Tag:LaMichael James
Posted on: October 29, 2011 6:45 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2011 6:49 pm
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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 25, 2011 6:05 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Washington State at Oregon

Posted by Chip Patterson

OREGON WILL WIN IF: They maintain their speed and pace on both sides of the ball. Washington State is at a disadvantage in most aspects of this matchup, and nothing exposes them more than keeping them on their heels. The Ducks were able to pound Colorado with backup quarterback Brian Bennett in place of Darron Thomas and without LaMichael James.  I expect that even if James and Thomas sit again there will be a similar result. After starting 3-1, the Cougars are reeling right now on a three-game losing streak. If the Ducks start fast and jump out to an early lead I don't expect Paul Wulff's squad to be the type to mount a big comeback in Autzen Stadium.

WASHINGTON STATE WILL WIN IF: Washington State might be down a quarterback as well Jeff Tuel's availability for Saturday depends on the status of his left shoulder. Tuel needs to be 100 percent (he also is suffering from a sore calf) for the Cougars to run their offense, and their defense has to spend this week in practice getting ready to play at Oregon's speed. By my calculations, the best chance Washington State has of beating Oregon on Saturday is if Darron Thomas, LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas, Brian Bennett, Tre Carson, David Paulson, and the Ducks' entire first-string defense decide to sit out. Seriously.

X-FACTOR: This is final warm-up before the Ducks face the toughest challenges on their Pac-12 schedule. After what I expect to be a multi-touchdown victory in Autzen, Oregon goes on the road to face Washington, Stanford, and then hosts USC in consecutive weeks. It will be interesting to see if head coach Chip Kelly decides to use Darron Thomas and/or LaMichael James against the Cougars, and if so in what capacity. The Ducks should be able to win handily without them, but Kelly could use the softer competition to get them back to game speed before hitting the road next week.

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Posted on: October 23, 2011 8:53 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2011 9:02 pm
 

BCS Standings Top 10 Reactions, Week 8


Posted by Eye On College Football


On Sunday night the new BCS standings were released. With Oklahoma and Wisconsin falling from the ranks of the unbeatens, the list of national championship contenders has already begun to dwindle.  

You can check out a rundown of the Top 10 below, with some thoughts from our College Football Bloggers. For a full breakdown of the Top 25 teams in the BCS formula, you can check out the comprehensive standings.


1. LSU : The Synthetic Three were not necessary for LSU to take care of business in the Battle of the Tigers on Saturday.  The easy 45-10 defeat of the defending champions highlighted LSU's depth, and Les Miles' ability to circle the wagons in the midst of controversy.  The suspended players are expected to return for THE GAME, which we now know will be under the lights. - Chip Patterson

2. AlabamaAfter crushing Tennessee with a 31-0 second-half run, the Tide are one win away from ascending to the top spot in the BCS rankings and becoming overwhelming favorites to play for their second national title in three seasons. Too bad for them that win has to come against LSU--even if it's so good for those of us who'll get to sit back and watch - Jerry Hinnen

3. Oklahoma StateYes, Oklahoma State was already ranked first by the computers last week, but now the Cowboys are the undisputed darlings of the Big 12 with Oklahoma going down to Texas Tech. If OSU can run the table (hardly a given, but hardly out of the question), with this ranking, it's got the inside track to a BCS Championship Berth. - Adam Jacobi

4. Boise StateThe bad news: Stanford and Clemson look more likely than ever to eventually leapfrog the Broncos. The good news: no one in Boise's all that worried at this point, not with two gigantic hurdles to the national title game cleared thanks to Texas Tech and Michigan State. And the Cardinal, Tigers, and Cowboys all have their toughest games still ahead of them. -JH

5. Clemson: The scariest thing about the Tigers' offense right now is the depth they highlighted in the 59-38 win over North Carolina. Twelve different skill position players got touches on Saturday, and Tajh Boyd delivered five touchdowns to five different players. But undefeated Clemson will need to survive an ACC title game (in addition to their remaining schedule) and get some help if they want to move into a position of national title contender. - CP

6. Stanford : Stanford finally got a game against a ranked opponent, and Andrew Luck and company blew Washington out of the water. The computers, not seeing the margin of victory in that game, remain unimpressed. But really, it's too early to accurately evaluate Stanford's BCS worthiness until after the Oregon game. That's the Cardinal's season, right there. - AJ

7. Oregon : The Ducks are getting healthy, and just at the right time too.  The toughest part of their Pac-12 slate lies in the coming weeks, and with their only blemish being the loss to LSU, there are plenty of opportunities for Oregon to state their case as the nation's best one-loss team.  Unfortunately there is likely no life after another loss for Chip Kelly's team, so every game is a must-win from here on out if they want to return to the title game. - CP

8. Kansas StateSay what you will about Kansas State's season so far, but KSU just keeps winning, and that's what pollsters and computers want to see most. A legion of difficult games remains on KSU's docket, but if Bill Snyder can guide his charges past both OSU and Oklahoma in the coming weeks, Kansas State is going to be rocketing up the list. - AJ

9. OklahomaMake no mistake for OU: while the Texas Tech loss was extremely damaging in a field full of undefeated teams, the dogfight has just begun. Games against Kansas State, Texas A&M, Baylor, and Oklahoma State all remain (as well as Iowa State, we suppose), and if the Sooners can run that table and get some help from the Upset Gods, they probably stand the best chance of anybody outside the SEC of being a one-loss title contender this year. - AJ

10. ArkansasThe Hogs a serious player in the national title chase and aren't likely to even make a BCS bowl this season with LSU and Alabama ahead of them in the SEC pecking order. But their visit to Baton Rouge on the final week of the regular season might represent the only serious threat to the SEC finishing the year without an undefeated team. - JH

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: October 23, 2011 3:35 am
 

Pac-12 Winners and Losers: Week 8



Posted by Tom Fornelli


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

WINNER: The Stanford Machine

There are two ways that you can take Stanford's 65-21 win over Washington on Saturday night. You can tell yourself that Washington was just a bit overrated coming into the matchup, or you can tell yourself that Stanford is just insanely good at this sport called football. Odds are, for mental health reasons, the rest of the Pac-12 is going to convince itself that Washington was overrated. I'm not in that camp, as I think the Huskies are a good team and that Stanford is just really, really good.

We're nearly two months into the season and I haven't seen any sign that would indicate there's a Pac-12 team that will be able to slow down this Cardinal offense. Just another mind-numbingly efficient, throat-stomping 65-point performance from an offense that is now averaging 48.6 points per game. Stanford ran for 446 yards on Saturday night. 446! Another 7 yards from Anthony Wilkerson and the Cardinal would have had three 100-yard rushers in the game. Good luck trying to stop that, everybody else in the Pac-12. The Stanford Machine will gladly keep coming out with that unbalanced offensive line and pulling the guard just for the fun of seeing you trampled beneath it.

LOSER: Washington State's bowl dreams

This one hurts me a bit because I wanted to believe in Washington State after its 3-1 start just for the story, but the Cougars have now lost three in a row following a 44-21 loss to an Oregon State team that's been anything but good this year. Now Washington State needs to find three more wins on its schedule to go bowling and with road dates against Oregon, Cal and Washington, along with home games against Arizona State and Utah, I just don't see it happening.

WINNER: Lane Kiffin

Kiffykins finally got that signature win he's been looking for since taking over the USC program. The Trojans marched into South Bend on Saturday night and took care of their hated rival with relative ease. In fact, I'm not sure Kiffin has ever called a better set of plays in his life than he did on USC's first two drives of the game, as his offense had the Notre Dame defense completely off-balance and looking lost. The Irish were able to make things close late, but the Trojans defense came through with some huge turnovers to salt this one away. Making things even better for Kiffin and the Trojans, the Irish had a lot of recruits in the house on Saturday night and they were all witness to the USC victory.

LOSER: Colorado football in general

Man, what a beating the Buffaloes took from Oregon on Saturday. The Ducks came into the game without their starting quarterback in Darron Thomas and leading rusher LaMichael James, but it didn't matter all that much. The Ducks still put up 45 points with ease and had 527 yards of offense despite the fact that Chip Kelly called off the dogs with more than six minutes remaining in the third quarter. The highlight of the night for Colorado was a safety late in the third quarter to account for its only points. Still, there's something about losing 45-2 that seems even worse than just getting shutout.

WINNER: Streakers dressed up as referees

Arizona's 48-12 victory over UCLA on Thursday night wouldn't be all that memorable if not for one fan who decided it would be the perfect time for him to debut his new field-storming techniques. For too long streakers have entered the field of play in street clothes, making them easy to spot for security and others. This innovator, however, entered the field in a referee's uniform so that by the time anybody was really aware of what was going on he was taking off down the field shedding clothing with every step. Now, we here at CBSSports.com don't necessarily condone this type of behavior, but we're not going to discourage it either. Especially when it's so creative.

LOSER: Rick Neuheisel

Was there anybody watching UCLA's loss to Arizona on Thursday night who didn't feel as though they were watching the final nails being driven into the coffin of Rick Neuheisel's tenure at the school? Sure, he may survive the rest of the regular season, but I don't think anybody who read between the lines of athletic director Dan Guerrero's words earlier this week can actually believe that he'll be returning in 2012.
Posted on: October 20, 2011 3:32 pm
 

Ducks' Thomas, James both say they can play at CU

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Oregon proved against Arizona State -- much as it's proved over the entire course of Chip Kelly's plug-and-play reign -- that it probably doesn't need Darron Thomas and LaMichael James to defeat 1-6 Colorado this Saturday. But there's also little question that Kelly and the Ducks would like to have Thomas and James in uniform and on the field, just in case.

And to hear Thomas and James tell it, that's exactly what will happen. Thomas said Wednesday that despite his knee injury against the Sun Devils and an earlier report that said backup Bryan Bennett had received the starter's reps in Duck practice during the week, he "expects" to be the No. 1 QB against the Buffs. "Nah, I've been taking them," Thomas said of the practice snaps mentioned in the earlier report.

Thomas added that he wouldn't need doctor's clearance to play against Colorado, since he had never been "uncleared" by doctors in the first place. He was spotted by CBSSports.com Oregon RapidReporter Chris Hansen walking without a knee brace or any noticeable limp after Tuesday's practice.

Thomas's confidence is only more good news for the Ducks after James declared Tuesday that he, too, would be available for the game in Boulder--though having not practiced yet and still without the full range of motion in his dislocated elbow, he was less emphatic than Thomas.

“I’ve (had) enough progress the doctors are fine with me playing ... I definitely could play,” he said. “It’s one of those things if they need me to play.”

With both players nursing their injuries against a team Vegas has pegged as a 32.5-point underdog, don't expect either Thomas or James to get too much burn. And by James's own admission, a fast start for the Ducks would likely see him miss the game entirely.

But it has to be reassuring for Kelly and the Ducks to know that in the event of an emergency, both their stars will be on hand to help.

For more on the Oregon-Colorado matchup, check out our comprehensive pregame page.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 11:58 am
Edited on: October 18, 2011 1:22 pm
 

Keys to the game: Oregon at Colorado

Posted by Bryan Fischer

OREGON WILL WIN IF: If they step off the bus. This is a total mismatch between the conference king (two straight conference titles) and the conference newcomer. The Ducks enter as the 9th-ranked team in the country and lead the conference in most offensive categories. There are some injury concerns, with quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James limited or out against the Buffs but that didn't stop the team from rolling 41 points against one of the league's best defenses last week.

COLORADO WILL WIN IF: If there's a blizzard. Jon Embree's squad does not have the talent to stack up against most Pac-12 programs, much less Oregon. The Buffs are 92nd in the country in total offense and 91st in total defense, not the kind of team you want to play the up-tempo Ducks with. There are some playmakers on the team but they'll be without top linebacker Doug Rippy and starting tailback Rodney Stewart. Undermanned and overmatched, it will be tough for Colorado to pull out a win.

X-FACTOR: Injuries on both sides will be a factor. Backup quarterback Bryan Bennett looked efficient running the Oregon offense after coming on in relief for Thomas but is still young and going on the road for the first time. Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen will be without his top rushing threat and might not have his top receiver for the third straight game. It still looks like this will be a comfortable Oregon victory but you never know how some players will adjust to increased playing time.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 11:11 am
 

Eye on College Football Midseason Report: Pac-12



Posted by Bryan Fischer

Everybody is still trying to get used to calling it the Pac-12 but the football being played out West hasn't changed much at all from last year. Stanford still has the best player in college football and a punishing style of football that has them on the fringe of the national title race. Oregon continues to put up points faster than anybody and even if a few players are hurt, they just plug another player in to break big plays. There's been surprises too, like Washington doing just fine with new starter Keith Price under center. It's not as strong top-to-bottom as it was last year but there's plenty of quality football (and plenty of money) that Larry Scott couldn't be happier to watch.

With that, let's get onto the superlatives for the year thus far. There was plenty of competition every step of the way, and truth be told we could have handed out some ties on a lot of these categories, but if college football fans wanted ties we wouldn't have overtime, so here we go.

Offensive Player of the Year: Andrew Luck, Stanford. The object of many NFL general managers affection, Luck has gone out and played nearly flawless despite a rebuilt offensive line and a brand new cast of wide receivers. He's tossed 18 touchdowns against just three interceptions and positioned the Cardinal for a Rose Bowl for the first time since 2000. Watch him pick apart any secondary on a nice Saturday afternoon and it's a thing of beauty. Without Luck, one wonders if Stanford even makes a decent bowl game so it's easy to see why he's the Pac-12 offensive player of the year at the halfway point. Also considered: LaMichael James, Oregon; Keith Price, Washington; Robert Woods, USC.

Defensive Player of the Year: Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State. Burfict has built of a reputation for playing beyond the whistle and that sometimes overshadows how good he is between the lines. Despite losing several starters to the Sun Devils defense, the unit has still performed very well. He's much more dangerous on blitzes this season and is sixth in the conference in sacks. Burfict doesn't fill the stat sheet like others might but his impact on the field can be felt on every snap. Also considered: Chase Thomas, Stanford; Mychal Kendricks, Cal

Coach of the Year: Steve Sarkisian, Washington. Need to replace one of the most productive quarterbacks in school history? No problem for this former signal-caller, who has the Huskies offense humming and off to a 5-1 start and an appearance in the top 25. They've got a tough stretch of games coming up but they're almost assured of going to a bowl game for the second consecutive year. Also considered: Dennis Erickson, Arizona State; David Shaw, Stanford.

Surprise: Washington State. The conference bottom-dweller for so many years, the Cougars are much, much more competitive in 2011. They've won three games already and should be 4-2 but let a late lead slip at UCLA. There's still an outside shot of a bowl game but considering they're even this good despite quarterback Jeff Tuel has missed most of the season, returning just last week against Stanford. Also considered: Washington

Disappointment:  Utah. Everybody knew it would be a difficult transition for the Utes to a BCS league and the week-in and week-out grid. But not everyone expected the injuries, such as a season-ending one to quarterback Jordan Wynn, and trailing off in the second half of just about every game. They went on the road and beat Pitt so maybe they'll have a little momentum headed into the back half of their schedule (which is much easier than the front half). Still, for a team some touted as the possible Pac-12 South winner, the .500 record isn't what was expected. Also considered: Oregon State; Arizona; Cal

Game of the Year (so far): Utah at USC. We wouldn't exactly call this a scintillating game but it had drama and was hard-fought until the end. The first ever Pac-12 conference game, it pitted the league's most storied member against the league's newest. There was plenty of drama, as the Utes drove down the field in a last-minute to set up a game-tying field goal. But the kick was blocked and, in a unsual series of events, run back by USC for a touchdown while officials signaled that the points would be taken off the board due to unsportsmanlike conduct. Only hours later was their mistake corrected and the points added to the final score, sending Las Vegas sports books into a frenzy. Also considered: Oregon vs. LSU, Arizona State at Oregon.

Game of the Year (to come): Oregon at Stanford. The defacto Pac-12 championship game, this is a top 10 match up with the winner likely headed to the Rose Bowl at the end of the year. The Cardinal led last year before the Ducks stormed back on their way to the national championship game. This year Stanford will likely be favored to win the game at home and they're better equipped to stop Oregon's high-powered offense with the Pac-12's best defense this year. Running back LaMichael James should be back in the starting lineup by then so this is a battle of Heisman trophy runners-up from last year in Luck and James.  Also considered: Stanford at USC, Oregon at Washington.

North Division Champion: Stanford. See above, the division champion will be decided in Palo Alto in early November. Technically Washington still has an outside shot and they do host Oregon but they're not an elite team like the Ducks and Cardinal are. With Andrew Luck under center and an improved defense, the road to the first Pac-12 North title, and league championship, runs through Stanford. Also considered: Oregon.

South Division Champion: Arizona State. Thanks to a head-to-head win and USC being ineligible, the Sun Devils have locked up the South well before the end of the season. They don't have to play Stanford this season but in their first big test against elite team, they fell short against Oregon. Still, the schedule is easy the rest of the way and they will be favored to win out before playing at the North winner in the Pac-12 Championship game at 10-2.

Pac-12 Champion: Stanford. Having the best player in the league, the best defense in the league and the biggest game of the year sets up nicely for first year head coach David Shaw. Winning the inaugural Pac-12 title and a trip to Pasadena for Stanford's first Rose Bowl in over a decade would have been unexpected just two years ago but here the Cardinal are, in the driver's seat. They also have a chance to move into the top five and on the cusp of a national title appearance if still undefeated at the end of the year. Also considered: Oregon.

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: October 16, 2011 9:18 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2011 12:01 pm
 

BCS Standings Top 10 Reactions, Week 7



Posted by Eye On College Football


On Sunday night the first BCS standings of the season were released. While the Coaches Poll and AP remain divided on the order of the top three, the most important rankings have LSU with a slight numerical advantage over Alabama for the No. 1 spot. The Bedlam rivals hold down 3 and 4, while Boise State is holding down the familiar position of the outside looking in.

You can check out a rundown of the Top 10 below, with some thoughts from our College Football Bloggers. For a full breakdown of the Top 25 teams in the BCS formula, you can check out the comprehensive standings.


1. LSU : Les Miles' team is in the drivers seat, so it's pretty simple. Keep winning and the Tigers are playing for a national title. Though with games against Alabama, Arkansas and the SEC title game left, it won't be easy. - Tom Fornelli 

2. Alabama: The Crimson Tide have faced three ranked opponents, played four SEC conference games, and still are only allowing 7.0 points per game. The methodical beatdowns of Alabama's opponents have set up the armageddon match against LSU on Nov. 5. If the Tide win that game and continue their high level of play, they will find themselves competing for Nick Saban's third championship in New Orleans come January. - Chip Patterson 

3. Oklahoma: The Sooners find themselves behind both LSU and Alabama, which means that Oklahoma wouldn't be playing for a national title if the season ended now. The good news for Oklahoma is that LSU and Alabama still have to play each other, so if the Sooners win out, they'll likely finish in the top two. - TF
 

4. Oklahoma State : The computers love the Cowboys, but that's not enough to get them into the top two spots. Good news for them, though, is they still control their own destiny as they get to play Oklahoma and LSU will play Alabama. - TF

5. Boise StateThe Broncos' best chance for a late quality win was assumed to be their one-time MWC showdown with TCU. With the Horned Frogs suffering a significant drop-off from 2010, Boise could easily finish the season undefeated and find themselves outside the top 2 (or 4) in the polls and BCS rankings. Boise State's best chance to make their first appearance in a title game is to get a lot of upset help from the Big 12 and SEC - CP

6. WisconsinWhile it's certainly disappointing to see a team of Wisconsin's caliber rated this low in the BCS, it's not exactly surprising; Wisconsin's first half of the season has been one blowout after another, and in a rating system that's not allowed to consider margin of victory, the only thing that matters is the teams you play. At the very least, Wisconsin is set to face some tougher competition in the coming weeks, so don't expect to see the Badgers ranked at 10th or lower in as many polls by the time November rolls around. - Adam Jacobi

7. Clemson: While the nation waits for Clemson's suspected collapse, Dabo Swinney's squad continues to grind out victories and hang out just inside the Top 10. Tajh Boyd's development and Sammy Watkins' arrival have come at the perfect time for the Tigers, who are four victories away from running the table in the ACC. - CP

8. Stanford:The Cardinal find themselves eighth in the initial BCS standings this year, an improvement from the 13th spot they debuted at last season. While some expected Andrew Luck and company to be slightly higher, their schedule has hurt them in the computer rankings because they have not played a ranked team yet. Stanford still controls their own destiny for the Rose Bowl but have a remote national title shot unless they get some help. - Bryan Fischer

9. Arkansas:The highest ranked one-loss team in the initial BCS standings, the Razorbacks could wind up in a BCS bowl again this year. They also have the chance to play spoiler for top ranked LSU and Alabama and cause some serious chaos in the national title race.- BF


10. Oregon: Fresh off a victory over probably Pac-12 South division winner Arizona State, the Ducks are in a good spot in the top 10 of the initial standings. They are the second highest one-loss team, right behind Arkansas, and their only loss is to top-ranked LSU. The computers send a mixed message about Oregon but as long as they keep winning, they have nowhere to go but up. - BF 

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