Story Boards Of The Day: Ducks & Tide control BCS Destiny.
- Oregon QB Darron Thomas has 355 yards total offense while RB LaMichael James rushes for 257 yards on 31 carries. Thomas and James combined for 7 touchdowns on the day and Oregon overcame an early deficit (trailing 21-3 in the second quarter) for the third time this season in the 52-31 victory over Cardinal!
- Michigan QB Denard Robinson had 494 yards of total offense in a 42-35 victory over Indiana, spoiling Hoosier QB Ben Chappell’s performance; a 45-of-64 effort for 480-yards and three touchdowns through the air.
- The Crimson Tide defense limited the Florida Gators to 281 yards of total offense and picked off Gator QB’s John Brantley and Trey Burton three times, as Alabama rolled to a 31-6 victory to take control of the SEC race.
- Wild Ride in PAC-10 & Big Ten Conference as Washington continues its dominance over USC (32-31), Michigan State triumphs over Wisconsin (34-24), and the Oregon State Defense forces six sacks and three turnovers in a 31-28 victory over turnover prone Arizona State.
- Tennessee and LSU bring SEC football to an all-time low, as both teams botched the final minute in a sequence of plays that may bring both coaches under the ire of the overzealous SEC faithful. The SEC West was 0-for-the-weekend as UCONN & Colorado trounced the ubiquitous perception of the conference, while Ole Miss manhandled a punchless defense in Kentucky.
Wild Ride in The PAC-10—Upset Alert:
Last weekend, we had upsets galore from coast-to-coast in college football.
This week, the powers that be held serve (by the thinnest of margins), but there were a few eye-poppers from around the country.
None were bigger than the wild ride in the PAC-10 Conference.
Here’s a peek.
1. UCLA 42–Washington State 28: With WSU facing a fourth and goal at the Bruin one yard line late in the fourth quarter, the Bruins were facing a potential meltdown loss a week after their monumental and perhaps program changing victory in Austin.
The Bruins rose to the occasion, holding a hot WSU QB Jeff Tuel (20-for-37 for 311 yards and 2 TD’s) out of the endzone on third down and then stopped tailback James Montgomery on fourth down to set up two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to finish off the Cougars.
If both Tuel or Montgomery had scored on either play, UCLA was facing a 35-35 tie with just under 12 minutes remaining. A close call for UCLA and a wake up call for Oregon next week, demonstrating that the Cougars are not just going to roll over like they have throughout the Wolf era.
After stopping the Cougars on fourth down, UCLA marched 99 yards, mostly behind the 73-yard run by Derrick Coleman (185-yards rushing and 3 TD’s on the day) to take the lead for good with 10:08 remaining. Although the Bruins rolled up 565-yards of total offense on the day, including a whopping 437 on the ground within the Pistol Offense, the Bruins still trailed WSU 28-20 late in the third quarter.
The Bruins had two rushers rush for more than 185-yards for the first time in school history as Johnathan Franklin added 216-yards rushing to join Coleman.
2. Washington 32–USC 31: Jake Locker also earns our “Comeback of the Day” award, as the Husky QB had 310-yards passing and 110-yards rushing to upset the Trojans for the second straight season.
It was good to see Locker bounce back after enduring a horrendous start to the 2010 campaign, especially two weeks ago versus Nebraska where he was 4-of-20 for 71-yards passing.
Steve Sarkisian is now 2-0 against his former Trojans, giving Lane Kiffin his first loss as head coach of the Trojans, spoiling a splendid effort by Trojan tailback Allen Bradford, who rushed for 223-yards and two TD’s on the day.
Locker truly defines the term student-athlete and it is good to see his season coming around amid all the wild NFL expectations. It was put up or shut up time for Locker and he came through with flying colors.
With character being born in the storm, Locker’s status for potential in the NFL just shot up immensely.
3. Oregon State 31–ASU 28: It was a breakout performance by an Oregon State football team that was facing their third high profile BCS team in four weeks.
While I will concede that the Sun Devils are not a Top-tier program by any stretch of the imagination, you have to respect a team that had both Wisconsin and Oregon on the ropes in the last two weekends of play, especially in light of the LaMichael James comment that he thought "the Sun Devils were everywhere...that is the best defense I have faced since I came to Oregon."
JaQuizz Rogers finally broke out with 145-yards rushing and two touchdowns, while Beaver QB Ryan Katz threw for 260-yards and 2 TD’s as well.
Deantre Lewis is rapidly becoming a household name for the Sun Devils, given that he has now eclipsed the 100-yard threshold for the third consecutive week, rushing for 104-yards; but the story of the day was a much maligned Beaver Defense that held the PAC-10′s leading passer, Steven Threet, in check.
Coming into the game, Threet was averaging 325-yards passing per game, but was hampered with six sacks and three turnovers by the Beaver Defense.
Although limited to just 14-of-29 passing for 203-yards, when Mike Callaghan blocked a punt and Cameron Marshall ran 21-yards for a score, the Sun Devils were within three points with 2:51 left.
ASU had one last chance to go 82-yards inside the final minute, but the Beavers sacked Threet for the sixth time on the day, nearly causing a safety and Cornerback James Dockery intercepted Threet on the next play to end the game.
1. The State of Michigan: Both Michigan (5-0) and Michigan State (5-0) are a combined 10-0 on the 2010 campaign and things couldn’t be rosier for both programs despite internal strife.
For the Wolverines, there is nary a word stemming from the extra-practice hour(s) controversy handed down by the NCAA in August regarding the lack of control over the program by Head Coach Rich Rodriguez.
Winning seems to cure all evils.
The story that is coming out of Michigan at present is lace-less Denard Robinson, who once again had 490-plus yards of total offense.
Lumping his performance versus Notre Dame with yesterday’s performance in Bloomington, it is hard not to consider Robinson as THE Heisman contender above all others.
To date, Robinson already has amassed 1,008 yards passing and another 905-yards rushing. That is 9.2 yards per carry with seven TD’s passing, eight TD’s rushing, and only one interception. Robinson has a QB-Rating (pass efficiency) of 179.97.
For Michigan State, the internal strife is a bit more emotional, considering the health of head football coach Mark Dantonio.
The head coach suffered a mild heart-attack within minutes after the successful fake field-goal call that resulted in a 34-31 victory over its arch nemesis from South Bend, Indiana.
Dantonio was planning on coaching from the press box for this week’s engagement with Wisconsin, considering both programs were undefeated and about to begin the Big Ten part of the schedule, but a developing blood clot curtailed those plans.
At this point, I hope that saner heads prevail in encouraging Dantonio to take the rest of the season off. With the team rising to the occasion in dedicating their season to the stricken coach, it may be just what the doctor ordered for both a perfect run through the Big Ten (Televin) and for the personal well being of coach Dantonio.
Get well soon!
2. Nevada (5-0): While much of the country was fixated on the Alabama-Florida rivalry in the SEC, or the RED River Rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas (with the eyes of Texas upon them), in the State of Nevada, all eyes are focused on the battle for the Freemont Cannon.
Nevada speed-back Vai Taua rushed for 188-yards, with three touchdowns rushing and one passing to lead the Wolf-Pack into undefeated territory.
With Boise State (4-0), Nevada (5-0), and Fresno State (3-1) a combined 12-1 on the year, the WAC Conference is gaining some momentum in the race for the BCS Championship, especially considering the recent plight of the ACC, Big East, and SEC West.
Don’t sleep on Hawaii (3-2) either, who is always difficult to beat at home.
By the way, Nevada vs UNLV is a bitterly and fiercely contested rivalry, as Nevada Coach Chris Ault alluded to: “Our goal every year is to beat UNLV and from there the WAC Championship.”
I think it is time to step up the goal-setting criteria in Nevada, with an exceptional quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, the Pack may be the only thorn left in derailing Boise State from the BCS picture.
Kaepernick has thrown for 1,048 yards on the season with 8 touchdown passes and a minimal 2 interceptions on the year. The Senior from Turlock, California has a 157.02 QB-Rating and has rushed for 548-yards on the season, including 97-yards on 13 carries in the victory over UNLV.
3. Alabama (5-0): If there is one program that has no controversy surrounding its place in the BCS standings, it would be the Crimson Tide under the direction of Nick Saban.
The defense is ferocious, the tailbacks run with passion, and QB Greg McElroy is now 35-0 as a high school and collegiate quarterback—eclipsing Florida QB Jeff Brantley, who is now 31-2 as a high school and collegiate signal caller.
Despite the accomplishment, McElroy was less than spectacular in the victory over Florida, unless you consider 11-of-17 for 84-yards a strike to your fancy.
What is impressive is the defensive side of the equation for Alabama, which picked the Gators three times through the air on Saturday, one for a "Pick-6" in giving Alabama a 31-6 lead and eventual victory by the same score over Urban Meyer's Florida squad.
Alabama has now given the Florida coach his three most lop-sided losses—the worst being a 28 point beat down in 2005 during Meyer's inaugural season with the Gators.
Alabama, considering the BCS Championship they accomplished last year and their accomplishments so far in 2010, is the clear cut number one at present.
End of discussion.
Now, let the debate begin for who will play Alabama in the BCS Championship game: considering the exploits of Ohio State, Boise State, TCU, Oregon and Nebraska, which are now the front-runners for the number two pole position.
1. The ESPN reporter who questioned the toughness of Denard Robinson after he rolled around on the ground with an apparent re-injury to his knee early in the second half versus Indiana.
The reporter had the audacity to question the toughness of Robinson, claiming he did not think Robinson was hurt as bad as he appeared to be, as this is now the third time he has rolled around on the ground only to come back in the game shortly after this season.
Robinson accounts for over 75% of Michigan’s offense and now has more carries than most running backs across the country, as well as standing in the pocket and getting drilled in a defenseless posture as defensive ends and linebackers bear down on his position.
Look at the numbers! Including the total number of carries and the pounding he takes not only on Saturday but throughout the practice week, that is the most unbelievably calloused and naive statement I think I have ever heard in the history of sports announcing (hyperbole intended).
Ever had a bone bruise on your tailbone while sitting in your comfy ESPN chair? I hear they are quite painful (laughter intended).
I had to laugh a little when I heard that comment—wow, really?
2. The SEC West: The meltdown in the final minute of the football game between Tennessee and LSU has tilted the perception that the SEC is all the rage in college football.
In a perception is reality TV based society, the SEC has benefited the most within the surreal “BCS Spin Cycle,” but with results like Saturday in Baton Rouge, those perceptions are rapidly changing.
Playing the Six Degrees of Separation Game, known as the twisted BCS Sabermetrics Formula, how do you spin the debacle in the SEC so far in 2010?
A very average (yet rapidly improving) Northwestern club defeats Vanderbilt to open the season.
Vanderbilt beats Ole Miss, coming on the heels of the Rebels loss at home to Jacksonville State. A struggling Connecticut program, which lost to both Michigan and Temple, not exactly the two best defensive programs in America, manhandles Vandy 40-21.
So far this season, the Ole Miss win is the Commodores only victory in 2010.
And we haven’t even mentioned Georgia, who is 1-4 for the first time since anyone can remember.
Georgia lost 29-27 to a 3-1 Colorado team that has been much maligned under the direction of Dan Hawkins.
I don’t know which coach, Hawkins or Richt, sits on the hotter throne.
Georgia, which is well on their way, would have to win less than three games in 2010 to seriously threaten the job security of Mark Richt; at this point, don't be surprised if they go winless the rest of the way, and don’t be surprised if Richt ends up at another high profile program by the end of the year.
And then we have the final minutes of the LSU-Tennessee affair.
In what amounted to a nationally televised Chinese Fire Drill in the final moments, LSU gets a rare second chance victory, but it just adds to the fuel of a fed up Tiger fan base that is after head coach Les Miles.
Consider the following scenario: With LSU driving for the winning touchdown, inside the Red Zone, with well over one minute left on the clock, the Tiger coaching staff all but wasted the entire time remaining.
Oregon averages 80-yard scoring drives in a little over a minute. LSU can't get three plays off in an organized fashion within the same time period.
Finally, with chaotic confusion reigning on both sidelines as players were streaming on and off the field (at one point prior to the final snap in regulation at the 1-yard line, LSU had 13 players on the field and Tennessee had 11 only to see two Tigers run off and two Volunteers run in, which gave Tennessee 13 defenders and LSU the requisite 11), Tiger QB Jordan Jefferson was not ready for the snap in shot-gun formation and the ball raced backwards towards the 20-yard line.
This is where the game gets a little surreal, as Vol coach Derrick Duly was jubilant and accepting congratulations, while Tiger players were dejected often spewing helmets across the grass surface in Death Valley.
The television commentators talked for two minutes congratulating Tennessee on a fabulous effort before even recognizing that a penalty flag was thrown, and finally after several minutes, the illegal participation penalty was called on a shell-shocked Tennessee sideline.
Tiger coach Les Miles, who threw his head-set in frustration at the end of regulation and thus couldn't find his head-set to communicate with his offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, had to call a play himself. He called for a simple trips-left formation (heavy set) and ran a simple toss left from the one to the field side of the formation and the Tigers gain a victory, albeit by an ugly set of inches, circumstances and speculation.
“I don’t know that we could have played any sloppier. I don’t know that we could have planned it any more poorly. We’re a very talented team. I don’t think we played near to our capacity. The series of downs on the back end of that game was embarrassing to me” – Les Miles, LSU Coach.
I think you can say the same for the entire SEC Conference other than Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, and Auburn.
All of a sudden, the SEC is looking a lot like many of the other super conferences that have faltered amid a parity resurgence resounding around the spread offense and its “speed and spacing–basketball on grass” philosophy.
Even amid the victory, the frenzied LSU fan base cannot be happy with the direction of the program in light of former coach Nick Saban’s success at Alabama. Les Miles may be the only coach in the country who gets thrown on an already hot seat after a key conference victory over a regional rival.
Mercy sakes, what the heck goes on in practice down in LSU country?
3. Texas (3-2): Just two weeks prior, head coach Mack Brown was basking in the spotlight of an ESPN feature regarding his management of the Longhorn Football program, one of the most successful in the history of sports.
Two weeks later, after bruising losses to Oklahoma and upstart UCLA, the Horns streak of 162 consecutive weeks in the Top-25 is now all but history.
What went wrong?
Try a Molotov Cocktail of miscues involving turnovers, penalties, and special teams blunders that have dropped the “Eyes of Texas” from the national spotlight.
For a program that is accustomed to playing in the national championship game, where do they go from here considering Mack Brown is in his final campaign and the Horns are not only out of the BCS race but the race to the Big 12 championship game as well?
4. The Penn State Offense (3-2): The Iowa Hawkeyes have the Nittany Lions number since the year 2000, going 8-1 against Joe Paterno over the same time span.
The questions surrounding Penn State certainly don’t apply to the defense, but the offense has been missing on all cylinders thus far, particularly the rushing department, where the Lions rushed for a meager 57 yards on the day versus the Hawkeyes vaunted front-four.
Considering the three-point performances by the offense in back-to-back games versus opponents in the Top-10 (Iowa and Alabama) who are clearly Top-10 programs, is it finally the right time to call for Paterno to go at Penn State?
The offense is boring, slow, and predictable; it lacks the luster of the open-field schemes that attract many of the nations top recruits.
5. Oregon’s Game Day Security and Crowd Management: At 3:15 a.m. on Saturday morning, three hours before the beginning of ESPN’s vaunted Game Day extravaganza, the Oregon students and fans that had been mashed together, waiting in line for hours finally had enough.
As the chants became louder and louder, closer and closer together, suddenly the crowd broke through a small opening in the restraining gates to get to the ESPN set area and many students were nearly trampled in the process.
Several spectators fell, others were pinned dangerously against the restraining barriers and one student in a wheel chair suffered an apparent hand injury as his wheelchair was destroyed.
One student said his feet left the ground for 90 seconds as he was literally carried by the mass of humanity.
Only some skilled execution by the student in the wheelchair kept him from falling to the ground as his wheelchair was spun around three times in the melee, which forced Vicki Stand, U of O Director of Athletic Event Services, to open restraining barriers hours ahead of schedule.
Here’s a thought: Since we faced this same ridiculous hoarding of fans into tight barriers at the College World Series last summer in Omaha, why not provide as many avenues as possible into the event instead of hoarding people into one or two small openings.
When I arrived shortly after 5 a.m. to the Game Day Show, a good friend and I simply walked up Martin Luther King Boulevard past the PK Park parking lot into the open crowd in the Casanova Center parking lot.
At some point, someone in this country is going to get trampled to death by this fan hoarding strategy and is going to have to live with the fact that the security concoction is completely and 100% unnecessary!
I think it is safe to say this terrorism frenzy and the security measures surrounding it is completely fraudulent; for in the many years that I have attended Autzen events or even the World Series at Omaha, not a single fan based event has happened as there were multiple routes into and out of an event setting.
Let’s stop sacrificing our safety for the so-called “fear of terrorism,” only to create further unintended consequences of the Patriot Act.
It is time to use some common sense folks!
Who Gained The Most This Weekend:
1. Oregon (5-0): There are two teams in my mind that have played with the speed, passion, and sense of urgency that are requisite for a national champion; both have come from behind and both have been sterling second half performers this season, for it is not how you start but the ability to finish that matters most.
The teams? Try Alabama and Oregon.
Say what you want regarding Oregon’s loss in last year's Rose Bowl, but the Buckeyes have been less that stellar so far this season, even though they are 5-0 as well.
24-13 versus the Illini? Even the 36-24 victory over a Miami program that has lost its relevance in college football is a bit tainted.
Both Oregon and Alabama blitz both teams (Illinois and Miami) by 50, perhaps in the first half.
The Buckeye’s need to step up and keep pace if they want to hold onto their lofty and often times undeserved status as a royalty kingpin in College Football.
The same could be said for Oklahoma (5-0), which now has won four of five games by eight points or less, and especially in light of the Sooners nearly fumbling away their victory in Dallas yesterday versus a struggling Texas program.
2. Boise State (4-0): The Broncos did what Ohio State was supposed to do and that is take a vastly inferior opponent to the woodshed, as the Broncos won 59-0 versus New Mexico State.
Boise State has now won 18 games in a row, and considering they have beaten Oregon in two consecutive years in 2008 and 2009, what is to keep one from thinking that Boise couldn’t do it again this year?
Perhaps they will in Pasadena come January.
3. Auburn (5-0): Cam Newton connected with Blake Emory on a school-record 94-yard TD pass on his first throw of the day and the Tigers routed an over-matched Louisiana-Monroe, 52-3.
The Tigers are on course for a potential national championship Iron Bowl encounter with in-state rival Alabama in the future, but must first get by Arkansas and LSU in back-to-back weekends between October 16th and October 23rd.
First comes the Kentucky Wildcats. Unlike the round-robin PAC-10 in which every team in the conference must play each other every year, few people realize the significance and the advantage of Auburn and Arkansas, who miss Florida on the 2010 schedule.
1. NC State (4-1): The Pack had the Hokies on the ropes in the second half but once again prove they are more of a pretender in college football than an actual contender.
The Hokies, on the other hand, have rebounded nicely from the James Madison debacle and are now in the drivers seat for another ACC run to the title.
The Hokies came from 17-points down at one point, trailing 20-3, to overcome another strong performance by Heisman hopeful Russell Wilson, who threw for 362 yards and three touchdowns, but was intercepted three times by Hokie defender Jayron Hosley, making NC State's first appearance in the national polls since 2003 a short-lived affair.
“If we ever get off to a fast start, we are going to be a tough team to beat since we like playing in the second half.” – Virginia Tech RB Darren Evans.
Hokie QB Tyrod Taylor tied a career high with three TD’s and had another 100-yard day rushing, the fifth of his career as Virginia Tech will likely re-enter the national polls in the next two weeks.
2. Clemson (2-2): Ditto for Clemson in terms of pretender or contender, as their supposed return to football glory in the ACC title game last year has faltered with a resounding thud in 2010!
Kyle Parker, one of the better two sport athletes in college football this year, continues to struggle (like Jake Locker) as the Tigers had 6 turnovers on the day.
Entering the game, Clemson only had 2 turnovers on the season. Parker was a meager 14-of-33 for 149-yards with three picks on the day as the Tigers lost for the second time this season to a team ranked 16th in the country (other was to Auburn).
With all eyes on Boise, keep an eye on Nevada and Fresno State as potential BCSBuster-Busters in the path of Boise States vaunted goal of reaching the BCS title game.
Boise State currently sits 12th nationally in Passing with 297-yards a game, 18th in Rushing with 229-yards a game, 3rd in Points For with a 45 per game average and 15th in Points Allowed, giving up a meager 15 a game which include BCS victories over Virginia Tech and Oregon State.
The Broncos get Hawaii and Fresno at home, while traveling to Nevada in a nationally televised game on Thanksgiving weekend.
Who Needed A Win The Most This Weekend:
Air Force has taken a major step in winning the Commander in Chief Trophy, as the Falcons persevered in a ground-oriented and rather boring 14-6 affair with rival Navy.
Few people realize they are 2-1 versus bowl teams from 2009 and only a three point loss to Oklahoma on the road in Norman has kept it out of the national BCSBuster conversation.
But don’t sleep on Army (3-2), after their closer than expected 42-35 loss to Temple, which is also 4-1 on the year, the game is setting up to be a barn-burner in the first week of November.
Considering Army has victories over Eastern Michigan, North Texas, and Duke, with close losses to Hawaii and Temple, I give the nod to the Falcons.
Best Conference Performance of the Weekend: PAC-10 Conference!
Call me biased, but the conference continues to shine with the upsurge of UCLA and Arizona, along with Oregon and Stanford.
The Oregon-Stanford game was one for the ages in Eugene, as the festive fan atmosphere was at an all-time high in Eugene given the Game Day appearance by ESPN.
Oregon has proven it can play defense when it needs to as the Ducks have outscored opponents 114-7 in the second half this season, shutting out both Stanford and Tennessee after halftime.
The Ducks trailed Tennessee 13-3 before outscoring the Vols 45-0 after the lightning delay and Saturday, trailing 21-3 after a series of self inflicted wounds (as head coach Chip Kelly describes them), the Ducks blitzed a shellshocked Andrew Luck in the second half, causing Luck to throw quickly into the direction of Oregon CB Cliff Harris, who now has five picks on the season.
Harris picked Luck off twice in the fourth quarter as the Autzen atmosphere had both Luck and Stanford rattled throughout the half. The Ducks outscored Stanford 48-10 after the opening quarter.
Best Individual Performance of the Weekend:
Stanford fullback/middle linebacker Owen Marecic participated in 119 total plays on Saturday, earning him an Autzen Stadium record for the performance.
Marecic, a former Jesuit HS player from Tigard (Portland, OR), played 79 snaps on defense and 40 more on offense according to official tally.
That was nearly all of Oregon’s offensive plays and more than half of Stanford’s 77 offensive snaps.
Marecic finished with a career-high 10 tackles but Oregon’s speed and frenetic pace wore the Cardinal down as the game wore on.
Best Coaching Call of the Weekend:
Oregon coach Chip Kelly is now 15-3 overall at Oregon, including a sterling 9-1 record versus ranked opponents in venerable Autzen Stadium—much of which can be attributed to the crowd noise and the reduced inability of opposing offenses to effectively communicate an audible or check at the line of scrimmage.
But the call of the day was actually a pre-planned call in which Oregon was going to go with the “Bunt” onside kick after their first touchdown, as the Duck staff noticed in film study that the Stanford defenders on the front line of the Kickoff Return Team were leaving early to set up the wedge.
With Oregon trailing 21-3 amid a flurry of self-inflicted wounds by the Ducks on both sides of the ball in the early going, the pre-planned "Bunt" call proved to be a prophetic omen for Oregon as the call rallied the Duck players and the crowd as they stormed back to trail 31-24 at halftime.
The Ducks were on the ropes and the Cardinal were looking for a knockout punch, but the successful Bunt kick changed the complexion of the game.
Kelly, who attributes Oregon’s success in the second half of ballgames this season due to the rapid pace at which they practice (in which they try to get 100 plays in 100 minutes), felt the call was important, but emphatically stated that is was a pre-determined call in the postgame press conference.
Currently, the Ducks have scored 283 points in 300 minutes of football, only giving up 75 in the process.
Oregon is currently number one in the nation in Points Scored, second in Rushing and 15th in Points Against—certain to be number one if it was broken down to second half points allowed only.
When asked what adjustments Oregon made in the second half on defense, Kelly replied, “I don’t know as I work on the offensive side of the ball…I leave that up to Coach Alliotti.”
Given the (Bill) Moos connections at Oregon, will we finally see Alliotti in the head coaching role at Washington State in the not to distant future?
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