaugh 's team has shown the past few weeks. The Cardinal simply annihilated Cal from the opening gun, watching Andrew Luck hit 16-of-20 without an interception and even embarrassing a Bear defender on a long run just for kicks ... holding the Bears scoreless through the first three quarters ... scoring on their first eight possessions, every one Luck directed ... leading 45-0. It was the sort of display usually reserved for beatdowns of bottom-rung FCS teams, and it all came in "The Game," Cal's biggest rivalry game of the year, on the road in Berkeley.
Between this performance, the thumping of Arizona two weeks ago, and the 41-0 road whitewashing of Washington three weeks back, it's safe to rank Stanford alongside the likes of Auburn and Boise State as one of the hottest teams in the country and the hottest in the Pac-10 . Assuming they wrap up the season at 11-1, they'll deserve to have a shot at playing in one of the big-money BCS games rather than having to slink off the Holiday Bowl . That may or may not happen -- it'll be helpful if Auburn loses and opens up a slot in the BCS title game for a non-AQ team that will otherwise hog a spot in the Rose Bowl -- but there shouldn't be any "may or may not," not the way the Cardinal are playing.
2. Corvallis is USC's own personal house of horrors. You can't really argue that Oregon State 's Reser Stadium is a "tough place to play," not this year, not after the Beavers got trounced at home by Washington State last week. (Yes, that Washington State. Yes, that actually happened.) But apparently it doesn't matter how welcoming a host OSU might be for anyone else; they are always going to be at maximum hostility for USC .
In 2006, the Trojans were third-ranked and favored to return to the BCS title game for the third time in three years when they went to Corvallis; they turned the ball over four times and lost 33-31, snapping their 27-game Pac-10 winning streak. In 2008, USC had just defeated No. 5 Ohio State 35-3 and were the No. 1 team in the country; Jacquizz Rodgers exploded for 186 yards against one of the best defenses of college football's past decade and the Beavers won 27-21. Obviously the 2010 Trojans can't measure up to the '06 or '08 versions (who finished with a combined record of 23-2), but they had won three of their last four and beaten a good Arizona team on the road just last week. And, you know, Washington State.
No matter. Matt Barkley had his ankle bent into all kinds of incorrect directions ; Mitch Mustain went only 8-of-17 in relief; Rodgers went off for another 128 yards and a score; Beaver QB Ryan Katz recovered from a terrible week against Wazzu to hit 17-of-24 with two touchdowns and no picks; the Trojans lost the turnover battle 0-2 and only gained 255 total yards; and in the end, the Beavers crushed the Trojans 36-7 .
Corvallis: home sweet home to Wazzu, the worst place imaginable for the Trojans. Go figure.
3. UCLA's offense is ... well ... you know. We know the Bruins are struggling with quarterback issues and with a scheme conversion to the pistol that has been, to put it as politely as we possibly can, a work in progress.
But there's a point at which politeness isn't really appropriate anymore, and once you've scored zero points over the final three quarters and netted all of 163 yards (over 61 plays, an unbelievably terrible average gain of 2.67 yards per-play) against a team that entered the game ranked 109th in the FBS in total defense, that point has long since past. We've posted this portrait of UCLA's offense before, and after the stinkbomb the Bruins laid up in Seattle last Thursday, we feel we have no choice but to post it again:
It's a shame, because the Bruin defense -- which hounded Jake Locker into another "that guy is a first-rounder?!?" performance (10/21, 68 yards, 0 TD 1 INT) -- isn't great but is good enough to get UCLA to the postseason they desperately want . The offense, however, will be lucky to drag UCLA past their current four wins.
Posted on: November 19, 2010 11:02 am
Edited on: November 19, 2010 11:04 am
Posted by College Football Blog
As you may or may not know, each week five of us here at CBSSports.com make our Expert Picks for the weekend in college football. Two of good-looking bros here at the College Football Blog are among that cast of experts. Adam Jacobi and Chip Patterson have been holding their own in the season-long competition, and sit down to discuss a few of the bigger games on the schedule for Saturday.
Click here to see all of the Expert Picks for Week 12, then check out the podcast below.
Note: For reasons unbeknownst to me (Chip), there was some delay issue and it sounds like my voice has been masked for anonymity. Thankfully audio editing technology allows us to make chicken salad out of chicken sh-, well, you get the idea. I've taken the old head set and tossed it into the street. Probably because it was from Radio Shack. Dweebs.
Posted on: November 18, 2010 12:05 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
If you followed the BYU -San Diego State bloodfeud that erupted in the wake of a pair of BYU alumni working the replay booth for a critical BYU game, you'd think more conferences would be doing more to make sure similar conflicts of interests wouldn't be taking place in their leagues. And that goes double when you're talking about BCS conferences -- with that kind of money at stake and that level of media and fan interest, you'd think any potential allegations of impropriety would be nipped in the proverbial bud.
You would think that, anyway. But the Pac-10 is here to tell you you are thinking so, so wrong :
Nothing is more disconcerting, however, than a Pac-10 policy that allows its officials to work games that feature their alma mater ..Fogltance is almost certainly a respectable, honorable man who does his very best to remain as objective as possible in the heat of the late-game decision-making process. But the idea that he could wield that kind of influence over a game in which he has a vested interest in one side's success is simply outrageous. The Pac-10 should move immediately to change the policy and forbid alums or other school-affiliated officials from working their school's games. The integrity of the conference's officials has to be beyond question, or the league is just begging for a blowup that would make the BYU-SDSU brouhaha look like a third-grade cafeteria squabble.
If there's any bright spot here, it's that after that game in October, there would be no way the Pac-10 would allow Fogltance to work another Arizona game. Surely, surely, all that is fair and just in this world demands that ...
Pac-10 documentation shows Fogltance is scheduled to work the replay booth when Arizona State and Arizona meet on Dec. 2 in Tucson.
HT: GTP .
Posted on: November 14, 2010 1:36 am
Edited on: November 14, 2010 1:37 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
1. Oregon can win ugly, too. To be fair to the Ducks, they weren't exactly dominated in their 15-13 win in Berkeley; they outgained Cal by more than 100 yards, held the Bears to 193 yards total and a miserable 2.5 yards per-pass, and only gave up a second touchdown on a Darron Thomas fumble in the end zone.
But they also scored their only first-half touchdown on a Cliff Harris punt return, averaged a stunningly weak 2.9 yards per-carry, eked out the final two-point margin by virtue of their made two-point try and Cal's failed attempt, and could have easily lost if not for Cal kicker Giorgio Tavecchio short-circuiting his own 24-yard field goal with a stutter-step procedure penalty and missing the subsequent 29-yard try. Every national title contender has to win games when they're not at their best, but Oregon was so far away from their best Saturday night they'd have to send it a postcard.
In the end, it didn't matter, as behind Thomas and a hobbled LaMichael James the Ducks changed philosophies on the fly to a clock-churning, yards-chewing ground-exclusive outfit that ate up the game's final 9:25 on one drive . That kind of versatility could prove to be the difference between a national champion and a slip-up before Glendale ... even if the Ducks would prefer not to have to put it to use again until there's a crystal football awarded to the victor.
2. Washington State should keep Paul Wulff. Let's be fair: the Cougars' rehabilitation, even after their 31-14 upset-of-the-Pac-10's year against Oregon State today, is progressing verrrrry ... sloooooooowly. One FBS win in 2008, that one over winless Washington. One in 2009, over SMU in overtime. Until today, none in 2010.
But that hasn't meant it hasn't been progressing at all . After getting totally obliterated on a weekly basis two years ago, the Cougars have been substantially more competitive this season: 42-28 vs. UCLA , 43-23 vs. Oregon, 38-28 vs. Stanford , 20-13 vs. Cal. You could see the game coming where the Cougars put everything together and took down some unsuspecting favorite. And that game came today: quarterback Jeff Tuel had the game of his career, hitting 10-of-15 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown while adding 79 yards in the ground; the rest of a surprisingly productive run game chipped in 142 yards and three touchdowns; and the much-maligned Cougar defense forced three turnovers, hounded Beaver quarterback Ryan Katz into a quiet 12-for-21 performance, and held the Beavers to 261 yards overall. Unexpected as Wazzu's triumph might have been, especially coming in Corvallis, it was no fluke.
So maybe progress has been slow. But it's there. Wulff has Wazzu pointed in the right direction, and after today he deserves at least one more season to see how far in that direction he can go.
(As for the Beavers, well, TCU and Boise would like a refund, please.)
3. Arizona State is the Pac-10's hard-luck team. The Sun Devils have had a couple of games in which they outgained their opponent by wide margins and lost, but today wasn't one of them; visiting Stanford enjoyed a 420-268 yardage advantage. But this is still a team that lost at Wisconsin on a late missed extra point; gave away an excellent shot at a huge upset of Oregon with a flood of turnovers; lost to Oregon State when a late drive ended in an interception; to USC on a late missed field goal. You'd think that eventually Dennis Erickson 's team could buy a break, and when the Devils went up 13-10 late in the third quarter on a Steven Threet touchdown pass, it looked like that break might finally be coming.
But it wasn't: the Cardinal took over on their 15 and went 85 yards to score an Owen Marecic touchdown with just over five minutes remaining. ASU's following drive went nowhere, and Stanford picked up three first downs to ice the game. The Sun Devils have now played the BCS's Nos. 1, 6, and 7 teams and lost by a total of 16 points. But they'll still have to sweep their final two games vs. UCLA and at Arizona just to make a bowl game.
4. This isn't Mike Stoops' breakthrough season, either. Arizona has famously never been to the Rose Bowl, but even if Oregon made clear the Wildcats aren't getting there this year relatively early, Stoops could have still hoped for his first 10-win season and top-20 final ranking -- goals his team looked well on their way to fulfilling after their early-season win over Iowa .
Since then, though, the Wildcats have gone a ho-hum 4-3 with two of those wins over the Washington schools and the latest result a dispiriting 24-21 home loss to USC. The Trojans aren't a bad team by any means, but if the Wildcats want to be taken seriously as Pac-10 contenders, winning home games against their fellow upper-end-of-the-pack rivals (not to mention avoiding getting outrushed 205-51) is a step they'll have to take. Unless Arizona pulls a shocker in Eugene next weekend, eight regular season wins will be the ceiling.
Posted on: November 8, 2010 12:44 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
What would you say about a Coaches' Poll voter who looked over the college football landscape after Saturday's action and ranked Auburn , undefeated and owner of more top 25 wins than any team in the country, all the way down at No. 11? What would you say if he voted four different teams with two losses ahead of the Tigers, including a Missouri team coming off of a loss to Texas Tech and an Arizona team that lost at home to 4-4 Oregon State ? What would you say if he kept Alabama all the way up at No. 5, ahead of not only the Auburn team two games ahead of it in the SEC West standings but 12 spots ahead of the 8-1 LSU team that just beat it head-to-head?
What you would say is that this voter had lost his damn mind and deserved to have his voting privileges revoked. You would say he deserved no part in a BCS process where so, so much is riding on every ballot. And you would be right.
Then why do so many college football analysts, fans, and statisticians insist that the six computer rankings that enter into the BCS formula -- each of which carries far, far more weight than any single Coaches' Poll or Harris Poll ballot -- be allowed to use margin-of-victory as part of their calculations? Because the hypothetical ballot above is exactly what the computers would spit out; it's the current "Predictor" rankings as produced by ratings guru Jeff Sagarin , where margin-of-victory is all-important and straight wins and losses irrelevant. Sagarin has stated unequivocally that he would prefer submitting the "Predictor" rating to the BCS-mandated margin-of-victory-ignoring "ELO_Chess," for the reasons laid out here by fellow BCS computer rater Kenneth Massey and baseball statistical godfather Bill James :
“You’re asked to rank teams that don’t play each other, that don’t play long seasons, and you can’t include margin of victory?” said Massey, who provides a “better version” on his Web site, masseyratings.com . “It’s a very challenging problem from a data-analysis standpoint. It does require sacrificing a bit of accuracy. It’s not the best way to do it" ...Maybe the math is nonsense. But shouldn't that be weighed against the fact that to virtually everyone else who follows college football, ranking Alabama ahead of LSU is an act of even greater nonsense?
The problem is that ratings system like the Sagarin "Predictor" and Massey's preferred system (which also ranks the Tide over the Bayou Bengals) aren't even trying to do the same things the BCS rankings are attempting to do. Their goal is to identify which teams are the "best," the most powerful, the most likely to win a given matchup; as its name implies, what "Predictor" wants to do is forecast the future, and there's no doubt it would do a better job of this than "ELO_Chess."
But certain unfortunate tiebreaks (like TCU 's and Boise State 's current predicament) excepted, BCS berths aren't awarded on the basis of hypothetical future results, or guesses at perceived strengths. They're awarded on the basis of achievement, on wins and losses and conference championships. Including margin-of-victory may make the BCS computer rankings "more accurate" when it comes to selecting which teams are playing the best football, but it would make them less accurate when it comes to answering the question the BCS rankings are trying to answer: which teams are most deserving .
That ought to be cause enough to keep the rankings margin-of-victory-free, even before we start wondering whether we really want the BCS nodding in approval as Boise desperately tries to hit the century mark week-in and week-out on the San Jose State s and Wyoming s of the world. (Not to mention it's already a shame when a player injures himself in a game that's well in hand; what happens when LaMichael James or Justin Blackmon tears an ACL trying to tack on a computer-mandated score at the end of a 60-7 blowout?) No, it's not particularly fair for TCU's annihilation of Utah to go in the BCS computers' books as nothing more than a W. But as the Horned Frogs' jump up the human polls shows, it's simply not true to say the BCS doesn't take the impressiveness of their victory into account at all.
The bottom line is that by including scoring margin (even one capped at, say, three touchdowns) in their computer rankings, the BCS would officially declare every win numerically judged like a figure skating routine, would give the thumbs-up to coaches like Bob Stoops who'd prefer to quit on a potential win over risking an embarrassing loss, would agree with "Predictor" that Alabama beating Duke by 49 points is more important than LSU beating Alabama by 3. The computer rankings could be better, but the way forward isn't to open a Pandora's box that college football would be much the worse for having opened.