Tag:De'Anthony Thomas
Posted on: October 29, 2011 6:45 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2011 6:49 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 7 Oregon 43, Washington State 28

Posted by Chip Patterson

OREGON WON. After entering halftime with a 15-10 lead, Oregon's offense took off under the leadership of Brian Bennett as the Ducks pulled away with a 43-28 win over Washington State. The Cougars got inspired play from their own backup quarterback, Marshall Lobbestael, who threw for 337 yards on the Oregon defense. But despite Washington State's best effort on the road, the Ducks were too much to handle in the Pac-12 North matchup on Saturday afternoon.

HOW OREGON WON: The big news heading into the game was the return of Darron Thomas and LaMichael James in the Oregon backfield. Thomas was replaced by Brian Bennett in the second half after throwing two interceptions, and James never really hit his rhythm on the ground. Instead it was the play of Kenjon Barner, Lavasier Tuinei, and De'Anthony Thomas in the second half that helped Oregon pull away from a feisty Washington State squad.

WHEN OREGON WON: Near the end of the third quarter, Washington State finished off an impressive seven play, 70 yard drive with a 24 yard touchdown pass from Lobbestael to Jared Karstetter. The score cut Oregon's lead to 29-20 and the Cougars seemed poised to give the Ducks a scare. But few things will deflate an underdog like a big special teams play, and when De'Anthony Thomas took the ensuing kickoff right back for an Oregon touchdown the Ducks assumed control for the rest of the game.

WHAT OREGON WON: If Darron Thomas and LaMichael James were going to be rusty in their first appearance back on the field, at least it was against Washington State. Oregon's case as "the best one-loss team" was not helped with their lackluster performance at home, but at least the rough transition did not cost the Ducks a victory. The story of Oregon's season will be written in the coming weeks, with Washington, Stanford, and USC ahead on the schedule. At least head coach Chip Kelly was able to give Thomas and James a test-run before these must-win conference battles.

WHAT WASHINGTON STATE LOST: A chance for a historic win. For Washington State to beat Oregon in Autzen - with a backup quarterback, no less - would have been tremendous for the program. Unfortunately, head coach Paul Wulff has to try and spin this one into yet another "moral victory."

THAT WAS CRAZY: The first half was just odd, with Darron Thomas struggling to get settled against Washington State's defense and the Ducks failing to produce more than one offensive touchdown. The defense also did not look as aggressive as usual, allowing the Cougars to dictate the pace offensively. You could chalk the performance up to "coming out flat," but it is definitely reason for Oregon fans to be concerned with huge games in the weeks ahead.

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 3:19 am
 

Pac-12 Winners and Losers: Week 7



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.

Posted on: October 13, 2011 9:52 am
Edited on: October 13, 2011 9:54 am
 

Darron Thomas gives unofficial update on James

Posted by Chip Patterson

When Oregon star running back LaMichael James was upbeat and positive about his status when speaking to the media just hours after dislocating his elbow against California. He told reporters he suffered a similar injury in high school, and even came back the next week. While head coach Chip Kelly has made no official determination on whether James will go against No. 18 Arizona State on Saturday, starting quarterback Darron Thomas has made it sound highly unlikely.

Thomas told The Oregonian on Wednesday after practice the Ducks were pushing themselves a little harder in practice "knowing we're going to be without LaMichael."

"I'm all right," Thomas said discussing Oregon's other offensive options. "We've got Kenjon [Barner] in the backfield with me. He is a step behind LaMike, doing the same things. We've got Tra Carson doing well for us. I can't wait to see him play. And De'Anthony, everybody knows about De'Anthony."

While Thomas' prognosis for James is not official, he is 100% correct that "everybody knows about De'Anthony." Star freshman De'Anthony Thomas has been everything Oregon fans could hope for, leading the team in receiving (17 catches, 286 yards, four touchdowns) and sitting just behind James as the team's second leading rusher (25 carries, 191 yards, two touchdowns). With James likely sidelined, the first places the Ducks will look for that offensive explosion will be Barner and DAT.

Last season Arizona State played the Ducks close before eventually falling 42-31. The Sun Devils defense held the Ducks to 2 for 13 on third down conversions and held James to just 94 yards rushing. Late in the third quarter, Arizona State held a 24-21 lead late in the third quarter before three Darron Thomas touchdowns and a fumble recovery for a score put the game out of reach. Oregon has taken the last six meetings between the conference rivals, Arizona State has not won in Autzen Stadium since 2004.

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Posted on: October 12, 2011 6:25 pm
 

Pac-12 RapidReport Roundup: Stoops reactions

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Running down everything you need to know from the current news in the Pac-12, courtesy of our CBSSports.com RapidReporters (and others).

ARIZONA. Obviously things are a bit different down in Tuscon with the ouster of head coach Mike Stoops. The bye week comes at a good time for the interim coach Tim Kish, who is changing up some of the staff duties, including giving offensive coordinator Seth Littrell complete autonomy on offense and possibly hiring another defensive assistant. Several other head coaches have weighed in on Stoops' midseason firing, from Mike Riley to Bo Pelini to Lane Kiffin.
 
ARIZONA STATE. Dennis Erickson says he always knew that things would work out despite a rough three-year stretch. Athletic director Lisa Love said this season was the one she and Erickson had been waiting for when she hired him. Also, cornerback Osahon Irabor might not play against the Oregon this week so Alden Darby could remain his replacement. Aderious Simmons is likely to start at right tackle. Quarterback Brock Osweiler says his team won't quit and it's Rose Bowl or bust.

CAL. The Bears will play USC at home on Thursday night but AT&T Park isn't exactly 'home' for the team yet, according to Jeff Tedford. He also is hoping that this week's game is not a repeat of last year's game, when the Trojans led 42-0 at halftime. Cornerback Stefan McClure will have the tough task of guarding wide receiver Robert Woods.

OREGON. Injured running back LaMichael James is working hard to get healthy but is unlikely to suit up against Arizona State this weekend. Freshman running back/all-around athlete De'Anthony Thomas will see his workload increase as a result, adding to an already impressive start for the Ducks. Chip Kelly is well aware of what ASU linebacker Vontaze Burfict can do and has all eyes on him. Likewise, defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti will be keeping tabs on Brock Osweiler, who might too short for his taste.

OREGON STATE. Head coach Mike Riley is using a bowl game as motivation for his squad and hopes to build off of the momentum of the program's first win. Things have improved in the Beavers' run defense and the offense is putting up more points but they'll still need to win five of seven. Starting wide receiver Jordan Bishop will have an MRI on his injured ankle and cornerback Brandon Hardin will have a checkup in a month on his shoulder injury. Running backs Jovan Stevenson and Malcolm Agnew will practice this week and both could return to action soon.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. Highly touted recruit George Farmer will make his debut at running back on Thursday, something quarterback Matt Barkley is looking forward to seeing. This week's game at Cal means head coach Lane Kiffin will be squaring off against his old mentor Jeff Tedford. Defensive tackle Armond Armstead will make the trip up even though he is redshirting, while linebacker Lamar Dawson and corner Torin Harris are questionable for the game. The game this week will be a big time match up between wide receivers on both sides.

UCLA. The Bruins get Arizona as their next opponent and even though they'll be without a head coach, they're still going to be a problem. No stranger to the hot seat himself, Rick Neuheisel certainly feels for Stoops and how he was fired. The offense does need a bit of a boost and could see freshman quarterback Brett Hundley get some reps this week. Wide receiver Randall Carroll could also see increased playing time based on the number of snaps he's received in practice.

Posted on: October 7, 2011 12:46 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 5:38 am
 

QUICK HITS: No. 9 Oregon 43, California 15



Posted by Chip Patterson


OREGON WON. Cal kept fighting until the end, but the Ducks dominated the start of the second half and pulled away late in their 43-15 win in Autzen on Thursday night. LaMichael James picked up his third-straight 200-yard game before suffering an apparent right arm injury early in the fourth quarter. James' was carted off the field with his arm in an air cast, and appeared to be in a significant amount of pain. Other than that, the news was all good for Oregon -- marching back from a 15-14 halftime deficit to roll off 29 unanswered points in the second half.

HOW OREGON WON: After starting the first half failing to convert on third downs and generally struggling to hit a rhythm, the Ducks picked up the tempo to start the second half and wore down Cal's defense. It started with a methodical 13-play, 88-yard drive to kick off the third quarter. By the end of that first drive the defense was gassed, and ripe for the picking for the remainder of the quarter. James, Kenjon Barner, and freshman De'Anthony Thomas continued the offensive assault and helped put the game away late.

WHEN OREGON WON: After the drive mentioned above, the defense stepped up and stopped a previously productive Zach Maynard. Following a punt, it only took a pair of LaMichael James runs and a 68-yard Kejon Barner touchdown to begin ushering in the beatdown in Autzen Stadium. It was clear at that point the momentum had swung back in the Ducks' favor, and Cal was not going to reclaim the lead.

WHAT OREGON WON: Their 15th straight conference win. Their streak dates back to the 51-42 loss at Stanford in 2009. Cal actually gave them the biggest scare in that streak, slowing the Ducks down and forcing them to grind out a 15-13 win in Berkeley. Thursday night served as some home-served payback for those alleged fake injuries.

WHAT CALIFORNIA LOST: After grinding out a 15-14 first half lead, the Bears could never get it started again after halftime. The team was gassed, and all of the sudden the lanes began to open up for Oregon. California now heads home to continue Pac-12 conference play against USC. A two-loss start is not favorable for the Bears, but is not entirely unexpected considering the opponents.

THAT WAS CRAZY: LaMichael James' right arm injury in the fourth quarter was painful to watch. Whether it is an arm or dislocated elbow, Oregon will likely not be in a hurry to give specific details on the status of the nation's leading rusher. Up to that point it was just another dominant performance by the 2010 Doak Walker Award winner.



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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.

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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 7:18 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Oregon 69 Nevada 20

Posted by Tom Fornelli

OREGON WON. It appears that if you don't have more than a month or an offseason to prepare for the Oregon attack on offense then you don't have much of a chance to stop it. Oregon returned home after having its wings clipped by LSU last week and took out all its frustration on Nevada. And I mean all of it's frustration. The Ducks were up 34-0 in the blink of an eye, and Darron Thomas threw 5 touchdowns in the first half. The Oregon offense would finish with 603 yards, and Thomas would finish the game with 6 touchdowns and 295 yards. This is also where I point out that Thomas only completed 13 passes and 6 of them were for scores

WHY OREGON WON. Too much speed and too much talent for Nevada to contend with. Darron Thomas wasn't the only Duck to finish with a ridiculous statline, as De'Anthony Thomas -- he of the fumble-itis last week -- finished the game with 204 all-purpose yards and 2 touchdowns. LaMichael James pitched in another 181 all-purpose yards and 3 touchdowns of his own. In fact, all three of them may have just scored again even though the game is over.

WHEN OREGON WON. When Colin Kaepernick graduated last season and went on to the NFL. Make no mistake about it, this is not the same Nevada team that beat Boise State last season, as a lot of the team's best players from that team were not on the field today. Though, to be honest, I'm not sure how much of an impact they'd have had in this game if they were.

WHAT OREGON WON. The Ducks got their groove back. The team had lost its last two games dating back to January's title game against Auburn, and the offense did not look incredibly strong in either game. Well, after Saturday's win the Ducks are flying high once again and ready to hang 60 on their next opponent.

WHAT NEVADA LOST. I'm not sure what you'd call it, but I'm pretty sure there isn't a member of this Nevada squad that will ever be able to take a peaceful stroll through a park with ducks swimming on a pond again.

THAT WAS CRAZY. Nothing too insane took place in this one, though being able to remember what it looks like when the Oregon offense is at 100% is enough to make you not believe what you're seeing. 
 
 
 
 
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