Tag Archives: Cal Golden Bears

The Best and Worst of 2016: Pac 12

There were a lot of praise-worthy moments during the 2016 Pac 12 campaign. And in the same breath, I can say with 100% certainty, there were equally plenty of cringe-worthy moments as well. In my opinion, I would say that the Pac 12 took a step back this year. There were some teams that performed extremely well (Pac 12 Champion Washington Huskies) and some teams that stumbled out of the gate, fell, face-planted, and remained on the ground for 12 weeks or so (Arizona, Oregon, Cal, take your pick).

Amongst the peaks and valleys this past season, there were some teams that represented the very best of the Pac 12 and what this conference has to offer to college football. Conversely, there are some teams that flat out stunk and left an ‘un-Febreze-able’ odor, stinging the nostrils of hapless fans up and down the Pacific coast. Depending on your perspective, some of these teams are interchangeable. In the end, we know good football when we see it, straight up. No exceptions. Looking back on this past season, here are my takes on the best and worst of the Pac 12.

The Best

Washington Huskies

Washington made good on their preseason picks to represent the Pac 12 and possibly crack the top four in the College Football Playoff. With an impressive 12-2 (8-1) record, the Huskies punished would-be opponents en route to the Pac 12 championship. It was their first since 2000. Led by sophomore quarterback Jake Browning, The Huskies jumped out of the gate winning their first nine games before falling to eventual Rose Bowl Champion, USC. However, despite the loss, U Dub was able to regroup after the loss, win the Pac 12 Championship and face Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. Though the Huskies were put down 24-7, they showed no quit and scrapped it out until the very end.

USC Trojans

The Trojans stumbled out of the gate, losing three of their first four games. They were beyond cross road status. They were picking out a plot and resting in shame for the rest of the season. But, somehow, some way, they picked themselves up by their bootstraps and forged ahead to what was a turnaround of all turnarounds. After a 31-27 defeat to the Utes (Utah), USC went on a torrid win streak (eight straight) and displayed why they are perennial favorites to compete and win the Pac 12 year in and year out. And the ultimate cherry on top, you ask? It was an ‘instant classic’ of a game as you can imagine with an improbable come-from-behind Rose Bowl victory over Big Ten Champ, Penn State 52-49.

Colorado Buffaloes

No, this isn’t a typo. I meant it. Yes, I certainly wasn’t a believer for this pick, but I had to really sit down and catch a few games. And to my surprise, the Buffs were quite good this season. They finished 10-4 (8-1). I think Colorado would have given eventual champion Washington a bit more competition in the conference championship had Sefo Liufao not injured his ankle early in the game. That’s my opinion. But we’ll never know. It’s remarkable what Colorado could do in a course of two seasons. Talk about a serious 180 degree turn around from last season where they went 4-9 (1-8). It’s incredible, especially since it’s with the same group of players. Just goes to show you what continuity can do for a team. Unfortunately, the Buffs had to come crashing back to Earth from a 38-8 smack down at the hands of Oklahoma State in the Valero Alamo Bowl. Despite the loss, this was an impressive campaign and their heads should be held high.

The Worst

Oregon Ducks

A very popular acronym comes to mind when I think of the Ducks: W.T.F? To those not up on current social terminology, let’s just say that it’s a serious inquisition into understanding the unlikeliest of outcomes. Going into the season, there were some question marks regarding the quarterback situation. Graduate transfer Dakota Prukop didn’t quite live up to the hype and his position was given to true freshman, Justin Herbert midway through the season. The issues didn’t just end there. Their porous defense was atrocious. During the October 8th game against Washington, the Ducks surrendered 70, that’s right 70 points and a whopping 682 yards of total offense! To complement a passive defense, All Pac 12 running back, Royce Freeman battled injuries throughout the season and wasn’t even close to being a factor. All totaled, the Ducks finished 4-8 (2-7). Subsequently, Mark Helfrich was relieved of his duties at season’s end. His replacement, former University of South Florida head coach Willie Taggart assumed the position and is looking to retool a once proud and dominant program. One notable bright spot is that running back Royce Freeman will return for his senior season.

UCLA Bruins

Injuries to quarterback Josh Rosen quickly derailed what would be been a championship campaign for the Bruins. Without the sophomore quarterback, UCLA stumbled and bumbled to a 4-8 (2-7) record. Despite the record, the Bruins’ defense kept them in most of their games. Unfortunately, the offense could not drum up enough of a rhythm to keep the defense off the field for extended periods of time. The Bruins look to have Josh Rosen back for his junior season. Hopefully, he will be healthy and the defense, though losing some key playmakers, can resume consistent, strong play.

Cal Golden Bears

Oh, this pains me so! There is no way I can’t say that this season was an absolute disappointment. Early predictions had Cal contending for the Pac 12 North division title – key word, early predictions. When news that Cal had landed graduate transfer Davis Webb from Texas Tech, it seemed that the Golden Bears’ prayers had been answered as far as a replacement for former signal caller, Jared Goff. Statistically, Webb performed well above expectations- throwing for 4,295 yards with 37 TD’s versus 12 picks. Of course the other side of the coin reveals a much darker, bleaker situation. Cal’s defense, which showed some improvement last season, seemed to have left that improvement somewhere in 2015. Cal’s defense ranked at or near the bottom in several defensive statistical categories. It was a hot mess of a dumpster fire. However, the defensive highlight of the season and a moment which I figured would turn Cal’s season around was the epic goal line stand against then #4 Utah. It was the type of stand that sets the tone for the rest of the season. Alas, it was only good enough to get the win and nothing more. Sadly, it would be only one of two wins to come in the final seven games of the season. The blaze that was the 2016 season saw coaching casualties in Defensive Coordinator Art Kaufman and Head Coach Sonny Dykes. With a new regime taking place in Strawberry Canyon, first-time head coach Justin Wilcox is poised to right a ship that has been astray for some time.

Email David at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @VirgosAssasin.

Featured images courtesy of collegeswimming.com

It’s Put up or Shut up for Oski and the Golden Bears

It’s moments like these where I hate to be a fan of a teetering squad. I don’t have the heart to throw up my hands and do away with my team, but what the hell gives!? I’ve been a staunch supporter of the Cal Bears all season, and going in I went as far as to say that they actually have a legitimate shot of making a run toward the Pac 12 title. And yes, I was sober when I made the claim.

My Cal Bears are at .500 (4-4, 2-3) with perhaps the most difficult 4-game stretch to come. How on God’s green earth did we get here? Relax, this is rhetorical. I know full well how we got here. Problem is, how can we get out of this all-too-familiar place? More on that later.

Back to what will be, in my humble opinion, a make or break stretch for Coach Sonny Dykes career at Cal in these next four weeks. Like I mentioned earlier, Oski and Bears have their paws full these upcoming weeks and will define the season one way or another.

This Saturday, the Huskies of U Dub (U. Of Washington) pay Memorial Coliseum a visit. Not only are they the #4 ranked team in the nation, but they are quite possibly the best team Cal will face this year, bar none. Hands down. My faith-o-meter for this one is admittedly low. However, Cal did beat Utah, and Utah gave Washington all they could handle. So, there is a glimmer of hope. Plus, we have home field advantage. Stranger things have happened (See Utah at Cal).

The remaining three weeks we have the Cougars of Washington State, Stanford, and UCLA respectively. I mean, hell, these are all quality programs. Cal is going to have to be on its A+ game to have a shot. All bias aside, offensively, Cal can do it. Davis Webb and company have proven they can hang with the big dogs. However, of course, defensively, I plead the fifth. Eh, I can’t put my finger on it. There are times where there is sound defense being played, in spurts. By and large, this defense is bad. Not historically bad, but by Cal standards, they are

However, defensively, I plead the fifth. Eh, I can’t put my finger on it. There are times where there is sound defense being played, in spurts. By and large, this defense is bad. Not historically bad, but by Cal standards they are underwhelming, to say the least. And I can say that as a fan with the utmost of honesty.

Flashback

How on God’s green earth did we get here? Relax, this is rhetorical. I know full well how we got here. Problem is, how can we get out of this all-too-familiar place?

The best way to address this question is to understand the problem. Taking the last three seasons into account, Cal usually comes out of the gate hitting on all cylinders. Why? Well, the good ‘ol non-conference schedule. Granted, there have been some competitive teams scheduled earlier on, but not with the level of talent the Pac 12 has to offer. So, what ends up happening is that Cal usually runs into a buzz saw come conference play and the Golden Bears barely escape the regular season by the skin of their teeth. Good offense and bad defense usually leaves a team in the middle of the road. And that my friends, is Cal’s affliction and subsequent result. Mediocrity.

My wife often tells me, don’t complain about a problem. Instead figure how to create a solution. Well, here’s my four-year, $11.4 million dollar solution. Win early. Take advantage of the easier schedule so attaining bowl eligibility won’t be such a daunting task in the waning weeks of the season- as has been the case the last three years. Also, beat the teams you’re supposed to beat! C’mon, Oregon State takes us to overtime and wins! These cats (I mean Beavers) are 2-6! Really?!

The Golden Bears are two wins away from bowl eligibility for the second consecutive year. Quite the achievement for Coach Dykes, I’ll admit. Of course, which of the remaining four opponents will Cal topple to reach the mountain top? Washington? I don’t think so. Washington State? Well, maybe. Stanford? They need to win, but will they? Which leaves UCLA. (sigh) I don’t know folks. We may have to take a mulligan and try again next year. At most, I see Cal squeaking out at least one more victory. Maybe if we were to grab a win when we were supposed to, this wouldn’t be such a tall order. But these are the cards that are dealt.

Like the post’s title, it’s put up or shut up. There’s no sugar coating it. It’s frustrating to see our season come down to must wins…again! When will we learn? Despite the odds, I’m going all in and going down with the ship if need be. Best believe, I’ll be standing near the life rafts though.

Featured image courtesy of John Martinez Pavliga/ Flickr

E-mail David at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @VirgosAssasin

Context for a Conversation About College Football

We are finally deep enough into the season where we have actual context to understand exactly what we’re seeing on the television and in the box scores. In the coming weeks, a lot of questions that are part of the conversation will be answered on the field of play. However, college football still requires us to play the “what if” game and use that transitive property, almost like it’s an exact science. For the record, we’re going on the assumption that transitives only tell part of the story.

The rest of the conversation sees its blanks filled in, for the most part, over time. Time tells us that we should take certain past events at face value, while others dictate the glass being half-empty or half-full. ‘Who played who?’ and ‘who beat who, by how many?’ matters, but more games give me more pertinent information.

Going into the weekend, it seemed like a lot of what we thought we knew was based on how little we knew about Notre Dame. The assumption that Michigan State, Texas, and even Cal were good, that was giving the Fighting Irish a lot of credit for a home win over Nevada in Week 2. Now, we’ve been provided with the context of Duke being three points better than Notre Dame in South Bend, and no one is building any arguments on the foundation of a win over Notre Dame.

Some of us may have already had enough with Notre Dame before its third loss of the season, but we definitely had some games on the slate that would supplement or debunk our early season theories.

What to Make of Wisconsin Surviving Georgia State

The Badgers have the benefit of that win over LSU to open the season in their back pocket. The stock on that one is starting to plummet, which will happen when that school fires its coach of more than ten years. None of the goodwill from that game was helping Wisconsin, in the context of the conversation, when it trailed one of the Sun Belt’s worst teams 17-13, with just under eight minutes to play a week ago.

The only other feather in Michigan State’s cap, aside from its trouncing of Notre Dame, is a home win over Furman. The Spartans were given a lot of the benefit of the doubt, based on what Mark Dantonio has done the past few seasons, but they needed conference play to begin in a bad way. At the end of the day, they wish they could have hosted the Badgers before Paul Chryst figured out that Alex Hornibrook was the better option at quarterback.

Wisconsin played better defense, holding the Spartans to 75 yards on the ground and forcing three turnovers. The 30-6 victory was a good start to the five-game gauntlet, which continues with Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, and Nebraska. The Badgers have a good case for #1, should they run through that unscathed, but Saturday’s performance in East Lansing renders their mediocre showing versus Georgia State moot.

Was Georgia Really Just Two Points Better Than Nicholls?

USA Today called it uninspiring. Kirby Smart referred to it as disappointing. At the end of the day, the scoreboard said it was a 26-24 loss for the Colonels of Nicholls, a 1-2 FCS team that created itsown context by coming within one point of upsetting South Alabama in Mobile this weekend.

Georgia went to Oxford, perhaps with memories of knocking off North Carolina in Week 1. That big win was all but forgotten by the time they trailed Ole Miss 31-0 at the half, on their way to a 45-14 defeat. I think it’s time we’re honest about the Bulldogs. They didn’t deserve that 12 or any number ESPN wanted to put next to their name on the score overlay last week, and I’m wondering if CBS has explored opting out of airing the bloodbath they face with Tennessee coming between the hedges next weekend.

Maybe Nicholls should have beaten them, but short of that, Georgia cannot and will not hang in the SEC.

Was “Almost at A&M” the Ceiling for UCLA?

After coming up just short at Kyle Field in Week 1, the UCLA Bruins have not been afforded much of an opportunity to prove their worth on a national stage. Sure, they took a trip to Provo and barely defeated a BYU team that seems to specialize in barely losing games this season, but no one is docking Jim Mora and Company for style points. That was a real live loss in College Station.

Despite what some may have considered a struggle in Week 1 against visiting Kansas State, Stanford is widely considered the class of the Pac-12 right now, and the consensus favorite to win the conference. UCLA getting them at the Rose Bowl in Pac-12 after dark action spoke well to its chances of getting the W, and it looked like it was going that way until the final drive.

10 plays, 70 yards, very little of it had to do with Christian McCaffrey. Like that,  a 13-9 deficit ends up being a 16-13 lead, and some chaos at the end gives Stanford a meaningless score for a 22-13 victory.

UCLA almost won, again. UCLA almost wins, a lot.

That almost puts them in the conversation.

E-mail Jeff at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ByJeffRich.

Featured Photo: Eric Chan via Wiki

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Shades of A Loss: The best and worst times on the losing end

Best and Worst Loss to a Rival? Is There a Difference?

As an Avid Cal football fan, this is quite the interesting question. And I mean interesting in the sense that when it comes to the Big Game against the Cardinal of Stanford, any loss versus the tree birds of Palo Alto is a bad loss. There is no such thing as a good loss, right? I sat this with this question for a few days, mulling over whether or not a good loss was even possible. I tried looking at it from every possible angle.  I scoured the Big Game results over the past 10 years and what I noticed is that Cal had only won three of the past 10 Big Games. Three! So, I asked myself again, is there a good loss? Well, I certainly have plenty of games to choose from.

What exactly constitutes the worst loss? Initially, one would think the blow out games would serve as a worst loss. But hold on there a second. In the event of a blow out, there’s no more emotional energy spent after the game is already out of reach. Therefore, defeat is inevitable and one can focus their energy on matters other than the debacle on the field.  So it can’t be that bad, right? However, the final score can really add insult to injury and deepen your Saturday depression to depths greater than the Mariana Trench.

Or the worst loss could be when victory was only minutes away, and in an instant, those dreams are dashed due to a costly turnover or an errant play. It’s that, “so-close-yet-so-far” scenario. Or, the absolute worst loss could be losing to a rivalry team that peaked as your team slowly sunk into the abyss of futility. Ah ha! I got one:

December 1, 2007.  I don’t recall what I was doing exactly, but I do remember how I felt after the game was over. The 2007 season was the last time Cal had high national recognition. So high, in fact, that it was the second-ranked team in the nation during the BCS Bowl era. It was amazing! The pride I felt to know that I lived mere miles away from the second-ranked team in the nation! The fanfare was otherworldly.

As you already know, nothing lasts forever and neither did Cal’s hold on the number two spot in the national rankings. With key losses down the stretch, they schlepped into the Big Game against rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh and the (4-7) Cardinal of Stanford. It was a low-scoring affair. The high octane Jeff Tedford offense was stymied all afternoon. Cal trailed late in the game and had two, count them, two opportunities to score. I’ll cut to the chase.

Opportunity one was fumbled away with 2:43 seconds to play. But, Cal’s final and most heartbreaking opportunity came to a crashing halt when receiver Lavelle Hawkins dropped a sure fire, dead-to-rights touchdown, and had it miraculously intercepted. I mean, come on! Stanford would bleed enough of the clock down to preserve the 20-13 win.

To make matters worse, which I believe is the epitome of the worst loss, with that Stanford win, it was the imperfectly perfect ending to a season that began with national championship hopes only to finish at a pedestrian, mediocre 6-6 record. Oh and here’s the kicker, the loss also snapped a five-game win streak over the Cardinal too! Yeah, the abyss is real deep, y’all!

Now that I have already reopened the wound, I might as well go all in and dig up some more nuggets of sorrow and bitter disappointment. But, this part of the posed question is supposed to be the Superman to my Lois Lane. Well, the Superman that relieved himself of his powers to be human so that he may have a “normal” life with Lois Lane, Superman. If it still doesn’t make sense, watch Superman II with Christopher Reeve.

When it comes to the “best” loss, which I believe doesn’t even exist, especially if it’s against a rival, I have to really put my thinking cap on. I don’t remember a time when I watched the Big Game and I felt satisfied after a loss. How does a team achieve the “best” loss anyway? Since the Big Game has been in existence, I don’t recall Cal fans taking the high road after an L. On second thought, a certain Big Game does come to mind. Mind you, this isn’t a moral victory by a long shot. It’s merely a glimpse into the past where an all-time Cal great first earned his wings:

November 23, 2013 It was a season that can easily be forgotten for a multitude of reasons. It was the first season of now head coach Sonny Dykes. And, a true freshman out of Marin Catholic by the name of Jared Goff led a far below achieving Cal Bears team to the final game of this miserable 1-11 campaign.

There were no heroics in this game. There were no pivotal moments that evoked the slightest bit of hope of a possible victory. All hope was void, as evidenced in the 63-13 drubbing by the Stanford Cardinal. But, and I say this with the tiniest grains of salt here, it was the first “Big Game” of Jared Goff’s career as a Golden Bear.

He didn’t fill up the stat sheet as he later would come to do in his illustrious career at Cal. Becoming, statistically, the greatest Cal quarterback of all time. No, his numbers (10-19, 194 yds. 1TD) were modest against a stacked Stanford squad. When you look beyond the numbers, it was his poise that made us believers.

Despite suffering a knee injury early on and miss the remainder of the game, Goff displayed the type of moxy that forced you to take notice. It was the game that solidified Goff’s future as a Golden Bear to watch for seasons to come. Sadly, Goff never defeated the Cardinal in three attempts in his collegiate career. But on a brighter note, Cal fans knew they had a legitimate quarterback that “could” bring the winds of change in the Stanford-dominated Big Game rivalry.

Looks like I’ve come full circle. Initially, I bemoaned the idea of recalling best and worst losses. I felt that there was no way to distinguish the two-moreover distinguishing them against your bitter rival. No way. It wasn’t possible.

In the end, after some serious “cup-is-half-full” analysis, there was/is some validity to the question. No, this experience doesn’t diminish the hurt or disappointment. But, it did allow me to adjust my perspective and come to the conclusion that losses, best and worst, come down to team expectation.

If your team is expected to win and does not, it hurts. You line up the excuses: bad play offensively and defensively, the ref blows a call, critical injury to a star player, etc. Bottom line is when you’re expected to win and your team doesn’t follow through, it’s a gut punch. It’s sickening. However, if your team has nothing to lose, and promptly gets their tails handed to them, it’s not so bad. The idea of winning is so far out of the realm of reality, you’re forced to look at the underlying stories that may pay dividends in future meetings.

In Cal’s case, we never cashed in on those dividends against Stanford, but let’s not overlook the ascension of Cal football in recent seasons and their new place among the elite in the Pac-12 Conference. Sometimes you have to see the forest beyond the tree. In this sad bit of irony, there will always be a tree. A stinking, tall, Palo Alto tree.

Feature image courtesy of John Martinez Pavilga/ Flickr

Where Will the Bears Roam in 2016?

The 2015 season ended with Cal’s first bowl win since 2011. Since then, there have been a slew of offensive departures (QB Jared Goff, RB Daniel Lasco, receivers Bryce Treggs, Kenny Lawler, Darius Powe, Trever Davis, Maurice Harris, and TE Stephen Anderson) that seem to leave the Golden Bears in a bit of a purgatory of sorts. Yes, one of the most, if not the most prolific passing attacks and skill position players to don Cal uniforms in recent memories are no longer around, but the returning players aren’t all too shabby either. Given the predicament, it’s hard to tell how well this Cal team will play this upcoming season.

Just as the ink dried on Coach Sonny Dykes’ extension, I’m sure this is the most predominant thought swirling about in his head. How do you replace a legend in Goff? Where do you find such talented skill players to stretch the field and make unbelievable catches at will? Over the last three seasons under Goff, he account for 92 percent of all offensive snaps. (92%!) Sure Coach Dykes will find a successor to Goff, whether he is as talented as Goff or not. Cal’s receiving corps will not be as potent, but a receiving corps will be present. Amidst all the worry and uncertainty, Cal returns three dynamic, yet distinctive running backs to carry the load when and if the passing game hits a snag or two. Khalfani Muhammad, Vic Enwere, and Tre Watson filled in nicely for an oft-injured Daniel Lasco during the 2015 campaign. The trio combined for 1,595 yards and 12 touchdowns. Hell, if worse, comes to worse, they’ll have a three-headed monster in the backfield that will slow the game down and keep the Bears in more games than not.

Photo Courtesy of John Martinez Pavliga
Photo Courtesy of John Martinez Pavliga

An area of vast improvement over the 2015 season was the defense. All thanks to first year coach Art Kaufman. No, they were not some overnight juggernaut, but Cal’s secondary displayed some serious ball hawking that had them tied for first in the nation in total interceptions during the first half of the season. With their secondary no longer a liability, it allowed the defensive line and line backing corps to play a little more aggressively. I’m not sure how the defense will fare this season. With Cal’s recent successes over the past couple seasons, they’ve been able to attract better talent on the defensive side of the ball. Hopefully those past successes will pay dividends in the future.

Looking at the 2016 schedule, it’s going to be very interesting how the season plays out. First off, they play the University of Hawaii in Australia (see what happens when you win your bowl games!). Follow that up with a trip to San Diego State and then back home to host the Texas Longhorns. If you watched, or heard about last year’s game, it was one for the books. I’m sure the Longhorns are looking for some much needed revenge.

This season, much like the last two seasons, must start off hot. Hawaii and San Diego State are two winnable games. Texas on the other hand, may be a bit of a challenge. If Cal is able to rattle off three wins out of the gate, it could very well be the momentum needed to make another bowl run come season’s end. Nothing is for certain and only time will tell. My hope is that last year wasn’t just a one-off and Cal is indeed on an upswing to contend for the Pac-12 North title. There are several factors at play here. My hope is that the Golden Bears continue to climb and climb they shall.

A Golden Ending?

After an improbable finish to the regular season that gave the Golden Bears their first winning season under coach Sonny Dykes, there seems to be a little uncertainty sprinkled about in the aftermath of victory. The uncertainty lies in the status of coach Dykes ongoing contract extension with the University of California. Will he stay or won’t he? That seems to be what’s on the minds of the players and fans alike. Of course, California Athletic Director Mike Williams is saying all the right things with regard to keeping the head coach around. But, is this merely lip service to delay the inevitable?

This season’s California Golden Bears football team had lofty expectations in the wild, wild west that is the Pac-12. They returned a top tier offensive team that ranked in the top ten in several statistical categories and a revamped defensive unit that opened some eyes. Cal stormed out the gate, winning their first five games and attaining a top 25 ranking (#24) for the first time since 2010. Offensively, Cal was firing on all cylinders. Defensively, the unit more than upheld their share of the load-and briefly led the nation in interceptions. It was all coming together. Or so we thought.

What followed after a stellar start was catastrophic downward spiral that led to four consecutive defeats; which put the program dangerously close to bowl elimination. At (5-4), Cal needed a boost of confidence; a ray of sunshine. Something to salvage a year once thought to be the statement season for coach Sonny Dykes and company. Fortunately, Cal was able to muster a couple of wins down the stretch to secure a winning record and a bowl berth; Cal’s first since 2011. Not the ending Cal fans had in mind, but we’ll take it- Cal will face the Air Force Academy in the Armed Forces Bowl December 29th.

With the fate of Coach Sonny Dykes in the air (pun intended), it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out for the players. It’s widely speculated that this season may very well be the last for junior quarterback Jared Goff. Goff has set and or shattered a slew of Cal passing records. On the outside, there doesn’t seem to be much more Goff could gain by staying an additional year. If Coach Dykes does in fact leave, Goff would more than likely have to learn a new offensive system; also it would put him at greater risk of injury, affecting his draft status should he decide to turn pro; which is foregone conclusion. Goff’s supporting cast may have also played their last season for the Golden Bears. Bryce Treggs, Kenny Lawler, Trevor Davis, and the rest of the receiving corps are either seniors or will take their shot at the NFL early. In which case, Goff really has no reason to stick around.

All said, that really begs the question; can coach Sonny Dykes’ Bear Raid offense be as effective without a slinger like Jared Goff? Or a stellar receiving corps currently in place for that matter?  I’m assuming those thoughts are circling around the mind of the athletic director. Should Cal extend coach Sonny Dykes’ contract without proven players moving forward? This past season was Dykes’ first winning season in three years. Is this pattern destined to repeat itself? Folks are going to hate me for this, but it will repeat itself; but much worse. If Cal elects to keep Coach Dykes with all the departing talent, who knows how challenging things may get for the Bears. It’s not like there’s an heir apparent for Goff. He took the majority of the snaps throughout the season-which is as testament to Goff’s durability, but also leaves a huge question mark as to who the replacement will be. Not to mention, Cal’s most explosive players will be long gone. Yes, we’ll be privy to Cal’s next batch of possible stars, but like Goff and company, they’re going to have to learn how to win-and who knows if Coach Dykes will be around long enough to see that come to fruition.

Although signs point to Cal retaining coach Dykes, there is the matter of Dykes’ interview with the University of Missouri. Not such has been said of the outcome, but if Dykes were to get an offer, would he accept? I’m certain this would definitely be all the incentive needed to for players to jump ship and forge their own paths. Which is too bad for the incoming players who expected to play for coach Dykes. That’s one thing prospective recruits need to factor in when choosing a school. With the NCAA’s guidelines tidy whitey tight, it’ll be hell for these players to seek new schools without sacrificing the most precious commodity of any athlete or any living creature on this planet, and that’s time.

Cal’s bowl game is three weeks out. And if we don’t hear anything in regard to coach Dykes’ extension, there are a couple reasons why we may not:

  1. Cal’s AD will wait to see how his team performs versus Air Force and determine whether he is the right fit moving forward.
  2. If coach Dykes does get an offer from Missouri or another attractive landing spot (of which there are many), Cal will be burdened with either matching or offering more money to retain their coach. Which if reports were true about coach Dykes feeling a little slighted that the extension process has dragged as long as is has, coach Dykes may elect to leave and begin a new with an AD that actually wants him there.

However the cookie crumbles at the end of the season, it will be an uphill climb for my Golden Bears going forward. I know there will be growing pains post Goff, post Dykes, or heaven forbid, post Goff and Dykes. It’s a crummy situation no matter how you look at it. But, before the lights go out on the 2015 season, let’s take the time to reflect on the year that was. There were records broken, comebacks for the ages, and a return to post season play. All the essential ingredients that made this Cal football season one to remember.

Cal Suffering Deadly Bout of Dejavu

At this very moment, I’m trying with all my earthly might not to go absolutely, positively bananas about the slide the California Golden Bears are enduring.  I mean, how can this happen again? What type of cosmic karma are we dealing with where Cal is in the very same predicament they were in exactly one year ago? If you’re a bit fuzzy on the subject, allow me to refresh your memory.  Cal opened the 2014 season winning four of their first five games. It should have been five straight except for that lucky (explicative) Hail Mary at the end of the Arizona game. But, I digress. For a brief moment in time, Cal was atop the Pac 12 North division. It seemed as if Coach Sonny Dykes had his squad primed for success. Then “the fall” happened. Losers of  six of their final seven games, Cal once again missed bowl contention, finishing the season 5-7; albeit a better record than 2013’s (1-11) season. But that’s not the point here. No moral victories!

Fast forward to the 2015 season- a familiar scenario. Cal opens up winning their first five games and again, gaining some recognition around the land; and on top of that, earing national ranking. Seemingly similar storylines, right? A little too similar if you ask me. Of course, you know what follows. A (5-4) Cal team is again teetering on the brink of self-destruction yet again. Oh wait, it gets better. Well, in a good way. Kind of. Last year at this time, Cal snapped their 3-game losing streak to Oregon State. This year, Cal has the opportunity to snap their 4-game losing streak to…you guessed it, Oregon State. With a win this Saturday, Cal will have earned their 6th victory of the season, making them eligible for a bowl game; their first appearance since 2011.

This season, by far, has been the ultimate head scratcher. Cal is an immensely talented football team. Yes, TEAM. Offensively, Cal ranks near the top of passing yardage per game. Their rushing attack, although without (Daniel) Lasco, has been steady, if not an improvement with Khalfani Muhammad and Vic Enwere rotating in the backfield. Defensively, Cal has made tremendous strides. So much so, the much maligned secondary of years past had the audacity to lead the county in interceptions this season.  What more can you ask for? Granted, Cal’s opening schedule has been quite generous this year; as well as last year’s. I would think this as a great confidence builder. Something the entire team could use as fuel to propel them through the season. But I guess that’s where it falls short. Maybe their schedule was too generous. It almost lulled them into a false state of being. Maybe Cal isn’t that good after all. Statistically I find that hard to believe. They have all the talent possible to be a legitimate contender in the Pac 12. This reminds of me Rocky III. Remember when Rocky beat Apollo for the title and Rocky had a string of title defenses? He won all of them handily. But, when he went up against Mr. T-the first time, he got his block knocked off. Maybe Cal is only is much akin to the pre ‘Mr. T’ Rocky; good, but not a killer.

I hate that I’m having these types of thoughts swirling in my head. I so desperately want to believe otherwise. Maybe this is just a fluke. Come Saturday, the Golden Bears will wake from their slumber and lay waste to anything in their paths. That’s what I’m hoping at least. Or, another likely possible outcome: the slide continues and the Bears curl up and take a beating the final 3 weeks of the season; repeating what would be considered the equivalent of finding a four-leaf clover on the lapel of Elvis Presley while dining with a sasquatch.  Yeah, it’s that unreal.

For the remaining 3 weeks of the season, I will try to have the utmost faith in Cal’s chances for earning a 6th or possibly a 7th win of the season.  This isn’t an impossible feat by no stretch of the imagination. However, I’m haunted by the prospect that the wrong Cal team will show up. Cal suffered only 2 ugly losses (40-24 to UCLA and 44-28 to Oregon). Despite ugly performances, I thought Cal played well against Utah and USC. Both games were winnable. But, the difference in those games was that Cal had a killer instinct. They played unafraid. It’s like fighting the school bully at 3:15 in the afternoon and knowing you’re going to get your ass kicked, but you go down swinging. Yeah, you lost, but respect was won.

In the end, I still believe in Cal. I think they’ll show up with a sense of urgency like no other. This may potentially be the final year of Jared Goff’s storied career as well as the slew of offensive talent surrounding him. Not to mention, the outcome of this season may have a direct impact on the tenure of coach Sonny Dykes. I don’t think they’ll be calling for his job, but I wouldn’t rule out his seat being a little warmer. All in all, the prescription, antidote, or secret serum to cure this ill is a win. A simple win. As they say in sports,” winning cures everything.” Somebody page the good doctor; we’re going to need a visit.

Staff Pick’em: Week 10

Last week was an interesting one but Britt and I would rather not talk about it. All hail your new leader in the clubhouse: Mitch. We’ve got some Top 25 match-ups this weekend so let’s see if anyone can start distancing themselves from the pack.

David Poole (@VirgoAssassain): 4-2 (26-16)
Mitch Gatzke (@GreatGatzke): 5-1 (29-13)
Courtney McCrary (@CourtMac17): 5-1 (26-11)
Derek Woods (@D_Woods21): 4-2 (25-17)
Britt Zank (@BZank17): 3-3 (23-19)
Tim Bach (@TBach84): 3-3 (28-14)

#16 Florida State at #1 Clemson

David Poole: The Seminoles should put up a good fight, but I think the Tigers are riding too high to look down. Tigers take it, 31-17.

Mitch Gatzke: With the committee choosing Clemson as their top team in the nation this week, I’m sure many people think now is the time for the Tigers go into their “Clemsoning” routine.  I’m not one of those people.  Something seems different about this team.  I think Clemson wins this one.

Courtney McCrary: Clemson: The Clemson offense is getting hot at just the right time. I don’t think that the FSU defense will be able to stop them.

Derek Woods: Clemson is on top of the college football world this week after being ranked #1 in the first college football playoff committee rankings. Problem is, they’ll get knocked off this week as an angry Florida State team will play their best football this season beating Clemson for the fifth time in the past six seasons on the back of Dalvin Cook and Jacques Patrick who headline an explosive running game.

Britt Zank: Clemson will mow down Florida State. Death Valley will be hopping and I think Florida State will be surprised how hard they get hit early and this could be over by halftime.

Tim Bach: This isn’t a prime situation for Clemson to go full Clemson so I’m picking them to win. Tigers trounce Florida State with ease.

#8 TCU at #14 Oklahoma State

David Poole: Horned Frogs are feeling disrespected after the latest CFP rankings. The Cowboys make it interesting, but TCU is too strong in the end. TCU takes it, 49-45.

Mitch Gatzke: I have too much faith in Trevone Boykin, Josh Doctson and the Horned Frog attack to pick against them here.  That being said they’d better bring their A-game to Stillwater because the Pokes will give them all they can handle.  TCU wins a close, high-scoring affair.

Courtney McCrary: TCU: The Oklahoma State defense will not be able to stop the high powered TCU offense.

Derek Woods: Oklahoma State’s defense will have a lot of problem’s slowing down TCU’s offense which at times can score at will. The TCU defense has continued to improve giving up just 10 points last week to WVU. TCU get the win at Oklahoma State.

Britt Zank: I think this will be a dog fight until the end but I believe TCU wants to make a statement after being left out of the first Playoff bracket.  They will put it on late, Boykin gets signature Heisman game and the Frogs win a tough one.

Tim Bach: I watched OK State’s game on Halloween and their defense was scarier than anything else I saw and not in a good way. TCU’s isn’t much better but give me the team that’s been in this position before. TCU wins a wild one.

#2 LSU at #4 Alabama

David Poole: All eyes are on Heisman front-runner Leonard Fournette and the Tide are feeling the pressure to live up to their top 4 ranking. If this were at LSU, I’d give the Tigers the upper hand. But, since it’s in Tuscaloosa, the Tide will roll! ‘Bama takes it, 28-21.

Mitch Gatzke: There are a lot of reasons to pick either team here.  I don’t think there’s any way this is more than a one-possession game when the clock hits zeros.  Alabama is a slightly better team overall.  Roll Tide.

Courtney McCrary: Alabama: It seems like a pretty even match, but since Alabama is at home they should win.

Derek Woods: Bama will finally be the team to slow down Leonard Fournette and the LSU run game. Nick Saban has Les Miles’ number, winning in his last four against the Tigers. The streak continues as Bama knocks LSU off the ranks of the undefeated.

Britt Zank: Nobody is better at coaching the big games at home than Nick Saban.  I think this will be low scoring and close but Saban will not let Leonard Fournette beat them. He’ll get his yards,  but they will be hard earned and LSU will have to throw the  ball to win.  I don’t think they are good enough at the pass and thus Bama wins a tough close game 13-10.

Tim Bach: Alabama hasn’t impressed me this season. There, I said it. Especially on defense. The only team they played with a good offense lit them up. I don’t care what you say, A&M is not good. Ole Miss marched into Tuscaloosa and punched a hole in the Alabama mystique. LSU quarterback Brandon Harris is picking up steam too. I’m going against the grain here: LSU surprises everyone.

Cal at Oregon

David Poole: The Bears are reeling with 3 straight losses and the Ducks have clearly flown south. I take Cal in the battle of the animal kingdom, 56-49.

Mitch Gatzke: Jared Goff should have a field day against an atrocious Duck secondary that gives up 318 yards per game through the air.  Give me the Golden Bears powered by Goff’s golden arm.

Courtney McCrary: Cal: If Jared Goff plays well then he can beat the Oregon secondary easily and Cal will win.

Derek Woods: Oregon barely escaped with a victory over ASU last week in triple-overtime. Cal didn’t play their best, but still had a chance to win against USC last weekend. I’m taking Cal on the road in a close game this weekend.

Britt Zank: Oregon is dropping and dropping fast. Cal has maybe the top NFL QB prospect at the helm and I don’t think Oregon’s defense can stop him once.  In a usual Pac-12 high scoring game I see Cal stopping Oregon a few times leading to a 49-35 win for Cal.

Tim Bach: I don’t think a team has ever gone from red hot to hot mess as fast as Oregon which is how they like to do things. Eventually they’ll recruit some defensive players but not until next year. Cal dines on duck.

Penn State at #21 Northwestern

David Poole: On the surface, this looks like the typical smash mouth, scoring affair.  I think what you see is what you get. Nittany Lions fall, 31-24. Northwestern.

Mitch Gatzke: This is a tough pick.  I’ll take the Wildcats because I think they’ll be rejuvenated by the committee giving them the benefit of the doubt earlier this week.

Courtney McCrary: Penn State: Northwestern isn’t good coming off a bye and their offense will surprise people.

Derek Woods: The Penn State defense is really solid, even on the road I look for them to stifle the NW attack and score just enough points to win in a close game.

Britt Zank: This is sure to be a low scoring defensive Big Ten battle. Nobody really has a big edge except for Northwestern is at home so I’ll give them the hometown hook and say they nudge Penn State 10-7.

Tim Bach: As much as I’d like to get off the Northwestern bandwagon, it’s too late now. I’m committed. Wildcats at home.

Spread pick: Minnesota +23 at Ohio State

David Poole: With JT Barrett unavailable, the Buckeyes struggle to find rhythm early and allow the Gophers to hang around. Ohio State gets it together and barely covers the spread.

Mitch Gatzke: Minnesota showed something last week against Michigan.  I think they keep this one somewhat close.  I’ll take the Gophers with the points.

Courtney McCrary: I don’t think Ohio State will cover the spread against Minnesota.

Derek Woods: With J.T. Barrett under center, I may have picked the Buckeyes to cover this spread. But with Cardale Jones the Buckeye offense just hasn’t looked as good. Still, Ohio State will rally around the fact that J.T. is missing this game and will still manage to beat Minnesota at home 35-17.

Britt Zank: This is a tough game to predict. Coming off that disaster against Michigan the Gophers will either be so demoralized they fold or they will stand up and want to prove that was just a fluke. Ohio State is having it’s own internal struggles after QB Barrett’s suspension, so will interesting to see the fire they have.  I’ll say Meyer wants to put on a good show and he’ll have Barrett throwing long after the game is over to put the suspension talk behind him, so I’m going take Ohio State and the over on the 23 point spread.

Tim Bach: Minnesota played inspired football against Michigan but can they do it again? I think it might have just been a mirage but I hope not. Minnesota scores late to cover.

Monday Morning Breeze: Football in Week 8 (or maybe 9)

The heathens of our United States celebrated Halloween this past weekend, and normally fans could expect the usual wacky plays and stunning outcomes typically attributed to the holiday by theme-seeking media coverage. But this zany season’s already exposed fans to more madness than usual, especially in the college game, and predictably in the All-Important Special Teams phase. With so many unique finishes already in the books, it seemed safe to assume this Trick-or-Treatkend would trend toward a little more toward normality, giving our hearts a chance to settle a bit, and keeping us from the heart-attack-fixers forcing us to learn how useful that Obamacare coverage really is.

Off the field, “Spooookiness” this year was largely limited to this (seemingly genuine) Herbstreit scare in the booth. On the field, we witnessed the NFL churning along acceptable LAST SECOND FIELD GOAL FINISHES and CFB assorted treats of madness. Oh yeah, except there was Duke’s DebacLateral. Dear, old Duke.

Keep reading for this weekend’s NFL/CFB exploits pressed down to goodie-sized bites and coated in chocolate for easy digestion. Don’t worry, ain’t no razor blades in these blurbs. That is, unless you’re a fan of one of the many teams that lost this weekend. For those unfortunate fans, I’m sorry. Here’s a digital King-Sized Snickers.

College Football Week 9 Notables

The ‘Canes shaming logic in Durham, Michigan’s heartstopper at Minny, OK State’s offensive blitzkrieg in Lubbock, and more!

Tidbits…Newly-minted starting QB for Ohio State, J.T. Barrett, was arrested last week for driving while impaired and suspended for the Buckeyes’ Nov. 7th game versus Minnesota…Post-Pete (Carroll) life continues to be a bitch for most things Trojan as Norm Chow was fired by Hawaii on Sunday…Mizzou QB Maty Mauk was suspended by the team for the remainder of the season for violating those inner-sanctum rules… Va. Tech’s Frank Beamer will retire at the end of the season…Does UGA’s loss put Mark Richt on the hottest seat?…

Featured Matchup: Florida vs. Georgia in “The World’s Largest Southern Day Drunk Party”

Georgia Bulldogs running back Sony Michel rushing during the second half, as the Gators spook the Georgia Bulldogs with a 27-3 win at EverBank Field.  October 31st, 2015. Gator Country photo by David Bowie.

Things haven’t played out as they’re supposed to for either team this season, but it seems they rarely do. Trending downward, Georgia was supposed to dominate the SEC East and challenge for a CFB playoff spot this year. Heading into Week 8, they’d already lost to Tennessee, been smashed by ‘Bama, and badly needed a strong showing against the Gators to regain any mojo for 2015.

Trending upward, Florida has been one of college football’s biggest surprises under first-year head coach Jim McElwain. Apparently Will Muschamp wasn’t lying last November when he advised, “They’ve got a deep and talented roster, so don’t let that new guy tell you he ain’t got any players,” after being fired from the Gators gig. Jimmy’s kept the defense stout and managed to implement a relatively functional offense, even surviving the stunning, mid-season suspension of budding start QB Will Grier for PED’s, leading UF to a 6-1 start with their sole defeat at the hands of a scary-good and undefeated LSU squad.

Those outdoor cocktail gatherings are known to cause some bizarre shenanigans, and this year Georgia stirred the pot by starting third-string QB Faton Bauta over Greyson Lambert, hoping to use his lively legs to inject juice into a stagnant offense and cause some extra preparation on Florida’s part.

Unfortunately for Georgia, Bauta threw a couple of not-his-fault interceptions and a couple definitely-his-fault picks, not to mention one throw that was so poorly thrown directly to a Florida defender, that Bauta immediately slapped his helmet with both hands upon releasing the pass. In one of the few breaks Georgia got all game, the defender dropped the easy interception.

Florida’s D-line dominated in the trenches, limiting the run game Georgia had to establish in order to compete to just 69 yards rushing. On the other side of the ball, the Gator O-Line gashed Georgia’s D for 258 yards on the ground. Leading the way was Kelvin Taylor with 121 yards and 2 TD’s, with UF’s new/old QB Treon Harris doing just enough in the air to keep UGA’s D honest.

Florida wins 27-3.

3 Takeaways From Cocktail Heaven

  1. SPECIAL TEAMS Strike Again. I’m sure you’ve never heard this before, but SPECIAL TEAMS are an underrated part of the game that can really swing a seaon and blah blah blah. But they are, as we’ve seen ad nauseum this season, and in this game Florida got rolling recovering a muffed Georgia punt (foolishly fielded inside UGA’s 5-yard line) in the end zone for the first 6 of the game.
  2. Florida Capitalized While Georgia Continues to Lowercase: The Gators combined hitting a couple big plays on offense, with a dominant running game and steady special teams play in the route. The ‘Dawgs, on the other hand, goofed on some golden opportunities on offense early when the game was still in doubt, missing a wiiiiide open TE deep in Florida for a certain TD pass and inspiring color man Gary Danielson to offer up the following nugget, introducing us to an acronym he’s surely never used in his life prior to that moment of improvisational bliss:

    “That’s what I call an ‘O.C.E. An Offensive Coordinator Explosion! He dialed it up there, and the quarterback just missed him.”

  3. Florida Will Win the SEC East: All the Gators (7-1, 5-1) have to do to secure their division is beat Vanderbilt next week, which they’ll do. From there, they could be in line for a rematch with LSU in the SEC Championship Game and potential spot in the playoff. That’s too far off to know for now, but we can be certain McElwain’s been a smashing success so far in ascending from Colorado State to Singin’ in the Swamp.

Random Rumblings: At one point the camera cut to Gary and Verne in the booth, for a quick check-in on the game so far, and we get to see the awfully all-gray shirt/tie combos they’re both sporting. Apparently these two and Colorado are wearing the same uniforms today…Bizarre exchange between Adam Zucker (doing CBS’ studio show) and Gary Danielson. Zucker, catching up on the football action across the country and tossing it to Gary/Verne asks, basically, where Gary/Verne have some of the top teams placed in the upcoming CFB ranking. Gary responds, “Who cares?” as Verne chuckles along.

A little later, CBS shows this tweet that Zucker sent in response:

Gary responds, “Adam, you have 22 minutes to fill, we work 3 and a half hours. Sometimes we get a little testy.” Verne just chuckles the whole time. So CBS then decides to bring in Zucker live for some interaction, and he responds to the awkward question from the booth about Zucker’s kid eating “all that CBS candy yet?” in saying “yeah, (son’s name) has already gone in for his second handful.”…Any chance UGA RB Sony Michel was named after the electronics giant? Maybe even gifted from the popularity of PlayStation? He’s an interesting combination of cool name/lady name…Bauta threw a strike to a slanting GA WR and #42, UF Safety Kananu Neal, safety smashed him right in the face. Lovely hit…Malcolm Mitchell with a beautiful catch over the middle, rising and plucking the ball from the sky…Vernon Hargreaves III (VG3 from now on) is great on defense, but damn he’s smooth and shifty with the ball in his hands, witnessed post-pick in this game.

West Virginia vs. TCU (Thursday)
Horned Frogs stay unbeaten for now, smoke Mountain Men 40-10

UNC vs. Pittsburgh (Thursday)
Carolina wins big’un in ACC Coastal-land, topping Narduzzi’s crew 26-19

Houston vs. Vanderbilt
Herman’s Cougars keep rolling smoking ‘Dores, 34-0

Memphis vs. Tulane
Tigers have really tall, really good QB, that waves Green goodbye, topping Tulane 41-13

Utah vs. Oregon State
Ute Guys apparently hate beavers, smash OSU 27-13

Oklahoma vs. Kansas
Sooners hate Kansas for Jayhawking, arrest KU’s attempts to fly, 62-7

Maryland vs. Iowa
Hawkeyes keep sloshing through Big Ten, title hopes alive topping ‘Terps 31-15

Ole Miss vs. Auburn
Rebels yell louder than War Eagle, win 27-19…Will the real Ole Miss please stand up?

South Carolina vs. Texas A&M
Kyler Murray fever begins, as Aggies slip past Spurrier-less ‘Cocks 35-28

Clemson vs. NC State
Dabo Wabo Dabo’s Clemsoning to Death as the Tigers hang on 26-20 against upset-minded Wolfpack…Deshaun Watson is incredible to watch.

Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State
Cowboys sizzle six-shooters to rock Red Raiders 70-53…So, touchdowns…Lots of ‘em….Big 12 Football! TX Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury will from here on out be known as “Playgirl”…

USC vs. California
Trojans ride the interim coach magic carpet victory parade past Cal’s Golden Showered Bears, 27-21…I’m not sure how I didn’t know this before, but according to the paint at midfield, Cal’s stadium is known as “Kabam Field”. Berkeley kids have gotta be able to come up with something better than that for whatever company it is paying for that name…Goff’s picked up by a nice play by Seymour USC’s DB with 14:19 to go in the 4th quarter, with Cal now down 27-14. The cameras catch Goff going after the refs on the sideline, with his nice baseball cap on, screaming at the refs as the commentators compliment him for “showing some fire.”

Jared+Goff+USC+v+California+ui-rlUSzYgxl

UCLA vs. Colorado
U-C-L-A had all the alibis they needed to calmly cold-cock Colorado’s Buff behinds, winning 35-31…Colorado was somehow allowed to wear gray pants and a white jersey even though they have some of the coolest base colors in the CFB (black and gold)…Flipping over to this game, I was lucky to catch the following exchange from the broadcast crew:

Play-by-play Guy: “They’re lucky they didn’t have a lineman downfield.”
Color Guy: “Well, it was a designed pass so they’d never have a lineman downfield.”
That lead to deafening SILENCCCCCCCE.

Michigan vs. Minnesota
UofM slices Minnesota’s Little Brown Jugular in the 29-26 victory…This was another Michigan nailbiter, with their stout D-line securing the win at the end in stuffing Minnesota’s QB sneak short of the goal line as time expired. …Jake Rudock seemed to once again be doing his best to fuck the game up for Michigan, throwing a bad shot put-deflected-interception early, but he kept it together and made some nice throws in the win…I’d be willing to be Jim Harbaugh dresses up as Jim Harbaugh for Halloween, or Diana Ross, either one…Jabrill Peppers is an insta-Viagra on Michigan’s offense. Would love to see UF use VG3 the same way. What’s the best Peppers nickname we can send up the ladder?

Duke vs. Miami
Miami’s Miracle Lateral-palooza Punks Bluest Devils, 30-27…Ok, so you’ve probably maybe already heard of how this game ended, but if not watch this first. Then realize the ACC suspended the referee crew from this game for completely blowing the call on that crazy final play. There were a number of questionable calls made throughout the game, in addition to missing a MIA runner’s knee clearly being down and a massive block in the back on the Lateral-pallooza ultimately costing Duke the game. Duke should’ve been given the W, but instead they’re dealt a salty defeat which puts them in a tough spot trying to win the ACC Coastal Division. Miami continues the trend of Miami football teams riding the interim coach wave to wins. FWIW Duke has a McCaffrey WR (Max), son of outstanding former Denver Bronco receiver Ed McCaffrey, and brother of potential Heisman candidate Stanford RB Christian McCaffery.

Temple vs. Notre Dame
Touchdown Jesus spoils Temple’s first College Gameday hosting experience, defiling Philly 24-20

Florida State vs. Syracuse
All you need to know about this Seminole win is conveyed in the following incredible, Travis Rudolph TD catch and run. Watch him snag the ball, punk DB’s without remorse, and flow into the end zone. Free Shoes U. Makes Orange Juice Their Pants, 45-21.

Texas vs. Iowa State
Longhorns lose any semblance of mojo, getting smoked by the Cyclones 24-0 and we wonder if the Strong will survive the season?

Tennessee vs. Kentucky
Tennessee makes Wildcats shed voluntary tears, spanking Kentucky blue, 52-21.

Stanford vs. Washington State
Stanford stays smart, winning 30-28 as WAZZU misses last-second FG attempt.

Nebraska vs. Purdue
Man karma’s a bitch, ain’t it Cornhusker faithful? As you may remember Nebraska fired the volatile Bo Pelini last year for winning not quite enough to appease the folks that matter. In came Mike Riley, and thus far his Nebraska squad’s lost that winning feeling, falling to 3-6 (1-4 in the Big Ten) on the season. Stay tuned to see if Tom “Don’t call me Ozzy” Osborne comes back to save grace. Boilers make Cornhuskers suck dust, hurt, winning 55-45.

NFL ROUNDUP

New England vs. Miami (Thursday Night)
Patriots make ‘Phins wish the Fin came sooner, 36-7…The Pats will keep doing this all year until the playoffs. I’ll just keep copy/pasting this blurb for each of their remaining regular season games.

Detroit vs. Kansas City (Wembley Stadium)
Chiefs wax waning Lions in London, 45-10…Detroit got sick of getting their asses kicked in the good ol’ USA, so they decided to give up their “no taxation without representation” birthright and go crawling back to Mother England and Wembley Stadium, for some bad-teeth welcoming. Turns out, flying across the pond does not a good team make, and if a team stinks like shit on American soil, they’ll probably stink like shit in the land of fish n’ chips as well.

New Orleans vs. New York Giants
Saints sail past Giants on Brees’ 7 TD’s, hanging on for the 52-49 barn-burning victory…305 yards of total offense from both teams in 1st q…ODB Jr + Pick Play Near the Goal Line = TD’s Forever…507 yards total offense, Brees 300 yards 4 TD in first half alone…ODB Jr. with 3 TD’s, one on a loooong-lovely pass from Eli for ODB’s 3rd TD of the day, in front of his 20+friends and family in the crowd, in his hometown NOLA…I wish FOX’s commentators would keep referring to this as a “Big 12” game, due to the high-scoring, because it’s hilarious every time. Like every, fucking, time…With a sweet catch by Dwayne Harris, Eli hit the 6 TD Sabbath Club…Drew Brees threw actually 8 TD’s on Sunday, just one of them was a completion-forced fumble-returned for a TD by the Giants with 7:11 left in the 4th Q…NO nails a FG as time expires to win .

San Diego vs. Baltimore
Ravens do Poe proud, beating the SD/LA Celebrities 29-26…Steve Smith tears his Achilles and is out for the year, so that’s all that matter…Justin Tucker wins it at the gun with a FG

Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati
Bengals stay unbeaten besting Big Ben’s return aboard the Red Rifle Revue, 16-10…Le’Veon Bell goes down with apparent knee injury. God damnit. He and Steve Smith are two of my favorite players in the League. Cue up 10 million more stories/soundbites/segments on “injuries skyrocketing picking off marquee players in the NFL” for the 11th straight year. They should totally play more games though, Rodgie Goodell, totally…I don’t care about CINCY staying undefeated. I don’t care about the return of Big Ben. All I care about is if Andy Dalton dressed up for Halloween as Patrick Swayze from Road House. “Yeah, and I thought you’d be bigger…” PIT’s Martavis Bryant looks more terrifying than anyone with the ball in his hands, too bad Big Ben threw the last pass of the game out of the end zone.

Chicago vs. Minnesota
Vikings do Viking things to bum-out Bears busters, winning with a FG as time expires, 23-20…Jay Cutler said he wouldn’t trade Matt Forte for anybody in the NFL. I shudder imagining a world in which Jay Cutler is a GM, or in any position of authority again.

Arizona vs. Cleveland
Cardinals destroy Browns’ limited self-worth, 34-20…Carson Palmer throws for 4TD’s and 378 yards.

Tennessee vs. Houston
Bill Uh-O’brien’s Texans tops Tennessee 20-6, in the “Nobody Gives a Fuck Bowl.”

Atlanta vs.Tampa Bay
Bucs stick with lady luck, besting NFC South foe-Falcons 23-20, in OT…This was the Whitest QB in the league vs. Jameis and his limbs-all-over-the-place running style..I wonder if any of Winston’s teammates have ever asked him, “Say man, did you do that thing they said you did at FSU?” and whether it’d change anything anyway.

San Francisco vs. Saint Louis
Rams run Gurley Man to victory, topping sunk San Fran 27-6…Todd Gurley could be a senior in college right now. Todd Gurley is coming off a massive knee injury last year. Todd Gurley + Nasty D-Line = Rams Relevant. Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald are the only reasons I’d watch this game. Tavon Austin is scary. Todd Gurley.

New York Jets vs. Oakland
Raiders redirect Jets to losertown, winning 34-20…I would’ve loved to have seen a camera focus solely on Amari Cooper matching up against Darrelle Revis.

Dallas vs. Seattle
Seattle slews Dez’s return, scrapes by Big D with a 13-12 win..I wish Dez Bryant would start waving off routes/plays/motions like MLB pitchers shake off throws they don’t wanna make. “Deep cross over the middle vs. SEA’s beastly Safeties? Nah, SMH at that one. Better go with ‘Dez slug-o (slant and go)’ allll day.”

Denver vs. Green Bay
Broncos buck Rodgers’ Pack, 29-10.

Super-Important Commercial/Ad-thumping Recap

I’m sorry Burger King, but I don’t think I’d ever let two flame-grilled patties have me “Like Whoa” as you claimed so many times today. Go figure out how to make better french fries and maybe we can talk again.

Man, I just saw Taco Bell’s commercial for something called “Boss Wraps”, which’d make me wanna killennials as quickly as possible, but it also included the “young coeds walking down the road toward those mountains in the distance, arms around each other, bounding into hope-ville” which makes me wish even more I’d dressed up as someone able to end shitty commercials for Halloween.
I love the fact that for the most part, NFL players still have to wear full pads and jerseys to be identified in ads. I’m looking at you “wood-chopping JJ Watt.” By the way, does JJ Watt work hard or something? I haven’t heard anything about his work ethic yet.

You know, I wasn’t really interested in daily fantasy sports until I saw Fan Duel’s cool ad, where there’s that guy that looks just like me and my friends with his beard, low-key hoodie attire, and laid-back yet informed style of speech. I think I’ll sign up and start playing, as soon as I get this shotgun out of my throat.

I’m sure there are people in this world that watch “Empire” and “Gotham” but I don’t know any of them, and I don’t think I’d like to.

Ok, so the Ford F-150 advertises a “military-strength” body, but they don’t specify which military that is. So it’s likely you’ll be driving in a rig protected by the swiss cheese steel alloy designed by the Thai Army, Canadian Mounties, or worst yet filled with black-tar heroin by the crooked troops of Mexico.

I wonder if that bearded son-of-a-bitch slinging eggs on that Chevy commercial is anti-abortion, ‘cause if he is then he’s a damned jerk. I eat things that’ve been on the floor. With my science he wasted at least 600 good potential chickens or omelettes on a shitty gag to explain Chevy’s safety features.

Burger King pitches their Buffalo Chicken Fries as “A better way to Buffalo” and I’m not sure if this is a direct dig at the city of Buffalo, NY. If not, I’m not sure I’ve ever buffaloed in my life, nor would I ever like to.

Bud Light urges us to “Open up a can of football” with their newly-NFL-themed cans. A can of football sounds like the most vile thing one could ever imbibe, especially after a night of Halloweening.

Weekly Fantasy Football Insight/Tips/Updates/XXX Advice

Staff Pick’em: Week 8

Since we had a pair of pickers unable to join us last week I was trying to figure out how to score them for the week so the scores wouldn’t be off. As we all know, math is not my strong suit so I was worried about finding them the average of our scores. Luckily everyone went 4-2 so problem solved! Although I’ll probably be back to edit this later because math is evil.

We did pick the Thursday game again but all picks were in beforehand so no one cheated.

David Poole (@VirgoAssassain): 4-2 (20-10)

Mitch Gatzke (@GreatGatzke): 4-2 (22-8)

Courtney McCrary (@CourtMac17): 4-2 (18-12)

Derek Woods (@D_Woods21): 4-2 (16-14)

Britt Zank (@BZank17): 4-2 (16-14)

Tim Bach (@TBach84): 4-2 (22-8)

#15 Texas A&M at #24 Ole Miss

David Poole: Both teams are coming off loses last week. Ole Miss suffered the most unexpected loss, going down to a surprising Memphis squad. A&M’s loss to Alabama was not so surprising. Having said that, A&M has a slight psychological advantage and they take it, 27-21.

Mitch Gatzke: Both these teams will be looking to bounce back from bad losses last week.  I have far more faith in Ole Miss coming out strong.  Give me the Rebels.

Courtney McCrary: Ole Miss- After Ole Miss dropped eleven spots in the pools because of their loss to Memphis last week I think they re group and beat A&m at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Derek Woods: Ole Miss may not be the team we all thought they were after there win over Alabama earlier this season. A&M get back on track this week and ends Ole Miss’ chances of winning the SEC. 

Britt Zank: Ole Miss gets back on track with a close win over A&M. This is a year the SEC just beats up on each other all year long.

Tim Bach: Now that A&M is starting to see some real teams, we’re beginning to see what they’re really made of. Ole Miss continues exposing the Aggies.

 

#3 Utah at USC

David Poole: Utah is rolling and USC is free falling. The Utes aren’t slowing up anytime soon and the Trojans are just hapless victims in Utah’s wake. Trojans fall, 34-17.

Mitch Gatzke: The Utes could very well be the best team in the nation.  The Trojans are dealing with a lot of distractions.  I’ll be shocked if Utah doesn’t win by a couple touchdowns.

Courtney McCrary: Utah- It will be a close game, but Utah should win it.

Derek Woods: Utah slips up in this match-up as USC plays its most inspired game of the season and knocks off previously unbeaten Utah. 

Britt Zank:  USC is a dumpster fire and Utah will happily enjoy adding flames to that fire. I see this as a blow out from start to finish.

Tim Bach: Remember like 10 years ago when USC was the pinnacle of college football? They were so good it was ridiculous. Now they’re going to get blown out by Utah.

 

Wisconsin at Illinois

David Poole: This one could be a toss up. Wisconsin has the better defense and momentum after last week’s victory over Purdue. Illinois is at home this week which could prove to be helpful. But in the end, Wisconsin leans on their massive offensive line and wear out the Fighting Illini. Badgers run wild, 35-24.

Mitch Gatzke: Somehow Illinois has done well this year despite canning their head coach just days before opening the season.  I’ll take the Illini over the overrated Badgers.

Courtney McCrary: Illinois- It will be a tough defensive battle but the Illini are 4-0 in their last four conference games and I think they will make it 5-0.

Derek Woods: Wisconsin is the more talented team and takes care of lowly Illinois to get a much needed victory. 

Britt Zank:  It may be a down year for Wisconsin, but even their down years are better than Illinois as the Badgers get the win.

Tim Bach: “Illinois is going to be good this season,” said no one ever. Yet here we are. Badgers are without a dominant running back like they’ve had in past years. The Illini continues to be one of the surprise teams of the Big Ten.

 

Kansas State at Texas

David Poole: Texas is coming off an emotional win over Oklahoma and K-State limps in, losers of 3 straight. Unless last week for the Wildcats was an anomaly, I expect K-State to bounce back and bring Texas back to earth. Wildcats wrangle the Longhorns 27-28 in a thriller.

Mitch Gatzke: Texas shocked Oklahoma two weeks ago.  Oklahoma belittled K-State last week.  The transitive property does not work in football.  I’m sticking with the Wildcats.

Courtney McCrary: Texas- It depends on what team shows up, but since Texas is at home they should have the edge over the Cats.

Derek Woods: Texas looked good against OU and will carry that momentum from their solid play on defense  into the rest of the season as they get another Big 12 victory over K-State. 

Britt Zank: I think Texas gets revenge for years of losing to K State when Texas was strong. Now that roles are slightly reversed the Longhorns will show the Wildcats how it feels.

Tim Bach: I’ve given up trying to figure out the Big 12. Coin flip says Texas.

 

#20 Cal at UCLA

David Poole: The Bruins couldn’t have picked a worse time to suffer significant injuries on the defensive side of the ball-which plays nicely into the right hand and arm of Jared Goff. Despite a career worst in throwing 5 picks last week at Utah, Goff still hung around to make the game interesting. Cal’s defense should be in for a test against star running back Paul Perkins and true freshman, Josh Rosen. If Cal can contain Perkins by eliminating long gains and limit Rosen to passes under 20 yards, Cal should come away with the victory. Golden Bears pull off the win 42-21, and move closer to securing a bowl bid.

Mitch Gatzke: Taking this loss to Cal is going to complete UCLA’s transition from national contender to absolute non-factor in just one month.

Courtney McCrary: Cal- UCLA has had some issues the last two games and wont be able to correct enough this week.

Derek Woods: Cal is a much better matchup on paper than Stanford for was for UCLA. Josh Rosen will play one of his best games and get a victory over Cal. 

Britt Zank:  I like Goff at QB for Cal, but he’s not a superstar. I think UCLA wins this home game knocking Cal back out of the top 25

Tim Bach: Remember back when UCLA was supposed to make the playoffs? Those were good times. I like Goff at Cal and UCLA is too banged up to keep him under wraps. Go go Golden Bears.

 

Spread pick: Wyoming +34.5 at Boise State

David Poole: Despite the Wyoming’s woeful record, I’m going to take a chance and say that the Cowboys play inspired football and make the game a lot closer than odds makers would predict. Cowboys lose the game. However, Boise doesn’t cover the spread either. It’s a win-win, sort of.

Mitch Gatzke: Take the points!  Don’t fall for the old “name recognition” trick.  Boise State isn’t that good this season and Wyoming can score enough to keep this closer than a five touchdown spread.

Courtney McCrary: I don’t think that Boise will cover the spread. Wyoming offense will score enough points even if the Wyoming offense can’t stop the Broncos.

Derek Woods: I’m taking Boise State in this matchup by 28 with a final score of 42-14. Wyoming covers.

Britt Zank: Boise loves running up the score and I think they do that to Wyoming. I’m taking Boise to win by over 40.

Tim Bach: I almost said something about how this isn’t your father’s Boise State but back when my father was my age and watching college football no one knew that Boise State was a school outside of Idaho. This isn’t my Boise State I guess. Wyoming gets just enough to cover the spread.