Tag:USC
Posted on: October 12, 2009 12:21 am
 

Thoughts on a football Saturday

Now that that’s over get ready for the biggest weekend of the season featuring five games involving ranked teams.  By the end of the weekend, the Big 12 could be out of the national championship race (if Texas loses), either South Florida or Cincinnati could be a fraud and Charlie Weis could have his signature win at Notre Dame only five years into the job …

 Get to YouTube or somewhere and catch UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers’ pick and score against Oregon.  It is guaranteed to be the play of the year and we still have half a season left.

Ayers chased Oregon quarterback Nate Costa to the back of the end zone. Costa threw off his back foot, Ayers jumped, intercepted the ball right in his face, secured and got a foot down for the score. Amazing.

 Bowling Green’s Freddie Barnes caught 22 passes for 278 yards in a one-point win over Kent State a week after dropping the potential game-winning touchdown pass. Barnes has 28 more catches than the next living human in I-A football.

Take it from a guy who witnessed the best receiving game in history – Louisiana Tech’s Troy Edwards vs. Nebraska in 1998 – Barnes is a freak. The 22 catches  were one off the single-game record. Edwards? All he did was catch 21 balls for 405 yards – in one game.

 

 Oh he didn’t: Just when you thought Lane Kiffin had put a kill switch on his mouth, Tennessee’s coach yapped before the Georgia game.

 

That’s a cheap way of getting into Eric Berry’s freaky Heisman rap. Berry had 5 1/2 tackles, two passes broken up and a fumble (unofficially) recovery against Georgia. Put that up against Suh who on Thursday had six tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, two pass break ups and an interception at Missouri.

 Nah, it’s not the system at all at Texas Tech. Mike Leach has had two quarterbacks each throw for seven touchdowns in a game, Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield.

The right-now, no-hype, no-b.s., not-what-they-did last year Heisman rankings for this week:

1. Todd Reesing, Kansas: If he played anywhere -- and I anywhere -- but Lawrence he’d booked for New York right now. He’s hidden in a program that would be ranked higher if tooted its own horn more.  All Reesing did was throw for 442 yards and four touchdowns. Kansas needed every bit of it in a 41-36 victory over Iowa State.  We’re looking at the best quarterback ever for a program that counts John Hadl among its greats. Along with Kerry Meier (16 catches, 142 yards) and Dezmon Briscoe (12 catches, 186 yards), this is the best set of “triplets” in the country. Sure, the defense stinks but who cares? This is Texas Tech without all the Leach preening.


2. Case Keenum, Houston: Sick.  Keenum had 434 yards and four touchdowns against Mississippi State. His 2,130 passing yards and 17 touchdowns lead the country. Only three other quarterbacks are more accurate. By the way, TCU and Boise State are posers. What non-BCS team has accomplished more than Houston which has victories over three BCS schools (Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Mississippi State)?

3.  Ndamakong Suh, Nebraska: The best performance, maybe ever, by a defensive tackle against Missouri on Thursday night.

4. Tony Pike, Cincinnati: Steadily percolating until Thursday night against South Florida.

5.  Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame: Go figure, Clausen’s team has a bye week and moves into both major polls. Clausen has a bye week gets dropped down from No. 1 to No. 5. A big game against USC might clinch a trip to New York for the nation’s most efficient passer.

6. Freddie Barnes, Bowling Green: See above.

 

Posted on: October 8, 2009 4:13 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2009 9:59 am
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

So was it the rain or was it Nebraska?

You've got to give credit to the Huskers for persevering in some of the most miserable conditions in recent memory Thursday at Missouri. The 27-12 victory puts Nebraska squarely in the drivers' seat for the Big 12 North title. The program that was doubted for its long drought against ranked teams on the road, pushed through with 27 fourth-quarter points in Columbia.

In a steady downpour, the Huskers just kept shucking. Ndamukong Suh, an All-American's All-American, provided the turning point with an early fourth-quarter interception that led to the go-ahead touchdown. Columbia has to be in shock right now. Missouri fully expected to win this game given that that it had scored 41 points in each of the last three meetings at home against Nebraska.

The rain was the equalizer -- for Nebraska. Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert injured his ankle early on which limited mobility. That allowed the Nebraska pass rush, which was significant, to take straight lanes to a statue quarterback. Gabbert, fourth nationally in pass efficiency, completed only 17 of 43 passes.

This changes everything in the Big 12 North. Missouri is virtually eliminated. It would have to have Nebraska lose twice to pass the Huskers. That's without mentioning Kansas, which hosts Nebraska later in the season. The difference is that Kansas has a much harder conference schedule.

If Nebraska takes care of business it will be in the Big 12 title game in Bo Pelini's second season. Well done, Huskers. Gutty win.

 A billboard has gone up near downtown Tampa that proclaims South Florida is now part of the “Big 4”. Miami, Florida and Florida State are commonly referred to as the Big Three in the state, but after the Bulls victory over FSU, some fans apparently have gone a big ga-ga.
"I haven't seen it, I had nothing to do with it, I don't know how it got up and I don't know who put it up,'' coach Jim Leavitt said.

It’s a good week to be off before a Thursday showdown against Cincinnati.

 Anything to get on the field, even if it's a baseball diamond for USC quarterback Mitch Mustain.

 Bad week for "mentors" of Big 12 receivers -- MC Hammer (Michael Crabtree) and Deion Sanders (Dez Bryant). Now it looks like Bryant is in bigger trouble that we originally thought. The latest story suggests that Bryant might have played while ineligible. Somewhere Hart Lee Dykes is laughing.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: October 4, 2009 9:42 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2009 9:43 pm
 

Thoughts on a football Saturday

It’s becoming apparent that Notre Dame has to beat USC in two weeks to go to a BCS bowl. I told you in Sunday’s story how lowly regarded ND is in the polls.

Here’s why: It has plenty of competition. Notre Dame is currently one of 30 one-loss teams in Division I-A. Twenty-three of the other 29 teams are from BCS leagues. Ten of the 29 are ranked. Six of those 10 have a victory over a ranked team. That's something Notre Dame doesn't have.

That means ND is one of 20 one-loss teams in I-A that are unranked. it is in a group with the likes of Boston College, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, Baylor, Texas A&M, Michigan, Pittsburgh, UConn, Rutgers, West Virginia, Stanford and UCLA. Four of those teams are left on ND’s schedule – BC, Pittsburgh, UConn and Stanford.

Given that the Irish play only one more team that is currently ranked (USC), the Oct. 17 game becomes make-or-break for a BCS bowl the way I see it. It’s 11-1 or bust. The pollsters and computers simply won’t get ND high enough at 10-2 because of the quality of the remaining schedule.

 Oklahoma has lost a pair of games by a point in the same season twice. Both have come in the last four years – 2006 and 2009 following Saturday's 21-20 loss to Miami. That followed a 14-13 opening-night loss to BYU.

In 2006, OU lost to both Oregon and Boise State by a point. In its history, OU has lost 299 games. Only 18 have come by a single point. That’s a one-point loss for every 16 losses. Since Sept. 16, 2006, four of the Sooners’ last 10 losses have come by one point.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops had lost 26 games. Four have been by one point and two have been by two points.

  Which way LSU? All we can say is the that Tigers are still undefeated after sneaking out of Athens with a 20-13 victory over Georgia. Charles Scott’s game-winning 33-yard run with 46 seconds left was set up by A.J. Green’s excessive celebration penalty. You’ll read more about that from Tony Barnhart on Tuesday. My take? That kind of penalty should never decide a game. This one did.

“It was a want-to run,” said Scott who had been struggling this season. “I ran mad.”

He better run madder with Florida coming to town. I’ve trotted this out a bunch of times, but the winner of LSU-Florida has won the national championship in the last three seasons.

 All that stuff about USC slipping in the Pac-10? Maybe not. The 30-3 win at Cal re-positions the Trojans for BCS bowl No. 8 in a row.

 Anyone want to take a stab at the Florida State mess? One of the most trusted and knowledgeable beat writers in the South says it’s time for Bobby to go. For most of the BC game, it looked like Bobby Bowden had lost his team. Down 21-6, the Seminoles rallied to tie, only to lose late 28-21. That marks FSU’s first 0-2 start in the ACC. It is 2-3 for the first time since 1976.

--In the battle of point guards, Syracuse’s Greg Paulus had more turnovers (five interceptions) than South Florida’s B.J. Daniels. The former Duke guard lost to the current South Florida guard (they’re both quarterbacks, by the way) 34-20.

 Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor threw for a career-high 327 yards against Duke. Yes, you read that right.

 Stanford, 4-1, is off to its best start since 1995.

 Minnesota mascot Goldy Gopher stuck it to Wisconsin fans by wearing a Brett Favre jersey during the Badgers’ 31-28 victory in Minneapolis. Let’s hope Goldy is not on scholarship because that would be a waste of good polyester.

 

Posted on: September 30, 2009 11:14 am
Edited on: September 30, 2009 8:10 pm
 

National notes 1/4 of the way through the season

The best of September

Who would have thought by the end of the month …: USC would lose to Washington a week after a heart-stopping, game-winning drive at Ohio State? [Ok, maybe by now there are a few of you.] … Unranked the preseason, the Big East would have two marquee teams – Cincinnati and South Florida … Houston would have the best Big 12 record [2-0 after beating Oklahoma State and Texas Tech] … Two Heisman winners would be knocked out of games … NC State’s Russell Wilson would have a career touchdown-to-interception ratio of 29-1 … Auburn’s Chris Todd would lead the SEC in touchdown passes [11] … Not that the SEC would have three teams in the top 10 in total defense but the Pac-10 would have two … The only three teams yet to allow a touchdown pass would be winless Eastern Michigan, undefeated South Florida and USC [3-1].

Coach of the month: Oregon’s Chip Kelly. On the night of September 3, his world was falling apart. LeGarrette Blount threw a punch and almost started a riot after Oregon looked punchless losing its season opener to Boise State.

Almost four weeks later, the Ducks might be the team to beat in the Pac-10. They have won three in a row, two over ranked teams and have a new lean-on tailback in redshirt freshman LaMichael James.

Team of the month: Miami. Playing September schedule in the country, the Hurricanes beat two ranked teams [Florida State, Georgia Tech] and showed signs of being its old self. Losing to Oklahoma this week wouldn’t be a disgrace. Coming out its death march 2-2 could be a jumping off point for an ACC title.

Also considered: Texas A&M, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, South Florida, Stanford, UCLA, Idaho.

Player of the month: [tie] You’re gagging on this by now but Florida would not not undefeated with Tim Tebow. His 24 rushes for 76 yards against Tennessee on Sept. 19 were the difference.

LSU safety Chad Jones is this season’s Charles Woodson. Against Mississippi State on Saturday, he single-handedly stopped Tyson Lee on back-to-back plays inches from the goal line. He also provided the eventual game-winning 93-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Worst conference: Based on previous accomplishments, it’s the MAC. The nation’s largest conference [13 teams] has only one team with a winning record coming out of September. [Central Michigan, 3-1]. The league is 13-29 in the non-conference, 7-27 against I-A competition and 3-19 against BCS conferences.

Best conference: SEC by a hair. The Big 12 has six ranked teams vs. the SEC’s four. But the SEC is 23-2 in the non-conference, a national best 6-2 against BCS conferences.

If you think the SEC has padded its schedule with I-AA teams, actually only the Sun Belt and Pac-10 have played fewer games against “inferior” competition. The SEC is 5-0 against I-AAs. The Big 12 is 9-0. Almost a third of its non-cons have come against I-AAs.

Best trend: Smaller offensive linemen. Boise has been doing it for a while but the Broncos are soaring toward a BCS berth with a line that averages 285 pounds. Remember those hog mollies at Michigan? They weigh in at a svelte average of 295 under Rich Rod who likes ‘em lighter and lively.

Worst trend: This month it had to be the coaches’ poll. It went into the season not exactly on the same page with the BCS commissioners. As long as the coaches are going to go completely  underground [hiding all their ballots] beginning in 2010, the possibility exists that the poll will be jettisoned from the BCS process next year.

As for now …

Steve Spurrier gave us a glimpse of his voting habits in July when he admitted that his football ops guy had filled out his preason all-SEC ballot. That caused a huge stir when Spurrier/ops guy didn’t make Tebow a unanimous choice. Spurrier/ops guy picked Ole Miss’ Jevan Snead but was allowed to change to Tebow after it became an issue.

Following convincing wins by No. 3 Alabama and No. 2 Texas on Sept. 19, Florida got all the first-place votes [55] for the first time this season after struggling to beat unranked Tennessee.

Then, there was this week. What a mess. 

No. 12 Oklahoma State is ranked three spots ahead of Houston, which beat the Cowboys by 10.

Cal, which just lost to Oregon by 39, is ranked seven spots ahead of the Ducks.

Penn State had beaten doggies Syracuse, Akron and Temple. After losing at home to Iowa it is No. 13, four spots ahead of the unbeaten Hawkeyes.

Keep it coming, fellas, can’t wait to see how this effects the BCS standings.

Team schizo: Florida State. Do you have to have it explained?

Say goodbye to:  BYU [in the BCS], Al Groh, Ralph Friedgen, Steve Kragthorpe.

Posted on: September 17, 2009 11:16 pm
 

Corp or Barkley?

For the first time this week Matt Barkley threw in practice, although it was lightly and on the side.

Aaron Corp took all the snaps with the first team in Thursday's practice. Pete Carroll is playing it down the middle as to who will start but you can see that it might be nothing but gamesmanship at this point. In my humble opinion, it would be hard for Barkley to start at Washington having not thrown much all week.

There's always the chance that even if Barkley can go, there might be some shoulder weakness. Plus, Corp has earned the start if only because he won the job out of spring practice. A cracked bone in his knee created the opening that Barkley needed to win the job.

Either way, USC might have the best quarterback situation in the country. The guy with the most experience on the roster, No. 3 quarterback Mitch Mustain, is being worked out at punter. Billy O'Malley hasn't exactly distinguished himself in the first two games with something like a 35-yard average.

It will be interesting. Washington coach Steve Sarkisian helped recruit both Corp and Barkley. He coached Corp until taking the Washington job.

Carroll just won another big one. It's the little ones that have been giving him trouble lately.
Category: NCAAF
Tags: USC, Washington
 
Posted on: September 16, 2009 12:28 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2009 8:09 pm
 

National notes leading with Russell Shepard

Is  Russell Shepard being hidden?

LSU’s freshman has Tigers fans’ mouths watering, but didn’t play in the opener at Washington. He played handful of snaps last week against Vanderbilt showing how good he can be and how young he is.

Operating in the Wildcat on LSU’s eighth offensive play, Shepard ran around left end for 13 yards. On the next play he caught an eight-yard pass from Jordan Jefferson, then immediately fumbled. Later, Shepard ran for eight yards on the option keeper.

“We’ve have to get him some more touches and some more experience,” Les Miles said. “The second time with the ball in his hands, he coughs it up. He didn’t understand how important it is to get the yards and go down. Going down is OK as long as you have the ball.”

Shepard has been compared to everyone from Tim Tebow to Percy Harvin. Miles still hasn’t been clear on how his prize  eventually will be used. There is still time to tinker against Louisiana-Lafayette this week before the SEC schedule starts against Mississippi State.

So is Shepard being hidden? More like getting used to hot water. LSU ran only 48 plays against Washington so there were few opportunities for him to get in. Against Vandy, he had three touches for 29 yards which was a tease for those who can't wait for more.
 
“According to people I’ve talked to, his (off-field) abilities are Tebow-esque … On the field what he can do is similar to Percy Harvin,” said CBS network analyst Tim Brando.

CBS game day analyst Gary Danielson said it would be a mistake to throw Shepard in at quarterback for any legnth of time: “If Russell Shepard is the leader of this team, they are not going to be a good football team. If Florida would have hung it on Tebow, Florida would not have been good the first year either.”

CBS’ Spencer Tillman added this: “His talent is literally off the charts. This kid is more gifted than Vince Young was at this point in time.”

Shepard has some of those Tebow qualities, agreeing to a magazine cover shoot in high school but not without teammates. After committing to LSU in June 2008, he then began recruiting other players for the Tigers. One was five-star safety Craig Loston, a cousin.

This is probably not the week to be raising Terrelle Pryor’s name but Shepard has been compared favorably to Ohio State’s quarterback.

“I admire the way Tim Tebow handles himself off the field,” Shepard told the New Orleans Times Picayune . “I took a liking to that. He says, ‘God bless you,’ after every interview. He’s amazing … I want to be known like that.”

You can read more about Shepard here .

 USC might have the best quarterback situation in the country if Matt Barkley doesn’t go on Saturday. It still has its most experienced quarterback on the bench. If Aaron Corp starts for USC against Washington, that puts the forgotten Mitch Mustain a tweaked ankle away from being under center. Mustain might the most talented No. 3 quarterback in the country. He was 8-0 as a freshman starter at Arkansas in 2006. Don't forget that Corp won the job coming out of spring.

 Loved this anecdote from the Michigan press box. Announcing Central Michigan’s upset win over Michigan State, the press box announcer at Michigan Stadium said, “No cheering in the press box, but we will make an exception right now.”

  Joe Paterno his team being ranked fifth in both polls: “Are we No. 5? I take the paper and go to the bathroom. I scan it. First, I see who died.”

 After two weeks, the Pac-10 has the best record (4-2) against the Big Six major conferences and Notre Dame. Not surprisingly, the Sun Belt has the worst mark (1-8). The MAC has played the most games against the major conferences, 14, and gone 2-12.

 If SMU beats Washington State this week it will be 3-0 for the first time since pre-death penalty days in 1984.

 Tulsa has allowed one defensive touchdown in its first two games. Get ready for that to change. The Golden Hurricane travel to Oklahoma.
 
 Just warning all those BCS lovers out there: Florida is 11th in the Sagarin Ratings. That’s not the worst of it. The Colley Matrix  has Florida No. 35 and USC No. 13. Wes Colley’s top five – 1. Pittsburgh, 2. LSU, 3. Wisconsin, 4. Texas, 5. UCLA.

You shouldn’t have to be reminded that those are two of the six computer indexes used in the BCS standings.

 


Posted on: September 14, 2009 4:34 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2009 9:54 am
 

Breaking down the polls and Heisman race

USC walks into the belly of the beast, slays Ohio State with a dramatic game-winning drive and picks up two first-place votes in the coaches’ poll. One in AP.

Obviously, Florida is still the overwhelming No. 1 in both polls but I’m already starting to wonder what it would take to pass the Gators if they keep winning. The two teams below them are from different conferences (Texas, USC) and don’t play each other. No. 4 Alabama doesn’t play Florida in the regular season.

At first glance, Florida looks safe. It has 56 of the 60 first-place votes in the AP poll and 56 of the 59 votes on the coaches’ poll. Those numbers didn't change after the Gators mopped The Swamp with Troy, 56-6. 

The other teams getting first-place votes are Texas (one in AP), USC (a combined four) and Alabama (two in AP).

The rest of the way Florida plays only two teams that are currently ranked (LSU and Georgia). Same for Alabama (Ole Miss, LSU). Texas faces five ranked teams (Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Kansas). USC plays one (Cal, Oregon State).

Alabama had a similar lead at No. 1 before it lost to Florida in last year’s SEC title game. The Tide had 58 of the 61 first-place votes going in. After Bama lost and Oklahoma and Florida won their championship games, the final regular-season coaches’ poll was the closest in the BCS era.

Oklahoma (31 first-place votes, 1,482 points) ended up one point ahead of Florida (26 first-place votes, 1,481 points). Third-place Texas had four and 1,408.

Just for grins, I figured up the top six final regular-season first-place vote getters since 2004:

1. USC, 90 1/3 points
2. Ohio State, 62
3.  Oklahoma, 49 1/3
4. Florida, 26
5. LSU, Texas, 11
6. Auburn, 9 1/3

 One of the better poll results Saturday was Florida State beating Jacksonville State. I know, I know, FSU has looked shaky and isn’t ranked.

But this is about BYU. The Cougs need FSU to win as often as possible, aside from this week when the Noles go to Provo. If FSU somehow gets back into the polls, BYU could make a more solid case for playing for the national championship. If it goes undefeated, it would have beaten four ranked teams (Oklahoma, Florida State, TCU and Utah). 

If you’re wondering where this going consider that total would be more than Florida, LSU or USC.

 If the BCS championship game were played today, it would be USC vs. Alabama according to our old friend Jerry Palm. Check out the most accurate BCS projections and collegebcs.com.

 Live by the pass, die by the pass: SMU’s nine interceptions lead the country but it has thrown four interceptions which ties for third-most nationally ... Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen has thrown the most passes this season without an interception, 76 ... Purdue is  home of the leading rusher (Ralph Bolden) and the quarterback who is tied for No. 1 in interceptions. Joey Elliott is tied Tennessee's Jonathan Crompton. Each have six.


The right-now, no-hype, no-b.s., not-what-they-did last year Heisman rankings for this week

Case Keenum, Houston: When he lost his coach (Art Briles who went to Baylor) everyone thought Keenum would go in the tank, or transfer. He bonded immediately with second-year coach Kevin Sumlin who might make him a Heisman finalist. Keenum threw for 366 yards against Oklahoma State as the Cougars beat a top-five team for the first time in 25 years.

Tim Tebow, Florida: Four passing touchdowns and one rushing in the rain against Troy add to the legend.

Colt McCoy, Texas: Three passing touchdowns against Wyoming in Texas’ 15th consecutive non-conference win. That ties a school record.

Max Hall, BYU: A week after beating Oklahoma, Hall gets a rocking-chair game against Tulane. Led the Cougars to scores in seven of eight possessions.

Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh: A workhorse freshman who is averaging 7.4 yards per carry.

 

 

Posted on: September 14, 2009 2:09 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2009 2:15 pm
 

Matt Barkley has a bruised shoulder

Matt Barkley's tone was ominous Saturday night.

After making the rounds from press conference to Gameday to treatment, he met reporters in the USC lockerroom.

Wait, treatment room? Yes.

"I don't know," Barkley said with some concern when someone asked about the third-quarter hit he took against Ohio State.

Now we find out that Barkley has a bruised shoulder. Coach Pete Carroll told the L.A. Times that his quarterback will be evaluated later in the week and that he will "go easy" on Barkley until about Tuesday.

Barkley was hit while trying to throw in USC's 18-15 victory. The hit was so significant that USC called timeout to gauge the seriousness of the injury. Backup Aaron Corp was told to warm up. Barkley was able to continue and eventually led the game-winning touchdown drive.

USC visits improving Washington on Friday.
Category: NCAAF
 
 
 
 
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