Posted on: October 24, 2010 2:44 am
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 23, 2010 12:24 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:13 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Here's the weather outlook for all of today's important matchups. You like storms? We got storms. There's a front moving through the nation's heartland, and there's copious amounts of rain all the way from Chicago to Texas. Will this affect Missouri-Oklahoma? All times are Eastern.
Purdue at No. 11 Ohio State, 12:00, Columbus, OH: Upper 50s, clear
Syracuse at No. 20 West Virginia, 12:00, Morgantown, WV: Mid 60s, mostly cloudy
No. 8 Michigan State at Northwestern, 12:00, Evanston, IL: Upper 50s, rain
Ole Miss at No. 21 Arkansas, 12:21, Fayetteville, AR: Upper 60s, cloudy (storms later)
No. 10 Wisconsin at No. 12 Iowa, 3:30, Iowa City, IA: Upper 60s, chance of rain
No. 6 LSU at No. 5 Auburn, 3:30, Auburn, AL: Upper 70s, clear
No. 14 Nebraska at No. 17 Oklahoma State, 3:30, Stillwater, OK: Mid 70s, chance of storms
No. 7 Alabama at Tennessee, 7:00, Knoxville, TN: Mid 60s, partly cloudy
No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 18 Missouri, 8:00, Columbia, MO: Mid 60s, scattered storms
Air Force at No. 4 TCU, 8:00, Fort Worth, TX: Upper 60s, scattered storms
Late night kickoffs
Washington at No. 15 Arizona, 10:15, Tucson, AZ: Upper 60s, partly cloudy
Posted on: October 22, 2010 5:49 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet. Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.
BreakfastMain Course - Northwestern vs. #8 Michigan State - Noon - ESPN
Michigan State leads the way for breakfast for the second straight week, which is what happens when you're the only undefeated team left in the Big Ten. Be forewarned, though, just because this matchup doesn't seem all that appealing, it...ok, it isn't really. It's just that the morning slate is light again because that's just the way things work in this television dominated world.
Still, the Spartans shouldn't take Northwestern all that lightly. First of all, no road game is easy, even if it's being played in a stadium with 35 people in it. Yes, Northwestern inexplicably dropped a game to Purdue last week, but that's Northwestern's style. It has a tendency to play to its opponents. So there's a chance that the Wildcats could hand MSU it's first "Sparty, no!" of the season.
Side Orders: Ohio State hosts Purdue, and this game may be interesting for a few reasons. First of all, it's our first chance to see how the Buckeyes will respond following a loss, and they'll also be looking for revenge for last season's loss in West Lafayette. Speaking of revenge, I'm sure Notre Dame wouldn't mind beating Navy and starting a new trend there as well. Or you can just watch Texas, West Virginia and Virginia Tech romp over some conference foes.
LunchMain Course - #5 Auburn vs. #6 LSU - 3:30pm - CBS
Two undefeated Tigers roll into Jordan-Hare on Saturday, and only one will emerge. Who is it going to be? Well, there are going to be two different games being played in this one. There's the game between each team's strength -- Auburn's offense and LSU's defense -- and their weakness -- Auburn's defense and LSU's offense.
Odds are that whichever team's weakness best resembles a strength is going to emerge victorious, and have a much easier path to the SEC title and possibly a BCS game. If you're wondering which way I'm leaning, well, I'll just say that one team has Cam Newton at quarterback and the other has some indecipherable combination of Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee.
Also, I'll be doing a live-chat during this game over at our Facebook page, so stop on by and make fun of Les Miles for four hours with me, won't you?
Side Orders: The afternoon is packed with some big games this week. If for some reason two undefeated teams battling it out isn't good enough for you, you can always go with Iowa and Wisconsin or the also undefeated Oklahoma State taking on previously undefeated Nebraska.
Main Course - #18 Missouri vs. #3 Oklahoma - 8pm - ABC
Personally, I've been waiting to dig in to this one for a while. I've seen Missouri play a few times this season, and as I've said here before, I'm just not sure what to make of them. The Tigers are a good team, but are they really 11th in the BCS good? Is that what a couple of victories over some 3-3 BCS teams and nobody else gets you these days?
Whatever the case, we'll find out on Saturday night. If the Tigers can knock off the team that sits atop the current BCS standings, then I guess we have to take them seriously.
Though, I feel I should point this out as well, just so Missouri fans can hate me a little less, I think Oklahoma is a bit overrated as well. Still, I think the Sooners will prove to be better on Saturday night.
Side Orders: Bit of an light night on the menu this week. There really aren't any other marquee matchups being played on Saturday night. Kentucky and Georgia could be interesting seeing as how both teams are still alive in the SEC East, but other than that the only game that even catches my eye is TCU and Air Force. Though, if you hate yourself, you could always tune in to Texas A&M and Kansas.
Late Night SnackThe Washington Huskies have found a home as a late-night snack here. I've featured them here twice in the last few weeks, and they're undefeated in those games. Can they run the streak to three on the road against an Arizona team that is without Nick Foles?
Tags: Air Force, Arizona, Auburn, Cam Newton, Georgia, Iowa, Jarrett Lee, Jordan Jefferson, Kansas, Kentucky, LSU, Michigan State, Missouri, Navy, Nebraska, Nick Foles, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Saturday Meal Plan, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 18, 2010 2:47 pm
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 10:57 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2010 11:31 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Certainly, one of the teams that got the best news tonight is Oregon, ranked second in the initial BCS rankings. While there's only so much that can be read into these rankings with six games of play remaining, of course, the fact remains that as of right now Oregon is projected to go to Glendale to play for the BCS Championship.
So, those six games. There's no such thing as an automatic win in college football these days, but the Ducks should be heavily favored in the majority of these contests.
October 21, vs. UCLA: UCLA is of the most schizophrenic teams in the country, blowing out Houston and Texas but getting crushed by Stanford and a truly mediocre California. Still, even with the Bruins playing at their best, it's hard to imagine they can put up enough points to keep pace with the Oregon offense.
October 30, at USC: If there's any team left on Oregon's schedule that has the sheer talent to run with the Ducks for 60 minutes, it's likely USC. Lane Kiffin's team, led by emerging star Matt Barkley, is young and lacking in depth, but still explosively athletic. If Oregon's really a championship team, it'll handle the Trojans.
November 6 vs. Washington: Anyone think Jake Locker can lead the Huskies to eight touchdowns against Oregon's defense? Because the Ducks are probably putting up at least a 50-spot on the Washington defense.
November 13 at California: It's a road game, which means the Ducks have no business looking past the Bears. They probably won't, and on paper, they'll probably win by about five or six touchdowns here. But you never know -- there's no such thing as a safe road game anymore. We'll see if the game on paper resembles the game on the field.
November 26 vs. Arizona: Here's another potential roadblock for the Ducks; Arizona quarterback (and the Pac-10's leading passer up until his knee injury) Nick Foles should be healthy by the time this game rolls around, and Arizona is one of the few teams that has an offense that might keep pace with the Ducks. Might.
December 4, at Oregon State: Oregon State QB Ryan Katz is developing as a passer game by game, but the Beavers surely miss wideout James Rodgers, lost for the year with an awful knee injury. But that Oregon State defense doesn't have the horses or the discipline to keep Oregon down, so even though this is a rivalry game and anything can happen -- especially with a BCS championship at stake -- this is a probable win.
So yes, Oregon's road to an unbeaten record is relatively safe. Now, there's another question of whether Oregon can stave off Oklahoma and Auburn if they both go unbeaten, too. But that's a question the BCS will be tasked with answering, isn't it?
Posted on: October 17, 2010 3:14 am
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.
Posted on: October 16, 2010 12:54 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:16 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Here's the weather outlook for all of today's important matchups. It's another gorgeous day across the country, but it's starting to get just a little bit chilly. You should still bring the sunscreen. All times are Eastern.
Boston College at No. 16 Florida State , 12:00, Tallahassee, FL: Low 70s, clear
Illinois at No. 13 Michigan State, 12:00 , East Lansing, MI: Mid 50s, partly cloudy
Missouri at No. 21 Texas A&M, 12:00 , College Station, TX: Low 70s, clear
No. 15 Iowa at Michigan , 3:30, Ann Arbor, MI: Low 60s, partly cloudy
No. 12 Arkansas at No. 7 Auburn , 3:30, Auburn, AL: Low 70s, clear
Texas at No. 5 Nebraska , 3:30, Lincoln, NE: Low 70s, clear
No. 10 South Carolina at Kentucky , 6:00, Lexington, KY: Low 60s, clear
No. 1 Ohio State at No. 18 Wisconsin , 7:00, Madison, WI: Mid 50s, partly cloudy
Mississippi State at No. 22 Florida , 7:00, Gainesville, FL: Low 60s, clear
Late night kickoffs
Ole Miss at No. 8 Alabama , 9:00, Tuscaloosa, AL: Low 50s, clear
No. 24 Oregon State at Washington , 10:15, Seattle, WA: Mid 40s, partly cloudy
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Big 12, Big Ten, Boston College, Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Kickoff Weather, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oregon State, Pac-10, SEC, South Carolina, Texas, Texas A&M, Washington, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 10, 2010 1:44 am
Edited on: October 10, 2010 3:39 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
1. This conference is Oregon's and nobody else's. The Oregon Ducks didn't look great tonight in their 43-23 win over Washington State -- and they weren't looking great even before Darron Thomas left, either -- but they must be thrilled with the way the rest of the conference shook down tonight. Stanford dispatched USC, and we'll talk about that in a second, and Oregon State knocked Arizona from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 29-27 win. The more the other nine teams of the Pac-10 beat each other up, the easier the Ducks' road to the conference crown becomes. Not like they've needed the help so far.
2. When it matters, USC can't make the stop. Last week, Jake Locker led the Washington Huskies on a last-minute drive against the USC defense, and Erik Folk hit a game-winning field goal to beat the Trojans, 32-31. This week, same scenario: the Trojans score a touchdown to take a 35-34 lead on Stanford with 1:12, and everybody in the stadium knows that's too much time to give Andrew Luck. Sure enough, Stanford drives, Stanford moves the chains over and over, and Luck gets the Cardinal in place with enough time to spare that before the game-winning field goal, Luck had the luxury of running a play where he could down the ball in the middle of the field. Nate Whitaker was true on his kick, and USC found itself on a losing streak. Clearly that can't continue if the Trojans want a better destination than the Emerald Bowl this season.
3. The end zone tackle has got to go. First of all, if you haven't seen the knee injury suffered by James Rodgers, don't. It's gross and heart-breaking. The fact that it came on a tackle in the end zone, two strides past the goal line, only worsens the circumstance. Obviously, Arizona safety Adam Hall was just playing defense and not giving up on the play, but his effort really should have stopped at the strip attempt he made at the goal line--not by dragging Rodgers down five yards in. If the NCAA wants an issue to take up in the offseason, declaring tackling in the end zone after the whistle unnecessary roughness would be a good place to start.
4. This conference might be Andrew Luck's and Jake Locker's now, but it'll be Ryan Katz's soon. Oregon State's sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz, a first-year starter, is not the best quarterback in the conference. He might get honorable mention. But from Week 1, he's been a surprisingly talented thrower, and he looked as good today against that normally decent Arizona pass defense as he has all season long. Katz had 393 yards and two scores through the air, and he did it without Rodgers for more than 30 minutes of play. As long as Oregon State keeps talented receivers around Katz, he's going to be putting up some huge numbers very soon.