Week 3: California Love

A few months before Auld Lang Syne and the Tournament of Roses on a hungover first of January, some teams from the Pacific-12 Conference got together with some, arguably some of the best, Big Ten teams for a little non-conference action before the teams of both leagues starting beating the tar out of their own.  All of them carried weight, more weight than the team with the SEC patches on their jerseys that visited Autzen Stadium, but none of them were exactly what anyone could consider Rose Bowl previews.  In the end, the league from the Left Coast probably got the three they were supposed to, and the Big Ten made sure Akron’s near-miss in the Big House was Jim Delany’s biggest scare of the day.

Seriously, try finding lyrics that work for this gimmick in this song

As far as this week’s song selection is concerned, Outkast’s Roses was given serious consideration, with how USC was shown “that roses really smell like poo-oo-ooo” by Washington State last week, or that Ohio State would ruin an otherwise perfect day against out-of-conference foes, thus being the reason for word that rhymes with “itch”, at least out in California, the part of the state that wins in life.  But, let’s pay homage to the whole state, even if there’s eight schools full of students that wouldn’t piss on California, if it were on fire.
Things were different, 17 years ago last week, 2Pac was alive.  So, on this, the week of the anniversary of his murder in Las Vegas, we celebrate his introduction to Suge Knight’s Death Row in this collaboration with Dr. Dre, from the double-album All Eyez On Me.  Here’s Week 3’s slate of Pac-12 Games, inspired by the lyrics of 1995’s California Love.
Beyond Thunderdome

Arizona State 32 Wisconsin 30

Now let me welcome everybody to the wild, wild west

Sun Devil Stadium is a lot more than a stone’s throw from the Okay Corral, it’s more Wildcat Country than anything else around those parts of the state, in and near Tombstone, but it doesn’t mean lawlessness doesn’t go down in Tempe.  In the first half, this looked a battle between two pretty good team, and the visiting Badgers led by a point at the half.  Running lanes opened up in the second half, so ASU’s Marion Grice and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon spent the early hours of Sunday morning in the east trading rushing touchdowns.  Gordon took the first play from scrimmage in the second half for 80 yards on his way to a 193 yard day on the ground, but the Badgers couldn’t convert a 2-point conversion after his second touchdown of the half cut the ASU lead to 32-30 with under 4 minutes to play.
That set things up for the bizarre ending that everyone was talking about all day Sunday and Monday.  Given a chance, with the ball at their own 17 and about 90 seconds to play, Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave was 4-of-6 for 70 yards, highlighted by a Jeff Duckworth catch-and-run that put the Badgers into Craig French field goal range.  Then, they got cute with the placement of their potential game-winning field goal.  It was too cute for the Pac-12 officiating crew, who prevented Wisconsin from getting another snap after Joel Stave’s “neighborhood” kneel-down, which I accepted as him giving up on the play.  Anyway, the clock runs out, whether Wisconsin or the viewers at home care to agree or not, and the Sun Devils get their signature win, but a trip to Palo Alto might put a limit on the celebration.  Wisconsin and first-year Head Coach Gary Anderson got an apology from the conference…like that means anything.

Washington 34 Illinois 24

A state that’s untouchable like Eliot Ness

More to Ness than Capone

Nice use of the simile here, but Ness was a midwest guy; he’s got history in Cleveland, but pop-culture and Kevin Costner would have us remember him as the guy who took down Robert DiNero’s Al Capone in Chicago.  The University of Illinois isn’t located in the Second City, but this one was played at Soldier Field.  It stinks to take these games off campus, but Soldier Field home games are a good recruiting tool for Tim Beckman’s Illini.  It was a big stage for Husky quarterback Keith Price, who had a “pedestrian” 328-yard, 2 TD day, but Bishop Sankey stole the show.  35 carries for 208 yards was enough to prevent the Illini from every really being “in” this game.

Colorado vs Fresno State (Postponed)

We in that sunshine state where that bomb ass hemp be
A drunken Luke Wilson and a clueless Jim Carey have inferred that Denver and Aspen were part of the “Sunshine State”, but those were just movies.  The rain in Boulder offered no love for the California-based Bulldogs of Fresno State or their quarterback Derek Carr, who we point out because he’s David Carr’s brother, and we legally need to acknowledge that.  Speaking of legal and bomb-ass hemp, there’s something about the state of Colorado I suspect I’m forgetting.

Denver, the sunshine state

UCLA 41 Nebraska 21

Now it’s ’95 and they clock me and watch me
Does the realization that the 20-year anniversary of California Love is right around the corner make you feel old?  How about the appearance of former Nebraska quarterback Tommy Frazier?  Nebraska fans would just as soon try to believe that ’95 was just yesterday, but the times have changed.  The visit from UCLA, given the 9 AM California-time kickoff, was really Bo Pelini’s chance to put his program back on the map.  A 21-3 lead was answered by 38 unanswered points, you know, after the Bruins finally woke up. The destination, UCLA winning big, was expected, but the route was a little unorthodox.

Tommie Frazier

Arizona 38 UT-San Antonio 13

Your city is tha bomb if your city makin pay
Give it up for San Antonio, the city, for making noise in the FBS. They actually hosted Oklahoma State a week ago, and now they’re taking on Arizona in Tucson, the Stillwater of Arizona. They aren’t losing these games 70-0 with a running clock in the second half, even if they’re not really doing anything but potentially covering Vegas lines in these games. The Arizona side of the story is all about BJ Denker owning the QB position with his legs for Rich Rodriguez, even if the offense is heavily predicated on Ka’Deem Carey picking up 150 yards from scrimmage, which he did on Saturday.

USC 35 Boston College 7

Out on bail fresh outta jail, California dreamin

Memories, make me want to go back there, back there

USC is off probation and the scholarships are coming back. They’ve shown they can beat Hawaii and Boston College, but don’t expect them to be a national power again anytime soon. Cody Kessler played better in this feel-good game for the Trojans, but the answers came from Tre Madden (16 carries, 102 yards), Justin Davis (10 carries, 96 yards), and the running game on Saturday. The Lane Kiffin Hot Seat Watch will continue next week, when Utah State visits the Coliseum. We might just get a Marqise Lee sighting then. Though he did have 90 receiving yards against the Golden Eagles, he was limited to just two catches, with 80 of those yards coming on one big play. They apparently can’t spell Biletnikoff in Southern California this year.

Washington State 48 Southern Utah 10

Fiendin for money and alcohol
So, Mike Leach likes pirates, but it’s hard to get down with the whole raping and pillaging when you start your coaching 4-10, but a visit from the Thunderbirds of Southern Utah made for a good Saturday at Martin Stadium. Connor Halliday, once again, was north of 300 yards with 5 TD passes, but this game wasn’t as comfortable as Leach or any of the Cougar faithful cared for it to be in the first half. They were up just 14-10 in the 2nd quarter when Halliday hooked up with Dominique Williams for 55 yards, then stretched the lead to 28-10 on Damante Horton’s second pick-six in as many weeks, this one going for 72 yards. Perhaps, Leach deserves some rum after this one.

Stanford 38 Army 20

Flossin but have caution we collide with other crews
The Cardinal aren’t exactly the types to “floss” in the context that Shakur sold it, but they’ve got the talent to flaunt. Have caution because the “collide”, meaning they aren’t shy about pushing you around in the trenches. Part of me was worried about a 70-0 shellacking of a service academy on the anniversary weekend of 9/11, but David Shaw kept it classy. It was a big day for Tyler Gaffney on the ground, but the big test is ahead for Stanford, who will host Arizona State on Saturday at “The Farm”.

Oregon 59 Tennessee 14

Famous cause we throw grands
Oregon is new money, Nike money to be exact, but they spend it wisely. Virginia and Tennessee aren’t exactly Clemson and Alabama, as far as ACC and SEC foes go, but these are the teams on their schedule, and when they take the field against the Ducks, be it in Charlottesville or Eugene, they all just look like Nicholls State. There’s a Heisman candidate on this team, but it’s difficult to figure out if it’s Marcus Mariota or D’Anthony Thomas. In the battle of Duck vs. Duck, Mariota’s 456 yards and 4 TD’s trump DAT’s 13 carries for 86 yards and a score. The Ducks next game is on September 28th, with Cal coming to Eugene in a game that is expected to be as competitive as these first three games against Nicholls State-type programs.

Team Nike

Ohio State 52 California 34

The Bay Area and back down
Cali is where they put they mack down

Kevin Costner said he went to Berkeley to get as far away from his father in Iowa as he could. Cal is even farther from Columbus, Ohio, but there was no home-field advantage to be had in the Bay Area.

The last time Ohio State traveled to California for a true road game, they were doing so with their offensive playmaker, Beanie Wells. This time, it was Braxton Miller that was not given the go, but Kenny Guiton was more adept for the understudy role than one Daniel Boom Herron. All he did on the first drive, was account for the longest scoring play from scrimmage in Ohio State history, hitting Devin Smith for 90 yards on the Buckeyes second snap of the game. Guiton threw four touchdowns in all, but Jared Goff has a pretty impressive day for the Golden Bears, throwing for 371 yards, but only 3 for scores, on a night when Cal was out-done on the field of play and in the stands, that were just a giant sea of red. Brendan Bigelow was a little more contained this year, 11 carries for 39 yards, after his big day on four touches in the Horseshoe last year.

Oregon State 51 Utah 48

Throw it up y’all, throw it up, Throw it up
Let’s show these fools how we do this on that west side

Travis Wilson got the Utes to OT with a 9 yard TD run with 21 seconds in regulation, but stalled on their opening drive and settled for an Andy Phillips 41-yard field goal. The Beavers took advantage when Sean Mannion threw it up, one last time, for Brandin Cooks for a 6-yard walk-off TD on the road. It was Cooks’s 9th reception of the day, his 3rd touchdown, and the last 6 of his 210 yards. Richard Mullaney caught 7 passes for 142 yards from Mannion, who himself had 443 passing yards. Wilson did more of his work on the ground, gaining 142 yards and scoring 3 times, besting his own running back James Poole, who ran for 117 yards. Give it up for Utah, just for getting the game to this point; Oregon State led 27-10 early in the second half when Sean Martin took Wilson’s errant pass 73 yards to the house. The Utes took their first lead of the game, 38-37 on Murray’s extra point after Wilson’s 24 yard TD with 4:45 left in the game, but Mannion and Cooks bounced right back to take a 45-38 lead with two and a half minutes to play. 51-48 doesn’t come with any type of “Wow Factor”, it’s just how it gets done out here.

Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks are making the summer’s quarterback competition a distant memory. Now, to purge that Eastern Washington loss from the memory banks…

Cause you and I know it’s tha best side
Yeah, That’s riight
West coast, west coast
Uh, California Love
California Love