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 23, 2010 1:43 pm

Texas needs to play more road games

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The last time we saw Texas play at home, it was shocking the world by getting its butt handed to it by a UCLA team that's proven to be pretty awful this season.  Then the Longhorns went to Lincoln last week and knocked off the undefeated Cornhuskers, and for a moment we thought that order had been restored.

Maybe it hasn't.

At halftime in Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium the Longhorns find themselves trailing Iowa State 14-3.  Yes, you read that right.  Iowa State is beating Texas in Austin, and it's not a fluke.  In fact, Texas might consider itself lucky not to be losing by more.  Following the touchdown that gave the Cyclones a 14-3 lead, Iowa State opted for an onside kick and recovered it, but couldn't go anywhere against the Texas defense.

Which would be encouraging for Texas fans if they had an offense that could do anything.  The Longhorns problems in the red zone continue today, as they had one drive stalled by a penalty and had to settle for a field goal, another that ended with Garrett Gilbert being picked off in the end zone, and then one finishing with a missed field goal just before halftime.

The way things look, Texas' defense should be able to keep Iowa State from running away with it, but unless the Longhorns offense gets its act together in the second half, an already disappointing season in Austin could turn plain ugly.
Posted on: October 22, 2010 1:26 pm

A visual representation of UCLA's offense

Posted by Tom Fornelli

They call the style of offense that UCLA runs the Pistol offense, but after watching the Bruins get absolutely pasted by the Oregon Ducks last night, it struck us here at the College Football Blog as something else.  Something a bit more, let's just say, primitive.

Yes, I know.  My artistic skills are amazing.
Posted on: October 20, 2010 12:33 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2010 12:33 pm

Oregon helps color-out fad up and over the shark

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

fans, Chip Kelly and the rest of the Duck football program have a request for you :


Imagine a television backdrop where every fan in Autzen is wearing brilliant bright yellow. Chip Kelly, along with all of us in the athletic department ask you to "yellow out" the stadium this Thursday, as we won’t only be in 3D, but the game will be televised nationally in primetime on ESPN.

Be a part of this spectacular show with your yellow best.. and once again make Autzen rock the nation.

Strangely enough, when this neutral college football fan imagines a television backdrop where every fan in Autzen is wearing brilliant bright yellow, the result is a peculiar desire to claw his own eyes out. It's crime enough against good taste (and the continued proper functioning of viewers' retinas) when the Ducks themselves trot out the all-yellow look . An entire stadium of yellow-clad fans matched by an entire team of yellow-clad Ducks might require the surgeon general to recommend some kind of protective goggles if we're going to watch the country's No. 1 team's likely beatdown of visiting UCLA .

Nonetheless, the Oregon administration feels that "yellow will best represent our football program and fan base to the rest of the country." And it might, if this becomes the tipping point at which college football collectively realizes that the color-out fad has run its course, and afterwards recognizes Oregon for taking the necessary final step towards its eradication.

That won't happen, of course; if Lane Kiffin 's candy-corn blackout at Tennessee couldn't stop the color-out bandwagon, nothing will. (It's a safe bet we'll also find out later that any and all visiting recruits "loved it.") But you do have to give Oregon credit for trying.

A certain, twisted kind of credit, that is.

HT: Dr. Saturday


Posted on: October 19, 2010 11:38 am

USC, UCLA to receive more TV money in new Pac-12

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While conferences like the Big Ten and SEC have always split revenues from television deals equally amongst the schools within their conferences, that has never been the case in the Pac-10.  In the Pac-10, while the conference splits revenues from bowl appearances and the NCAA basketball tournament, television money has always been distributed according to the number of times each team has appeared on television.

The more often you are on television, the more money you'll get. 

Now you would think that this would change once the conference expands to twelve teams next season, as the conference looks for a new television deal that should be a lot more lucrative than its current deal, and also has its eyes on its own television network like the Big Ten has.  However, according to a report in The Seattle Times, that's not the case.  The current arrangement being discussed would see the two Los Angeles schools, USC and UCLA, getting $2 million more than the ten other schools in the new Pac-12.
Sources familiar with the Pac-10's recent discussions over the expansion issues say the presidents will vote on a proposed $2 million-per-year payout apiece for USC and UCLA above the other 10 members of the new Pac-12 until the year that combined broadcast revenues reach a certain threshold. Then the 12 members would share equally.

That threshold is still in question, and probably will range from $130 million to $170 million annually. Consensus on the number could be fine-tuned already, as Scott is known to have had back-channel talks with presidents as a result of groundwork laid by athletic directors in recent months.
The Pac-10 currently pulls in about $53 million annually from its television deals for football and basketball, though that number should grow by quite a bit when a new deal is struck.  Still, just because the conference should earn a lot more money, that doesn't mean it's guaranteed.  Which, if were to happen, could lead to trouble for the conference down the line.

Just ask the Big 12 what happens when one team gets a bigger piece of the pie than the rest, and other grow tired of being treated like a lesser member of the conference.
Posted on: October 17, 2010 10:57 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2010 11:31 pm

Can Oregon make the BCS Championship Game?

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

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 13, 2010 10:32 am
Edited on: October 13, 2010 10:34 am

Source: UCLA suspensions for failed drug tests

Posted by Chip Patterson

So far, the only result from yesterday's buzz about punishments at UCLA has been the suspension of wide receiver Josh Smith and F-back Morrell Presley for the Oregon game on October 21.  Certainly not the rumored three to six players, but losing two starters will still put a dent in the Bruins offense.  The official reason for the suspension was a vague "violation of team rules," but reports out of Los Angeles have offered suggestions as to the specific violation.

The Los Angeles Times has cited two sources from within the UCLA program that have tied the suspensions to a team-issued random drug test.  According to the report, UCLA's drug policy calls for a one-game suspension upon a third positive test. The first positive test results in the team doctor being told, mandatory counseling and future testing. The second failed test results in the coach and associate athletic director being notified, with more counseling and tests.

This is falling right on the heels of two Washington State players being arrested with 38 marijuana plants in their residence.  Would anyone suggest that perhaps the Bruins is in cahoots with their Pac-10 green-loving brethren.  I certainly would not suggest it, but the ferret might.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com