Tag Archives: Campus Pressbox Archives

Week 10: Elevators

Whether we like to admit it in these parts or not, it’s the SEC’s world still and we’re just living in it.  Sure, the SEC might be ready to die, but until that meat-wagon shows up and someone else is holding that crystal football on the night of January 6th, we must treat the Southeastern Conference as a real thing.  However, the Pac-12 has touted Oregon and Stanford pretty vocally since the fall of Troy in South Central Los Angeles, and that’s a real thing too.

Groundhog Day happens every January on ESPN

Without question, the conference is on its way up, ready to take the reigns of College Football supremacy out of the South and East, in order to bring it home to the wake of the Pacific Ocean.  We didn’t get to see the conference’s golden child or its understudy, both given the week off to prepare for an epic showdown at Stanford Stadium on Thursday night, but we did get a glimpse of the conference’s under-cards, if that’s even a fair name for the Pac-12 South’s finest.  The smart money is on 2-time Pac-12 South Champ UCLA, and they do control their own destiny; however, that same sentiment reigns true for Arizona and Arizona State as well.  USC needs some help, but they aren’t exactly out of it just yet.
Needless to say, a lot of these teams that play after many on the east coast hit the rack are moving on up in the world…like Elevators, so let’s offer Outkast, the duo from the heart of SEC country, a chance to tell us what was happening in the conference that might be the next best thing, even if the Pac-12 doesn’t necessarily have dibs on NEXT.
Moving on up…

Arizona State 55 Washington State 21

Just trying to find that hookup
Now everyday we look up at the ceiling
Watching ceiling fans go round, trying to catch that feeling

Talk about a team and a program that desperately need the right people to respect and promote what Todd Graham has done with this program in Tempe. In the same way that Big Boi and Andre used to ride public transport around Atlanta waiting to be discovered, these Sun Devils want to purge the brutal memories a national audience might have of their trips to Palo Alto and Arlington. This trip to the Paloose was a good start, even if Martin Stadium doesn’t exactly tickle the ear drums as a tough place to play like Autzen Stadium or Death Valley at night might.
Still, with the Thursday night atmosphere, and it was Halloween Night to boot, this was a game I’d indicated as a “circle game” for the Cougars in my Pac-12 Preview, so I believe Mike Leach might have some tricks or treats under his sleeve out of the game.  Instead, we were treated to the same crap-tastic mess that has been Washington State football over the last decade.  On the other hand, Taylor Kelly and company came from Arizona on a mission, and spoke it in the form of three 1st quarter touchdowns on four possessions.  Things might have gotten a little bit better for Connor Halliday and the home team, who scored through the air on the first and last plays of the 2nd quarter, but everything that happened in between made it 42-14 Sun Devils at intermission.

Taylor Kelly and the Sun Devils picked up their first win away from Sun Devil Stadium on Halloween Night in Pullman.

Halliday threw for 300 yards and 2 touchdowns in the loss, a noticeable drop-off from the 557 yards and 4 touchdowns in Eugene on October 19th, but it was the same type of stat-padding in a lopsided loss that we’ve become accustomed to from Leach’s teams.  For the victors, contributions came from all over; the Sun Devils, who out-rushed the Cougars 282-2, got a 94-yard night from Marion Grice and a 66-yard effort from quarterback Taylor Kelly, who found the end zone twice with his legs and 5 times with his arm.    Richard Smith, Jaelen Strong, and Chris Coyle each hauled in a touchdown reception, while running back DJ Foster stole the show with 7 catches for 77 yards and 2 scores as a receiver.

USC 31 Oregon State 14

Writing rhymes, trying to find our spot off in that light
Light off in that spot, knowing that we could rock
Doing the hole in the wall clubs – this (stuff) here must stop

With so many viewing options in College Football, it’s hard to put yourself in the spotlight, and even more difficult to stay there with the bright lights shining upon you. Sure, USC was in the spotlight, all throughout the follies of Lane Kiffin, but take them out of the national title picture, be entertained by the LAX pink-slipping of a Head Coach, then lose any and all interest in what they’re doing. That’s how it goes, but this team is doing all they can with what they’ve got left, to exorcise the demons of Washington State and Arizona State, but the road ahead is just as congested as the 405 Freeway on a Monday morning commute.
The state of Oregon has not been very kind to the traveling Trojans of late, and the aerial assault of Sean Mannion promised to keep it that way on Friday night.  The big-play men of Troy had different ideas, setting the tone early with a Marqise Lee 71-yard scoring catch early in the action to silence the crowd at Reser Stadium in Corvallis.  A Javorius Allen 9-yard scoring run made it 14-0 USC, after the first 15 minutes of play.  The Beavers stuck around for a while, getting on the board on Brandin Cooks 14th touchdown reception of the season in the 2nd quarter, then tying it up on a Ryan Murphy pick-six, just 14 seconds later.

USC tightened up on defense in the second half, and added a few scores in the third quarter to put the game out of reach at 31-14, the final nail being Allen’s 52-yard touchdown run, his second of the night.  The Trojans D held Mannion to under 300 yards, a feat only equaled by Stanford this season, and limited Cooks to 6 catches on the night, a season low for him.  Ed Orgeron got big production out of his backfield, seeing Allen and Silas Redd both running for more than 130 yards, but the game’s biggest play swung the momentum into the away team’s favor when Cody Kessler hit Nelson Aglohor for 62 yards on the first play of the third quarter, setting up a field goal, which gave the Trojans a two-possession lead.

Arizona 33 Cal 28

Thangs changed in the hood
Where I live at, them rats know, “Mama I want to sing, but
Mama I want to trick, and Mama I’m sucking (something) now”

The only team from the original Pac-10 that has never represented this Pacific Coast conference in the Rose Bowl. They dream of it every August in Tucson, but come November, they’re singing to the heavens about a December 21st date with the Mountain West Champ (or something like it) in Las Vegas. Not that we want to promote tricking or hooking in Vegas, but the drop-off is comparable for an aspiring starlet from the wrong side of the track, especially in Pre-Idol America.
Ka’Deem Carey became the first Wildcat to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons in over a decade and BJ Denker scored multiple touchdowns on the ground for the fourth time this season in a game that got away from Sonny Dyke’s Golden Bears in the second half.  Jared Goff’s arm got Cal out to an early 7-0 lead and pulled the home team to within 5 points at halftime with his second touchdown pass, but every time Cal made it a 1-score game, Arizona’s quarterback would widen the gap.

BJ Denker has 11 rushing touchdowns this season

Despite being held to just 44 yards on the ground, Rich Rodriguez’s senior quarterback did find the end zone three times, each time answering a Goff touchdown pass.  Denker did not need to counter Kenny Lawler’s third touchdown reception of the day, that came with 1:42 on the clock, after the Wildcats recovered Cal’s ill-fated onside kick attempt.  Even when Arizona failed to score, as they did on Carey’s negative gain on 4th and 2, Arizona took the teachable moment and salvaged two points out of it on a safety.

UCLA 45 Colorado 23

True, I’ve got more fans than the average man
But not enough loot to last me to the end of the week
I live by the beat, like you live check-to-check

Where good faith meets ‘what have you done for me lately?’, UCLA gladly took on a home game with the Colorado Buffaloes after a rough pair of road games in Pac-12 North country, trying to earn back that good faith earned against opponents not named Stanford or Oregon. The Rose Bowl is much more than just a home venue for the Bruins; for Jim Mora’s squad, The Rose Bowl Game is a real-live goal, and they’d like to be playing there in January.  Nothing is saved up, and they are living check-to-check, but if you can’t negotiate the speed-bumps, good luck at the actual roadblocks that exist in Arizona and across town at USC.

The Bruins were a bit lethargic out of the gate, but woke up just before the end of the 1st quarter on Brett Hundley’s 76-yard touchdown pass to Devin Fuller, the first of two scores the quarterback-receiver tandem would connect for on the afternoon.  Colorado would actually re-claim the lead on Paul Richardson’s 2nd quarter touchdown reception from Sefo Liufau, Richardson’s eighth score of the season, but the fun stopped there.  Hundley ran one in, and hooked up with Fuller for six, again, in the second quarter to put UCLA up 21-10, before a Will Oliver field goal shortened the lead to 21-13 at the half.
When the dust settled, it was 35-13 after three quarters of play, and Fuller put an exclamation point on his day with a 4th quarter rushing touchdown, from 8 yards away.  Fuller had 99 yards receiving on 3 catches on what amounted to a very average day throwing for Hundley, who was 19-of-24 for 273 yards.  The sophomore quarterback did his work on the ground, running 11 times for 72 yards and two touchdowns.

Oregon, Stanford, Utah, Washington (IDLE)

Me and you, your momma and your cousin too
Rolling down the strip on Vogues
Coming up, slamming Cadillac doors

If we’ve learned anything from the SEC over the past half-decade or so, it’s that you CAN take it with you; your mama, your cousin, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, whoever!  Remember, it’s not teams in a conference that win championships; it’s the conference itself.  So, with that said, Utah and Washington ought to be just as hyped for the match-up in Palo Alto on Thursday as Stanford and Oregon are.  It’s not just me and you, but the reality is nobody from the Pac-12 is moving on up like elevators, unless its Oregon, but we shall see.
Washington travels to UCLA on Friday night, to take on the Bruins.  Utah will host Arizona State on Saturday.

Buckeyes Find Rhythm In Dominate Display Against Purdue

After 2 straight losses at Ross Ade Stadium, Ohio State went in and dismantled Purdue today 56-0. This one was never in doubt as the Buckeyes dominated again from the start. Braxton Miller looked stellar again going 19-23 for 233 yards and 4 TD’s through the air. Carlos Hyde on only 8 carries managed 111 yards rushing putting himself on pace to be Urban Meyer’s first 1,000-yard rusher. The defense pitched it’s first shutout and the Buckeyes did what the No. 4 team in the nation should do against a 1-6 Purdue team.
As well as the buckeyes played today my overwhelming thought is how bad the B1G is, the Buckeyes are superior to absolutely every team in the conference and I’m not sure Purdue would finish top-5 in the Mid-American conference this year. This game was an absolute mismatch, Purdue led by freshman quarterback Danny Etling, with a below average offensive line is not a recipe for success against the emerging buckeyes front seven. For all the questioning of Urban Meyer running up the score last week I think we can all agree this score could have been much more lopsided. The biggest thing effecting ohio state in the national perception and national title race is how awful the rest of the B1G is and it’s very unfortunate.
For the first time in urban Meyer’s tenure, Ohio State is doing what they should against inferior opponents.

Meyer talks after Bucks blank Boilers from BuckeyeGrove.com on Vimeo.
Video courtesy BuckeyeGrove.com

Week 9: Mo Money Mo Problems

The time has come, teams have to transition from being good teams on paper to being good teams on the field. If the Rose Bowl is the end game, the mantra is “just win, baby!” However, if it’s January’s other game in Pasadena that tickles your fancy, it’s time for some of these team to prove their better than some of their east coast counterparts, without actually playing any football games against those said teams.

Win The Day, that is all

The perfect rap to wrap up this week would have been Busta Rhymes’ “Gimme Some More”, in theory anyway; that lead-in to the track being the score from Psycho was the jam, as long as you didn’t have to listen to the obnoxious skit endless skit that led up to that.  The biggest problem I thought I’d encounter when I decided to go with this gimmick back in August, was incorporating very R-rated music onto a very PG-13 site. Also, I anticipated problems with a contrasting point of view, as it pertained to the message; read: there are things that are off-limits to white people when discussing, or even quoting, rap lyrics. I choose not to walk on eggshells in those cases, which means passing on some compositions that would be perfect, if not for obscene language and/or content.
Hit ’em high, Busta

I was surprised earlier in the year, when Outkast’s “Roses” was too obscene for MTAF, but almost shocked when the same thing happened with Busta Rhymes with the popular single off the album Extinction Level Event. I mean, don’t I remember kids from the suburbs loving his flipmode style? Am I remembering that wrong?  You figure, innocent Busta Rhymes from the Space Jam soundtrack shouldn’t be obscene, but he was a part of Fudge’s crew in Higher Learning, then part of an Eminem diss track, directed at Ja Rule.  Take that for whatever it’s worth, and understand the logic behind settling for the posthumous single from Notorious B.I.G’s Life After Death, “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems”.
The truth is, it applies. So now, Oregon getting a W isn’t good enough, they might be scrutinized for being tied at halftime. For Stanford, everything will be subject to the pickers of nit after suffering that loss to Utah. So, here we are in the final weekend of October in the Pac-12; the more money you get, the more problems you’ve got.
Taken too young, but left this piece of art behind

Without further ado, here’s Biggie, with Mase and Puff Daddy.

Stanford 20 Oregon State 12

Cudda schooled me to the game, now I know my duty
Stay humble, stay low, blow like Hootie

One thing you won’t see from any David Shaw-led team is flash. They don’t know much about style points, but running back Tyler Gaffney knows that it’s fashionable to win the game.

“If you can just get those extra yards, it’s something I take on myself as a pride thing, and you know, I think Stanford football is about it.”
– Tyler Gaffney (Stanford RB)

I’m not clear on how many of Gaffney’s 145 yards were “extra yards”, but his three touchdowns most certainly accounted for all of the Cardinal’s 20 points in Corvallis on Saturday. This game took a page right out of Seinfeld’s Bizzaro World; Oregon’s pass rush was stout, but their offense was somewhat stagnant against the nation’s #6 team.

Stanford gets the win in Corvallis

For the first time this season, Sean Mannion was held to under 367 yards passing, with just 271. The Beavers brilliant undersized wideout, Brandin Cooks, also put up a season-low for yards in game, with 80 yards on 9 catches. Cooks already has over 1200 yards and multiple 200-yard games on his stat sheet this season, but Mannion couldn’t find the junior when he needed him the most on the game’s final possession.
Down 8, with 1:34 to play, the Beavers had one last shot, from the Stanford 43, after a 28-yard punt return by Cooks. Oregon State got a big break on a 2nd down pass interference call on Alex Carter on a pass intended for Richard Mullaney moved the ball to the 32. Mannion found Cooks twice, once for 11, and on the next play for 14 to the Cardinal 7 with 30 seconds left. Mannion threw four passes, none intended for Cooks, who drew triple coverage. None of those passes ended up in the hands of Oregon State receivers, so the Beavers would not spoil next Thursday’s marquee game between the Cardinal and their hated in-state rivals.

USC 19 Utah 3

Know you’d rather see me die than to see me fly

It’s true; some people haven’t seen enough of USC hitting rock bottom, but we might have to stop pretending this is a bad team in anything other than terms relative to what this program was 9 or 10 years ago. So, they’re not a good team either, even though I think everyone inside and out of the program is impressed with how well that defense has operated with a skeleton crew, with the obvious exception of the Arizona State game.

Not your best day, Adam Schulz

Luck, and I’m not talking about Andrew, plays a factor too. The Trojans were fortunate to see the Utes bringing damaged goods into the Coliseum to run that fast-paced Utah offense, and that’s exactly what Travis Wilson, dealing with a sprained finger, was in South Central on Saturday afternoon. Adam Schulz did not prove to be a capable understudy, and the visitors went 12/31 passing for 130 yards. Forgotten in the conversation of Wilson’s nagging injury is the void left in the running game. Take the starting quarterback out of the equation, and Utah ran for 29 yards on 26 carries.
Tre Madden ran for 60 yards and Cody Kessler threw for 230 on day when the USC offense was serviceable enough to win. The game’s only touchdown came when Kessler hit Nelson Agholor for 30 yards on a 6 play, 43 yard drive near the end of the 1st quarter. The drive was kept alive on a 6 yard pass from Kessler to Darreus Rogers, after Ed Orgeron kept his offense on the field on 4th and 4, two plays before the scoring strike. Andre Heidari had a busy day kicking the football, going 4-of-5, with makes from 28, 35, 38, and 40 yards away.

Arizona 44 Colorado 20

Now what you gon’ do with a crew
That got money much longer than yours
And a team much stronger than yours

Colorado gave the home crowd something to enjoy, and for almost 3 full quarters this time around. The visiting Wildcats got on the board first, on a 14 play, 88 yard drive that Ka’Deem Carey put an exclamation point on with his second attempt to punch it from one yard away. After a touchback on the ensuing kickoff, Sefo Liufau hit the electric Paul Richardson for 75 yards and the equalizer, but they would surrender a field goal and trail 10-7 after 15 minutes of play.

Richardson is all the Buffs have really got

The Buffaloes would lead this game in the second quarter, after a pair of long Will Oliver field goals would put them up 13-10, but Arizona would flex their depth the rest of the way. Carey, who scored a touchdown in every quarter of this game, would add a 7 yard scoring run to give Arizona a modest 17-13 lead, which grew to a 24-13 halftime edge on BJ Denker’s only passing touchdown of the day. Denker would throw for 265 yards, but made the biggest impact on the ground, with 192 yards on the ground, even though he did not find the endzone with his legs.
Richardson, per usual, led the way for the Colorado offense, with 132 yards on 7 grabs. Once again, Nelson Spruce, Michael Adkins II, and Christian Powell did not make enough of an impact on offense to lighten the load for Liufau, the freshman quarterback. After Adkins rushing touchdown early in the second half closed the gap to 27-20, Carey and the Wildcats took over, scoring the last 17 points of the game to make it look like a rout.

Washington 41 Cal 17

Cause it ain’t enough time here
Ain’t enough lime here for you to shine here

In a “trophies for everyone” world, we would be sure to praise the Huskies for looking good when they weren’t playing Oregon, or Stanford…or Arizona State, but the process dictates that some teams have to lose, and in case you had not noticed, this is not the SEC, where losing to better teams is merely a statement about the caliber of competition you face each week. Even still, everything went right for the home team on Saturday night.
Bishop Sankey went for 241 yards rushing and 2 scores. Keith Price was responsible for 3 touchdowns, but his 376 yards passing caught the eyes of some; his two passing touchdowns went to Jaydon Mickens, who had 6 catches for 180 yards in the game. And, the Huskies defense rebounded nicely, after giving up 98 points in their last two games combined, limiting the Golden Bears to just 10 points, before Cal’s Khalfani Muhammad had a 73 yard run in garbage time.

Oregon 42 UCLA 14

My team supreme, stay clean
Triple beam lyrical dream, I be that

Assuming they keep playing the way they do, regardless of their opponent, it would be a hard sell to keep them out of the National Championship at this point. I use this term very loosely, but this might very well be the first time this Ducks team was “tested” all season, a conclusion you might draw from the first half stale mate, indicated by the pair of 14s on the scoreboard. The Bruins are well-coached, have decent talent, and do a lot of things well on both sides of the ball. Despite their back-to-back losses, at the hands of Pac-12 North powerhouses, they very much control their own destiny to the Pac-12 Championship, and perhaps another crack at Mark Helfrich’s squad in December.

This duck does a lot of push-ups

The good news for UCLA is that they ran the ball well, and kept a few of Oregon’s big play makers in check on the ground. Paul Perkins had 93 yards on 22 carries, Malcolm Jones went for 4.8 per carry, and Brett Hundley hit paydirt once on 15 carries for 72 yards. On the defensive side of the ball, Anthony Barr and company held D’Anthony Thomas and Marcus Mariota to 48 yards on 17 carries. The bad news is…prety much everything else. The 28-0 2nd half describes the tone of this game a lot better than the first 30 minutes of competitive football at Autzen Stadium.
Frankly, with Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner getting things done to the tune of 23 carries, 210 yards, and 4 touchdowns, this dream didn’t yield much room for Thomas. Mariota does play the quarterback position, which requires some throwing of the pigskin, which he did at a clip of 75% for 230 yards and a score. The scoreboard is generally the best barometer for how much the Ducks outplay their opponents, but total yardage (555 to 283), yards per pass attempt (8.2 to 3.4), yards per rush (6.1 to 4.2), and first downs (30 to 15) are very telling as well. This team is supreme, and not just in an adding sour cream and tomatoes kind of way.

Arizona State, Washington State (IDLE)

Bruise too much, I lose too much

Taking on Notre Dame and Auburn isn’t exactly like taking on Suge Knight and Death Row Records, which Biggie states wasn’t worth the fight, but the Vatican’s favorite Independent and an SEC team from Alabama made both of our Halloween night Pac-12 competitors an after-thought on the national scene early in the year. When these two meet at Martin Stadium in the Paloose on Thursday, people will be watching. For Arizona State, the goal is to avoid the letdown after a big win against the other Washington team in Tempe on October 19th; the Sun Devils will be seeking their first win outside of Sun Devil Stadium this season. For the Cougars, this would be the time to get another signature win for Mike Leach and a big day out of Connor Halliday before the Apple Cup. Washington State will play both of the conference’s Arizona teams in their next two contest, which they hope to be a better experience than their back-to-back games against the Oregon schools. They were outscored 114-62 in those games.

Buckeyes Dominate Penn State

The Buckeyes rolled to their 20th straight win Saturday night, absolutely destroying Penn State 63-14 in front of a crowd of 105,889. This was by far the most complete team win in the Urban Meyer era. The Buckeyes looked dominant in all phases of the game and thoroughly dominated Penn State from the kickoff.
The most impressive player on the field Saturday night was again Carlos Hyde. The senior running back rushed for 147 yards on a mere 16 carries and scored 2 TD’s for the victorious Buckeyes. Hyde again set the tone by being extremely physical and keeping his streak of no runs with lost yards this year. Hyde is an absolutely freak and has to be the most dominating Buckeye running back since Eddie George in the 90’s. Hyde continues to impress and seemingly get better each week and will be a huge weapon for the Buckeyes going forward.
The defense stepped up big time Saturday night, taking advantage of a true freshman QB and only allowing 1 TD while the game was within reach. Still it’s worrisome that star players like Allen Robinson did on this night continue to out up huge numbers against this OSU secondary. 12 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown the Buckeyes struggled with Robinson all night. Something needs to be done to hold these guys in check considering there really isn’t another legitimate offensive weapon playing for the Nittany Lions. Overall though the defense looked good with Noah Spence and the D line getting pressure all night and forcing the young Hackenberg in to some costly mistakes.
Braxton Miller is getting better and that is scary for the rest of the country. Another Efficient night for Braxton who picked his spots running the ball wisely and looked like a great quarterback against a solid Penn State defense. Braxton was 18-24 passing the ball for 252 yards and had 3 touchdowns through the air. He added another 68 on the ground and 2 more TDs. Braxton is becoming more of a leader each and every week and is starting to turn in to the player that he was expected to be at the beginning of the season. It’s going to be fun to watch Braxton in the coming weeks against what are much inferior opponents. He has a chance to really put up some huge numbers.
At the end of the night Saturday the Buckeyes did again what they have done in every other Urban Meyer coaches game and that is win. However this time there was no nail biting and not much for the analysts to bit pick at. They did what they’re capable of doing Saturday night and that is dominate. With 4 games remaining and only one against a current top 25 opponent it’s hard to imagine the Buckeye team we saw last night losing a game.

Week 8: Lose Yourself

Look, if you had, one shot
Or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted
In one moment
Would you capture it, or just let it slip?
So much uncertainty, so much chaos.  If you plan on being anything less that perfect in College Football, you don’t plan to be a contender.  Sometimes, especially outside of the SEC, you only get one chance to shine, but 12 or 13 cracks at failing.  In the 2002 drama, based loosely on his own life, 8 Mile, Eminem stars as Jimmy Smith Jr.  He wrote this ditty, which was not the title track to the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, on the set between scenes.  “Lose Yourself” goes back and forth between the Jimmy (aka Rabbit) character and the life of Marshall Mathers struggling in Detroit.
Photo courtesy of Universal StudiosThey, meaning the usual suspects, stumbled all over the southeastern part of the country, but would they stumble out west, with UCLA taking their perfect record to recently-stunned Stanford, Washington looking to rebound in the desert, Colorado desperately seeking their third win, Oregon hoping the beat goes on, da-da-dum da-dum da-dah…

Notre Dame 14 USC 10

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already: mom’s spaghetti

The honeymoon is over for Ed Orgeron.  After a nice, dare I say “showcase win” for the USC program last Thursday against Arizona at the Coliseum, it’s time to put up or shut up for the lame duck Trojans.  They got in front early on Saturday, on Silas Redd’s 1-yard rushing touchdown, but that was it.  Tommy Rees found the endzone twice in the first half, once to Troy Niklas and once again to TJ Jones for a 14-10 lead at halftime that held up for the game’s final 30-minutes.  The win under the lights in South Bend for the Irish was their first at home in their last six tries against the Men of Troy.

Arizona State 53 Washington 24

He’s choking, how? Everybody’s joking now
The clock’s run out, time’s up, over – blaow!
Snap back to reality, oh! – there goes gravity
Sometimes, it just takes a column.  Praise Washington, then watch them go on a three-game losing streak.  I get it; their schedule is brutal with a Oregon home game sandwiched between trips to Palo Alto and Tempe, but the clock’s run out.  Keith Price is less-than-spectacular and Bishop Sankey can’t do it all on his own.  Sankey, the Huskies standout running back, came into Saturday’s contest with the Devils averaging about 150 yards per game.  Saturday, he picked up 22 yards on 13 carries.  Credit Gannon Conway, Jaxon Hood, and Will Sutton for being dominant up front, holding the Huskies to -5 yards rushing on 25 carries.  Price was sacked six times, and just 16-of-39 passing when he did get the ball away.
You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo
It’s going to be tough for the Devils to get a lot of respect nationally, the sting from the loss to Notre Dame in Dallas on October 5th will linger.  That was NBC in prime time, but the Devils tend to shine on the Pac-12 Networks, which isn’t distributed very well nationally, but they don’t need a solid ranking to get to the Rose Bowl.  They just need to win out, and Stanford offered a helping hand, putting UCLA in the L column for the first time this year.  ASU takes their shots when they play at home; they’re so dominant that it sometimes isn’t fun for this season-ticket holder to watch.

A few of their drives stalled on Saturday, so Zane Gonzalez got 4 chances at the 3-pointers and nailed them all, despite missing an extra point.  The Sun Devils got it done on the ground, with Marion Grice leading the charge for an Arizona State rushing attack that gained 351 yards on 51 attempts.  Grice scored two of his three touchdowns on the ground and cracked the century mark for the first time this season with 158 yards on 21 carries.  Deantre Lewis, DJ Foster, and the quarterback Taylor Kelly combined for 148 yards and 2 scores on 25 total carries.  Kelly also had two touchdowns in the air on day that he threw for 271 yards.  He hit Kyle Ozier, who led all ASU receivers, 8 times for 88 yards.

Oregon 62 Washington State 38

The soul’s escaping through this hole that is gaping
This world is mine for the taking
Make me king, as we move toward a New World Order
I think Oregon is doing enough.  What’s your knock on this team?  What makes you think they don’t deserve a crack at the crystal football, provided they don’t lose?  Eminem was referring to the words coming out of his mouth as his soul, the Ducks do the same thing in the form of 6-point plays on the gridiron.  Pick a player, any player, take him off the team and try to tell me with a straight face that Oregon isn’t still a Top 5 team.  Did you pick Marcus Mariota?  That’s fine, Jeff Lockie has served enough time in his understudy role that Oregon would hardly miss a beat.

Here come the Ducks, outrageously aware of something

This game was not close.  It was never close, even if you wanted to let the 34-24 halftime score make you into a believer about the Cougars.  Byron Marshall had 59 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in the first quarter, aiding the #2 team in the country to a 20-7 halftime lead.  He finished with 192 yards and three scores.  Freshman Thomas Tyner had 7 carries for 99 yards and two touchdowns, and Mariota had 8 carries for 67 yards and a score of his own on the ground.  By the way, Mariota also threw for 327 yards and two touchdowns.  Lockie took over with 10 minutes left in the game.
A normal life is boring; but superstardom’s
Close to post-mortem, it only grows harder

Connor Halliday threw the ball 89 times, compiling 557 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air.  However, his team lost by 24.  They carried the ball 12 for 2 total yards, which is a symptom of a Mike Leach offensive blueprint.  The Cougars can’t just hide on the Pac-12 Network, which DirecTV (aka sports fans) do not have access to with a high-profile guy like Leach around, people are going to notice when they take their lumps.  Mathers was joking about rigor mortis here, and long after they were dead on Saturday, Washington State managed to arouse everyone with a few late scores that’s going to lead some early-to-bed East Coasters to think Nick Aliotti doesn’t have them playing defense in Eugene.

Oregon State 49 California 17

They moved on to the next schmoe who flows
He nose-dove and sold nada. And so the soap opera
Is told, it unfolds, I suppose it’s old, partner

If you’re new to the program, Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks is good.

Oregon State controls their own destiny in the Pac-12 North.  That loss to Eastern Washington means nothing in the conference race, and they are in a position to host the Pac-12 Championship, if they can run the table, which is obviously a tall order.  California, on the other hand, has taken their nose dive.  They were never really winning a lot of games, but they were scoring points and that was fun to watch, but not so much for the last two weeks.  The Beavers led 28-3 at the half, and Brandin Cooks had already found the end zone twice by then.
Cooks ended the day with 13 catches for 232 yards receiving, finding the end zone twice in the 2nd quarter.  Sean Mannion was his usual self at quarterback for Mike Riley’s team, 35-of-45 with 481 yards passing and 4 scoring strikes to boot.  Terron Woods took care of the rest of the scoring with two rushing touchdowns.
Across the sideline, it looks as though we have a quarterback controversy brewing in Sonny Dykes camp.  Jared Goff has been the incumbent in Strawberry Canyon, but his 21-of-31, 0 TD, 1 INT line on Saturday continues to keep the door ajar for Zach Kline, who threw an interception of his own, but also threw two stat-padding second-half touchdowns in the loss.

Stanford 24 UCLA 10

No more games, I’mma change what you call rage
Tear this motherfuckin’ roof off like two dogs caged

This one had all the makings for a classic before the Cardinal stumbled in Salt Lake City a week ago.  Instead of two unbeatens getting together to figure out the best suitor to take on Oregon for Pac-12 supremacy, the game was downgraded to being a “fairly important conference game”, but hey, it was still on ABC in most Pac-12 markets, so that’s something.  Both teams tried to play to their strengths in this one, opting for a defensive struggle most of the way, a 3-0 Stanford lead at the half was erased by a Ka’imi Fairbairn 38-yard field goal on the Bruins first possession of the second half.


That’s when Stanford got all Stanford on UCLA, playing to their strength on offense, running Tyler Gaffney behind their all-world offensive line.  In all, the drive went 76 yards on 7 plays, and the running, consecutive plays of 5, 3, 4, and then 14 yards, doesn’t exactly stand out on the stat-sheet, considering it merely set up a pass of 28 yards to Ty Montgomery to put the ball at the UCLA 22.  Two plays later, Kodi Whitfield made one of the better catches you’ll ever see for a 30 yard touchdown reception.
On the next possession, UCLA turned the ball over.  Jordan Richards interception set the Cardinal up in Bruins territory.  A 34-yard pass, from Kevin Hogan to Devon Cajuste set up another short touchdown run for Gaffney, who finished with 171 yards and 2 scores, and gave Stanford a 17-3 advantage.  UCLA went 75 yards on 11 plays, capped off on a 3-yard touchdown pass to Shaq Evans from Brett Hundley, who was 9-of-9 with 75 yards passing on the drive.  Stanford was able to play keep-away the rest of the day and iced it on Gaffney’s second touchdown with a little over a minute to play.

Arizona 35 Utah 24

I was playin’ in the beginning, the mood all changed
I’ve been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage

Assuming there’s consensus of distaste in the air for the USC Trojans, nobody could have been too happy with the Wildcats for surrendering a game to the Cardinal and Gold last Thursday on national TV, but Rich Rod had his squad ready for Utah on Saturday.  BJ Denker did just enough, and Ka’Deem Carey took care of the rest, with a pedestrian 234 yards on 41 carries, including a 44-yard scamper with 90 seconds to go, to put the whole thing out of reach of those pesky Utes.  Denker threw for 168 yards and a score, but got it done, once again, with his legs, scoring twice on 12 carries for 50 yards.  The game was tied at 7, after a Travis Wilson TD pass in a start abbreviated by injury, but the Cats regained the lead on a pick-six, when Marquis Flowers returned an errant Wilson pass 14 yards for the score and a 14-7 lead.

Flowers for six!

But I kept rhyming and stepped right in the next cypher
Best believe somebody’s paying the Pied Piper
I suppose this is the cost of beating Stanford, when you’re Utah, penance for the Utes comes in the form of a trip to Tucson and long trip back to home.  Losing Travis Wilson obviously factored heavily into the result, since the Utes couldn’t get anything going with Adam Schulz after Wilson went out in the first quarter with the injury to his throwing hand.  Despite being down 20-7 at the half, they fought back in the 3rd quarter, taking advantage of a fumbled punt and a turnover on downs to take a 21-20 lead, but there was just too much Ka’Deem Carey for the visiting Utes to handle this time around.

Colorado 43 Charleston Southern 10

So here I go it’s my shot. Feet: fail me not
This may be the only opportunity that I got

They didn’t get a crack at Fresno State because of heavy rainfall in Colorado last month, but they should be happy at Colorado; the NCAA granted them a second game against FCS competition and granted the Buffs a waiver for bowl eligibility.  The bad news is that it won’t matter, after a quick glance at the Colorado’s remaining schedule, there are no more games against the Southland or Big South on the slate.  After an embarrassing effort in Tempe on October 12th, Colorado looked legitimate against Division I’s inferior tier.  Sefo Liufau got the start over Connor Wood, completing 14-of-20 passes for 202 yards and a 61-yard touchdown pass to Paul Richardson.  After vanishing at Arizona State, P-Rich was back to his old self, hauling in 9 passes for 123 yards and the aforementioned score.

Richardson is happy when the FCS gets involved with the school in Boulder

The Buffaloes running game also made a cameo on Saturday with the Buccaneers in town.  Michael Adkins scored on the first possession of the game from 23 yards out, then found paydirt three more times, over the next 52 minutes of play.  He ended the day with 12 carries for 132 yards, to go with the four 6-pointers.  Christian Powell joined the party in the 3rd quarter, scoring from 2 yards out to give the home team a 29-10 advantage.  Powell finished the day with 53 yards on 12 carries.
Last words of the song, encouraging.

Buckeyes Beat Hawkeyes In Unconvincing Fashion

     With a 34-24 win on Saturday over the Iowa Hawkeyes the buckeyes improved to 7-0 on the season and won their 19th straight game. This one was ugly and extremely frustrating at times but in the end the Urban Meyer led buckeyes did what they’ve done in the previous 18 games he was the head coach and that is simply win. I have a few thoughts I would like to share from this game.

     Carlos Hyde is a monster, I am actually shocked when he gets stopped for 1-2 yards. He hits the hole with power and deceptive speed. He is in my opinion the best back in college football. When the Buckeyes went in to the half where the defense had struggled and the offense was barely on the field they simply went to Hyde in the 2nd half to give the defense a rest and control the ball themselves. Hyde had what is one of the most impressive runs I’ve ever seen in the 2nd half when he literally bounced off multiple defenders and was knocked back a few yards only to regain his balance and make his way in to the endzone.

     The buckeye defense still has a lot of work to do, for the better part of the game and all of the first half the ohio state front seven was dominated by a much more physical Iowa team. They looked overpowered and did not impress at all. Obviously the ejection of Bradley Roby on a very questionable call didn’t help the secondary when Armani Reeves got beat for an 85 yard TD pass to a tight end. To be fair to the defense they looked like a different squad in the 2nd half once they adjusted to the physicality and started to play with some intensity themselves. Going forward though this defense will have to improve if the buckeyes are going to impress the way they need to coming down the stretch.

      My last and final thought and I’ll make it a positive one is that the buckeyes without a doubt have an elite offense. Braxton Miller looked like an actual quarterback yesterday who aside from one overthrow in the endzone was extremely accurate and made good decisions all day. As stated Carlos Hyde is a freak of nature and the buckeyes dominated the Iowa defense all day long not having to punt once. This offense can score against anyone in the nation and if Miller continues to improve passing the football they can be extremely scary for any team in the nation!

      Overall a sloppy game and a tale of two halves but at the end of the day the buckeyes did what they always seem to do and that’s win a football game. A better than advertised Penn State comes in to the Horseshoe next week to challenge the Buckeyes and try to prevent them from their 20th straight win!

Week 8 BCS Projections

After eight weeks of college football we finally get to find out this week where everyone stands in the BCS computers. I did a quick projection of my own for you today, these are simply my projections and although I expect the actual BCS to be very similar the rankings could differ a slight bit. The top two are pretty clear cut with Alabama and Oregon who have by far been the most dominant of the top 10. Florida State takes the number 3 spot after just destroying a top 5 Clemson team 51-14. Undefeated yet with a very weak schedule the Buckeyes come in at number 4 with a surprising Missouri team rounding out the top 5.

           6-10 are rounded out with Stanford, Miami, Baylor, UCLA and Clemson. The standings certainly look a lot different than I would have expected going in to the season and they certainly will look much different when the season ends. Next weeks UCLA vs Oregon game will be the game to watch in terms of affecting the BCS standings.

       It’ll be an interesting few weeks to see where these teams end up with plenty of storylines to follow. Can anyone take down Alabama who seems to just hold the number 1 spot on lock? What will happen with the buckeyes with a seemingly easy schedule but needing a few things to happen to secure a spot in that national title game. It’ll also be interesting to see how a few of the still undefeated teams not in the top 5 will fair if some of the teams projected in front of them lose. With 5-6 more games for most teams a lot can and still will happen but this is where we stand after 8 weeks of football.
1. Alabama
2. Oregon
3. Florida State
4. Ohio State
5. Missouri
6. Stanford
7. Miami
8. Baylor

10. Clemson

Who’s in your top ten? What do you think of my top ten? Leave a comment below or send me an e-mail at [email protected]. You can also follow me on Twitter at @aaronm59.

CFB Roundtable #8: Americans and Atlantic Coasts (with Martin Rickman)

Podcast (Video): Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:02:20 — 662.7MB) | Embed

Podcast (Audio): Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:02:14 — 42.7MB) | Embed
Tonight we welcome Sports Illustrated’s Martin Rickman to talk all things Atlantic Coast Conference. So, of course we’ll talk about a team that isn’t in the ACC – Louisville – then we talk about Florida State and Jameis Winston. No, we aren’t done with Martin, we have to talk about Florida State’s visit to Clemson this Saturday. Lastly, we get Martin to opine on Miami, how they’ve stayed undefeated, and if the matchup with Virginia Tech is the defacto ACC semi-final.
After Martin leaves, Jeff and Damien get into the downfall of the unbeatens from last weeek: Oklahoma, Michigan and Utah (yes, Damien eats crow about Mack Brown). The two experts briefly touch on the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. The full panel was announced earlier on Wednesday.
Last, but not least, Damien and Jeff preview a slew of games for this upcoming weekend, not limited to Iowa at Ohio State, UCLA at Stanford, LSU at Ole Miss, and Florida at Missouri.

The Players

Week 7: Just a Friend

From top to bottom, there’s been a lot of turnover in the Head Coaching ranks out west.  If you started in Tucson, and headed east on I-10 towards the coast, then north up I-5 through California, you’d have to go all the way to exit 228, 44 miles north of Eugene to find a Pac-12 school with a Head Coach that has more than 3 full seasons under his belt.  This particular 1,400 mile journey would not take us into Utah, where Kyle Whittingham has held the big whistle since Urban Meyer split for Gainesville in 2005, but he would be the exception to the rule in these changing times.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps
From Arizona, through LA and the Bay, and past a lot of full serve stations, Mike Riley might be the only one not living out of moving boxes any more.

From Columbus to Happy Valley, and out to the City of Angels, no one’s job is safe.  You have to wonder, in a space like College Football, what exactly the fans have to cling to.  The players are all gone in 3-5 years, the rivalries are only as relevant as the quality of its adversaries in any given year, and pink-slips are signed, sealed, and pending delivery the moment a new Head Coach is hired.  It’s the nature of the business, leaving fans with nothing but a jersey and a mascot to cheer for.
Even still, the Head Coach of a major program serves as the patriarch of all-things-Saturday.  Love them or hate them, they are the face of the program, and whether they win or not, few get to leave what has become a thankless job on their own terms.  The Fire Ron Zook site launched just minutes after he was hired at Florida, and may other disgruntled fans across the world of College Football followed suit.  In 2006, the folks at The Ozone, an Ohio State-friendly blog purchased the fireJimTressel.com domain to protect it.  Five years later, he was fired resigned anyways.
I say this with the most sincerity, Poor Lane Kiffin.
I say this with the utmost sincerity, Poor Lane Kiffin.

There’s a fireLaneKiffin site on the interwebs, but I’m struggling to find out if it was launched by Raider Nation, someone on Rocky Top, or the good people in Southern California.  Truthfully, Pete Carroll left him with quite a mess, but before you break out the violin for Kiffin, remember he stuck Tennessee with the acorn that fell way off the Dooley tree.  Maybe it isn’t fair to lay into the younger Dooley like that, but its fair to say the younger Kiffin keeps falling up.  He’s had Head Coaching jobs at two major blood-thirsty programs, and in both cases he had to be the guy after the guy with a crystal football to their name.  Fans were married to Phil Fullmer (until they weren’t) and Carroll, then got Monte Kiffin’s boy on the rebound.
Maybe, they shouldn’t have tried to put a ring on it.  Maybe the friend-zone was the best place to keep a guy who couldn’t find the end zone enough.  It’s hard to say if Pat Haden really went to the altar with Kiffin with a realistic expectation that he could contend; either way it was all for pretend.  In the end, he didn’t have his man.  He only had a friend.  With that, I’ll let Biz Markie help us recap the past week in Pac-12 football.

USC 38 Arizona 31

Have you ever met a girl that you tried to date
But a year to make love she wanted you to wait

We might as well start right here, with Ed Orgeron’s Trojans.  While rumors of Pat Fitzgerald, Jack Del Rio, and Art Briles will swirl, the Trojans have games to play and a Pac-12 South title to contend for, even with 2 early conference losses.
For the second game in a row, the Trojans, even with their new boss on the sidelines, allowed a team from the Grand Canyon state to put up near-video game numbers.  BJ Denker threw for 363 yards and Ka’Deem Carey ran for another 138 of the Wildcats’ 508 yards of total offense on Thursday night at the Coliseum.  Fortunately for Orgeron and company, Rich Rodriguez and Jeff Casteel don’t coach defense any better than either of Kiffin’s defensive coordinators (his father Monte and Clancy Pendergast).  The Trojans torched Arizona for 538 yards of total offense, on the strength of Nelson Agholor’s 161 yards receiving and Silas Redd’s 80 yards rushing on 19 carries.  With Redd in action, Tre Madden’s role was reduced to 5 carries, but he did have one big catch and run for 63 yards to give USC a 14-0 lead in the 1st quarter.

Silas Redd makes his debut, with acceptable results.

Down 31-10 in the third quarter, Arizona rallied.  Denker threw 3 second-half touchdowns, 1 to David Richards and 2 to Garic Wharton.  His 2nd to Wharton came with 4:18 to play, and it brought the visiting ‘Cats to within a score.  USC botched the ensuing kickoff, and started at the 4, but that was where Redd’s modest numbers meant the most.  The Penn State transfer carried 7 times for 33 yards and 3 crucial 1st downs, which exhausted all of Arizona’s timeouts and ended the game.

Oregon 45 Washington 24

I started throwin’ bass, she started throwin’ back mid-range
But when I sprung the question, she acted kind of strange
The question was about whether or not this young lady has a man, and Biz goes on to tell the story of what this girl meant in saying she only had a friend, but this season has told us that both Oregon and Washington have their man.  When he’s not playing Stanford or Oregon, Coach Sarkisian has Keith Price and the rest of his offense looking good.  Unfortunately, based on my memories of high school and college, you don’t admire a car’s stereo system from a distance for its mid-range sound, and it’s Oregon that comes with the bass each week.  This week was no different, even without D’Anthony Thomas’s services available to Mark Helfrich.
Marcus Mariota and Byron Marshall continue to be the real deal, running for 88 and 106 yards respectively, while Mariota had a pedestrian day throwing the ball for 366 yards and 3 touchdowns.  To the Huskies credit, they did battle, and had you thinking this might be the day that Oregon goes down, keeping it low-scoring and tied at 7 after 1.  Then, Oregon did their thing.
They led 21-7 at the half, and were unfazed by Bishop Sankey’s 60 yards score early in the 3rd quarter.  Every time you Washington did something, it seemed Mariota was making the big play.  Whether it was to Josh Huff, who had 6 catches for 107 yards, or Bralon Addison and his grabs for 157 yards, it was too much to ask of Washington to get a defensive stop.  Price struggled on his home field too, so it was up to Sankey to do it alone.  Even 167 yards on 28 carries from their stud running back wasn’t enough to shoot down the Ducks in Seattle, on a day when ESPN’s Gameday shot on location.

With the Oregon backfield, it’s been easy to overlook Bralon Addison and the Ducks receivers. Washington won’t forget him soon.

Arizona State 54 Colorado 13

So I took blah-blah’s word for it at this time
I thought just havin’ a friend couldn’t be no crime
We keep hearing it in these parts, “If you want loyalty, get a dog.  If you want to win football games, hire ___.”
Todd Graham is the new blank in Tempe, a guy with ties to the state of Texas and a reputation of jumping ship with a pending vacancy at at least on prominent school in the Lone Star State.  His Sun Devils went into the biggest stage in all of Texas last week and came up short against the darlings of the Vatican and NBC.  Colorado was the perfect recipe for a rebound.  Early and often fireworks were going off in Tempe.  Taylor Kelly threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in the first half, but mercifully, a few of their drives stalled and they settled for 3 Zane Gonzalez field goals to keep it 47-6 at halftime.

Not quite a full house in Tempe, after the Wisconsin and USC games filled up Sun Devil Stadium in September
Not quite a full house in Tempe, after the Wisconsin and USC games filled up Sun Devil Stadium in September

I admit it; I left at the half.  I wasn’t expecting much from Colorado, but was excited to see superstar receiver Paul Richardson play live.  I left disappointed.  Connor Wood never targeted him.  Wood eventually got the hook from Mike MacIntyre in the first half, getting the dynamic Sefo Liufau on the field, but the freshman targeted P-Rich just once and it fell incomplete.  Richardson would end the day with 4 catches for 39 yards against ASU’s scout team.  The Sun Devil defense looked outstanding, and had to be relieved after getting beat down by the Irish in Arlington.  The Buffaloes turned the ball over 4 times, surrendered a safety, and mustered just 268 yards of total offense on Saturday night.

UCLA 37 California 10

So we started talkin’, getttin’ familiar
Spendin’ a lot of time so we can build up
A relationship or some understanding
How it’s gonna be in the future we was plannin’
Everything does sound dandy and sweet for the Bruins right now.  The marriage of Jim Mora and Brett Hundley has been a good one to date, but there’s a big picture to think about.  Hundley has the type of Saturday game that will translate to the Sunday game one day, but he could certainly benefit from putting the NFL millions on hold, and return to Inglewood next season.  On Saturday, penalties deterred UCLA from getting anything going early, but Hundley threw for 410 yards and 3 scores, and almost a 4th, but Mora went with the running game after Hundley went to Thomas Duarte, who had 3 catches for 76 yards and a touchdown, at the Cal 1 in the 2nd quarter.
UCLA took a 24-10 lead into the half on Duarte’s touchdown recpetion with 40 seconds to go before the intermission, and coasted in the 2nd half, outscoring the Golden Bears 13-0.  Cal’s explosive passing game was kept in check.  Quarterback Jared Goff completed just 26 passes for 215 yards, both season lows in games that he’s gone the distance.

Utah 27 Stanford 21

I went to a gate to ask where was her dorm
This guy made me fill out a visitor’s form
Something that’s often lost on the SEC honks, who credit their 1-loss teams for the tough conference slate, while discrediting any upset in other conferences as choke jobs, it’s difficult to play on the road in-conference.  Granted, Utah is a little late to the party and they were facing Stanford for the first time ever in Pac-12 play on Saturday.  The teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter, but it looked Stanford was going to steal the momentum after Travis Wilson connected with Karl Williams for 4 yards on the Utes first possession to make it 7-7.  Ty Montgomery, for the second week in a row, took a kickoff to the house, but the Utes responded with a big-hitter from Wilson to Dres Anderson for 51 yards to tie the game again, at 14.
Utah possessed a 27-14 lead early in the 4th quarter, but David Shaw’s Cardinal team wasn’t going to let them run out the clock.  Visiting hours weren’t over at Rice-Eccles, and Stanford came charging back.  A Kevin Hogan to Montgomery connection for 45 yards, just inside 10 minutes to go in the game, set up a 7 yard strike to Devin Cajuste, and the Cardinal were down 6.  After a Utah 3-and-out, Stanford showed the 45,372 in attendance what Stanford football is all about.  They went 82 yards on 13 plays, eating up 7 minutes of clock in the process, but the drive expired on downs at the Utah 6, and the Utes had knocked off a Top 5 team for the first time since the 2008 Sugar Bowl.

Photo courtesy of the Pac-12 Network
They love their Utes


Oregon State 52 Washington State 24

They showed me where it was for the moment
I didn’t know I was in for such an event
So I came to her room and opened the door
Oh, snap! Guess what I saw?
It started out as football game.  Really, it did, but it’s hard to say what it was supposed to be after halftime.  Mike Leach’s Cougars played Oregon State tough for 3 quarters.  They even led 24-17 late in the third quarter, but the Beavers had a surprise behind door #4.

Brandin Cooks had been quiet to that point, by his standards anyways, at 6 catches for 66 yards on zero scores.  He gave the Beavers a lead they would not relinquish on the first play of the fourth quarter with an 8 yard run, then spent the rest of the game’s final period torching a spent Wazzu secondary, with 5 catches for 71 yards and two scores.  Through six games, the 5-10 Junior from Stockton, California has 944 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.  His quarterback, Sean Mannion has over 2500 yards, 25 touchdowns, and just three interceptions in as many games.  He had 493 yards, 4 touchdowns, and a pick on Saturday.  That’s not bad for a guy who had to compete for the job with Cody Vaz this summer.

Week 6: Regulate

Let me set the scene.  Four people, I assume they’re mostly from the suburbs, all dressed up and on their way to a wedding in rural Illinois.  The driver is driving and the shot-gunner is playing with the radio when he stops on the rap station.  Here we were, four geeks off the street, anxious to hear about how a regulator would handle any stealing of his property and how damn good they are.  What Warren G and Nate Dogg profess over the next 4 minutes and 9 seconds is a damn good story.
It’s not just a story, but an allegory.  Though it has become the suburban anthem that it was for us wedding-goers between DeKalb and Geneva, Illinois, the song was more intended to send a message to the streets; don’t mess with them while they’re just out to make some money hustling and seeking the company of the ladies.  The hidden meaning behind the tale of week-to-week inter-collegiate athletics out in Pac-12 country  is that they are very much a part of the nation, even if you don’t care to stay up late or drop DirecTV to watch all of the games.  Thus, they should have a say in the National Championship.

REGULATORS!!! Mount up.

UCLA went to Nebraska, Washington has gone to Illinois, and Oregon traversed the country to play in Virginia.  Stanford did get much juice* for their early kickoff in Michie Stadium against Army, nor did USC for their opener in Hawaii, but both play the traditionally rich, yet unmerited of late Notre Dame Fighting Irish later in the season, but the darlings of NBC began to wade in Pacific 12 waters in early-October.
Who’s got the juice now?

This is the time of year when you have to keep your eye on the Pac-12 contenders.  Many of them are only a Thursday night road game from carving “Brooks was here” and driving their car off of a bridge.  In these circles, this has been coined Pac-12 suicide.  UCLA faced that very test with a mid-week game and Stanford’s title hopes were also on the line with a very formidable opponent in town.  Two weeks ago, Arizona State sent their regrets to the big BCS party, but has still saved the date for the smaller one in Pasadena a week earlier.  Their presence in the Rose Bowl didn’t hang in the balance at AT&T Stadium (previously Cowboys Stadium), but their reputation was on the line.

UCLA 34 Utah 27

It was a clear black night, a clear white moon
Warren G was on the streets, trying to consume
Some skirts for the eve so I can get some funk
Just rolling in my ride, chilling all alone

The Utes still haven’t played a game outside the state of Utah, and will not until their meeting with Arizona in Tucson on October 19th, but that hasn’t stopped their out-of-state conference rivals from dropping into Rice-Eccles Stadium and crashing the party.  This game wasn’t necessarily circled for Jim Mora’s Bruins, but there was no question they needed to return to California with a win in their back pocket.  Save a throw-away Big XII game and some miscellaneous professional sporting events, this contest was in the spotlight.

Hundley could be playing for his own big statue, but he’d just as soon take “all the marbles” too.

Just as Warren G and Nate Dogg set out for a good night, UCLA looked to give Brett Hundley’s Heisman campaign, as well as the team’s shot at a national title, a boost with the beatable Utes across the field.  Like Warren and Nate, such a night was easier said than done.  Hundley likes to throw touchdown passes, he’s thrown 9 this season, but just one of them came on Thursday night, when UCLA won the game catching passes from Utah’s Travis Wilson, more so than from their own quarterback.  Anthony Jefferson had 2 of UCLA’s 6 interceptions of Wilson, the 2nd set up a Hundley 36-yard TD run to put the game away at 34-24 with under 4 minutes to play.  In all, Utah’s turnovers led to 17 points in a game the home team led 14-7 after a quarter of play, limiting the Bruins to only a Jordon James 1-yard run to cap off a 10 play, 68 yard drive after the opening kickoff.  That was before Hundley would catch, throw for, and run for any of his three scores in the game.

Oregon 57 Colorado 16

So I hooks a left on 2-1 and Lewis
Some brothers shooting dice so I said “let’s do this”
I jumped out the ride and said “what’s up?”
Some brothers pulled some Gats, so I said “I’m stuck”

Even with their loss to Oregon State, Colorado, under the charge of Mike MacIntyre might have thought it was safe to walk the streets of the Pac-12, even if nothing about the state of Oregon really should intimidate anyone.  With the juggernaut Duck in Boulder, the Buffs decided to get into a funky-ass dice game with Mariota and company, but they got hustled.  A quick 3-and-out to start the game when Marcus Mariota couldn’t hook up with his receivers on 2nd and 3rd downs was just what the doctor ordered.  Colorado had a 3-point lead early, but that’s when the gats got pulled and the Ducks responded with a touchdown and their requisite unnecessary 2-point conversion in the 1st quarter.

No 8-3 deficit would sink the ready-to-shock-the-world Buffaloes, and it showed when MacIntyre rolled the dice by having his all-world receiver Paul Richardson throw a 75-yard TD pass to DD Goodson.  For the second time in the game and just the third time all season, Oregon trailed.  10-8 Colorado, but early.
Then, another 3-and-out for the Oregon offense.  Is this real life?  A few minutes later, we knew it was.  Colorado managed a few 2nd quarter field goals between touchdowns to get it as close as 29-16, but it was too much Duck for Colorado to handle and it was 43-16 at the half.  Playing without D’Anthony Thomas, the Oregon running game featured understudies Byron Marshall and Ayele Forde, who combined for 204 yards on 31 carries, which is fairly modest by Oregon standards.  The passing game was big in Boulder, Mariota only completed 16 passes, but went for 355 yards and 5 TD in the air.

Notre Dame 37 Arizona State 34

I’m getting jacked, I’m breaking myself
I can’t believe they’re taking Warren’s wealth
They took my rings, they took my Rolex
I looked at the brother said “damn, what’s next?”

Dan Fox’s pick-six was more than the Devils could deal with.

Arizona State has a good quarterback in Taylor Kelly, but their strength is in running the ball.  Everyone knew and expected this before the season.  Kelly himself is quite the runner, when not forced to throw the ball.  79 yards on the ground against USC a week ago proves that.  Marion Grice and DJ Foster won’t exactly knock your socks off with their rushing numbers either, but both back pick up a lot of yards from scrimmage…unless they’re playing Notre Dame in Texas.
One could look at the final and claim that the Sun Devils played inspired ball in a hostile environment to only lose by 3 after being down 11 at the start of the 4th quarter, but one would have to possess some fairly maroon & gold tinted glasses to sugar-coat it that way.  Notre Dame had some size and they took advantage on both sides of the ball.   ASU only managed 2.9 yards per carry on the ground, so they let Kelly participate in a shootout with Irish quarterback Tommy Rees.  362 yards and 3 TD equate to a pretty good line for the junior from Eagle, Idaho, but the 2 INT at the end of that line washes all of that out, especially the back-breaking pick-six to Dan Fox with 1:08 to go, rendering the final Arizona State TD with 11 seconds left meaningless.

Washington State 44 California 22

They’ve got guns to my head
I think I’m going down
I can’t believe this happening in my own town
If I had wings I would fly
Let me contemplate
I glanced in the cut and I see my homey Nate

Mike Leach’s squad went down to Berkeley and smacked the hometown Golden Bears in the mouth right away.  Down the bay in Northern California, the Cougars’ intrastate rivals were trying to earn respect in Palo Alto, there was no way Washington State was going to lose any footing in the Pac-12 North against this hapless Cal team.  Two possessions, two touchdowns, and Cal was ready to get as far away from their own campus as possible until they started driving at the end of the first quarter.
The drive stalled after 83 yards and a Brendan Bigelow fumble at the Wazzu 1.  They managed salvage 5 points out of that turnover with a safety and a field goal on the ensuing drive after the free kick,  and even got this one as close as 14-12 on a Jared Goff 89-yard TD pass to Chris Harper later in the 2nd quarter.  Connor Halliday hooked up with Marcus Mason for 68 yards to widen the WSU lead to 21-12, and would go into the half with a 21-15 lead.  In the third quarter, Teondray Caldwell redeemed himself after surrendering the first-half safety with a 10-yard touchdown run, then Vince Mayle hauled in a 72-yard pass from Halliday for another score, his second receiving touchdown of the game, to put the visiting Cougars up 35-15 in a game that featured plenty of passing yards.
Halliday was 41-of-67 for 521 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a pick.  On the flipside, Cal’s Jared Goff threw for 504 yards, 2 scores, and 1 INT, completing 33-of-59 passes in a losing effort.   The loss sinks Cal to 1-3 in their own town and 0-4 against FBS opponents.

Stanford 31 Washington 28

I laid all them busters down, I let my Gat explode
Now I’m switching my mind back into freak-mode
If you want skirts, sit back and observe
I just left a gang of those over there on the curb

There was never any doubt.  Nate Dogg wasn’t going to have his little sexy party at the Eastside Motel while Warren G was getting jacked, and Stanford wasn’t going to lose to the purple puppies two years in a row.  In the biggest game of the year for both squads, Stanford proved themselves worthy of the high praise they’ve received in this space and from some of the media.  Every time Washington flirted with tying the game up or even taking a lead, the Cardinal responded with a score.

Opening kickoff…see ya!

Stanford set the tone early, like they always do about this time, with a Ty Montgomery 99-yard scamper on the Opening Kickoff.  The Cardinal led 10-0 for the better part of a hard-fought first half, but UW went 88 yards on 12 plays at the end of the second quarter and closed the gap to 10-7 on a 7-yard Bishop Sankey run with 1:03 left in the half.  63 seconds for Kevin Hogan turned out to be an eternity for the Washington defense.  Working with a short field, after the kickoff put them on their own 39, Stanford was facing 3rd and 1, around mid-field with time ticking down.  Hogan ran for 13 yards to the Huskies’ 39 with 23 seconds left.  After a timeout and an incompletion, Hogan found Montgomery for 39 yards and a 10-point lead with just 11 seconds to go in the second quarter.
Coming out of the intermission, Washington went 75 yards on 4 plays, 30 of them on a Sankey run on 2nd and short, to bring it back to 17-14 on Keith Price’s 29-yard scoring strike to Kevin Smith.  Stanford then turned to their back Tyler Gaffney, who carried the ball 19 times for 72 yards, to gain some yards and eat up clock.  The teams ended up trading a pair 3rd quarter touchdowns, so Stanford led by 10 after three quarters of play.
Steve Sarkisian tried to give David Shaw a little taste of his own medicine, calling for a slow, methodical drive that went 73 yards on 18 plays in the 4th quarter, but it was the Cardinal who decided when the drive was over, intercepting Price at their own 5 with about 6 minutes on the clock.  Stanford’s offense didn’t do much with the AJ Tarpley pick, which he returned to the 20, going 3-and-out, but using the clock to their advantage.  Washington would score again, but in the end, they just ran out of time.

USC, Oregon State, Arizona (Idle)

It’s the G-Funk era
Funked out with a gangsta twist
If you smoke like I smoke
Then you high like everyday
And if your ass is a buster
213 will regulate

USC has conference losses to Washington State and Arizona State on their permanent record, so they don’t figure to figure into much with Arizona visiting the Coliseum on Tuesday.  However, they do have a trip to South Bend in two weeks, which might help the conference regulate where they stand on a national level, at least in regard to Notre Dame, who will travel to Palo Alto for their toughest game of the three they have scheduled with Pac-12 foes, which will be the only true road game of the three for the Domers.

So, I’m the Head Coach at USC…you’ve got to be kidding me.

Arizona’s non-conference games against Northern Arizona, UNLV, and Texas-San Antonio won’t do anything to boost confidence in the Pac-12 overall, but they did come away victorious in all three.  While there’s no shame in losing to Washington on the road, Rich Rodriguez finds himself facing an interim coach in a game that the folks in Tucson will expect him to win, especially after the hated Sun Devils hung 63 on the Trojans in Lane Kiffin’s pink-slip game.  They won’t make any of their own noise, but will look to play spoilers this season with UCLA and Oregon visiting Arizona Stadium.
The twist to Oregon State’s season is the opening week loss to Eastern Washington, but they are 4-0 since that big letdown.  They’re going to spend a couple of weeks on the road, at Washington State and Cal, before hosting Stanford on October 26th in a game that seems a lot more winnable now than it was a month ago.  Through five games, Brandin Cooks has 52 catches for 807 yards; even if you aren’t watching the Beavers on the whole, keep an eye on their star receiver’s run for the record books.
Next week, Oregon at Washington should be the game of the week.  You can catch that one on Fox Sports 1 at 4:00 PM Eastern Time.

* – Speaking of Juice, Washington running back Bishop Sankey was actually named after Tupac Shakur’s character in the 1992 crime drama, which co-starred Omar Epps.