Posted on: October 24, 2011 12:44 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Pac-12 fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.
With the national audience and a ranked opponent, Stanford put on an explosive show at the right time for the voters. The 65-21 track meet victory against Washington highlighted everything dominant about Stanford not-named Andrew Luck. The 446-172 advantage in rushing yards showed the Cardinal have much more to going for them than just their junior star quarterback. The nation took notice, and now the Stanford has moved into position to possibly contend for a national title.
Oregon showed no need to test their injured offensive backfield against Colorado during the 45-2 beatdown in Boulder. The Ducks move up in the polls to fill open spots, but unlike their Pac-12 rivals at Stanford they carry that one loss from the season opener. Oregon's best chances to continue to climb will require more top teams losing, but if LSU defeats Alabama and retains the top spot that one loss will continue to look "acceptable" in the minds of many voters.
NCAA sanctions will keep USC out of the Coaches Poll, but their third 30+ point performance in as many weeks was enough to get them back into the AP rankings. USC's defense held Notre Dame to just 267 total yards and only one offensive touchdown in the impressive 31-17 victory under the lights in South Bend. The Irish got back to their turnover-prone ways, and the Trojans made sure to take advantage. Now Lane Kiffin gets the opportunity to play spoiler to title-contending Stanford when the Cardinal come to town this Saturday for the primetime showdown on national television.
23/20. Arizona State
Very little movement in the polls for the Sun Devils, as Dennis Erickson's squad got the enjoyed their off week. They will return to action on Saturday against Colorado at home (basically part of the bye week) before focusing on the home stretch and a potential Pac-12 South division crown. The schedule sets up well for the Sun Devils, who should be favored to represent the division in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game. All they need to do is make sure they don't slip up along the way.
Others receiving votes: Washington was dropped from the rankings after their loss at the hands of Stanford, but still received 32 points in the AP and 20 from the Coaches.
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Posted on: October 23, 2011 7:52 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2011 9:17 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the SEC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.
We'd like to think that even if Oklahoma had completed their failed comeback against Texas Tech, the Bayou Bengals' annihilation of a top-20 Auburn team (as opposed to a mighty struggle at home vs. an unranked team with two home losses) would finally resulted in their taking over as a consensus No. 1. But fortunately for clarity's sake, the Red Raiders finished the job. And even if Alabama wasn't on a bye themselves, that consensus wasn't going to change during LSU's off-week--the Tigers have a 49-10 advantage in first place votes in the AP, and a 41-18 edge in the Coaches.
The Crimson Tide should have passed the decisively less-impressive Sooners weeks back, but there's no doubt plenty of thanks being sent Lubbockward after the Red Raiders made the Tide's consensus move to No. 2 it official. (Then again, knowing the relationship between the Tide fanbase and Tommy Tuberville, maybe not.) What's interesting is that the Tide have enough support for a short fall in the event of a loss to LSU--the 122-point margin between the Tide and No. 3 Oklahoma State is wider than the margin between the Cowboys and No. 6 Clemson.
The Razorbacks move up two spots in both polls but find themselves in the same broad position as last week: the second-highest one-loss team behind Oregon. It's a strong show of support for the Hogs that even after an unimpressive win over Ole Miss -- one that required overcoming a 17-0 first-half deficit and a last-minute interception to preserve the victory -- Arkansas still moved past plummeting Oklahoma and Wisconsin. But as we said last week, if forced to pick between the Hogs and Ducks in a one-loss head-to-head, we think the Hogs deserve the nod.
14/14. SOUTH CAROLINA
Oh, Coaches poll. We wish there was a better explanation for jumping Kansas State past the Gamecocks on the basis of a win over Kansas and Carolina's bye week than "Oops, we kind of messed up by having that undefeated team so low last week, better fix it" ... but we know there isn't. At least Michigan State's leapfrog past the Gamecocks makes more sense. The Spartans jumped the Gamecocks in the AP, too, but Carolina stayed put thanks to West Virginia's freefall. Given that the Gamecocks' loss came to a now three-loss team at home and that their signature win is a three-point escape at Georgia, they can't have any complaints about sticking at 14th.
The Bulldogs didn't play this week, but still got a two-slot bump in the AP and leapt into the Coaches at No. 21. Guess it helps when so many bottom-rung top-25 teams -- Auburn, Illinois, Washington, Georiga Tech -- absorbed lopsided and/or embarrassing losses. But the Dawgs can't gripe about not being higher, not when their best win is still over 3-4 Tennessee.
Posted on: October 23, 2011 3:35 am
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 23, 2011 12:38 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
STANFORD WON: So much for the Cardinal getting their first test of the year. Andrew Luck barely had to break a sweat (16-of-22, 169 yards, 2 touchdowns) as the Cardinal rampaged to 247 first-half rushing yards, a 38-14 halftime lead, and their 10th straight win by 25 points or better--the first such streak in Division I college football since 1936. Cardinal tailbacks Stepfan Taylor and Tyler Gaffney combined for 245 yards on just 19 carries, averaging an eye-popping timeouts 12.9 yards an attempt, and leading the Cardinal to a school-record 446 rushing yards.
WHY STANFORD WON: We mentioned the 247 first-half rushing yards and bulldozer job from Taylor and Gaffney, right? It's hard to lose with production in the ground game like that, and essentially impossible when that production is backed up by a passing game managed by Luck. If the Cardinal offensive line -- spearheaded by one surefire All-American in guard David DeCastro and potentially another in tackle Jonathan Martin -- isn't already considered one of the best if not the best in the nation, running for 446 yards against a top-25 defense that was averaging less than 100 yards allowed per-game should change that in a frightful hurry.
But that shouldn't totally obscure the effort made by the Stanford defense. Chris Polk broke loose for a pair of long first-half Huskie touchdowns, the latter a 61-yard burst that cut an early Stanford lead to 17-14. But the Huskies wouldn't score again until early in the fourth quarter (by which point the score was 48-14, and during which span the Cardinal D had outscored the Huskies 7-0), the Cardinal would finish the night up 3-0 in turnover margin, and after collecting more than 100 yards in the first two quarters Polk would finish with just 144.
WHEN STANFORD WON: Speaking of "outscoring the Huskies 7-0," Huskies were already in a 31-14 hole when they drove to the Stanford 38 and faced 2nd-and-1. Polk was stuffed for a loss of 3, setting up 3rd-and-4 ... on which Keith Price's pass was intercepted by Michael Thomas and housed. The Huskies went into halftime down 38-14, and were never, ever, ever going to mount that kind of comeback.
WHAT STANFORD WON: With Wisconsin going down in East Lansing and Oklahoma in legitimate trouble against Texas Tech as we type this, the Cardinal look more the part of a national title contender than ever before ... and a 44-point bludgeoning of a one-loss, top-25 team is a big, big part of that.
WHAT WASHINGTON LOST: Any real hope of winning the inaugural Pac-12 North, since the odds of the Cardinal dropping two league games while the Huskies run the table seems slim indeed.
Posted on: October 21, 2011 3:26 pm
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.
We hope you've starved yourself this week because you're going to need plenty of room in your stomach to get through this week's menu, and although we can't promise you anything featuring streaking referees and fighting, we're sure you'll find these meals as fulfilling just the same.
Missouri vs. #4 Oklahoma State - FX, 12pm ET
On paper this one may not seem all that interesting, but Missouri is yet to lose at home this season, and let's not forget that the Tigers knocked off Oklahoma in Columbia last season. It's possible that the Tigers could end another school from Oklahoma's title hopes again this Saturday. Of course, it won't be easy considering the offensive firepower that the Cowboys will be bringing with them. - Tom Fornelli
#7 Clemson vs. North Carolina - ESPN, 12pm ET
Clemson survived their first trap game on the road, marching back from 18 down against Maryland to prove - for the moment - this Tigers team is for real. Now they have a chance to return to the comfy confines of Death Valley for one last warm-up before traveling to Atlanta for arguably the toughest challenge left on the conference schedule in Georgia Tech. North Carolina doesn't run the option, but they do have a terrific ground game led by redshirt freshman Gio Bernard. Bernard has been sensational for the Tar Heels, and ranks third in the ACC with 109.57 yards per game. The Tigers, on the other hand, are one of the league's worst defenses against the run. North Carolina's defense has been beaten on the perimeter this season, and their weakness in the secondary will likely be their downfall with no answer for Sammy Watkins and DeAndre "Nuke" Hopkins. - Chip Patterson
Purdue vs. #23 Illinois - ESPN2, 12pm ET
This game will be worth your attention. Bold statement, but it's true. Here's the deal: if Nathan Scheelhaase and A.J. Jenkins get their game back up, you'll want to watch, because that's the best QB-WR combination in the Big Ten. And if Scheelhaase and Jenkins get bottled up like last week, look out, because we might have an early upset on our hands, and those are a fun way to start a Saturday. See? Win-win scenario all the way. - Adam Jacobi
#1 LSU vs. #20 Auburn - CBS, 3:30pm ET
So Auburn has a defense with some success against LSU-style offenses, the host Tigers won't have Tyrann Mathieu or Spencer Ware, and the game's being played in bright, Death Valley-neutralizing sunlight. It's too bad Auburn is sending Clint Moseley out for his first career start at quarterback, or Gene Chizik's bunch could have made a real game of this. (if Moseley is a revelation? They still might. - Jerry Hinnen
#5 Boise State vs. Air Force - Versus, 3:30pm ET
Is there anybody left on Boise State's schedule that can knock the Broncos off? Maybe, but odds are that it won't happen this week as Air Force makes the trip up north to play on the blue turf. Still, even if Boise is likely to win this game, tuning in to see the Broncos playing a home game is seldom a choice to regret. - TF
Miami vs. #22 Georgia Tech - ESPN, 3:30pm ET
Miami turned the corner against Virginia Tech, and has been playing some of their best football of the season in the last three quarters. But they welcome a Georgia Tech team that got beat around by Virginia last week, and will be looking for a bounce back victory. This game is a must-win for the Yellow Jackets if they plan on competing for a Coastal Division title, and a must-win for the Hurricanes to establish some kind of momentum in a frustratingly inconsistent season. If Miami wants to pull the upset, they need to get Lamar Miller going on offense. A good rushing attack will keep Paul Johnson's pounding offense off the field, and after Miller was held to 29 yards against UNC last week he's due for a big game. - CP
#2 Alabama vs. Tennessee - ESPN2, 7:15pm ET
The drama and intrigue in this edition of the "Third" Saturday in October positively abounds: can the Vols score a touchdown? Can Trent Richardson break the 200-yard mark? Will Nick Saban decline to score a final humiliating touchdown out of respect for his old assistant, Derek Dooley? Has Smokey finally been fitted for the retina-protecting dog goggles (or "doggles") required by repeated visual exposure to Dooley's pants? (The actual and inevitable outcome, that we're not so intrigued by.) - JH
Notre Dame vs. USC - NBC, 7:30pm ET
One of college football's greatest rivalries gets a bit of a twist this season. For the first time in history, Notre Dame will be playing a night game in South Bend. Can Touchdown Jesus see in the dark? Also, emerging victorious could help catapult the winner back into the rankings, and for Notre Dame a win keeps its slim BCS hopes alive. - TF
#3 Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech - ABC, 8pm ET
This game features two offenses that both come into the game averaging more than 43 points a game, so if you're looking for a shootout to spend your evening with, this will likely be your game. The question will be if Seth Doege and the Texas Tech offense can still have as much success against an Oklahoma defense that's better than any other it has faced this season. - TF
#8 Stanford vs. #25 Washington - ABC, 8pm ET
Andrew Luck and Stanford haven't played a ranked team all year but that will change with Washington rolling into Palo Alto. The Huskies, with quarterback Keith Price and running back Chris Polk, will present a test for the stiff Cardinal defense that is missing a few key defenders. Of course, Luck has to be licking his chops to face the Pac-12's worst pass defense. - Bryan Fischer
#16 Michigan State vs. #6 Wisconsin - ESPN, 8pm ET
This could be the Big Ten's last, best hope to see Wisconsin get knocked off before the championship game -- and MSU just lost its top DE Will Gholston to a Big Ten-mandated suspension for punching Taylor Lewan last Saturday. Whoops! The rest of the Spartan defensive front is fierce, though, and perhaps we'll finally be able to see what happens when an opponent challenges Wisconsin for all four quarters this year. Perhaps. - AJ
LATE NIGHT SNACK
Washington State vs. Oregon State - Fox Sports, 10:30pm ET
Oregon State is off to their worst start in years and Mike Riley and company are looking to turn things around while seeking revenge against a Washington State team that upset them last year and cost them a trip to a bowl game. The Cougars have been competitive in the first half of their last two games but the question is if they can finish against OSU. - BF
Tags: A.J. Jenkins, ACC, Adam Jacobi, Air Force, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Auburn, Big 12, Big Ten, Boise State, Bryan Fischer, Chip Patterson, Chris Polk, Clemson, Clint Moseley, DeAndre Hopkins, Derek Dooley, Gene Chizik, Georgia Tech, Gio Bernard, Illinois, Jerry Hinnen, Keith Price, Lamar Miller, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan State, Mike Riley, Missouri, Mountain West, Nathan Scheelhaase, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Pac-12, Paul Johnson, Purdue, Sammy Watkins, Saturday Meal Plan, SEC, Seth Doege, Spencer Ware, Stanford, Taylor Lewan, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Tom Fornelli, Trent Richardson, Tyrann Mathieu, USC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington, Washington State, Will Gholston, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 20, 2011 3:48 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 5:25 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Man vs. Woman vs. Machine is a feature that runs every Thursday afternoon. It is here that Tom Fornelli fights against the rising tide of female empowerment and technology to ensure that men everywhere can at least claim that college football is still theirs. He does this by picking a set of games against the spread against his girlfriend, Lynn, and his Playstation 3.
This could be the week that makes or breaks all of us. After spending a month trying to catch The Woman in this race, she's pulled away the last few weeks and taken a two-game lead once again. I'd be concerned about this in any other week, but this week things are different.
The spreads this week are insane.
When they were first released there were 20+ point spreads everywhere I looked. I trimmed them down to the ten games that were the most, shall we say, sane, but still, there's not a lot of confidence between Woman and I in our picks this week. When the spreads are like this, you may as well be flipping a coin, but I'm not introducing that aspect until next season.
Syracuse vs. West Virginia (-13 1/2) - Friday, 8pm (All times Eastern)Man - The thing that drives me insane about the Big East is that every week the team that is supposed to be the best team in the conference loses to somebody they have no business losing to. Thankfully, I'm confident that West Virginia is a team that knows what it should be doing and will do it. Pick: West Virginia
Woman - "No way Syracuse is going to surprise West Virginia two years in a row. Not even a raised eyebrow." Pick: West Virginia
Machine - The Machine must be a big fan of Dana Holgorsen's skullet and Geno Smith, as the Mountaineers blow up the Carrier Dome 51-17. Pick: West Virginia
Missouri vs. Oklahoma State (-7 1/2) - Saturday, 12pmMan - I know that Oklahoma State's defense isn't exactly wonderful, but the Missouri offense has been so inconsistent this season that I just don't see any way that it can keep up with the Cowboys. Even if Missouri's defense can slow the Cowboys down a bit, I just don't think it'll be enough. Pick: Oklahoma State
Woman - "Yes, the Cowboys are playing stellar ball and you'd think this would be another step in their march toward BCS glory. But Mizzou is 3-0 at Faurot Field and its three losses have been close ones against good teams. Make assumptions about Missouri folk at your own peril." Pick: Missouri
Machine - The Machine sees a pretty close game for three quarters before Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon have a party in the fourth quarter and pull away late. Cowboys win 40-24. Pick: Oklahoma State
Clemson (-10 1/2) vs. North Carolina - Saturday, 12pmMan - Considering the way that Clemson has a habit of making things really close for three quarters before finally pulling away, this point spread does scare me a bit. That being said, North Carolina doesn't really inspire a lot of confidence in me, and since Clemson is at home I'll put my faith in the Tigers. Pick: Clemson
Woman - "To be honest, I know virtually nothing about Tar Heel football. I expect that will still be true on Sunday." Pick: Clemson
Machine - The Machine sees the annual rite of Clemson blowing up taking place this week as North Carolina wins 24-17. Pick: North Carolina
Kansas vs. Kansas State (-12 1/2) - Saturday, 12pmMan - Somewhat odd that Kansas State goes from being an underdog every week against teams it's better than to nearly a two-touchdown favorite, but Kansas has just been that bad. Also, let's not forget that Kansas State beat Kansas 59-7 last season and I don't think last season's Kansas State team is as good as this version. Pick: Kansas State
Woman - "I have created (and by created, I mean, found) a very special Sunflower Showdown Emo tribute for the Jayhawks to be played directly following the game. Enjoy." Pick: Kansas State
Machine - Game recognize game, and The Machine recognizes Bill Snyder's likely stoppable killing machine, but it won't be stopped in Lawrence. Kansas State wins 31-13. Pick: Kansas State
Purdue vs. Illinois (-5 1/2) - Saturday, 12pmMan - This spread seems a bit too easy to me. In my opinion, gamblers are overreacting to what Illinois did against Ohio State last week and what Purdue did against Penn State. Penn State's offense is terrible enough to keep Purdue in a game, and the Boilermakers have been beaten pretty bad this year by teams that spread it out. In Zook I trust! Pick: Illinois
Woman - "It's hard to shake the memory of the Illini's cringe-worthy outing last week but bottom line, they're a better team than the Boilermakers. Purdue will play the best game of its season and keep it close, but not that close." Pick: Illinois
Machine - The Machine seems to think that Ron Zook is going to have a lot of questions to answer this week as Purdue knocks off the Illini 21-3. Pick: Purdue
LSU (-22 1/2) vs. Auburn - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - I don't want to pick against Les Miles. I really, really, really don't. Still, without the Honey Badger and Spencer Ware, I'm just not as confident in LSU's ability to cover that spread. Will the LSU defense smother a quarterback making his first career start for the third straight week? Of course it will, but will the LSU offense cover more than three scores? Probably, because I'm picking against Les and must be punished for it. Pick: Auburn
Woman - "Yeah, LSU will win but given the news that three of its top players have been suspended, I think that line may be a bit stout." Pick: Auburn
Machine - The Machine is not a fan of three touchdown spreads for LSU offenses without its leading rush, as LSU wins 17-10. Pick: Auburn
Miami (-3 1/2) vs. Georgia Tech - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - I had been pretty high on Georgia Tech before last week, but man did the Ramblin' Wreck get exposed by Virginia last weekend. That plus the fact that Jacory Harris is actually playing pretty well for Miami makes me lean toward the home side here. Pick: Miami
Woman - "When I think of the NCAA and scholar athletes, these two schools leap immediately to mind, especially Hurricanes' DL Micanor Regis and his groundbreaking work on the physics of balls - please skip to minute five for Micanor's powerful research. Unfortunately, Micanor got so deep into his studies last weekend, he'll have to miss this game, which gives the 6-1 Wrecks a leg up." Pick: Georgia Tech
Machine - The Machine sees Miami getting up early, and a Georgia Tech playing from behind is not a very good Georgia Tech to bet on. Hurricanes win 28-17. Pick: Miami
Northwestern vs. Penn State (-4 1/2) - Saturday, 7pmMan - As I mentioned in the Illinois/Purdue pick, Penn State's offense is terrible. It's defense has been great, but it's also faced mediocre offenses all season save for Alabama, and we all remember how that went. So with Penn State going on the road I have to go with the team that's getting the points. Pick: Northwestern
Woman - "Northwestern stems the bleeding from three straight losses and Dan Persa gets to show his newly bald head around campus again." Pick: Northwestern
Machine - It's a clean sweep as The Machine sees Pat Fitzgerald's team getting its act together this week and beating Penn State 30-17. Pick: Northwestern
Michigan State vs. Wisconsin (-8 1/2) - Saturday, 8pmMan - We're nearly in November and Wisconsin is leaving Madison to play a football game for the first time all season. Wisconsin will also be facing an offense that I feel can move the ball on a defense that hasn't really faced much of a test this season. I don't know that Michigan State is going to win this game, but I do know that they're going to keep it closer than anybody else has against the Badgers this season. Pick: Michigan State
Woman - "Everyone's talking about how 'emotional' this game will be. After the third quarter, quietly emotional." Pick: Wisconsin
Machine - Well, we're going to have one less unbeaten to contend with after this weekend. Michigan State wins 24-20. Pick: Michigan State
Stanford (-20 1/2) vs. Washington - Saturday, 8pmMan - Every week I toy with the idea of picking against Stanford because the spread seems so large, and then every week I end up picking Stanford anyway and the Cardinal cover. So why change up a formula that's working? Pick: Stanford
Woman - "I get all excited about the Huskies impressive 2011 season and then I remember last year's game against the Cardinal. 41-0. 41-0. 41-0. Did I mention 41-0?" Pick: Stanford
Machine - Andrew Luck for President. Stanford destroys Washington 48-10. Pick: Stanford
StandingsSeason Record (Last week)
1. Woman 47-28 (6-4)
2. Man 45-30 (5-5)
3. Machine 38-37 (4-6)
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Auburn, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Bill Snyder, Brandon Weeden, Clemson, Dan Persa, Dana Holgorsen, Geno Smith, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Jacory Harris, Justin Blackmon, Kansas, Kansas State, Les Miles, LSU, Man vs Woman vs Machine, Miami, Micanor Regis, Michigan State, Missouri, North Carolina, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Pac-12, Pat Fitzgerald, Penn State, Purdue, Ron Zook, SEC, Spencer Ware, Stanford, Syracuse, Tom Fornelli, Tyrann Mathieu, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 18, 2011 12:20 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2011 1:22 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
STANFORD WILL WIN IF: If they don't get off to a slow start. It took about a half for the offense to get going last week before Andrew Luck started picking apart the Washington State defense, often finding his tight ends. Establishing the run game and remaining balanced will be key. The defense will face their biggest test yet with the explosive Huskies offense and they'll need to contain running back Chris Polk if they want to slow them down.
WASHINGTON WILL WIN IF: If the defense can create stops, the offense might be able to put up enough points for a road victory. The team was embarrassed last year in a 41-0 loss to the Cardinal and were simply out muscled by a superior Stanford team. Steve Sarkisian has brought along quarterback Keith Price quickly and the offense has plenty of weapons but this game will come down to Nick Holt's defense creating turnovers and forcing some three and outs.
X-FACTOR: The tight end position for both teams are a huge threat in the passing game. Stanford relies heavily on their trio, to the point that the wide receivers are rarely the first option. They can create big mismatches against smaller safeties or linebackers. For Washington, freshman Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a big, athletic player who can help in the run game and make a few moves in the open field to find the end zone.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 11:11 am
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.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Arizona State, Bryan Fischer, Cal, California, Chase Thomas, David Shaw, Dennis Erickson, Jordan Wynn, Keith Price, LaMichael James, Larry Scott, Midseason Report, Midseason Reports, Mychal Kendricks, NFL, Oregon, Pac-12, Robert Woods, Rose Bowl, Stanford, Steve Sarkisian, UCLA, USC, Utah, Vontaze Burfict, Washington, Washington State