Tag:Bryan Fischer
Posted on: September 16, 2011 11:24 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2011 11:34 pm
 

Report: Syracuse, Pitt in talks with the ACC

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Big East schools Syracuse and Pittsburgh are in talks with the ACC to join the conference, according to the New York Times.

Officials from each school and both conferences denied the discussions were taking place to the Times and did not offer a comment.

The person with knowledge of the talks declined to speculate on a timetable or the seriousness of the discussions. But in this delicate time for conferences and their futures, the discussions between the 12-team A.C.C. and two Big East members is significant.

Syracuse is a founding member of the Big East and Pitt has been in the league since 1982. The ACC has already raided the Big East once before, adding Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech in 2004. Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg was instrumental in keeping the league together following the three schools departure.

“We’ve been dealing with the fluidity of the conference landscape on multiple levels for a week,” Amy Yakola, the ACC.’s associate commissioner for public relations and marketing told the Times, “and at this point we wouldn’t be able to comment on speculation.”

Reports surfaced earlier in the week that the ACC might be a possible landing spot for Texas as well, should the Big 12 fall apart with the departures of Texas A&M to the SEC and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to the Pac-12.


Posted on: September 16, 2011 4:16 pm
 

Miami-Ohio St looking for a game, not headlines

Posted by Bryan Fischer

MIAMI -- Is Oklahoma going to the Pac-12? Did you see LSU's defense Thursday night? The NCAA reinstated someone from Boise State!

The world of college football this year seems to be about everything but the games six days a week. Saturday, of course, things stop. There's tailgates and touchdowns, quarterbacks and queso, defensive backs and racks full of ribs.

Likewise, much to Mark Emmert, Donna Shalla and E. Gordon Gee's chagrin, Saturday's primetime match up between Miami and Ohio State has seemingly been about everything but what will take place at Sun Life Stadium. The Ineligible Bowl. The Tats and Cash Fiesta. The Yahoo! Sports Bowl. Convict Boosters vs. well… Convict Boosters.

For what it's worth though, there will be no boosters on the sideline according to Miami officials.

Everyday this week, it seemed that each program was in the news for off the field distractions. Tuesday, the NCAA reinstated three Buckeyes after accepting money - via disgraced quarterback Terrelle Pryor - from a booster. On Thursday, Miami's most famous booster, Uncle Luke, announced plans to sue Miami's most infamous booster, Nevin Shapiro. Before the game on the field, games were played in the headlines during the run-up.

"What has been our strategy? Just focus on what we can control," Hurricanes head coach Al Golden said. "Again, I keep saying it. No one on our staff was involved with anything that occurred here, and 90% of our team wasn't.

"There are some distractions there. There are a lot of things. I'm sure Coach (Luke) Fickell has the same issues in terms of every move that you make requires a double move basically."

Golden's starter at quarterback tomorrow, Jacory Harris was suspended for the opener, a loss to Maryland. He's looking to make up for his performance in the Horseshoe last year when he threw four interceptions in a 36-24 loss. For a team looking to put it all out on the field after a rough month off of it, perhaps it is fitting that the Hurricanes' fate will rest on someone who was taken off of it for eligibility issues.

Beyond last year's loss and Harris' issues though, this game means something to Miami. They're looking to avoid an 0-2 start for the first time since 1978 and end their four game losing streak. It's Golden's home debut leading the Hurricanes as well, something the team is clearly focused on - not the nicknames for their Ohio State showdown.

“He's been through the thick and thin with us through this whole [NCAA investigation]," senior Travis Benjamin said. ”We just want to come out and get a W for coach Golden.”

The Buckeyes are not without their own issues as they take their slightly less talented roster to South Beach. The team struggled last week and almost lost to Toledo were it not for John Simon's interception of the Rockets' backup quarterback late in the game. They'll be without four key players due to suspension in receiver DeVier Posey, tackle Mike Adams, running back Dan Herron and backup end Soloman Thomas. Those four will stay in Ohio while the other member of the Buckeye Five will be in Oakland. Not that anyone will bring any of that up.

"We hope and we think that this is what the game is all about, to be able to handle adversity and we believe it's going to make us stronger in the long run," Fickell said. "It starts from the top down. We can't let it affect me so that we can't let it affect them, as well."

Speaking of suspended players, Miami has at the early lead going on: they'll get back five players to Ohio State's three.

The Hurricanes will likely play a key role in the game as well. Linebacker Sean Spence will be a key defender in the middle of the defense behind linemen Marcus Forston and Adewale Ojomo. A speedy receiver, Benjamin should also provide a boost for the offense. Starting running back Jordan Hall, corner Travis Howard and reserve safety Corey Brown are back for the Buckeyes.

It won't quite be the 2003 Fiesta Bowl in terms of talent on the field but there's no ignoring how big a game it is between the two programs who are not on friendly terms.

"We try not to focus on, `Hey, this is a national game because of Miami and their great history and Ohio State's great history,'" Fickell said. "We're still making sure we understand it's one game at a time, like we always say, but it's still about getting better. It's a chance to obviously test ourselves."

Miami's home opener will be emotional. Ohio State is no doubt looking to silence critics. There will be story lines aplenty.

But as 7:30 eastern rolls around, it will - finally - be just a game.
 

Posted on: September 16, 2011 3:28 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 3

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.

We're in the third week of the regular season which means that we're finishing up with the appetizers of the college football menu and getting to the main courses. This week we've got plenty of entrees guaranteed to keep your cardiologist's savings account healthy, as plenty of BCS schools clash and conferences like the SEC continue to delve into conference play. So prepare yourself for an endless bounty taste and bold flavors, and for the love of Bear Bryant, make sure you wear pants with an elastic waistband.

BREAKFAST

Maryland vs. #18 West Virginia - ESPNU 12pm ET

The Terps will be donning their all black uniform combination for their first outing since taking down Miami on Labor Day evening. West Virginia's potent offense has been scoring on nearly 70% of their drives, so it will be on sophomore Danny O'Brien to keep up with the high-powered Mountaineers. Unfortunately, he lost two of his top weapons when Ronnie Tyler and Quinton McCree were suspended indefinitely on Thursday. - Chip Patterson

Clemson vs. #21 Auburn - ABC 12pm ET

There won't be much in the way of offensive surprises for either defense this game: Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris learned his offensive schemes from Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn when both were high school coaches, and both vaulted to their current jobs after operating that same scheme at Tulsa. If that would seem to favor Malzahn's Tigers (who have three years of familiarity with the offense over Clemson's one), remember that this is also the exceptionally green Auburn lineup's first game away from the Plains. Can the Tiger cubs handle Death Valley? - Jerry Hinnen

Iowa vs. Pitt - ESPN2 - 12pm ET

This should be quite the interesting game. Both teams are coming off subpar Week 2 performances, with Iowa dropping a 44-41 thriller to Iowa State in 3OT, and Pitt holding off a late Maine rally to win 35-29. Iowa would appear to hold the advantage here, being that the game is at Kinnick Stadium, but since neither team is playing at a high level, no result would be a shocker. Plus, if anything, Michigan and Notre Dame just demonstrated how fun games can be when both teams are trying to lose. - Adam Jacobi

LUNCH

#11 Nebraska vs. Washington - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET

Incredibly, this will be the third meeting between Nebraska and Washington in the last year; the two teams met on September 18 last year, then held a rematch in the Holiday Bowl. The rubber match here should tell us plenty about where both teams stand as we near conference play -- does Washington have what it takes to hang with a ranked foe this year? Will the Cornhuskers finally live up to their preseason hype and No. 11 ranking? Let's find out. - AJ

#16 Florida vs. Tennessee - CBS 3:30pm ET

Don't expect Week 2's trend of high-scoring shootouts in the SEC's highest-profile games to change in Gainesville. The Vols are banged-up and inexperienced in the front seven, and seem like little match for a Gator ground game featuring Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps; the Gators start two true freshmen in their secondary and could be lit up by quarterback Tyler Bray and explosive receiving duo Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers. First team to 40 wins. - JH

UCLA vs. #23 Texas - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET

Much like the city of Los Angeles itself, Rick Neuheisel forever finds himself standing on shaky ground at UCLA. The Bruins haven't quite become Los Angeles' team like the program boasted it would when Rick came to town, but a second straight win over the Texas Longhorns could go a long way toward making it a reality. Meanwhile the Longhorns will unleash the quarterbacking duo of Case McCoy and David Ash this weekend, so tune in to see what the Texas offense might look like when it isn't tossing out interceptions like Tootsie Rolls on Halloween. - Tom Fornelli

Notre Dame vs. #15 Michigan State - NBC 3:30pm ET

The first two weeks of the season have been a nightmare for Notre Dame. Ten turnovers and two losses are not the way the Irish had planned on starting the return to glory, and things may get even worse before they get better. Michigan State has yet to be truly tested so far in 2011 but if Sparty can go into South Bend and get a win then Brian Kelly will have some pretty big fires to put out. - TF

DINNER

Kentucky vs. Louisville - ESPNU 7pm ET

While this game might fall short of marquee status, it still pits two hated rivals against each other early in the year. Louisville needs to bounce back from a home loss to FIU, and Kentucky needed a 4th quarter comeback to defeat Central Michigan. I expect a lot of passion, and possible hilarity to ensue as both the Cardinals and Wildcats will be starting true freshman on the offensive line. Though, as Morgan Newton has proven this year, you don't need defensive linemen for a sack. - CP

Illinois vs. #22 Arizona State - Big Ten Network 7pm ET

Fresh off an overtime win, Arizona State heads on the road for the first time of the year to take on undefeated Illinois. This game features an underrated quarterback match up between 6-foot-8 signal-caller Brock Osweiler and dual-threat Nathan Scheelhaase. Of course you'll also want to tune in for one of the best linebackers in college football in Vontaze Burfict trying to stop the Illini. - Bryan Fischer

Miami vs. #17 Ohio State - ESPN 7:30pm ET

One team prefers to trade memorabilia for tattoos and cash, the other has enjoyed cover charges and open bars at adult entertainment nightclubs.  What better idea than to get them all together in South Beach on a Saturday night?  Al Golden and Luke Fickell navigate two programs under NCAA investigation into a primetime heavyweight bout with both teams needing a strong performance to live up to expectations. Get your "LAST" button greased up so you can bounce between this game and OU-FSU. - CP

#5 Florida State vs. #1 Oklahoma - ABC 8pm ET

In a weekend full of wonderful games, this one is the marquee matchup. Two top five teams clash in Tallahassee as Florida State tries to show the world that it is indeed back and a national title contender, while Oklahoma looks to prove to the world that it is the best team in the country. This one should be an exciting battle, and one of the key areas to watch will be how Florida State's offensive line handles the Sooners' defensive line. - TF

LATE NIGHT SNACK

Arizona vs. #6 Stanford - ESPN 10:45pm ET

Do you like quarterbacks? Do you like offense? If so, the Stanford-Arizona game will offer plenty of both as Andrew Luck roles into the desert to take on Nick Foles.  While the Cardinal are not quite as explosive as the Wildcats' opponent last week (Oklahoma State), they bring in a trio of tight ends to watch out for and running back Stepfan Taylor to pound away in the running game. - BF
Posted on: September 13, 2011 4:38 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2011 3:42 pm
 

PODCAST: The Pac-12, LSU-MSU & the Ineligibowl

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Bryan Fischer joins Adam Aizer and J. Darin Darst to talk about LSU-Mississippi State and the Ineligibowl (Ohio State-Miami), which he'll be attending this weekend. We've got the latest on the Boise State sanctions and we look at each 2-0 team in the Pac-12 and decide if we're buying or selling. Send us an email at cbsipodcastfeedback@cbs.com

You can listen to all this and more in the player below, or you can click here for the pop out player to continue browsing, or download the MP3.

You can find every episode of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast by subscribing on iTunes.



Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: September 12, 2011 4:06 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 4:23 pm
 

The Poll Attacks: Week 2

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.

With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.

AP Poll           Coaches Poll

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)

Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC

Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: Baylor

Really coaches? Again? I threw your sports information directors under the bus last week for having Baylor behind a TCU team they beat. Imagine my surprise to see this for the second consecutive week. I know you all believe in Gary Patterson. I do too. But they settled it on the field and he lost. Robert Griffin III will give your defensive coordinator the willies. The only thing I can think of is you're not big fans of schools that threaten others with lawsuits.

Overrated: Nebraska

Both polls have the Cornhuskers sitting in the top 10, behind 9th-ranked Texas A&M and ahead of 11th-ranked South Carolina. Perhaps it's our place to point out that the Taylor Martinez completed just 50% of his passes against Chattanooga in the opener. Or that it was a one point game entering the 4th quarter against Fresno State. But go ahead and rank them fifth Ira Schoffel. Sixth isn't much better Tom Murphy. Things won't get much better if they beat Washington either I'm guessing but at least we'll have a better idea of how good this team is.

California Craziness

A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.

Wilner was in this space last week but even though his ballot was utterly ridiculous again (Texas 14th? Almost as bad as Virginia Tech 23rd or Arkansas 25th), we'll move on to Mr. Ratto. I know he watches a lot of Pac-12 games out in San Francisco so why, then, do you have Oregon 23rd and Washington 14th? Are the Huskies' narrow victories over FCS Eastern Washington and Hawaii make them deserving of being ranked ahead of Baylor? Is losing to your number one ranked team - LSU - the reason for the Ducks being behind Texas? Or 12 spots behind USF? Did you see the Trojans eek out a victory for the second straight week? You certainly were not watching Arizona State beat Missouri. And I'm positive you didn't read Brett McMurphy's column saying Arkansas is talented enough to win the SEC because you fail to include the Razorbacks on your ballot. Craziness indeed.

What were you thinking? USF

Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette was in this spot last week for ranking USF fifth despite Notre Dame doubling their yardage and winning by three. So guess what? USF sits fifth once again. They're in the Big East. They beat an 0-2 Irish team by three. They might be good at the end of the year but in no way are they the fifth best team in the country. Wisconsin, Stanford, Florida State and all of the other teams you have behind them are better and it's not even close. I'm sorry, over-rating Notre Dame and then over-rating a team that beat them should get you kicked off the voting roster.

Come on man

Last week, I put my colleague over at SI.com, Andy Staples, in this space for ranking Boise State way too low at No. 13 in his ballot following their win against Georgia. Andy owned up to his mistake and apologized to Bronco Nation (and thus, me) for having them too far down. His week three ballot has the Blue turfers seventh between Florida State and Texas A&M. While Staples' polling has come around, he also gave me some good advice: I'm too nice.

Well, sorry Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman. You're now in the crosshairs thinks to Staples' advice.

I know you're a bit isolated up in Idaho but there has to be television with satellite somewhere in the state, right? You have Florida State as a borderline top 15 team (#13), UCF in the top 20 (highest out of anyone) along with Mississippi State two spots ahead of them. Oregon's still in the top 10 at No. seven and both Auburn and Ohio State are top 20 teams despite each narrowly escaping competition that usually plays on Thursday's.

Hlas' ballot is so terrible he gets an additional mention in this spot. USF, fifth. Seriously?

Also, the AP itself gets a mention for their mistake this week, which you can read more about here.


Posted on: September 12, 2011 9:41 am
Edited on: September 12, 2011 10:03 am
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 2

Posted by Bryan Fischer

College football's encore weekend not only lived up to expectations, but beat them.

It also caused at least few hearts to skip a beat or two around the country. It seemed like every channel you were on, there was a game coming down to the wire or ready to head to overtime. From the noon games to the night games, last Saturday was one big, drama-filled day.

Notre Dame-Michigan, USC-Utah, Cal-Colorado, Washington-Hawaii, North Carolina-Rutgers, Auburn-Mississippi State, Ohio State-Toledo, Texas-BYU, Iowa State-Iowa, Vanderbilt-UConn and several others left everyone on the edge of their seats. There weren't a ton of great defenses among the group but that didn't hamper the fun as teams either came back or fell just short. Heck, the first night game in Ann Arbor had as much drama as any of them in just 72 seconds.

One game I was really looking forward to going into Saturday was between the Hedges and that game more than lived up to expectations and put one coach in even hotter water.

The game seemed to be South Carolina personified. It's why everybody's hand trembled writing them in to win the SEC East this year. Not only was it the Gamecocks' history but they had a quarterback who frustrated fans and Old Ball Coaches alike in Stephen Garcia. When he threw his first interception of the game, it was simply Garcia being Garcia. The ESPN director, as if he understood perfectly, cut to a shot of Garcia with his hands on his hips, staring down his mistake while clinching his lips and a coach yelling at him. Later in the game he rolled out of the pocket and threw a beautiful pass that reminded everybody of his talent. Again, just Garcia being Garcia.

This is a good and very talented Gamecocks team that can beat anybody on any given Saturday if they don't wind up beating themselves first.

“Georgia outplayed us, give them credit, they outplayed us but somehow or another we won the game,” Steve Spurrier said post game. “Somehow it happens like that. Somebody was looking out for us tonight.”

Running back Marcus Lattimore broke out for 176 yards and a touchdown as the team rode him for 27 carries. USC will have to be wearing of overusing Lattimore because he's the key to their success but at least he had 10 fewer carries than he did against the Bulldogs a year ago. His ability to find just a little hole and take off is special and he certainly can run very hard between the tackles.

On the other side of the ball, how scary is the Gamecocks' defensive line? We knew it was going to be good but maybe not quite this nasty. Melvin Ingram was superb, taking a fake punt 68 yards for a touchdown and scooping up a fumble for a touchdown after fellow end Jadeveon Clowney nearly took off the head of UGA quarterback Aaron Murray. Only in the SEC do 275-pound defensive ends score twice in a game and run 68 yards while doing so.

The thing about Clowney, the nation's consensus number one recruit out of high school, is how he stands out on every snap just due to his size. Then, as soon as the ball is snapped, he stands out for his explosiveness and physicality - making you drop your job and say 'Wow' a couple of times a game. Heck, Murray might want to leave school early just to get away from him. Clowney still isn't up to speed mentally but it's coming and coming quickly. If you're an SEC quarterback with South Carolina on the schedule, prepare your ice bath in advance.

For Mark Richt, he might have to go bang his head against the wall a few times after every game. He's had injuries and suspensions and even NCAA issues thrown his way but there's still no getting around the fact that this is a good group of players who haven't lived up to expectations. Just when it seemed like Georgia was about to break through, they'd commit a big error. The good news is it looked like freshman running back Isaiah Crowell got going, rushing for 118 yards and a touchdown after breaking a few nice runs into the open field. But even as he took two steps forward, his fumble at midfield that Stephon Gilmore returned to the red zone was a step back. He's still a little behind in pass protection but the flashes he showed reminded everybody, coaches included, why he was so highly recruited out of high school.

The biggest thing that Richt can do next week is get his team to have fun against Coastal Carolina. There will be no avoiding hearing about his job status as the heat was turned up even higher after the loss - he has to get his team refocused before starting the heart of their SEC schedule. Get everybody involved, call some trick plays, something - anything - to get his team focused on having fun playing football instead of worrying about him. He can't eliminate all the distractions but he can get his team to buy back in week-by-week. The schedule is manageable enough that they could conceivably go 10-2 this year - more than enough to quiet critics for a few more months. The Bulldogs are talented but lost to two teams they should have to fall to 0-2 for the first time since 1996.

Now the trick is winning out using their own talented roster. No easy task but one that can certainly happen.

Stat of the week

If I had to take someone to Vegas with me, I just might select Gene Chizik. All he seems to do is give heart attack to the Auburn faithful and win last second games. The Tigers pulled off the upset this week against Mississippi State thanks to a goal line stand that kept quarterback Chris Relf out of the end zone by inches to preserve a 41-34 win at home.

"We'd prefer to win football games a lot different than we are, but there's something to be said when you can fight down to the end when it doesn't look good and still win the game," Chizik said after the game.

While the head coach certainly would prefer a less stressful ending to games, he might need to get used to them if his team is to keep winning. After taking nearly two hours just to play the first half against the Bulldogs, I was digging around looking for the total game time but managed to find an even more eye-popping stat.

Auburn's offense has averaged 56.5 plays during their first two games while the defense has averaged 90.5 snaps per game. Yes, the defense is almost literally on the field twice as long the offense. For a young team with issues on both sides of the ball, that's an uh-oh.

For comparison's sake, Arkansas has averaged 74.5 plays on offense and 57.5 on defense during their light non-conference schedule. Only two SEC teams have average more than 70 snaps on defense, and just six teams nationally have their defense on the field for more than 80 plays a game. No one even approaches 90 defensive plays a game. The national average for number of plays on defense is 67.3 and 68.8 on offense.

Up against that little issue, it's almost shocking Auburn's 2-0 but they are thanks to some late game heroics. Whether this is a serious flaw of just the byproduct of two crazy games remains to be seen but, bottom-line, Chizik needs to make some adjustments.

Other stats of note

- Michigan's Denard Robinson thrilled the country against Notre Dame and became the first UM quarterback to beat the Irish twice since Jim Harbaugh did so back in the late 1980's. He also has accounted for an astounding 96% of the offense the last two games between the schools.

- Texas has outscored its opponents 35-6 in the second half while USC outscored their opponent in the 4th quarter for just the fourth time in 15 games this weekend.

- Tyler Bray's 405 yards are the most for a Tennessee quarterback since the legend himself, Peyton Manning, wore orange. Bray finished 34-of-41 and tossed four touchdowns. Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers both had 10 catches for over 100 yards and the pair combined for three TD receptions.

- In the last 11 years, the Georgia-South Carolina series has only been decided by nine points or less eight times. Since 2004, the winner has had fewer than 20 points every year but 2009 and 2011.

- Alabama has not allowed a touchdown in the first quarter for seven straight games.

- Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly is a tackling machine once again this year. He has a nation's-best 35 total tackles while the next closest player has 27.

Yard-by-yard

- What an impressive, almost surgical attack led by Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden. The Cowboys' offense came out and pretty much blew away the Arizona secondary on Thursday en route to a 37-14 win in Stillwater. Weeden connected on his 13 passes and finished up with a ho-hum 397 yards after slowing down in the second half. He's flown under the radar a little bit (even in his own state) but in 15 starts, he has only two losses by a total of 16 points. It's sometime easy to say a lot of his success is due to receiver Justin Blackmon but Weeden is the triggerman for what the team does. This team can also run the ball pretty well - Joseph Randle is 15th in the country in rushing - and should make for a fun Big 12 regular season when they play fellow top 15 teams Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

- Senior writer Bruce Feldman touched on FIU in his Sunday column but what a win for Mario Cristobal's program. Their win over Louisville was the first win ever for the program over BCS team and showed that the Golden Panthers are more than just the dynamic all-purpose superstar T.Y. Hilton. They take on another rising in-state program in UCF this week and if they can pull off the upset, a run at going undefeated isn't out of the question. It will be tough to stop the Knights but FIU has the athletes and coaches to make it a game.

- Speaking of Louisville, their game against Kentucky might be downright unwatchable. Louisville is a mess offensively and their defense is suspect. Luckily for Charlie Strong, they'll face a Kentucky team that has serious issues with both lines. It's going to really be rough once the Wildcats get into SEC play this year if they continue to play as sloppy as they have been during their first two games. Fans from both schools are probably counting down the days until basketball season already.

- If there's one thing that might be different under Luke Fickell at Ohio State, it's the offense is involving the tight end more. Senior Jake Stoneburner came into the season with 22 catches for 252 yards and two touchdowns. Through two games this season he has eight catches for 93 yards and four TD's and seems to be one of quarterback Joe Bauserman's favorite targets. The Buckeyes haven't look completely in rhythm on offense but that's not Stoneburner's fault.

- Not sure what to make of Texas' win over BYU other than it's a baby step back to respectability. Garrett Gilbert's not who Mack Brown wanted him to be coming out of camp, looking shaky again with some bad decisions before being pulled for David Ash and Case McCoy. Using Ash in some zone read situations was a good change of pace and was a productive play with their speed at running back - a group that finally got going, including freshman Malcolm Brown. The defense still is a concern, as BYU seemed to pick apart the middle of the field. Might take awhile for everybody to get comfortable with Manny Diaz' system but there's some talent on the team. Baby steps.

- Two quarterbacks in the Northwest were rolling this weekend. In Oregon, Darron Thomas and the Ducks offense seemed to be back in their normal sixth-gear against Nevada. Thomas had just 13 attempts - after throwing for 54 against LSU - but six of them were for touchdowns on Saturday. Freshman De'Anthony Thomas had over 200 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns. He's a small but tough back who has speed to burn, should be fun to see what Chip Kelly does with him as he learns more of the playbook.

At Washington, Keith Price got the Huskies off to a 2-0 start by throwing for 315 yards and four touchdowns. He connected on his first eight throws and has spread the ball around to a good receiving group well. Things got a little tight against Hawaii but Price and running back Chris Polk kept the Huskies moving. This team may not be a top 15-caliber squad but they're certainly going to give others fits if they can stop playing down to their competition at times.

- I was a bit shocked to see that Clemson opened up as a favorite against Auburn this week, their own issues aside. Dabo Swinney's club struggled against Wafford and things are not going to get any easier. The offense is productive in the stat sheet but in they're still struggling to adjust to Chad Morris' system. The rush defense in particular is very concerning, ranking 107th in the country after two games against a Sun Belt and an FCS opponent.

- Several people in the Alabama program told me that the Crimson Tide defense might be the best ever under Nick Saban. After watching two games, I think they're close to being right. The score was a bit closer than expected against Penn State at 27-11 but this is a very good group. They look faster and deeper than the national championship squad a couple of years ago and are not the opposing quarterback's best friend, to say the least.

Pulling Rank

My top 10 after week 2:

1. Oklahoma

2. LSU

3. Alabama

4. Boise State

5. Texas A&M

6. Stanford

7. Wisconsin

8. Florida State

9. Oklahoma State

10. South Carolina

Where we'll be this week

I'll be out at the Ineligible Bowl, Ohio State at Miami on Saturday. Senior writer Brett McMurphy is in Tallahassee for the top five showdown of Oklahoma and Florida State.

Across the goal line

There were a series of firsts in the USC-Utah game I was at this weekend. Trojans kicker Andre Heidari recorded the first points in Pac-12 conference history while teammate Marc Tyler will be in the record books for scoring the first touchdown. Thanks to their 17-14 win over the Utes, USC won the final Pac-10 game and the very first Pac-12 game.

More on College Football
Analysis
Dennis Dodd Dennis Dodd
Alabama's win over Penn State means AJ stands for 'starting quarterback.'. Read >>
Brett McMurphy Brett McMurphy
My AP ballot: Off weeks, cupcake foes mean no change at top. Read >>
Tony Barnhart Tony Barnhart
Bulldogs miss big chance to regain momentum in loss to Gamecocks. Read >>
Related links
Video
Wait, excuse me, thanks to their 23-14 victory.

In many ways, the first ever Pac-12 conference game - which wasn't really true because Colorado and Cal played earlier that day in an overtime "non-conference" game - featured many of the same elements of its Pac-10 predecessors. There were big plays on offense, a close game, USC on national (cable) television at night and, oh yeah, an officiating controversy.

As I walked down the steps of the Coliseum toward the field right before their drive, I kept thinking this was a welcome to the conference moment for Utah. Boy was it ever.

I was about 10 yards away when, on 4th down, DeVonte Christopher caught an in-route that seemed to fall just short of the first down marker. It seemed like a bad spot but the refs said it was a turnover on downs. Then they reviewed it, remarked the spot and gave Utah a first down. Saved by Pac-10… er, -12 replay officials.

Then there was the pass interference call on the next play. That set up the Utes' field goal attempt. I couldn't quite see the holder but was looking at the middle of the line in case the kick was blocked. Next thing I know the ball is bouncing right into the hands of USC corner Torin Harris and he's off to the end zone. The crowd and sidelines were going crazy as he raced to the end zone. I turned to talk to a colleague and saw a few players run out to get a better angle on the return. Seconds later I saw the flag, then the announcement that the game was over. The touchdown didn't count, but the game was over.

What just happened I wondered. Duty, however, called as I tried to grab a few players to talk about the win (or, in the case of the Utes, loss). I kept thinking how close Utah had gotten and, in their first conference game, they had played like they belonged despite coming up short in the win column. They came into a storied venue and almost knocked off the conference's most storied program. Utah is a good team that was well coached but wasn't quite good enough on a beautiful Saturday night in Los Angeles.

Then there was a tweet that popped up as I got back to the press box to begin transcribing. Hold your horses, the score was in question. The Pac-12 was reviewing what happened at the end of the game. As Michael Lev of the O.C. Register noted down on the field, the touchdown had huge implications for bettors across the country with USC favored by 8-8.5 points.

That's when the story changed from Utah being not quite good enough to, apparently, the Pac-12 officials "miss-communicating" and they were actually nine points from being good enough.

It was an unusual ending that I'm still trying to get my head around because the score itself changed after the fact - regardless what the conference says. The Caesars, MGM and Wynn sports books apparently stayed with the 17-14 result. The Hilton, Cantor, South Point sports books switched to 23-14. Some honored both. If you threw away a winning ticket, that is a bad beat that will be with you for a long time.

A finish that was wild, unbelievable and involved money. In a roundabout way, the first ever Pac-12 game got me very prepared for the Ineligible Bowl next week.

I knew you were good Larry Scott, didn't know you were this good.

Posted on: September 11, 2011 10:12 pm
 

Pac-12 poll reactions, Week 2

Posted by Bryan Fischer

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Pac-12 fared, from the top of the polls to its bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches)

6/6. Stanford

The Cardinal traveled east to play Duke in week two and while they didn't start out particularly sharp, they finished as you would expect and rolled to a 44-14 victory. The team hasn't really played a marquee game yet but they're led by one of the preeminent players in the country in Andrew Luck so they're still on the national radar. They picked up points in both polls and should figure to move up with a late night win against Arizona this weekend since either Oklahoma or Florida State figure to slide down after the two meet in Tallahassee.

12/14. Oregon

Nevada seemed to be the perfect cure for the Ducks' Texas hangover. The defense was swarming and the offense looked like they were back in top gear. Darron Thomas was sharp and efficient but the star of the game was freshman athlete De'Anthony Thomas, who racked up 204 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. Oregon is behind a host of undefeated teams and will make a slow climb back into the top 10 as they keep winning big and others start losing games as the season progresses. They're better than their ranking indicates but it will take a while for them move up.

22/18. Arizona State

Dennis Erickson's squad is back in the top 25 after a three-year absence thanks to a big overtime win against Missouri in front of a national television audience. It's a little concerning that they allowed the Tigers to come back in the 4th quarter but the offense looked much better than many people thought. They'll be back in the spotlight again this week with a game against Illinois before starting conference play against USC.

Others receiving votes: USC (68 points in the AP poll), Washington (12 AP, 7 Coaches), Cal (6 Coaches)


Posted on: September 10, 2011 8:50 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2011 9:15 pm
 

Larry Scott not proactive in conference expansion

Posted by Bryan Fischer

LOS ANGELES -- While Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott's newest acquisition, Utah, was warming up on the field of his conference's most storied member, USC, the former tennis executive strolled into the Coliseum press box beaming about the first ever conference game that was to take place a few minutes later.

Then he met a swarm of media interested in just one topic.

"I'd prefer to be less popular," Scott joked after being inundated with questions about conference expansion. "On this topic, we're trying to stay out of the story frankly. Our position hasn't really changed, we haven't been looking for or aspiring to expand since we made the decision on 12.

"If schools are going to leave the Big 12 and there's going to be a paradigm shift, or a landscape change as people like to describe it, we'll go ahead and step back and look at our options, then reconsider."

Scott is just one of the key figures in the ongoing conference realignment saga that has infringed on the start of the college football season. In a nod to the fact that the story seems to change by the day, if not by the hour, Scott couldn't even confirm that he would be running a 12 team league next year.

"I know there will be a Pac-12," he said before cautioning, "I hope there is. The ink is still drying on our new logos and the field paint and uniforms. It's our hope that the world stays the same and we get to enjoy what we've created. I don't think anyone, with how dynamic the situation is, would stick their neck out and say nothing is going to change."

While most of the nation was focused on the thrilling Missouri-Arizona State game Friday night, Scott not only took in the action in Tempe but also discussed issues with the man who has seen several of his teams openly flirt with other conferences, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe.

"I did speak with Dan yesterday," Scott said. "He was due to be in Tempe but didn't go. So we spoke over the phone and had a nice chat."

Scott already tried to raid Beebe's conference once before. Last summer he tried to boldly add Colorado, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to form a Pac-16 superconference. While he was unsuccessful in fulfilling his goal of adding all six teams - settling for the Buffalos and Utes - he still sees the future of major college athletics as having four, 16-team superconferences.

"I still believe it and I think what's going on is evidence that there's a disparity between certain conferences," he said. "I've been saying that over the past year that there will be more consolidation. I didn't think it would happen so quickly - a year after we expanded - that we'd have so much noise around the issue."

The commissioner did acknowledge that several schools have reached out to him - presumably Oklahoma and Oklahoma State - to gauge interest in the Pac-12 being a popular landing spot. Scott cautioned that there have been no votes nor any formal talks at adding teams to the conference. Given the threats of legal action from schools like Baylor, he chose his words carefully when asked about what could happen over the next few weeks.

"We're not being proactive, we're not trying to initiate any move to conferences beyond 12," said Scott. "I'm trying to be more precise in the language because it's a highly charged situation. People are hanging on every word, I felt that the media was getting a little further out in front of where we actually were, so I have had to be more precise that we're not initiating a move to superconfereces. We are only evaluating anything if other conferences go first."

For now, Scott and Pac-12 will wait. And watch. And listen.


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