Video: One good thing

September, 5, 2011

Ted Miller on the Pac-12’s one good thing.


Pac-12 lunch links: Burfict's time to shine

September, 5, 2011
Don’t call what you're wearing an outfit. Don’t ever say your car is broke.
Don’t sing with a fake British accent. Don’t act like your family’s a joke.
Have fun, but stay clear of the needle. Call home on your sister’s birthday.
Don’t tell them you’re bigger than Jesus. Don’t give it away.

Pac-12 rewind and look ahead

September, 5, 2011
Taking stock of the first week of games in Pac-12 history (and perhaps the last first weekend of games in Pac-12 history).

[+] EnlargeCalifornia quarterback Zach Maynard
AP Photo/Jeff ChiuCalifornia quarterback Zach Maynard recovered nicely after an early interception.
Team of the week: California was far from perfect in its 36-21 win over Fresno State -- the offensive line struggled at times -- but the Bears, singled out by some as a potential game one upset victim, made a solid statement against the Bulldogs that they might be a factor in the Pac-12 North Division. The biggest piece of news was the solid play of quarterback Zach Maynard. That he bounced back so well from an early interception might even be more meaningful. His two predecessors were known for letting mistakes linger and affect their performances.

Best game: It shouldn't have been a thriller, but Washington needed a late interception to outlast Eastern Washington 30-27. And it's worrisome that the Huskies were outgained by the Eagles 504 yards to 250. Hey, guys, how about a little pass defense?

Biggest play: Sure you've seen the highlight of UCLA receiver Nelson Rosario's 54-yard reception against Houston, ESPN's Play of the Day on Saturday, though it came in a losing effort. Rosario, turned around with his back to the endzone in tight coverage, grabbed the ball with his right hand, then trapped it on the back of the Cougars defender to make the catch. An instant classic. Now, Nelson, how about becoming consistent on routine plays?

Offensive standout: USC wide receiver Robert Woods caught a school-record 17 passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns in the Trojans' 19-17 win over Minnesota. A tip of the cap to Oregon State's true freshman running back Malcolm Agnew, who rushed for 223 and three TDs on 33 carries in the Beavers upset loss to Sacramento State.

Defensive standout: While Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict (three sacks) and Utah linebacker Brian Blechen (two interceptions) put up nice numbers versus FCS foes, Cal linebacker Mychal Kendricks piled up a game-high nine tackle with 2.5 coming for a loss -- the 0.5 was a sack -- against a solid Fresno State team. He also broke up a pass as the Bears held the Bulldogs to 218 yards and 11 first downs. It's possible the Bears will have the best defense in the conference.

Special teams standout: Washington kicker Erik Folk was 3 for 3 on field goals of 40-plus yards in the tight win over Eastern Washington, connecting on kicks of 53, 47 and 40 yards.

Smiley face: To the Bay Area. Both Cal and Stanford took care of business with solid performances. Sure, San Jose State isn't much, but Stanford was cruelly efficient in dispatching the Spartans. Cal surely raised more than a few eyebrows in the conference.

Frowny face: The state of Oregon. Both Oregon and Oregon State went down, though to very different foes in very different ways.

Thought of the week: Two things we thought we'd see on Saturday that we didn't: An improved UCLA defense and a strong performance from Colorado at Hawaii. The Buffs defense was pretty solid, though the Hawaii offense was rebuilding other than quarterback Bryant Moniz. But the offensive line is a big concern, giving up seven sacks and struggling to open holes for the running game. A struggling offensive line doesn't bode well for Cal's visit. As for the UCLA defense, it played much better in the second half at Houston. We'll see if the first half was an anomaly-- Case Keenum is a pretty good QB, after all -- or the start of a pattern of inconsistency.

Questions for the week: Welcome to "measuring stick" week. There are big nonconference games across the board that likely will establish how the Pac-12 is viewed nationally, particularly after a lackluster opening frame. Will the conference notch a couple of quality wins? Or will it get cut down and see its national perception plummet? Further, Utah's visit to USC is the first Pac-12 game in,well, history. Will the Utes immediately prove they belong?

Pac-12 players of the week

September, 5, 2011
USC receiver Robert Woods, Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant and kicker Erik Folk have been named Pac-12 Players of the Week.

Woods, a sophomore from Carson, Calif., caught 17 passes for 177 yards in No. 25 USC’s season-opening home win against Minnesota. The 17 receptions broke Johnnie Morton’s school mark of 15 (set in 1993). It was the second-most receptions in a game by a Pac-12 receiver (2 shy of the record). Woods hauled in three touchdowns (7, 43 and 2 yards, all in the first half) to tie a school game record. He also returned three kickoffs for 73 yards. He had 11 grabs for 115 yards in the first half.

Trufant, a junior from Tacoma, Wash., led both teams with a career-high 11 tackles in the Huskies' 30-27 win against reigning NCAA FCS champion Eastern Washington. Trufant also had perhaps the most important play of the game as he intercepted a pass in the end zone with just 29 seconds remaining in the final quarter. Additionally, Trufant forced a fumble that was recovered by the UW in the first quarter.

Folk, a senior from Woodland Hills, Calif., was a 3-for-3 on field goals for the Huskies. All three of Folks field goals came from at least 40 yards, as he hit from 53, 47 and 40 yards. His 53-yarder was just a yard shy of his career best.

Also nominated for offensive player of the week honors were quarterbacks Nick Foles of Arizona, Brock Osweiler of Arizona State, Andrew Luck of Stanford, and Marshall Lobbestael of Washington State; running backs Malcolm Agnew of Oregon State, John White of Utah and Chris Polk of Washington; wide receivers Marvin Jones of California and Paul Richardson of Colorado; and tight end Joseph Fauria of UCLA. Also nominated on defense were defensive end C.J. Parish of Arizona, linebackers Vontaze Burfict of Arizona State, Mychal Kendricks of California, Shayne Skov of Stanford, Brian Blechen of Utah and Alex Hoffman-Ellis of Washington State; and cornerback Torin Harris of USC. Also nominated for special teams play were returner Jamal Miles of Arizona State, tackle Matt Kalil of USC and place kickers Jordan Williamson of Stanford and Coleman Petersen of Utah.

Consoling the state of Oregon

September, 5, 2011
Say the Oregon fans: At least there's Sacramento State. Thanks Hornets.

Say the Oregon State fans: At least there's LSU. Thanks Tigers.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezOregon's high-powered offense has averaged 17.8 points per game in Chip Kelly's four nonconference losses at the school.
Otherwise, either Ducks or Beavers fans would be crowing at the other's expense this week. As it is, both are miserable.

And they should be.

Oregon laid an egg instead of taking advantage of a major opportunity against LSU. The loss, naturally, inspired more of the same talk about the present leader of the Pac-12 not being able to physically keep up with an elite SEC team.

We went that route, too. But let's pause for a moment and wonder how that game might have gone for the Ducks if the teams had the same number of turnovers and penalties. You know: What if the game happened the way Oregon wanted it to instead of the way it actually did.

That same approach, which all unhappy football fans use the day after, is surely being employed by Oregon State adherents.

Beavers, yes, you are now on the ignoble list of FBS teams that have lost to FCS teams. In fact, you are on the list of FBS teams from BCS AQ conferences that have lost to FCS teams. Put all those letters together and they spell, "Embarrassing."

But we come not here to bury fans from the state of Oregon but to console them!

First, you have this: These defeats did nothing to damage your Rose Bowl chances. There are 11 games left. The only fact as of today is the best you can do in the regular season is go 11-1.

Oregon, you might have played yourself out of the national title chase. Or you might not have. Fair to say, it will take a lot of losing all over the country and impressive winning from the Ducks to get pollsters to rank the Ducks Nos. 1 or 2.

Oregon State, you might have a little embarrassing left to do. You are going to Wisconsin on Saturday. Did you watch the Badgers against UNLV? One word: Gulp. Hard to imagine that being a pleasant trip, though Beavers fans surely will enjoy one of the nation's great college towns.

But Beavers, you aren't whole. You are without your big front teeth and wonderful paddle tail: receiver James Rodgers, cornerback Brandon Hardin, defensive tackle Kevin Frahm, defensive tackle Dominic Glover and tight end Joe Halahuni. That's a lot of quality starters to be missing.

Many of those guys will be back at some point: Frahm this week, Halahuni by the Sept. 24 game with UCLA. Rodgers ... hopefully sometime.

But let's be honest Oregon State: This is a team with issues. Coach Mike Riley said as much during the preseason. Sure injuries have been brutal, leading to 14 players making their first career starts and a school-record eight true freshman playing. But even without the injuries, this team didn't look like a threat in the Pac-12 North Division.

That said: Slow starts are often a staple of good seasons in Corvallis.

The 2000 team that went 11-1 nearly lost its opener to Eastern Washington. The 2004 team started 1-4 but went 7-5. In 2006, the Beavers got bombed at Boise State but went 10-4. In 2007, they got stomped at Cincinnati but went 9-4. In 2008, Penn State delivered the beatdown, but that team went 9-4.

In fact, the Beavers best seasons seem to have featured multiple early defeats -- in many years bad ones -- which likely will be the case after the trip to Madison. So maybe this is just the unhappy required part of a pattern for success?

Just like Oregon, which has now lost four consecutive marquee nonconference games to A-list foes with extra time to prepare. That pattern, nonetheless, has been imposed upon the two-time defending conference champions, not exactly a struggling program.

Ducks, Beavers: It's Labor Day. Let it go sometime around 10 a.m. PDT. Find a fan of opposite color and rib him or her, and take it back good naturedly.

It's a long season. But you don't know that it's going to be a looooooong season just yet. Eleven more games to turn those frowns upside down.

Video: Big 12 breaking up?

September, 4, 2011

David Ubben discusses the possibility of four Big 12 schools, including Oklahoma and Texas, helping to form a new Pac-16.

Big 12, Pac-12

Pac-12 bowl projections

September, 4, 2011
Projecting the bowls based on the opening week.

Rose Bowl Game: Stanford vs. Big Ten
Valero Alamo: Oregon vs. Big 12
Bridgepoint Education Holiday: Arizona State vs. Big 12
Hyundai Sun: California vs. ACC
MAACO Las Vegas: Arizona vs. Mountain West
Kraft Fight Hunger: Washington vs. ACC or Army
Gildan New Mexico: Utah vs. Big 12

Video: College Football Final Extra

September, 4, 2011

A look back at some of the exciting moments from Week 1.

What we learned in the Pac-12: Week 1

September, 4, 2011
What did we learn from Week 1 of Pac-12 action?

[+] EnlargeDarron Thomas
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezQuarterback Darron Thomas and the Oregon Ducks had a rough start to the season against LSU.
1. Oregon still has a step to make: The Ducks are a top-10 program but after losing 40-27 to LSU, it's clear the Ducks are still a step away from being an elite, top-five program. That's not just an assertion from me or other reporters . That's what coach Chip Kelly said after the game.

2. It was an ugly opening week: Oregon State loses to Sacramento State. Utah barely survives Montana State. Washington gets doubled-up in total yards and needs a late interception to beat Eastern Washington. UCLA goes down at Houston. Colorado loses its 19th consecutive road game at Hawaii. Oregon gets drubbed on a big stage. USC nearly lets Minnesota steal a win in the Coliseum. Even when Washington State wins big, it loses: See quarterback Jeff Tuel going down with a fractured clavicle vs. Idaho State.

3. Hot seats got hotter: The Bruins' loss at Houston means coach Rick Neuheisel is officially in dire-straights, even though the offense looked promising. And Paul Wulff can't feel good about going forward in a win-or-else season without his starting quarterback and team leader.

4. The Big Three QBs take care of business: Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley and Nick Foles -- the Pac-12's three marquee quarterbacks -- combined to throw for 887 yards with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. While Oregon's Darron Thomas was shaky, those three put up big numbers in victories.

5. Call this "measuring stick" week: We'll learn a lot more this week about the conference. Utah visits USC in the first-ever Pac-12 game. Arizona State can make a national statement at home against Missouri. Arizona wants redemption for a bowl loss to Oklahoma State. Speaking of redemption, Colorado wants it against California (in a nonconference, conference game). Oregon will try to bounce back against Nevada. Washington matches up with a Hawaii team that just pounded Colorado. And Washington State moves on without Tuel against UNLV.

Pac-12 late games roundup

September, 4, 2011
Here's a quick roundup of the late Pac-12 games.

Washington 30, Eastern Washington 27: An interception from cornerback Desmond Trufant with 29 seconds left saved the Huskies against Eastern Washington, the defending FCS national champions. The Eagles passed for 473 yards against the Huskies, who had just 250 total yards. Chris Polk rushed for 125 yards and QB Keith Price completed 17-of-25 for 102 yards with three TDs.

California 36, Fresno State 21: QB Zach Maynard was solid in his first start, passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed five times for 53 yards. The defense held the Bulldogs to just 210 total yards and recorded four sacks.

Arizona 41, Northern Arizona 10: Nick Foles threw for 412 yards and five touchdowns, and Juron Criner had six catches for 151 yards with a TD. The Wildcats had a 487-259 advantage in total yards.

Hawaii 34, Colorado 17: Colorado's road losing streak was extended to 19 games. The Buffaloes rushed for just 17 yards, while Hawaii had 178 yards passing and 165 yards rushing. The Buffs were 2-for-12 on third down and 0-for-2 on fourth down.

Pac-12 helmet stickers

September, 4, 2011
Who gets a helmet sticker for a job well done (on a bad day for the Pac-12)?

Nick Foles, Arizona: Foles completed 34 of 42 passes for 412 yards with five TDs and no interceptions in the Wildcats' 41-10 win over Northern Arizona.

Robert Woods, USC: Woods caught a school-record 17 passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns in the Trojans' 19-17 win over Minnesota.

Marvin Jones & Keenan Allen, California: The Bears receivers each eclipsed 100 yards receiving, combining for 230 yards in the 36-21 win over Fresno State. Jones caught two touchdown passes.

Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State: The Sun Devils linebacker had three sacks in the 48-14 win over UC Davis.

Chris Polk, Washington: Polk rushed for 125 yards in the 30-27 win against Eastern Washington less than three weeks after having minor knee surgery.

Brian Blechen, Utah: Blechen intercepted two passes to go along with seven tackles in the Utes' 27-10 win over Montana State.

Johnathan Franklin, UCLA: The Bruins running back rushed for 128 yards on 16 carries -- an eight yard average -- with a touchdown in the 38-34 loss to Houston.

Oregon still hasn't arrived

September, 4, 2011
Darron ThomasAP Photo/Tony GutierrezDarron Thomas had 240 yards and a touchdown but was also out of sync with his receivers at times.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Don't like Oregon's ludicrous speed, spread-option attack? How about a methodical, clock-eating drive to complement great defense? That should satisfy the doubters.

The Ducks went 79 yards in 19 plays and burned 7:47 off the clock, taking a 13-9 lead over LSU with just over five minutes left before halftime of the season's most celebrated nonconference game. It was a beautiful assertion of will. It felt like an early glimpse of validation that was to come.

At that point, the Tigers had 25 yards of offense. It seemed as though third-ranked Oregon was on the cusp of making the statement it didn't make against Boise State, or against Ohio State in the 2010 Rose Bowl, or against Auburn in the 2011 national championship game: We have arrived. We are elite.

Then LSU took the ball and took back the lead on a 12-play, 75-yard drive. It didn't seem at that point to presage a deluge, but it was the first seven points of an unanswered 24-point run that left the Ducks reeling.

Oregon coach Chip Kelly talked about self-inflicted wounds -- and the Ducks had plenty -- during his postgame news conference after a 40-27 loss to the No. 4 Tigers. But he also admitted that there is still something that is different about LSU and Oregon as programs.

Asked George Schroeder of the Eugene Register-Guard: "Chip, is there a step you guys need to take win games like this against these kinds of teams."

Kelly: "Yes."

Again, Schroeder: "Do you feel like you guys haven't reached that kind of tier?"

Kelly: "Yes."

Later, Kelly was more expansive: "They've got a little bit different athlete running around out there right now. Looking at their D-line, standing next to them, walking off the field, they don't look like the kind of guys we see. That's the common trait, the trait you saw in the Auburn game."

Understand that LSU didn't run Oregon off the field, though the game wasn't really in doubt in the fourth quarter. While there is again legitimate reason to question the Ducks after they fell short against another A-list defense with extra time to prepare, they did themselves in with four turnovers (versus one for the Tigers) and 12 penalties for 95 yards (versus five for 47 for the Tigers).

Things went completely haywire in the third quarter, when a pair of fumbles from talented true freshman running back De'Anthony Thomas -- one on a seven-yard run for a first down; the other after an impressive kickoff return -- gave LSU a short field, and it took advantage. A 3-point game became a 17-point game. And poof went the Ducks validation.

"I really think we stopped ourselves," Ducks redshirt freshman center Hroniss Grasu said. "They are a very talented team but I felt like if we didn't shoot ourselves in the foot so many times we could have overcome them and gotten that W."

The Ducks rushed for 95 yards, compared to 175 for the Tigers. LaMichael James rushed for just 54 yards on 18 carries. Backup Kenjon Barner rushed for just seven yards on four carries before getting hurt, and he also was stripped on a punt return, giving LSU its first touchdown.

As for the passing game, it was hot and cold. Darron Thomas completed 31 of 54 throws for 240 yards with an interception and a touchdown. He was off target a number of times. And he was victimized by a number of drops.

"It was their first game and it was a big game for those guys," Thomas said of the Ducks' rebuilding crew of receivers. "I still believe in them."

Self-belief won't be an issue, all the Ducks insisted. The message from Kelly was to turn the page and start thinking about Nevada, and he's confident that message will resonate.

"Why am I confident?" Kelly said. "I know those guys in the locker room."

But that locker room also is aware that a pattern exists that annoying reporters will continue to talk about until Oregon wins a game like this. It's hard to ignore.

Acknowledged tight end David Paulson: "From our history, I guess they would be right."

Instant analysis: LSU 40, Oregon 27

September, 3, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- At halftime, it looked like a potential nailbiter. By the start of the fourth quarter, it was clear it wouldn't be.

No. 4 LSU dominated the second half and rolled over No. 3 Oregon 40-27.

How the game was won: Oregon trailed just 16-13 at the half and had the better numbers, but the Ducks imploded in a decisive third quarter. LSU outscored Oregon 14-0 in the frame, taking advantage of two fumbles from true freshman De'Anthony Thomas. But it wasn't only Ducks mistakes. LSU outgained the Ducks 122-15 in the third. The Tigers had six first downs. Oregon had zero.

Turning point: The first three possessions of the third produced no points. But then Thomas had his first fumble on the Ducks 21-yard line -- he was in the midst of a nice first-down run. Six plays later, LSU punched it in and increased its lead to 10. That was the beginning of the deluge.

Stat of the game: Oregon had 11 penalties for 89 yards, while LSU had 6 penalties for 31 yards.

What Oregon learned: The Ducks learned that they will be annoyed by the same questions that they got asked before the game: Why does a good team with extra time to prepare seem to shut down their offense? From Boise State to Ohio State to Auburn and now to LSU, it's hard not to see a pattern.

What it means: It means that Oregon and the Pac-12 failed to make a national statement. The top team in the Pac-12 -- the Ducks -- has now lost to two different SEC West foes in consecutive games. We can debate the details of the SEC's ascendancy, but it's meaningless when you don't beat them.


Third quarter: LSU 30, Oregon 13

September, 3, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Oregon had a really bad third quarter. It strongly suggested this one is going to be wildly disappointing for the Ducks.

LSU outgained the Ducks 122-15. They had six first downs. Oregon had zero.

But, most important, Oregon lost two fumbles, which led to two LSU touchdowns.

It doesn't help that both LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner are hurt. True freshman De'Anthony Thomas flashed some skills with the ball, but he also lost two fumbles.

When the Ducks look back on this game, they will see turnovers and penalties. But that's not all.

LSU clearly asserted itself in the third and the Ducks didn't have an answer.
Washington State QB Jeff Tuel was ill before the Cougars took on Idaho State. But coach Paul Wulff now wishes he sent him home with some chicken soup.

While the Cougars rolled over Idaho State 64-21, the big news was Tuel fracturing his clavicle. It's uncertain how long he will be out, but it's hard to imagine him returning before mid-season.

That means the job goes to backup Marshall Lobbestael, whom Tuel supplanted as the starter in 2009. Lobbestael threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns, but there aren't any more Idaho State's on the schedule.

A big drag for the Cougars, particularly for Wulff, who is fighting to keep his job.

At least Lobbestael is an experienced veteran. That's the silver lining of a dark cloud.



Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12