Tag:Larry Scott
Posted on: January 13, 2012 5:15 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2012 5:19 pm
 

BCS headed toward plus-one, but still roadblocks

Posted by Bryan Fischer

INDIANAPOLIS -- The move toward a BCS plus-one has been gaining support following a commissioners meeting in New Orleans this week and was given a further shot in the arm with the support of NCAA president Mark Emmert on Thursday.

Still, roadblocks remain among the presidents controlling and ultimately the discussion about college football's postseason.

"I think that our position is we like the way the current system works," Oregon State president Ed Ray said. "The Rose Bowl is pretty damn special so we're pretty protective of that. I'm sure Larry (Scott) hasn't gone into considerations that there is an imperative to change. I understand the public feels that way but I don't. I think the most realistic change, if any, is the plus-one because the structure exists."

Representatives from the 11 BCS conferences met in New Orleans following the national title game to begin the process of re-working the system ahead of negotiations for a new contract that will start with the 2014 season. Although the general consensus amongst presidents and athletic directors at the annual NCAA convention is that there is likely a move to a plus-one with the new deal, there are plenty of skeptics of changing a system that, in their eyes, is working fine.

"I'm still not enamored with expanding the number of BCS games," said Nebraska channcellor Harvey Perlman. "I'm not in favor of a playoff, I have yet to hear a good reason why we would want one. I've spent a lot of time over the last several years as to why a playoff is bad. I'd like to hear one why it would be good and what it would accomplish. The only one I ever hear is that it would give us an undisputed national champion."

Arizona State president Michael Crow told CBSSports.com on Wednesday that he is supportive of an 8-team playoff run by the NCAA. While the position has not been formally proposed, it does appear to be on one extreme of the Spectrum where no two people are on the same page.

"I think (a playoff) would undermine the regular season or add games or undermine the bowls," Perlman said. "We don't need it. We have a regular season that is as much of a playoff as anything that could be constructed artificially. Why would you want it? Football isn't basketball."

"if there is a change, I think it will occur incrementally," Ray added. "The next incremental change would then be to make the plus-one structure to where you have two semifinals and a final. Beyond that I don't know but sometimes you get surprised."

There has been talk that the Cotton Bowl, thanks to Jerry Jones' money and the largess of Cowboys Stadium, would be in play as a fifth BCS bowl come 2014. Perlman doesn't believe that will be the case, with a more likely scenario of the BCS evolving into a #1 vs. #2 matchup and the rest of the bowls reverting back to conference tie-ins. That scenario is one that many think Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany would be supportive of.

"I don't think (Delany) is convinced yet," Perlman said of a plus-one. "We're all in conversations and I think we're going to have a teleconference soon. We'll have to see how it goes."

From the sounds of it, there could be a bumpy road to BCS change.

Posted on: December 28, 2011 1:36 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 12:54 pm
 

Pac-12, Big Ten enter schedule agreement

Posted by Jerry Hinnen and Adam Jacobi

College basketball's ACC-Big Ten Challenge? It's nice and all, but so 2007 (or so). So leave it to Larry Scott and Jim Delany to engineer the 2017 version -- and do it on the gridiron.

Scott's Pac-12 and Delany's Big Ten announced Wednesday that they have reached a formal nonconference scheduling agreement across all sports, with the football version starting five seasons from now in 2017. All 12 teams in each league will play one team in the other as part of their nonconference schedule.

"This makes a lot of sense," Scott told the USA Today, "in terms of continuing to broaden our exposure and improving programming and improving the caliber of our schools' matchups."

“As other conferences continue to grow through expansion, we believe there is great merit in deepening the historic relationship between the Big Ten and Pac-12,” said Delany. “We believe that both conferences can preserve that sense of collegiality and still grow nationally by leveraging our commonalities in a way that benefits student-athletes, fans and alumni. This collaboration can and will touch many institutional undertakings, and will complement our academic and athletic missions.”

The leagues have yet to reach a consensus on some issues of arrangement, from what the series will be called to how the teams will be paired up (and sites assigned) to where the games will be televised. But the "Pac-12-Big Ten Challenge" nonetheless promises to make an immediate, seismic impact on the nonconference profile of both leagues, and should provide plenty of high-stakes, must-see viewing for both leagues' respective TV networks. 

That doesn't mean there won't be drawbacks. The Rose Bowl will now run the small but tangible risk of repeating a regular-season matchup, for one. For another, with both conferences committed to nine-game league schedules, another fixed non-conference matchup will leave schools with annual non-league rivalries (think Michigan or USC, and their series with Notre Dame) with just one open "breather" date to fill on their schedules.

To that end, Scott has stated that the Pac-12 will remain committed to its nine-game schedule, but Delany told USA Today the Big Ten will "likely rethink the move," and if that sounds like a polite way of saying "it's out," it should be no surprise that Pete Thamel reports the Big Ten will stick with its eight-game schedule now instead.

Speaking as college football fans, the lack of juicy non-conference games has been a creeping menace to the quality of college football seasons -- just look at the dreck that fills SEC non-conference schedules every September (and mid-November) -- and Scott and Delany deserve major commendations for their part in fighting that problem head-on.

"This will add a tough, high-quality opponent," Scott said. "Certainly, it creates a tougher path (to the national championship game). But the benefits, we think, outweigh the fact it's far more challenging."

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: December 23, 2011 3:59 pm
 

Slive: plus-one will be "in mind" in BCS meetings

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

In 2008, SEC commissioner Mike Slive attempted to float a plus-one "playoff" proposal to revamp the BCS's method of determining a national champion. But even with the ACC's John Swofford also backing the idea and Slive wielding as much influence as anyone in college football, the proposal never got off the ground.

Ironically, that failure has done nothing but help Slive's league since then; buoyed (in part) by the conference's ever-growing reputation as the closest on-field product the college game has to the NFL, the SEC has won five straight national titles and will add a sixth when LSU faces off against Alabama on Jan. 9--a spot the Tide won in the polls over Big 12 champion Oklahoma State despite finishing second in the Tide's own division behind the Bayou Bengals.

So with the curent system playing to his teams' advantage like that, has Slive tempered his support for the plus-one? Judging from this interview with the Birmingham News, it doesn't sound like it:
"For the last six years, looking at it from our own prism, we were better off without it ... If I knew that for six more years it was going to work this way then I wouldn't be for the plus-one. But I think the law of averages catches up over time.

"Knowing that any team in our league with one or two losses is one of the top two teams in the country, then I'd have to think very hard about the plus-one absent other kinds of changes. There may be other changes that are laid out on the table that need to be clearly thought out. But we'll go to the table with the plus-one very much in mind." 
Slive added that he would be "interested" to discover if conferences other than his own (and Swofford's) would support the plus-one if re-introduced. The Big 12 appears to be on board in the wake of the Oklahoma State snub, and while Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has not committed himself one way or another, his league's athletic directors have both voted in favor of one potential four-team playoff format and called the plus-one "inevitable." The Big Ten and Jim Delany may be the only holdouts, meaning that if Slive is still entirely behind the 2008 proposal (or something similar), there may be no stopping it when the BCS convenes in 2012.

Slive declined to discuss the likelihood of the dissolution of the BCS's automatic-qualifying status for conference champions, or other changes to the BCS selection process.

"There are lots of different ways to think about it and to overemphasize any one issue would be premature," he said.
Posted on: December 2, 2011 11:41 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 11:43 pm
 

Oregon runs for Roses, runs over UCLA

Posted by Bryan Fischer

EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon ran over UCLA so bad Friday night, they might have beaten the Bruins back to Los Angeles.

They'll make the trip down, to Pasadena to be precise, in a month but took care of business against an overwhelmed South representative to win the conference in the first ever Pac-12 championship game 49-31.

The Ducks will head to the Rose Bowl looking for their first win since 1917, Rick Neuheisel will head home with out a job. The recently fired head coach said the team was ready to shock the world.

They scored, shockingly, for the first time since November 19th.

UCLA lost the coin toss and, despite a few plays that gave them life, were never in the game from that point. The Pac-12 championship game was never about them however.

"We end the season with three teams in the top 10 and what looks like two BCS bowl teams for the second year in a row," commissioner Larry Scott said during his state of the conference address. "And seven bowl-eligible teams and what would have been eight."

That eighth team, USC, was the reason why UCLA "represented" the South division despite going .500 on the year . The athletic department brass didn't think too highly of their chances and applied for - and were granted - a waiver to go to a bowl game despite a 6-7 record. While the Bruins will likely end up in San Francisco for the game, the Trojans sat at home serving out the final year of their bowl ban and watched two teams they beat.

"All-in-all, I still think it's been a strong season," Scott continued. "The Pac-12 and the SEC are the only conferences to have three teams in the top 10. The conference is clearly establishing itself as a perennial, elite football conference."

The night showed off the good and bad of West Coast football. In front of a national audience, Oregon showed how good it could be. UCLA showed how far they had to go. Despite some sloppy play on both sides of the ball, the Ducks ran into the record books as easy as their running backs ran into the end zone.

LaMichael James became the first player in conference history to post three 1,500+ yard rushing seasons. He passed some guy named Marcus Allen on the career rushing list and moved into second place on the Pac-12 rushing touchdowns list. Darron Thomas became the school's career leader in touchdown passes (63) and had a career-long run. The Ducks set school records for rushing yards and touchdown passes.

Duck. Duck. Duck. Rose.

UCLA's Pistol offense was shooting blanks most of the night when it wasn't the players in the foot with turnovers. Still, they put up more points than many expected after coming in as the biggest underdog in postseason play according to Vegas insiders. There were positive plays, such as Kevin Prince flea-flicker to Nelson Rosario for a 37 yard touchdown. There were negative ones too, such as Derrick Coleman attempting to pitch the ball on a reverse despite the recipient being well past him. Oregon recovered and scored on 4th down on a Thomas touchdown pass to make it 35-14. The team fought hard but were simply outclassed by a Ducks team that seemed to be looking for style points ahead of their matchup against either Wisconsin or Michigan State the day after New Year's.

Head coach Chip Kelly made it a point to put up impressive numbers, using timeouts before halftime and going for it numerous times on 4th down. It may not have been the best show of sportsmanship but it did result in his third straight outright Pac-12 title as head coach. Winning the conference is one thing but if he wants to take the program to the next level, he'll have to get over the hump of winning a BCS game. Kelly has a .500 record against teams with two or more weeks to prepare so something will have to change.

Friday night however, nothing changed for Oregon. They ran their way to another win and in this case, plenty of roses.

Posted on: November 29, 2011 2:35 pm
 

Keys to the game: UCLA at Oregon

Posted by Bryan Fischer

UCLA WILL WIN IF: The Bruins need a lot to happen if they're going to pull off the improbable and win the first ever Pac-12 Championship game and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Again, they need a lot to happen if last week's loss to USC was any indication. The defense needs stops of course, allowing big plays to Oregon will not only kill them on the scoreboard but severely hamper their ability to come back with an offense that is built to run and can't really throw. The Pistol can give defenses problems if not prepared and it's possible the Ducks don't take the Bruins too seriously given that it's a home game against a .500 team. Toss in some special teams play and there's a slim chance UCLA wins.

OREGON WILL WIN IF: Just do what they tend to do to conference teams - run around them. UCLA is not exactly the marquee opponent Oregon fans (or Larry Scott for that matter) were hoping for once they beat Stanford to essentially win the Pac-12 and host the first ever championship game. Chip Kelly won't mind making a statement, especially one that features (if completely healthy) LaMichael James as he tries to make it to New York once again. The Bruins figure to run the ball so the defense will have to be prepared and should use the preparation for one of the Big Ten teams they'll face in the Rose Bowl.

X-FACTOR: Special teams. If UCLA can make a few plays in the return game (they might have plenty of chances) they could make things closer than many expect. Field position will be crucial for the offense as they likely look to control the clock and keep the ball out of the Ducks hands. Turn the ball over or allow a big return or two and this could get out of hand quickly. The Bruins have their backs against the wall so don't be surprised if they try a few trick plays as well.
Posted on: November 20, 2011 11:58 am
Edited on: November 20, 2011 12:08 pm
 

Pac-12 Winners and Losers: Week 12



Posted by Bryan Fischer


A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: USC

It's hard to get more maligned than the Trojans were. They had their legs chopped off by the NCAA. There were plenty of doubters after back-to-back "down" years. There was no bowl at the end of the season and, to many outside of Heritage Hall, no hope. This team was loaded with enough highly recruited players that coach after coach kept calling USC the most talented team in the Pac-12 however. Still they sat at the lowest ranking in school history with an 8-2 record and couldn't even move up a spot in the polls despite teams losing ahead of them and a blow out win against Washington. It was like Rodney Dangerfield was the athletic director and Lane Kiffin was the head coach.

But this team, young and inexperienced in key spots, took the school's 'Fight On' motto and ran with it. Their losses were self-inflicted (turnovers against both Arizona State and Stanford did them in) but the wins and numbers put up were impressive. The offense is one of the best in the country led by Matt Barkley, Robert Woods and emerging star Marqise Lee. The defense is passable but improving. Yet they were a two touchdown underdog for the first time since 1998. The Trojans shocked the college football world Saturday night in Eugene, no doubt about it. Amid the chaos of a crazy week 12, USC emerged victorious and the players in cardinal and gold told everybody that their brief hiatus away from the top was over. The Trojans may not be conference champs and will sit at home with no bowl game to go to but they appear to be back, even if some insist they never left. Fight on indeed.

LOSER: Larry Scott

There was a chance the Pac-12 was in the BCS re-match discussion come Sunday morning but that ended as soon as it looked like Oregon's slow start would be too much to overcome. Thanks to Arizona State's loss to lowly Arizona, the Pac-12 South is rivaling the SEC East and ACC for mediocrity with USC ineligible. Two-loss Oregon will likely head to the Rose Bowl while one-loss Stanford's BCS chances (and millions of dollars for the conference coffers) will likely boil down to luck and some bowl committee betting on Andrew Luck. The team that can't go to a bowl has inflicted losses that hurt more than one team's perception. Then again, Scott isn't too much of a loser considering the cash that will soon flow to the league with the new media deals he deftly negotiated.

WINNER: The SEC

Let's face it, the fans on the West Coast are not best buddies with those in the Southeast section of the country. The SEC fans think the Pac-12 folks have no earthly idea what defense is while those with an ocean view think those with a gulf view have no idea what offense is. Oregon's loss ended any talk of an LSU rematch and shut the conference out of the title game discussion and partially out of the national picture. On the bright side, they're not the ACC, Big East or Big Ten.

LOSER: Oregon's swagger

The Pac-12 has been Oregon's playground the past few years. Back-to-back league titles (of the Pac-10 variety), a 19 game win streak in the conference, a trip to the Rose Bowl and national championship game. USC's dynasty was cool with the celebrities on the sidelines but the Ducks, they had a different kind of spotlight and a different kind of swagger. Uniforms? Most, um... unique in college football. The recruits love them. Offense? Check and check. If you were playing Oregon, better bring your A-game and you just might hang with them for the first half. The video production team was top-notch too, how could anyone not get pumped up after watching something like this:



The swagger that every Oregon player, every Duck fan, carried around with them after Saturday is still there. There is, without a doubt, a significant part of the luster taken off of the program after the loss to USC however. Boise State, Auburn and LSU proved they were beatable but the Trojans proved they were no longer to be feared afer going into Autzen and smacking the Ducks around for three quarters and holding on in the fourth. Another conference title and Rose Bowl berth likely await the men in green/yellow/black/silver/etc. come January but the recent loss meant a significant hit to Oregon's swagger. 

WINNER: Pistol Rick

UCLA's final home game of the season was a must win for Rick Neuheisel if he was to show enough progress to keep his job. Not only did the Bruins get bowl eligble, but they kept their improbable run to a division title alive with a 45-6 win over Colorado. Style points helped too, outgaining the Buffaloes 553-229 and help run off three wins in four games. After last week's loss to Utah, who really knows if the program has turned the corner but for Neuheisel, who wants to win at his alma matter more than anyone else, a big win at the Rose Bowl will certainly go a long ways after the season.

LOSER: Jon Embree

Embree is a Colorado alum and desperately wanted to end the Buffs' 23 game road losing streak. Family bragging rights were up for grabs too as Embree's son, Taylor, was a wide receiver at UCLA and said the game meant "eternal bragging rights" earlier in the week. The younger Embree had just two catches for 13 yards but can always call out scoreboard whenever family arguments break out. Given the way Colorado played - putting a solid claim on being the conference bottom-dweller - there weren't many positive things the elder Embree could take home Saturday.

LOSER: LeBron James

One of several NBA All-Stars at Autzen for the USC-Oregon Game, James and his fellow jobless companions watched most of the game from the Ducks sidelines. With a reputation for failing to close out games, naturally LeBron was a frequent (i.e. easy) target to make fun of on various social media platforms following the loss to the Trojans. It seems as though the man who took his talents to South Beach just can't win so he kind of has to be made a loser this weekend.

WINNER: West Coast Heisman hopes

Andrew Luck lost his grip on the lead for the Heisman Trophy last week but looked much sharper against Cal to help his stock rebound some. The big mover was Matt Barkley, who has the numbers to get to New York and now has the signature win to piggyback on. After this weekend, it seems like both signal-callers will at least make the trip East to lay their claim on college football's most prestigious award.

WINNER: Snow games

Utah has been welcomed to the Pac-12 with open arms and gone from the desert heat of Arizona to the perfect weather of Southern California to - this week against Washington State - the snowy conditions of the Pacific Northwest. The Utes came out with a close, 30-27 overtime win in a Palouse snow storm. The victory gave the Utes hope of making an appearance in the Pac-12 title game and it was fun to see a few photos from so that has to put snow games in the winners column.

LOSER: Pac-12 athletic directors

There's an opening at Arizona and Dennis Erickson's loss to the Wildcats likely means he's headed out of Tempe. Neuheisel's status is still TBD after the season and though there's progress on the Palouse, it's doubtful Paul Wulff keeps his job. That means the athletic directors around the Pac-12, flush with some new media deal cash, will have to go make some important hires. Already the rumor mill has placed Mike Bellotti, Rich Rodriguez and Mike Leach at a school out West and speculation is only bound to heat up more as the regular season winds down. There's going to be plenty of pressure to make the right hire and just as importantly for some ADs, go out on a limb and let a coach go. Going to be an interesting, stress-filled weeks for a few well paid people heading Pac-12 athletic departments.

Posted on: November 13, 2011 11:59 pm
 

Pac-12 Winners and Losers: Week 11



Posted by Bryan Fischer


A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: Phil Knight

Before Saturday's Oregon-Stanford game, commissioner Larry Scott presented the Pac-12 Championship Trophy, fitting considering the game to be played a few minutes afterward would pretty much decide who will be raising it for the first time ever. Right as Scott was concluding his presentation however, Nike boss and Oregon uber-booster Phil Knight strolled in, walked right by the trophy and into his box with just a slight glance at the regular season's ultimate prize. He looked to be in a good mood and it's hard to blame him; not only is he filthy rich, he has degrees from both Stanford and Oregon so he couldn't really go home a loser. But thanks to the result on the field, his beloved Ducks will likely be raising that trophy he walked by after winning their 19th straight conference win.

LOSER: Andrew Luck's supporting cast

Drop. Drop. Sack. Pressure. Missed field goal.

It was not a pretty outing for the Cardinal Saturday night and especially not for the presumed Heisman Trophy front-runner that lead them to a spotless record, Andrew Luck. The defense had plenty of issues keeping up with Oregon's speed and allowed too many big plays, forcing the offense to play from behind the whole game. Luck's normally reliable tight ends dropped several passes, including a few easy ones on third downs, and the lack of speed at the wide receiver position was evident when there was nobody to stretch the field and nobody could create separation. As badly as the previously impeccable quarterback played in building up the nation's longest winning streak, he failed to live up to expectations against the Ducks - 271 yards, three touchdowns but two interceptions - in large part because it looked like he was the only good player on the field wearing red.

WINNER: Parkas

There was something in the air on the West Coast Saturday and whatever it was, you need a heavy coat to protect you from it. The weather at most of the Pac-12's games outside of the one in Palo Alto was not good to say the least. There were sustained winds of 45 miles per hour (and gusts all the way to 70!) in Colorado, Washington brought Seattle's weather down to Los Angeles, it was rainy and snowy in Pullman with temps in the 30's and UCLA played Utah in a snow game. It wasn't the greatest weekend to head out to a game but coat sales went through the roof in just about every campus bookstore.

LOSER: Coaches' sense of security.

Just a few weeks ago, people were talking about how Dennis Erickson had won his way off of the hot seat and maybe even into a contract extension. Thanks in large part to beating Erickson, many thought Rick Neuheisel had bought himself some time. Tim Kish destroyed Neuheisel on national television had some buzzing. It's the bottom of the Pac-12 circle of life and it's cost each of the three any sense of security about their job status. Even Paul Wulff, who pulled off maybe his biggest win since taking over in Pullman, is no sure thing to return next season. You could end up seeing as many as five schools change coaches in the offseason, a notable contrast to the relative stability the conference has had.

WINNER: The Quack Attack

In the battle of speed versus size, it's safe to say that in the Pac-12 speed always trumps size. Oregon's fast-paced attack with speedy running backs and receivers in space have been unstoppable in conference play, winning 19 straight games (only three by less than double digits). Chip Kelly is also aggressive, going for it on fourth down a few times and calling a few risky screen plays after Darron Thomas made about 15 bad decisions on the first one he called. It's not just that they have home run threats, the Ducks force other teams to game plan much differently than any other team in the country. If you happened to see DeAnthony Thomas racing up the sidelines in sixth gear while everyone in Cardinal looked like they were in first, that's just the Quack Attack at work.

LOSER: The Pac-12 South

With USC ineligible for the South title, the race to represent the division in the Pac-12's first ever title game is quickly becoming a race to the bottom, not the top. Arizona State was thought to have control and seemed destined to beat the Oregon/Stanford winner in early December. Then they lost to UCLA late at the Rose Bowl, putting a lot more scenarios on the table. Both lost Saturday, keeping the Bruins - somehow - in control of their destiny. Even Utah isn't out of the race as it looks like three teams could end the season at 5-4 in the division with the Trojans actually sitting atop the standings. A mess? Yes, and one reason why the Ducks are a shoe in for another Pac-12 title.

WINNERS: Coug'n it

Washington State had lost five in a row before hosting Arizona State team and thanks to some wet, snowy conditions pulled off a big upset that had to give some hopes for every Cougars fan out there. Freshman quarterback Connor Halliday ran the offense well against a solid Sun Devils defense, passing for 494 yards and four touchdowns despite the conditions to set a freshman school record. The defense made a few late stops in the 4th quarter and you could see signs of life - despite a rash of injuries - up in the Palouse. It still looks like a long shot to get bowl eligible but stranger things have happened. Still, the losing streak is over, it's unlikely they'll finish as the conference bottom-dweller and Paul Wulff might have earned himself another season with the signs of progress.

LOSER: Steve Sarkisian

Returning to his old stomping grounds at the Coliseum, Sarkisian ended up being the one getting stomped on. It wasn't pretty, a 40-17 loss, and it was made even worse by the fact that the offense was held to just 265 yards, had a safety and gave up six sacks. Sarkisian is close friends with USC head coach Lane Kiffin and the two talked afterward but still had pain Sark that he not only lost but was routed. The Huskies are bowl eligible for the second season in a row but need to turn things around after back-to-back losses.

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: November 12, 2011 11:37 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Oregon 53 Stanford 30

Posted by Bryan Fischer

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- The Game of the Century, West Edition, featured plenty of defensive plays, mistakes on special teams and one of the teams ready to press for a rematch in the BCS national championship game. The only difference between that tussle in Tuscaloosa last week and this defacto Pac-12 championship in the Bay Area? There were touchdowns. Plenty of them.

Oregon's speed went over, around and - at times - through Stanford's size as the Ducks ended the nation's longest winning streak with a 53-30 win over their division foe to take control of the conference title race. Both teams got off to their normal slow start in the first half but the Ducks, who are now 24-0 when leading at halftime under Chip Kelly, utilized big plays from Darron Thomas, LaMichael James, DeAnthony Thomas and Josh Huff to pull away from the Cardinal in the second half.

The most impressive performance of the night came from the Oregon defense that constantly put pressure on Andrew Luck and seemingly brought the Heisman Trophy front-runner back to the pack, of which James might have run his way back to. Without the team's top wide receiver (Chris Owusu) and top tight end (Zach Ertz), Luck was forced to throw into coverage often after his receiving corps could not create much separation, tossing two interceptions, one of which was a pick-six. Without a speed threat to guard against, Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti pressed his cornerbacks and used safety help over the top, limiting Stanford's bread and butter offense of quick short and intermediate throws.

That didn't mean Luck and company couldn't move the ball or get stops on defense. They just didn't do enough. It's not hard to argue that this was Stanford's biggest game in decades but they never could do enough to slow down Oregon, who proved that they're the Pac-12's best team and well on their way to their third straight conference title.

They even got a glimpse of the trophy, as commissioner Larry Scott officially presented it before the game in the press box. Given the way the South is playing out (UCLA lost, Arizona State and Utah are unranked, USC is ineligible), you wouldn't blame the Ducks' uber-booster Phil Knight for asking if he could take it home with him on his private jet.

He'll have to wait a few weeks to officially hoist the silver trophy for the first time ever but after Oregon settled things on the field Saturday night against #2 Stanford, it's a matter of when - not if - any more.

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