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Tag:Stanford
Posted on: November 22, 2010 5:20 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2010 5:21 pm
 

Davey O'Brien Award finalists announced

Posted by Tom Fornelli

We're approaching the end of the regular season in college football, which means a couple of things.  One is that we can all start wringing our hands over which teams deserve to play for a national title, and another is that award season is drawing near, and finalists are being announced.  Like the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, which announced its three finalists on Monday.

Who are those finalists?  Drumroll, please!
  • Cam Newton, Auburn
  • Andrew Luck, Stanford
  • Kellen Moore, Boise State
Not exactly a shock to see any of those three make the final cut, as both Newton and Moore are leading two undefeated teams with title hopes, and Luck is the driving force behind one of the best Stanford teams in recent history.

The finalists are chosen were selected by the award's National Selection Committee, along with a fan vote that made up 5% of the total.  The criteria for choosing the three finalists were their quarterback skills, academics, character, leadership and sportsmanship.  Now, obviously, depending on what we learn about Cam Newton and the current NCAA investigation surrounding him at the moment, his character could definitely have a large impact on whether or not he wins the award when the winner is announced on February 21. 
Posted on: November 21, 2010 12:26 am
 

What I Learned from the Pac-10 (Nov. 20)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Only three games in the Pac-10 this week, but we still learned a few things:

1. Stanford deserves a BCS bowl berth. The Cardinal caught a break in catching Cal in the "horrific" week of their solid/horrific yo-yo-routine; after the Bears put together such an impressive performance against Oregon last week, the proper bet regarding their performance this week was the house, on collapse .

But that still shouldn't take anything away from the kind of dominance Jim Harbaugh 's team has shown the past few weeks. The Cardinal simply annihilated Cal from the opening gun, watching Andrew Luck hit 16-of-20 without an interception and even embarrassing a Bear defender on a long run just for kicks ... holding the Bears scoreless through the first three quarters ... scoring on their first eight possessions, every one Luck directed ... leading 45-0. It was the sort of display usually reserved for beatdowns of bottom-rung FCS teams, and it all came in "The Game," Cal's biggest rivalry game of the year, on the road in Berkeley.

Between this performance, the thumping of Arizona two weeks ago, and the 41-0 road whitewashing of Washington three weeks back, it's safe to rank Stanford alongside the likes of Auburn and Boise State as one of the hottest teams in the country and the hottest in the Pac-10 . Assuming they wrap up the season at 11-1, they'll deserve to have a shot at playing in one of the big-money BCS games rather than having to slink off the Holiday Bowl . That may or may not happen -- it'll be helpful if Auburn loses and opens up a slot in the BCS title game for a non-AQ team that will otherwise hog a spot in the Rose Bowl -- but there shouldn't be any "may or may not," not the way the Cardinal are playing.

2. Corvallis is USC's own personal house of horrors. You can't really argue that Oregon State 's Reser Stadium is a "tough place to play," not this year, not after the Beavers got trounced at home by Washington State last week. (Yes, that Washington State. Yes, that actually happened.) But apparently it doesn't matter how welcoming a host OSU might be for anyone else; they are always going to be at maximum hostility for USC .

In 2006, the Trojans were third-ranked and favored to return to the BCS title game for the third time in three years when they went to Corvallis; they turned the ball over four times and lost 33-31, snapping their 27-game Pac-10 winning streak. In 2008, USC had just defeated No. 5 Ohio State 35-3 and were the No. 1 team in the country; Jacquizz Rodgers exploded for 186 yards against one of the best defenses of college football's past decade and the Beavers won 27-21. Obviously the 2010 Trojans can't measure up to the '06 or '08 versions (who finished with a combined record of 23-2), but they had won three of their last four and beaten a good Arizona team on the road just last week. And, you know, Washington State.

No matter. Matt Barkley had his ankle bent into all kinds of incorrect directions ; Mitch Mustain went only 8-of-17 in relief; Rodgers went off for another 128 yards and a score; Beaver QB Ryan Katz recovered from a terrible week against Wazzu to hit 17-of-24 with two touchdowns and no picks; the Trojans lost the turnover battle 0-2 and only gained 255 total yards; and in the end, the Beavers crushed the Trojans 36-7 .

Corvallis: home sweet home to Wazzu, the worst place imaginable for the Trojans. Go figure.

3. UCLA's offense is ... well ... you know. We know the Bruins are struggling with quarterback issues and with a scheme conversion to the pistol that has been, to put it as politely as we possibly can, a work in progress.

But there's a point at which politeness isn't really appropriate anymore, and once you've scored zero points over the final three quarters and netted all of 163 yards (over 61 plays, an unbelievably terrible average gain of 2.67 yards per-play) against a team that entered the game ranked 109th in the FBS in total defense, that point has long since past. We've posted this portrait of UCLA's offense before, and after the stinkbomb the Bruins laid up in Seattle last Thursday, we feel we have no choice but to post it again:



It's a shame, because the Bruin defense -- which hounded Jake Locker into another "that guy is a first-rounder?!?" performance (10/21, 68 yards, 0 TD 1 INT) -- isn't great but is good enough to get UCLA to the postseason they desperately want . The offense, however, will be lucky to drag UCLA past their current four wins.  


Posted on: November 15, 2010 12:57 pm
 

Bruin "would probably quit football" if no bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Every December, the same complaint is brought up by pundit after pundit pining for ye olden golden days of yore when men were men, women made sandwiches, and fewer than a dozen college football teams were rewarded with bowl invitations: There's too many bowl games .

Putting aside the discussion of whether more college football is ever a bad thing, this argument ignores the reason (or one of the major ones, anyway) why bowl games sprang into existence in the first place: to reward college fotball players for their effort and success. And believe it or not, those players appreciate -- really appreciate -- the chance to play in even the most low-rent of those bowl games. Just ask UCLA and sophomore free safety Rahim Moore :
"If we didn't make a bowl game, I would probably cry the whole off-season ... Freshman year, I watched every bowl game and it was the worst feeling ever. For us not to finish strong and get to a bowl game, I would probably quit football. That's how bad it would feel."
Note that Moore isn't going to either cry all off-season or quit football if the Bruins don't qualify for a good bowl; they're merely aiming for a 6-6 record (sitting at 4-5, they'll need to take two of three from Washington , Arizona State , and USC ) and somewhere to go for the postseason. (Our CBSSports.com bowl projections do have the Bruins slotted for a respectable trip to El Paso for the Sun Bowl , thanks in part to the Pac-10 earning a second BCS berth with Stanford ).

It's more than a little doubtful, of course, that Moore would seriously consider abandoning his football career if the Bruins don't earn a berth to Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl . But nonetheless, the sentiment expressed by Moore (and his UCLA teammates) makes clear how badly the players on even middle-of-the-road teams want the carrot of a bowl game. It's fine to argue there's too many bowl games on the annual docket, but it has to be remembered that for each fewer bowl game, that's two more teams of Moores who have spent the weekly hourly equivalent of a full-time job during the season and gotten as a bonus the chance to spend their December watching their opponents on TV.

Posted on: November 14, 2010 1:36 am
Edited on: November 14, 2010 1:37 am
 

What I Learned from the Pac-10 (Nov. 13)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

1. Oregon can win ugly, too. To be fair to the Ducks, they weren't exactly dominated in their 15-13 win in Berkeley; they outgained Cal by more than 100 yards, held the Bears to 193 yards total and a miserable 2.5 yards per-pass, and only gave up a second touchdown on a Darron Thomas fumble in the end zone.

But they also scored their only first-half touchdown on a Cliff Harris punt return, averaged a stunningly weak 2.9 yards per-carry, eked out the final two-point margin by virtue of their made two-point try and Cal's failed attempt, and could have easily lost if not for Cal kicker Giorgio Tavecchio short-circuiting his own 24-yard field goal with a stutter-step procedure penalty and missing the subsequent 29-yard try. Every national title contender has to win games when they're not at their best, but Oregon was so far away from their best Saturday night they'd have to send it a postcard.

In the end, it didn't matter, as behind Thomas and a hobbled LaMichael James the Ducks changed philosophies on the fly to a clock-churning, yards-chewing ground-exclusive outfit that ate up the game's final 9:25 on one drive . That kind of versatility could prove to be the difference between a national champion and a slip-up before Glendale ... even if the Ducks would prefer not to have to put it to use again until there's a crystal football awarded to the victor.

2. Washington State should keep Paul Wulff.
Let's be fair: the Cougars' rehabilitation, even after their 31-14 upset-of-the-Pac-10's year against Oregon State today, is progressing verrrrry ... sloooooooowly. One FBS win in 2008, that one over winless Washington. One in 2009, over SMU in overtime. Until today, none in 2010.

But that hasn't meant it hasn't been progressing at all . After getting totally obliterated on a weekly basis two years ago, the Cougars have been substantially more competitive this season: 42-28 vs. UCLA , 43-23 vs. Oregon, 38-28 vs. Stanford , 20-13 vs. Cal. You could see the game coming where the Cougars put everything together and took down some unsuspecting favorite. And that game came today: quarterback Jeff Tuel had the game of his career, hitting 10-of-15 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown while adding 79 yards in the ground; the rest of a surprisingly productive run game chipped in 142 yards and three touchdowns; and the much-maligned Cougar defense forced three turnovers, hounded Beaver quarterback Ryan Katz into a quiet 12-for-21 performance, and held the Beavers to 261 yards overall. Unexpected as Wazzu's triumph might have been, especially coming in Corvallis, it was no fluke.

So maybe progress has been slow. But it's there. Wulff has Wazzu pointed in the right direction, and after today he deserves at least one more season to see how far in that direction he can go.

(As for the Beavers, well, TCU and Boise would like a refund, please.)

3. Arizona State is the Pac-10's hard-luck team. The Sun Devils have had a couple of games in which they outgained their opponent by wide margins and lost, but today wasn't one of them; visiting Stanford enjoyed a 420-268 yardage advantage. But this is still a team that lost at Wisconsin on a late missed extra point; gave away an excellent shot at a huge upset of Oregon with a flood of turnovers; lost to Oregon State when a late drive ended in an interception; to USC on a late missed field goal. You'd think that eventually Dennis Erickson 's team could buy a break, and when the Devils went up 13-10 late in the third quarter on a Steven Threet touchdown pass, it looked like that break might finally be coming.

But it wasn't: the Cardinal took over on their 15 and went 85 yards to score an Owen Marecic touchdown with just over five minutes remaining. ASU's following drive went nowhere, and Stanford picked up three first downs to ice the game. The Sun Devils have now played the BCS's Nos. 1, 6, and 7 teams and lost by a total of 16 points. But they'll still have to sweep their final two games vs. UCLA and at Arizona just to make a bowl game.

4. This isn't Mike Stoops' breakthrough season, either. Arizona has famously never been to the Rose Bowl, but even if Oregon made clear the Wildcats aren't getting there this year relatively early, Stoops could have still hoped for his first 10-win season and top-20 final ranking -- goals his team looked well on their way to fulfilling after their early-season win over Iowa .

Since then, though, the Wildcats have gone a ho-hum 4-3 with two of those wins over the Washington schools and the latest result a dispiriting 24-21 home loss to USC. The Trojans aren't a bad team by any means, but if the Wildcats want to be taken seriously as Pac-10 contenders, winning home games against their fellow upper-end-of-the-pack rivals (not to mention avoiding getting outrushed 205-51) is a step they'll have to take. Unless Arizona pulls a shocker in Eugene next weekend, eight regular season wins will be the ceiling.

Again.



Posted on: November 12, 2010 4:47 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 11

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.

I know you couldn't tell if you have been following the news in college football this week, but there are actually games to be played on Saturday.  I know, I didn't believe it either, but it's true.  There's more to college football than just off the field issues concerning agents, players asking for money, and the NCAA possibly punishing those players because the only people allowed to make money from this sport are the NCAA, not those punk kids who make it for them.

But I promise you, there are games ON the field as well.  Here are some of the best ones for you to watch on Saturday in between updates on what Cam Newton may or may not have done.

Breakfast

Main Course - Northwestern vs. #13 Iowa - Noon - ESPN

Looking at this game on the surface, it doesn't seem all the impressive.  Northwestern is currently in eighth place in the Big Ten, and has lost three of its last four games.  What's the big deal?

Well, Iowa isn't out of the Big Ten title hunt.  This game means a lot to the Hawkeyes for both their BCS aspirations and it provides therapeutic value.  You see, Northwestern has been a thorn in Iowa's side for years now, as Northwestern has won four of the last five meetings.  That includes last season when the Wildcats knocked Ricky Stanzi out for the last three games of the regular season, and handed Iowa its first loss.  Which eventually led to Stanzi missing the Ohio State game and a chance to win the Big Ten.

Side Orders: Not a lot of great choices this morning, but not as terrible as it has been in recent weeks.  There's Missouri and Kansas State who both have a remote chance to win the Big 12 North, but a loss in this game would kill either's chance.  There's also Miami taking on Georgia Tech, and the 'Canes can't afford to lose if they want a chance to play for the ACC title.  If those don't do it for you, I guess you could watch West Virginia and Cincinnati in the latest installment of "The Big East Presents: Something That Is Supposed to Resemble Football."

Lunch

Main Course - #2 Auburn vs. Georgia - 3:30pm - CBS

Listen, you've spent all week hearing about Cam Newton anyway, so why wouldn't you want to actually watch him play this week against Georgia?  I mean, when you think about it, you can't really be sure how many more chances you'll get to see Newton play at Auburn, so you should probably take advantage while you still can.

Oh, and there's also the fact that Auburn is still alive for a national championship, and with a win against Georgia, the Tigers would wrap up the SEC West and a trip to Atlanta.

As for Georgia, hard as it is to believe given the way it started the season, is only one win shy of being bowl eligible.  What a better way to do it than by knocking off the top team in the conference and destroying any chance they have to play for a national title?

Side Orders: There are some other quality non-Cam Newton related games going on during the afternoon as well.  Ohio State hosts Penn State, looking to keep hopes alive for a Big Ten title and trip to the Rose Bowl.  Oklahoma looks to right the ship at home against Texas Tech, and Virginia Tech can just about wrap up the ACC Coastal with a win at North Carolina.

Dinner

Main Course - #24 Florida vs. #22 South Carolina - 7:15pm - ESPN

The SEC East has been wide open all season long, but finally, it all comes down to one game on Saturday night in Gainesville. 

Even though it's been a down season for Florida compared to recent standards, the Gators still have a chance to get to Atlanta and win another SEC title should they get past the Gamecocks. On the flip side, Steve Spurrier still has a chance to win the SEC East and the SEC for the first time as head coach at South Carolina.

South Carolina hasn't played well since knocking off Alabama last month, but it still has a chance to salvage the season if it can knock off the Gators.

Side Orders: Plenty of other good games going on Saturday night if you prefer to look elsewhere.  Alabama can shake off the disappointment of last week's loss against LSU by knocking Mississippi State down a peg, and speaking of disappointment, Texas can boost its morale with a win over Oklahoma State as well.  There's also Oregon looking to stay undefeated at Cal, Arizona hosting USC and Stanford rolling in to Arizona State in the Pac-10.

Late Night Snack

Listen, I've developed a slight infatuation with Colin Kaepernick this season.  It's just every time I see him running down the field I can't help but think of an ostrich, and this amuses me to no end.  Why?  I don't know, it just does.  Tune in to see Kaepernick and Nevada take on Fresno State on Saturday night and find out if you see it too.
Posted on: November 11, 2010 3:52 pm
 

Boise's Rose Bowl hopes aren't dead yet

Posted by Tom Fornelli

There's a little known rule in the agreement between the Rose Bowl and BCS that could end up meaning a trip to Pasadena for Boise State this year should they miss out on a chance to play for a national title.  You see, when the Rose Bowl entered into a partnership with the BCS, it did so under the grounds that should one of their traditional choices -- the champions of the Pac-10 and Big 10 -- be chosen to play in the BCS Championship Game, the Rose Bowl would get the first choice of BCS-eligible teams to replace them.

A choice that has never included a non-BCS conference school.

In fact, the six times that a non-BCS team has played in a BCS bowl over the last few years, all six teams have played in the Fiesta or Sugar Bowls, with the Fiesta hosting four of them -- including both TCU and Boise State last January.

So as part of a new deal, the other BCS bowls approached the Rose Bowl and asked them to take a non-BCS school once during the next four years should one of its traditional choices not be available.

Which is a situation that looks very possible this year, with Oregon on top both voter polls and second in the BCS.  Should Oregon win out, odds are they'll be playing for a title, not in the Rose Bowl.  So the Rose Bowl would be looking for a team to replace them.

Now, they could take Stanford, and keep the traditional matchup against the Big Ten champion.  Or they could go TCU, but there's also a chance that TCU will qualify for the title game should Auburn drop a game before then.

Considering all the Cam Newton drama, and the fact that the Tigers have three games left against Georgia, Alabama and whoever wins the SEC East, this isn't exactly a longshot.

Still, if TCU went to the title game, the Rose Bowl wouldn't be obligated to take Boise this season because only one non-BCS conference school needs to be selected each season.  That being said, it may make more sense for the Rose Bowl to take Boise this year, and the Rose Bowl's director of media, Gina Chappin, says it's something the bowl has been considering.

“We have discussed it because of the situation that we’re in and the current landscape of the season so far,” said Gina Chappin.

“We entered this year with the reality that this was going to happen sooner or later. I don’t think any of us expected to get through this four-year cycle and not have this be something that would be a reality.”

If you think about it, it would make a lot of sense for the Rose Bowl to take Boise State over Stanford.  First of all, if you are required to do so at some point in the next four years, why not do it quickly and get the obligation out of the way?

There's also the fact that Boise State is a really good football team right now, and there's no guarantee that three years from now, should the Rose Bowl find itself in the same situation, that a non-AQ school will be available that is as good as this Boise State team.

Also, Boise State has already shown that it can compete and win BCS bowl games, and that it has a fan base that will travel and scoop up tickets in droves to the games.

It's possible that more Boise State fans would make the trip to Pasadena than Stanford fans would.  The Broncos are also a television draw, not that the Rose Bowl needs any real help there, but plenty of college football fans would be interested in seeing Boise State take on the Big Ten champion.
Posted on: November 9, 2010 2:25 pm
 

Maxwell semifinalists released; where are RBs?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There has been one good piece of news to come out over the past 24 hours for Cam Newton : the Maxwell Football Club named him one of 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award , the organization's honor for the best player in college football. And though Newton has accumulated the stats and highlight reels of an All-American running back this season, it's perhaps for the best for him he doesn't actually play the position. That's the way it looks from the complete list of semifinalists:

WR Justin Blackmon , Oklahoma State, So.
WR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma, Jr.
QB Andy Dalton , TCU, Sr.
QB Robert Griffin III , Baylor, So.
RB Kendall Hunter , Oklahoma State, Sr.
RB LaMichael James , Oregon, So.
QB Colin Kaepernick , Nevada, Sr.
QB Andrew Luck , Stanford, So.
QB Ryan Mallett , Arkansas, Jr.
QB Taylor Martinez , Nebraska, Fr.
QB Kellen Moore , Boise State, Jr.
QB Cam Newton , Auburn, Jr.
QB Terrelle Pryor , Ohio State, Jr.
QB Denard Robinson , Michigan, So.
QB Ricky Stanzi , Iowa, Sr.
QB Tyrod Taylor , Virginia Tech, Sr.

All right, so it's also a little odd that none of the top 16 players in the nation by the Maxwell's estimation happen to play defense. But it's nothing unusual for defenders to get snubbed in the national Player of the Year talk, and since the Maxwell Club also hands out the Bednarik Award to the nation's best defensive player, the Maxwell itself appears to be a de facto offensive players-only honor; even the great Ndamokung Suh didn't crack the semifinalists list last season .

So the much bigger surprise is that among a list of the nation's top 16 offensive players, only two running backs, Hunter and James, make the cut next to two wide receivers and a whopping 12 quarterbacks. Since when has the the second-most high-profile position on the football field been this devoid of stars?

Since 2010, apparently. Last year's Maxwell semifinalist list included seven tailbacks, including a pair of Heisman finalists in Toby Gerhart and Mark Ingram and several who returned to college football for this 2010 season: Ingram, Noel Devine , Jacquizz Rodgers , Dion Lewis . Unfortunately for those four players, the season hasn't played out as expected for any of them; not one currently ranks among even the top 30 rushers in the nation at present, with Rodgers' 803 yards (good for 33rd) the best year to-date of the bunch.

Why the sudden downturn in the fortunes of the nation's top tailbacks? Some of it is probably a simple fluke. But some of it is the continuing rise of the spread offense, which revolves around the all-purpose quarterback at the expense of pounding along with the traditional bruising tailback. Auburn , Nevada , Michigan , TCU , Baylor -- these are all some of the most explosive offenses in the country, and all five begin with a mobile QB. It's no wonder all five placed their quarterbacks on the list above despite the presence of top rushers like Nevada's Vai Taua , Baylor's Jay Finley , and TCU's Ed Wesley . This year's top pro-style attacks, meanwhile, are all quarterback-dominated as well: Stanford and Luck, Arkansas and Mallett, Boise and Moore. Offenses like the 2009 Cardinal and Tide attacks that turned Gerhart and Ingram into superstars just aren't out there this year.

They'll probably be back next year. But that doesn't mean they'll be back in the same numbers we've seen in the past; as long as the spread remains as in vogue as it is today, the kind of bludgeoning workhorse tailback that makes award lists is going to stay an increasingly endangered species.
Posted on: November 6, 2010 11:56 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2010 1:21 am
 

What I Learned from the Pac-10 (Nov. 6)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

1. The biggest game of the league's season was played back on Oct. 2. And Oregon won it, 52-31 over Stanford . By this point, with the Ducks at least two games up on the rest of the league (and three on everyone but the Cardinal as soon as they dispose of Arizona ) and second-place Stanford two games up on everyone trailing them , there's absolutely no question who the best two teams in the conference are. Not that the league's schedule-makers could have forseen the Ducks' and Cardinal's dominance, but after a few seaosns with massive (and massively hyped) late-season showdowns with Rose Bowl berths on the line, this season whatever attention the Pac-10 garner will come exclusively from Oregon's run at Glendale.

2. Speaking of which, Oregon is the nation's best second-half team. We'd seen this movie before, against Tennessee , against Stanford, against USC: the Ducks look vaguely sluggish for 30 minutes or slightly more, and just as it appears they might be in genuine trouble, they floor it. Today's edition : a scoreless first quarter, couple of turnovers, an 18-13 lead early third quarter ... and three Duck touchdowns before the period is up, with two more just for fun in the fourth to end the game on 35-3 run. Your final: 53-16. Chip Kelly says he wants to wear his opponents out and crush them down the stretch, and whaddya know, that's what his teams do.

It won't be surprising if Cal or Oregon State take an early lead with the Ducks on the road, won't be a total shock if they carry an edge into the break, or even if they're up after 45 minutes. But we're long past the point where we can expect any team remaining on Oregon's schedule to play them even over the full 60 minutes.

3. Maybe Cal isn't schizophrenic. Maybe they just hate the road. The Bears went up to the Palouse today and nearly handed Paul Wulff his first Pac-10 win in his three seasons at Wazzu , falling behind 10-7 at the half and leading only 14-13 entering the fourth quarter before squeaking by 20-13 . New starting quarterback Brock Mansion didn't make anyone forget the injured Kevin Riley , hitting only 12-of-24 with a pair of picks against the league's worst defense.

Truthfully, we already knew Cal was terrible on the road; the win snapped a six-game losing streak away from Berkeley. But even "six-game losing streak" doesn't quite say "terrible on the road" the way "seven-point win over Washington State" does.

4. Stanford's defense is maybe the league's most underreported story. The Cardinal defense in 2009: 403 yards allowed per-game, 90th in the country. The Cardinal defense in 2010: 330 yards allowed per-game, 30th in the country. And that was before they held Arizona to just three first-half points and no touchdowns until the Stanford offense had already built a 28-3 lead late in the third quarter.

No question that between the likes of Andrew Luck and Chris Owusu and Stepfan Taylor and Jim Harbaugh 's precision pro-style attack,  the Cardinal is an offense-first team. But the difference between last year's 8-5 Sun Bowl team and this year's potential 11-1 BCS at-large selection is almost entirely the work first-year defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has done with his starless unit.

5. Oregon State is just another team. The early read on the Beavers was that after near-impossible assignments at Boise State and TCU but a vindication win at Arizona, Mike Riley 's team was better than their record, as they usually are in mid-October.

But after losing in overtime at Washington (losers at home to Arizona State and big losers at home to Stanford and Nebraska ) and now 17-14 at previously-reeling, 3-5 UCLA , it's time to acknowledge that the Beavers aren't top-25 material. In fact, at 4-4 and with games still to come against the Ducks, Cardinal, and Trojans, they may not even be bowl material.

6. Matt Barkley is in a slump. USC escaped Arizona State's upset bid 34-33 late Saturday thanks to some huge plays in the field goal department -- a blocked extra point returned for two Trojan points, a game-winning Joe Houston field goal, a wayward Sun Devil attempt with 90 seconds to play -- but the Trojans won't survive their grueling late-season stretch (starting with next week's visit to Arizona) without better play from their sophomore quarterbacking prodigy. Barkley threw three touchdowns against the Sun Devils, but also threw a pair of interceptions and settled for a mediocre average of 5.8 yards per-pass. Barkley has only dipped below the 7 yards-per-attempt mark three times this season, but it's happened each of the last two weeks. Those two games also account for half of his eight picks for the year. Where's the gunslinger who carpet-bombed Cal and nearly took down Stanford in Palo Alto?

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