Posted on: October 16, 2011 3:19 am
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: Oregon's ground game
When you look at the great programs in college football, whenever they had a string of great seasons, everybody would often say they just kept reloading year after year. In Chip Kelly's offense, it's safe to say that is just what the Ducks are doing right now. Nation's leading rusher out with an injury? That would be crippling to other schools but not for Oregon, who just gave Kenjon Barner the football and all he did was rush for 171 yards and a touchdown against one of the conference's best defenses. Freshman De'Anthony Thomas ran for 73 yards and two scores to give the Ducks their 15th straight win over a Pac-12 team.
LOSER: The Arizona State defense
The vaunted Sun Devils defense, despite losing several starters to injury, came into their primetime game against Oregon ranked second in the conference in several defensive categories and were 11th in the country in turnover margin. Of course, those stats were built up against opponents that don't run an offense anything close to what the Ducks run. They gashed ASU for 530 total yards, including 318 on the ground. ASU never seemed to create a stop in the second half and penalties (16 for 190 yards total) kept giving the Ducks extra chances. The schedule eases up going forward and they should be fine, but Dennis Erickson has to fix a few things if they end up running into Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game down the road.
WINNER: Keith Price
Jake Locker who? The Huskies' signal-caller continued to impress with his grasp of the offense, throwing touchdown passes to four different receivers while routing Colorado 52-24. With Price making plays with his arm, Washington has now scored 30 or more points in their first six games - a new school record. He was fifth in the country in points responsible for and should move up on that list, just like he is on the single-season touchdowns thrown list at UW (he's fourth). Price could have padded his stats too had Steve Sarkisian not taken him out of the game before the end of the 3rd quarter. Many expected Washington to take a step back with Price under center but it looks like nothing could be further from the truth.
LOSER: Oregon State's rushing attack
While their in-state rival is running wild, the Beavers can't get anything going on the ground. Quarterback Sean Mannion had to pass the ball 43 times, rarity under Mike Riley before this season, in order to move the ball at all against BYU and was picked twice to give him nine on the year. Freshman tailback Malcolm Agnew returned to the lineup - he rushed for 223 yards in the opener - but that didn't matter at all as Oregon State managed just 59 yards total. Surpisingly, all-purpose threat James Rodgers had only one attempt and wasn't much of a factor at all. A road trip to Washington State for a revenge game might be the only chance the Beavers have at getting another win this year.
WINNER: John White
Another big performer on the ground in the Pac-12? I am sensing a theme among the winners. After taking a tough home loss to Arizona State, Utah went on the road for one of the rare mid-season non-conference games at Pitt. White rushed for 171 yards on 35 carries, one of the key reasons why the Utes held onto the ball for nearly 38 minutes against the Panthers defense that became worn out by the end of the game. Feeding White the ball was partly out of necessity, as the team was without leading receiver DeVonte Christopher and quarterback Jordan Wynn. Jon Hays was making only his second start ever at quarterback and first on the road as well. Considering the offensive line gave up seven sacks, it's clear they wanted to run block for White much more on a chilly day in Pittsburgh.
LOSER: Washington State's moral victories
Last week at UCLA, the Cougars gave up a late lead and saw a victory snatched from their grasp. This week against the conference's top team, Stanford, they were within three at halftime and were creating turnovers and playing Andrew Luck and company very tough. To cap it all off, the Cardinal returned a kick return for a touchdown on the final play of the game to make the score look even worse and push the Cougars' attitude even further down in the dumps. There was a thought that quarterback Jeff Tuel's return would provide a boost but he was mediocre most of the game and never could get the offense going against the stiff Stanford defense. Saturday was the second straight game where Washington State couldn't finish despite being in the game. Even though they were overmatched this week against a superior foe, the way the wheels came off late means there was no moral victory from hanging around early.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Arizona State, Bryan Fischer, BYU, Chip Kelly, De'Anthony Thomas, Dennis Erickson, DeVonte Christopher, Jake Locker, James Rodgers, Jeff Tuel, John White, Jon Hays, Jordan Wynn, Keith Price, Kenjon Barner, Malcolm Agnew, Mike Riley, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-12, Pitt, Sean Mannion, Stanford, Steve Sarkisian, UCLA, Utah, Washington, Washington State
Posted on: October 9, 2011 2:18 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Ten Pac-12 teams were in action during week 6 and while there were only five that could put one in the win column, here's a handy recap of who really won and who really lost around the conference that you won't find in the box score.
WINNER: Dennis Erickson's agent.
Arizona State was picked in the preseason to represent the South division in the first ever conference championship game and after a win against Utah Saturday afternoon, it looks like the Sun Devils are finally living up to expectations. They're the only team in the division to be perfect in conference play and have now beat the two teams many expected to give them trouble - Utah and USC. After struggling in the bottom half of the conference for three years, it looks like the corner has been turned in Tempe.
The Sun Devils won 10 games for the first time since 1996 in Erickson's first year and the win this week put them well on their way to matching that feat in 2011. Erickson's contract runs through 2012 but with the way the team is playing, he's moved off the hot seat and into a position to possibly get a new deal that he can ride into retirement.
LOSER: Mike Stoops' job security.
It's gone and it is never coming back. A lot of Arizona fans know that Stoops has won a bowl game and finished as high as a tie for second in the conference with a program that hasn't seen much success. But he is 27-38 in the league and 41-50 overall after the loss to winless Oregon State. Quarterback Nick Foles is doing the best he can but the talent around him is not making plays like they should. What's really concerning is that the defense has given up an average of 43 points a game over the past five and the Wildcats have lost 10 straight against FBS teams.
It's probably not all bad for Stoops, his brother Bob might have an opening on his staff if defensive coordinator Brent Venables leaves for a head coaching job after sending out his resume tape of the Oklahoma-Texas game.
WINNER: Airlines that fly from San Francisco to New York.
Andrew Luck's Heisman campaign had a nice boost against Colorado with the signal-caller throwing for a season-high 370 yards and three touchdowns against the Pac-12's newest member. Perhaps he was just trying to show off for John Elway and Tiger Woods, who were walking around the sidelines all game. While they were surely impressed, so too were Heisman voters who watched. Luck was able to strategically pick apart whatever defense the Buffs threw at him and he made some great throws while on the run. The trio of tight ends he has to throw to plus Chris Owusu are a very good group that many might overlook just because they're not a flashy bunch.
Luck is not going to put up 500 yards passing or 200 yards rushing because of what Stanford wants to do on offense. That said, he's led his team to an undefeated record and really hasn't even been tested so far this season. It's almost like Stanford will even tease opponents who will watch the tape by mixing in some hurry-up offense just to show off Luck running it to perfection. He put up good numbers this week but just as important, kept the record perfect.
LOSER: Airlines that fly from Portland to New York.
It was really hard to watch a replay of LaMichael James' arm injury he suffered Thursday against Cal. While the tough Texan apparently just popped it right back in, it's likely he'll miss some playing time over the next few weeks. He dipped off of the Heisman radar after a no-show against LSU in the opener but James had quietly put up some big numbers to work his way back on some short lists. He rushed for over 200 yards for three straight games, something no other Oregon Duck had ever done.
Despite the big numbers, they're likely all for nothing in the awards race if he misses any playing time. He can still make sure everybody remembers what he can do with a big showing against Stanford in early November but it's unlikely he'll wind up in New York in December.
WINNER: Mike Riley and Sean Mannion.
There is no nicer or more genuine head coach in the business than Mike Riley. He's gone through plenty of issues this year and was the laughing stock of much of the country after losing to FCS foe Sacramento State. He made a change at quarterback for good in the Wisconsin game and the decision to go with redshirt freshman Sean Mannion really paid off against Arizona as he threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns. There's not a whole lot going for the Beavers this year after their rough start and being in a tough division, wins like this will go along ways. Mannion was clutch when he needed to be, leading a late drive and finding Joe Halahuni in the end zone on 4th down.
LOSER: Football in Los Angeles.
One wonders how football in a talent rich area like Los Angeles could be so average. UCLA moved to .500 on the year with a comeback victory over Washington State while USC took a bye after their defense allowed 41 points to Arizona. For the Bruins, there should be a talent gap between them and the Cougars but there really wasn't much of one after a narrow 28-25 win. The Trojans are young and thin in many areas but it might be the coaching that is suspect given the way they've played their games so far this year. Rick Neuheisel technically has the only team left in the division that can stop Arizona State from going to the championship game but based on the way UCLA has been playing, there's little chance of that happening.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Arizona, Arizona State, Bob Stoops, Brent Venables, Bryan Fischer, Cal, California, Chris Owusu, Colorado, Dennis Erickson, Heisman, Heisman Trophy, Joe Halahuni, John Elway, LaMichael James, LSU, Mike Riley, Mike Stoops, Nick Foles, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-12, Rick Neuheisel, Sacramento State, Sean Mannion, Stanford, Texas, Tiger Woods, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington State, Winners and Losers, Wisconsin
Posted on: September 25, 2011 3:34 am
Edited on: September 25, 2011 3:36 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
1. Oregon is still really, really good. The Ducks will take some heat from other parts of the country but there's no denying that they're still a great team and one that admirably lost to an LSU squad that could be the best in the country. The defense isn't quite there yet but the offense is starting to hit its groove as both Darron Thomas and LaMichael James are looking better than they did last year at times. This isn't a team that has put everything together - yet - but it's getting there. A notice to the rest of the Pac-12: the Ducks are running right at you.
2. So long USC, hello Arizona State. Just when it looked like the Trojans might be able to win the South division (without really winning the South division thanks to sanctions), Matt Barkley turned the ball over three times himself and USC collapsed under the weight of the Sun Devils' defense. Everybody thought this would be Dennis Erickson's year and it looked like the team was easily a top 25 team after beating Missouri. But they regressed when they went on the road for the first time and lost to Illinois. Now though, despite all the injuries, it looks like things are clicking on both sides of the ball. They may not be as flashy as Oregon nor can they execute as well as Stanford, but ASU looks like they're definitely the best team in the South.
3. Oregon State is really, really bad. Sure, the Beavers lost to lowly Sacramento State to open the season and got rolled by Wisconsin. But that was without their do everything-threat James Rodgers and tight end Joe Halahuni. Even against a team like UCLA, with plenty of issues themselves, adding both players wasn't close to enough as the Beavers fell to 0-3 for the first time since 1996. It's still unclear if they have a quarterback after redshirt freshman Sean Mannion went 24-40 passes for 287 yards but was intercepted and had a costly fumble returned for a score. There's little to no consistency and execution one would expect from a Mike Riley coached team is just not there.
4. Cal and Washington will be two tough outs, especially the Huskies. The non-conference slate for both teams didn't really give us a chance to figure out how each would be this season but after the two squared off in Seattle, it's clear neither will be a push over in league play. That's not to say they won't be blown out a few times but both are good on offense and ok enough on defense to get into some shootouts. Keith Price has had no problem running things, nearly hitting the 300 yard passing mark while tossing three touchdowns on Saturday to lead the Huskies to their best start since 2006. Cal still has to work on late game execution but the Zach Maynard to Keenan Allen connection will be something every defensive coordinator will have to game plan for.
5. Still a long way to go for Colorado. Head coach Jon Embree earned his first win last week but getting his second will be a much more difficult task. The Buffaloes had not won a road game since Oct. 27, 2007 and while it was unlikely they were going to break the streak at the Horseshoe, they hardly looked competitive. Tyler Hansen was solid and didn't throw any picks but the offense still lost two fumbles in the first half and had nine penalties to go on top of a host of other gaffes. If they can't improve on their execution, it will be a long, long season in Boulder.
Tags: Arizona State, Bryan Fischer, Bryan Fischer, Cal, Colorado, Darron Thomas, Dennis Erickson, Illinois, James Rodgers, Joe Halahuni, Jon Embree, Keenan Allen, Keith Price, LaMichael James, LSU, Matt Barkley, Mike Riley, Missouri, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-12, Sacramento State, Sean Mannion, Stanford, Tyler Hansen, UCLA, USC, USC, Washington, What I learned, Wisconsin, Zach Maynard
Posted on: September 21, 2011 6:28 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 3:20 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Between Oregon State's opening-week loss to FCS Sacramento State (who have gone 0-2 since*) and miserable 35-0 shutout at Wisconsin, it's arguable no BCS program in the country has been less impressive through the season's first three weeks. So it's only fair the Beavers got a huge jolt of good news Wednesday afternoon as James Rodgers was cleared to play this week's game vs. UCLA.
Taking the field against the Bruins will cap a grueling recovery process for Rodgers that at times looked like it might end his Beaver career. Rodgers was the Beavers' leading receiver and second-leading rusher in 2009, but his ACL was torn last Oct. 9 against Arizona and eventually required two offseason surgeries, the second of which took place this past January.
The fifth-year senior battled back, however, and was allowed to take a "limited" role when the Beavers' fall camp opened. His full return to action would be a boost for any team, as Rodgers has twice earned All-Pac-10 recognition as a receiver and returner and ranks fourth among all active FBS players with 5,784 all-purpose yards.
But it's Rodgers' own team that might need the boost the most. Even against Sacramento State, the Beaver passing game averaged only a so-so 6.4 yards per-attempt; against the Badgers, new quarterback starter Sean Mannion maintained that number but watched the OSU running game fall apart to the tune of 23 yards on 24 carries. Rodgers' presence should help Mannion by offering him a reliable target and explosive playmaker, and help the rushing attack both by his taking handoffs and stretching the field.
Then there's special teams. Through two games, the Beavers rank 81st in average kick return and have returned just two punts for a total of zero yards; Rodgers has the capability of changing what appear to be lackluster units into threats overnight.
Of course, "overnight" may be overstating Rodgers' fitness as he attempts to return to game speed and regain the agility he'll no doubt have to reacquire after his surgeries. But at this point, Mike Riley must take whatever help he can get--and the kind of help even a less-than-100 percent Rodgers offers might be far, far better than the average help.
*By scores of 35-14 against Southern Utah and 49-17 against Weber State. At this stage, this loss easily stands as the worst one suffered by any BCS program this season.
Posted on: September 14, 2011 1:41 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2011 6:14 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It's difficult to imagine a worse start to Mike Riley's ninth season at the Oregon State helm than the one he's just endured; the Beavers fell 29-28 in Week 1 to FCS Sacramento State, then suffered a 35-0 shutout shellacking on the road at Wisconsin. So it's no surprise Riley is ringing in the changes--or that he's starting at quarterback.
Via CBSSports.com Oregon State RapidReporter Cliff Kirkpatrick, Riley announced Tuesday that previous starter Ryan Katz has been demoted to second string in favor of redshirt freshman Sean Mannion. The Beavers will not rotate the two quarterbacks, as they did against the Badgers.
"The thing that emerged with [Mannion] in spring practice and fall camp was he made really good decisions and got the ball out of his hands," Riley said. "And he’s very accurate. Those are very good qualities."
Also a good quality: outperforming the other candidate. To date, Mannion has completed 66 percent of his passes for 7.7 yards an attempt, without an interception; Katz is completing 52 percent for just 4.2 yards at attempt with one pick, despite playing most of the game against the FCS Hornets.
"It’s not a comparison of [Katz] getting worse. We thought this other guy is playing better," Riley added. "It’s not he did this or not. This guy (Mannion) kept rising and in our mind earned the right to be a starter."
The good news for Mannion and the Beavers is that he'll have two weeks to adjust to his starting assignment before his team hosts UCLA Sept. 24. The bad news is that his team likely needs every minute of the extra preparation; in addition to Oregon State's moribund play, they're beyond banged up, with starting guard Josh Andrews the latest injury casualty. Andrews will miss at least six weeks with an MCL sprain suffered during the Wisconsin loss.
So it won't be easy for Riley and Mannion to get the Beavers' ship turned around. But if they can't do it with the help of a bye week before facing what appears ot be a very ordinary Bruin squad, it might be time to start looking towards 2012 already.
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 10, 2011 3:31 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
WISCONSIN WON. The Badgers looked every bit of a top 10 team against an overmatched Oregon State team. Quarterback Russell Wilson was sharp and efficient leading the offense, going 17-21 for 189 yards and three touchdowns. As good as he was though, the ground game really looked good as the team rushed for 208 yards and were paced by Montee Ball who had 118 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns. The Beavers struggled from the start and Mike Riley surprisingly took out starting QB Ryan Katz for Sean Mannion in the middle of the first series of the game. The redshirt freshman was solid, going 25-38 for 244 yards but that didn't result in any points.
WHY WISCONSIN WON: The defense did a great job of keeping Oregon State from running the ball, holding them to just 21 yards on the ground. In fact, the boys in red allowed only two drives longer than 30 yards all game and forced the Beavers to turn the ball over on downs both times. The ground game kept the clock moving and the offensive line protected Wilson so he had all day to throw down the field.
WHEN WISCONSIN WON: It's hard to point to one particular play that changed momentum in favor of the Badgers but they took firm control of the game after Oregon State punter Johnny Hekker booted the ball for negative four yards. Yes, it was -4 yards in the box score but it looked even worse live when you consider the wind wasn't much of a factor.
WHAT WISCONSIN WON: Brett Bielema's squad moves to 2-0 on the year and have looked the part of a Big Ten title contender. With Russell at the helm and running back's Ball and James White, the offense is clearly the strength of the team. There's still a few things to work on with the defense as they were picked apart at times on third down. They have two more cupcakes to get ready for the big showdown against Nebraska at Camp Randall on October 1.
WHAT OREGON STATE LOST: After losing to an FCS team the week before, it's not like things could get worse for Mike Riley. They were pushed around on the road and now they have a significant quarterback controversy. Yes they lost another game and look like the worst team in the Pac-12 but help could be on the way. All-purpose threat James Rodgers and tight end Joe Halahuni should be back after the bye week so that should provide a boost. Still, no momentum and plenty of things to work on in Corvallis.
THAT WAS CRAZY: Four yard punts are pretty shocking to see. Negative four yard punts are, well, jaw dropping. Despite all that, Johnny Hekker still managed to average a decent 31 yard average on the day.