Halftime: Arizona State 10, Utah 7

October, 8, 2011
10/08/11
5:08
PM ET
New new quarterback Jon Jays had some good moments, but he tossed a late interception that cost the Utes points against Arizona State.

Just after the Sun Devils jumped ahead, Hays drove the Utes 64 yards to the Sun Devils' 16-yard line. But on third and 10 he tossed an interception in the endzone to Eddie Elder.

Hays was 9 of 18 for 94 yards with two interceptions in the first half. He also had three passes dropped.

The Sun Devils struggled on offense against the Utes, only rushing for 46 yards. Quarterback Brock Osweiler completed 14 of 25 for 168 yards.

The difference? The Sun Devils are winning the turnover tally 2-0. And their touchdown drive was made possible by a personal foul penalty against Utah.

So the Sun Devils are playing it smart and close to the vest on the road. And winning.

Kiffin on Al Davis death

October, 8, 2011
10/08/11
3:54
PM ET
A statement from USC coach Lane Kiffin, who was the Oakland Raiders coach from 2007-08, on the passing of Al Davis.
I was very saddened this morning to learn of the passing of Al Davis. He was an iconic figure in the history of professional football and built a truly legendary franchise with the Raiders. I consider myself fortunate to have known him and to have been a part of that Raiders history. Even though our relationship did not end the way I would have liked, I have nothing but the greatest respect for Mr. Davis and I truly appreciate the opportunity he afforded me and so many young coaches, players and staff. My thoughts go out to his family and to the family and fans of the Raiders past and present.

Ready for early games?

October, 8, 2011
10/08/11
3:33
PM ET
I'm in the cockpit at the home office -- no press box this weekend -- getting ready to click back and forth between Utah-Arizona State and Arizona-Oregon State.

One game is big in the South Division. One game is big for a team trying to avoid total disaster.

Feel free to get in any last minute trash talk.

Final Pac-12 injury report

October, 8, 2011
10/08/11
12:17
PM ET
Final Pac-12 injury report. For more injury information, see the collegeinjuryreport.com.

Arizona
OG Chris Putton, questionable, ankle
OG Shane Zink, foot, out
DT Justin Washington, knee, out
FS Adam Hall, knee, questionable
LB Jake Fischer, knee, doubtful

Arizona State
C Garth Gerhart, ankle, doubtful
OT Evan Finkenberg, knee, out
OT Aderious Simmons, ankle, probable

Colorado
CB Brian Lockridge, ankle, doubtful
CB Parker Orms, suspension, out
CB Ayodeji Olatoye, suspension, out
CB Paul Vigo, suspension, out
CB Josh Moten, suspension, out
LB Liloa Nobriga, suspension, out
OL Shawn Daniels, calf, questionable
CB Travis Sandersfeld, leg, out
CB Jared Bell, knee, out
CB Vince Ewing, knee, doubtful

Oregon State
RB Malcolm Agnew, hamstring, out
OG Josh Andrews, knee, out
CB Sean Martin, foot, out
DE Taylor Henry, glute, questionable
OG Grant Enger, shoulder, probable
C Grant Johnson, back, probable

Stanford
CB Wayne Lyons, foot, out
WR Drew Terrell, undisclosed, questionable
CB Barry Browning, back, probable

UCLA
CB Sheldon Price, knee, out
SS Alex Mascarenas, concussion, out
DT Justin Edison, concussion, out
FS Tony Dye, neck, questionable
LB Glenn Love, shoulder, questionable
LB Sean Westgate, hand, probable
SS Dalton Hilliard, shoulder, probable
OG Chris Ward, shoulder, out
RB Damian Thigpen, hamstring, out
K Kip Smith, hip, doubtful

Utah
QB Jordan Wynn, shoulder, out
TE Kendrick Moeai, undisclosed, probable
OT Tony Bergstrom, knee, probable
TE Jake Murphy, knee, probable
WR Luke Matthews, shoulder, probable

Washington State
QB Jeff Tuel, shoulder, questionable
OT Wade Jacobson, back, questionable
TE Aaron Dunn, quad, questionable

Opening the mailbag: Why did SEC rise?

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
5:41
PM ET
Happy Friday.

Lead me on Twitter!

To the notes!

John from Los Angeles writes: What, in your opinion, do you think, has made the SEC the preeminent conference in the country? I remember the good old days when Washington, Colorado, UCLA, and USC were in the top 5 and top 10, with some National Championships along the way (Personally, I thought it had a lot to do with recruiting the Los Angeles area). But with the rise of the SEC do you think it has more to do with the changing of the game? More specifically, the move to more spread offenses and the need for speedier athletes, which the SEC currently has? Or do you think it has a lot to do with the defensive lineman in the SEC, who seem to be so much better than West Coast d-lineman? A lot of people say conference strength is cyclical, but is the current change in the game really cyclical or has it just evolved? Maybe it is demographics, as more and more people move to the Sunbelt and the talent pool has gotten bigger? Sorry, a lot to digest here from a concerned West Coast football fan.

Ted Miller: This could be a 15,000-word essay. Or a 400-page book. But here's a CliffsNotes version.
  • Money: The SEC's rise parallels the rise of the BCS and the game growing from a pretty big business to a multi-billion dollar business. The SEC always had huge stadiums packed to overflow, but over the past 15 or so years, the conference has been able to monetize its popularity. What does money do? It hires elite coaches like Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier and it pays top assistant coaches what head coaches make in other conferences.
  • Recruiting: Demographics have concentrated more talent in the Southeast than anywhere else. You've got big guys and fast guys and fast big guys. (I mean Anthony Johnson: Are you kidding me?). The population may be greater in California, which still produces the premium quarterbacks, but a walk across a football field on a Friday night in the Southeast will have you asking if these are truly high school teams.
  • Culture: College football is king in the South (not the NFL, as it is everywhere else). Almost all the best athletes play football, and dream of playing in college, even though playing the most physically and mentally taxing sport in the Southeast humidity is worse than anywhere else. Want to know where all the West Coast linemen are? Playing basketball. Go to a big high school hoops tournament this winter. See all those 6-foot-5 guys? They will never sniff a Division I basketball court but they could have become NFL tight ends or offensive tackles. 100s of young men on the West Coast miss out every year on Pac-12 scholarships because they choose -- or are steered to -- basketball.
  • Self-fulfilling prophecy: Those who have been reading the Pac-12 blog since 2008, know I've taken on the topic of the SEC's dominance multiple times. Three years ago, I was more resistant to it. Not because I was a "Pac-10 homer," but because I didn't completely buy the "SEC rules" argument. That was three SEC national titles ago, including one lost by a Pac-10 team -- Oregon -- that I thought was going to stomp the team it lost to (Auburn). My feeling is all that "SEC rules!" talk, which has been around since Bear Bryant was the toast to of Tuscaloosa, was repeated so often, it became a recognized truth before it actually was true. And that perception helped the conference grow stronger and stronger until it became true. How? It also became a potent recruiting selling point. Consider the words of former top-rated recruit Ronald Powell of Moreno Valley, Calif. Yeah, not easy to hear for Pac-12 defensive coaches.

By the way, I know some of you might be tired of this topic. It seems like we take it on a few times a year. The reason I do that, though, is because it appears in the mailbag at least a handful of times every week. It seems like a topic that continues to be of genuine interest.


Brian from Beaverton, Ore., writes: While you can't argue with the overall effectiveness of James at running back this year, have you noticed that even though they are running the spread offense, the majority of these running plays do not appear to be as read heavy between [QB Darron] Thomas and [RB LaMichael] James as they were last year? With Thomas being such an effective duel threat quarterback they are effectively removing an offensive weapon when he isn't taking the read option as much. This is allowing the defense to load up the tackle box and focus on the running back. Last year the defense had to be more honest because Thomas was more effective at holding onto the option and rushing himself. Do you see this as a fundamental change within the system or am I reading too much into it?

Ted Miller: Chip Kelly has said repeatedly that Thomas is just doing his proper reads and has not been steered away from running the ball.

Of course, sometimes Chip just says "high" because a reporter said "low." I know that an opposing coach who was talking to me about the 3-4 looks Oregon sometimes uses on defense laughed in my face when I told him that Kelly said they didn't use a 3-4 defense. His response, which employed several colorful terms, was Kelly is full of malarkey and that reporters are stupid.

Thomas rushed for 486 yards in 13 games last year. He's rushed for 100 yards through five games. That does seem like a statistical trend suggesting he's running less. Is that just him reading what the defense gives him? I doubt it.

That said, Thomas rushed 10 times for 52 yards and scored both his rushing TDs against Arizona. So the threat is still there.

And, if I were going to crawl inside Chip Kelly's head and look around, I'd say that's exactly what he wants.

Because the Ducks run a spread-option, an opposing defense has to spend time accounting for the QB run. That takes up precious time. And if a defense coordinator takes note that Thomas rushed only five times in the first three games and decides to de-emphasize that possibility, he could get burned -- see Arizona.

Coaches spend a lot of time thinking about tendencies and what their opposition might be thinking. I think Kelly -- quite reasonably -- likes the idea of Thomas running less because it puts him at less risk for injury. But he also likes burning your butt when you start to think Thomas won't run.


Mark from La Quinta, Calif., writes: Do you agree with your colleague Jesse Palmer when he stated that Cal had the two best wide outs in the conference? Or was he hyping the game as a lot of announcers tend to do on games they are broadcasting?

Ted Miller: There are so many good receiver combos in the Pac-12 it's hard to choose, but Palmer's position is defensible: Entering the weekend, Keenan Allen ranked third and Marvin Jones sixth in the Pac-12 in receiving yards per game. No other tandem matched that. And that's notable because QB Zach Maynard only ranked fifth in passing yards per game (268.2).

Allen will be in the mix with USC's Robert Woods, Washington State's Marquess Wilson and Arizona's Juron Criner for first-team All-Pac-10. He's a big-time player. I suspect Jones will get drafted this spring.

So these guys are both good, experienced, A-list players.

So do I share Palmer's take? I might not have in the preseason, and I might not at season's end, but at this point, yes, they are the best 1-2 punch in the conference.


Jacob from Fort Hood, Texas, writes: I feel as though Foles is getting the shaft because he is on a losing record team, but can you tell me why he isn't even being considered for the Heisman award even though he has more passing yardage than nearly every qb in the country? It doesn't make sense to me. Maybe you can shed some light on how the voting works and who is deserving in reality of the Heisman trophy. Is it more of a beauty pageant than an award for shear talent? Also, if Foles continues down the path that he is heading what round of the draft do you think that he will be picked up in?

Ted Miller: The Heisman Trophy goes to a player for one of two reasons (and sometimes both). 1. Outrageous numbers; 2. Best player on best team. Often, those two are blended.

To start, Foles wasn't billed as a top candidate entering the season. Further, he is hurt because his team is 1-4.

To overcome those two issues, Foles would have to have outrageous numbers. He's got very good numbers, but not outrageous ones. He presently ranks 22nd in the nation in passing efficiency. And though he's piled up a lot of yards, 10 other QBs match or beat Foles' 14 TD passes.

As for the NFL draft, it's hard to say. I would be more surprised if he lasted past the third round than if he was selected in the first round. If you've ever chatted with him, he's a lot like Andrew Luck in terms of makeup. Smart, humble, eager to give credit to his teammates. And clearly very competitive.


Evan from Charlottesville, Va., writes: You've written a couple times on the puzzling exclusion of LaMichael James from the current Heisman discussion. What is particularly confusing to me, however, is the fact that you yourself left him off of your ESPN Heisman Watch ballot this week. Assuming you vote Andrew Luck at number one, who filled out the rest of your ballot in spots two through five? And if you rated any other running backs ahead of James, what was your reasoning?

Ted Miller: We do a top-five for ESPN.com each week. Here's mine from last week.

1. Andrew Luck. 2. Kellen Moore; 3. Trent Richardson; 4. Robert Griffin; 5. Marcus Lattimore

(In retrospect, I should have dropped Lattimore after two straight underwhelming games).

My reasoning for leaving James off the ballot was twofold: 1. He didn't play well on a big stage against LSU (which he admitted); 2. His competition since then has been weak. His performance this week against a solid Cal defense will likely push him into my top five. Of course, now he's hurt and likely to miss at least a couple of weeks.

And if he doesn't, that would certainly add to his aura of being Heisman-worthy.


Spencer from Baton Rouge, La., writes: Because I live a couple thousand miles away from the West Coast, Thursday's game against Oregon was the first time I have watched Cal play this season. Having listened to the other games via online radio streams, I knew Maynard struggled with accuracy. But I was shocked to see how poor his throwing mechanics are. How does a QB guru such as Jeff Tedford let such play fly? Granted, Maynard has not yet thrown the interceptions that Riley and Mansion did (which I attribute to poor decision making), but it is extremely surprising that Tedford would feel comfortable with the way Maynard throws the ball.

Ted Miller: Without asking Tedford, my guess is that he chose not to mess with Maynard's natural throwing motion too much. Maynard is 22-years-old. Making drastic changes wouldn't be easy, especially with Maynard arriving at Cal as a junior, not a true freshman.

Sure, Maynard did have to sit out last year after transferring from Buffalo, meaning he could have refined his technique to a degree. I suspect Tedford has worked with him on his technique. But it might have been pretty late in the game for wholesale changes.

And I'm guessing that Maynard will get lots of work with Tedford based on how he threw at Oregon.


Rotfogel from Oakland writes: You have Cal only scoring 17? Oregon's porous defense is going to hold the Pac 12's best WR tandem and offensive to 17? Maybe, highly unlikely but as you've said, Oregon is a tough place to play. I'm kinda happy you made that the score though, Cal's defense is far and away the Pac 12s best, hopefully they show it tonight.

Ted Miller: I predicted 44-17. Oregon won 43-15.

I know: Gloating is unseemly. So sorry about that.

And is it just me or does it seem like the mailbag fills up more when I'm wrong than when I'm right?


Pete from Los Angeles writes: Not sure if you saw this, but the Times of London's prestigious international rankings of the top 400 universities was released this week, and the Pac 12 has 4 schools in the top 25...in the world! No other AQ conference comes close. Once again shows that the Pac 12 is dominant in at least one category!

Ted Miller: We are so smart.

Will I pick up any second-hand smart from hanging around with you guys?

Arizona, Oregon State both desperate

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
4:31
PM ET
Whether the glass is half-empty (Arizona) or half-full (Oregon State), neither program is getting its thirst for success quenched.

Half-empty at Arizona? For one, the Wildcats are good on offense but terrible on defense, ranking among the worst in the nation in most categories. They can't stop the run or pass. And emotional, straight-talking coach Mike Stoops isn't one to sugarcoat his assessments.

"We're just not doing anything very well at this point," he said. "Our inability to be good anywhere right now is really ... tackling has been poor, pass rush has been poor, just haven't played very well in any capacity. Effort -- all of that has been poor."

We'd note that Stoops seems like he could use a hug, but such a gesture might be risky. So feel empathy from a distance.

Then there's always-upbeat Oregon State coach Mike Riley. Sure, his team is winless -- Stoops and the Wildcats at least opened with a victory over Northern Arizona -- but he still sees cheer in a handful of busts.

"I think there is a lot of disappointment but I am encouraged by the work ethic," Riley said. "And as important, the motivation, the enthusiasm for the work is good. We've got a lot of young guys and there is growth and I think they can feel that."

Riley's the sort who produces marshmallows and a slap on the back as you watch your house burn to the ground.

Arizona has lost nine consecutive games to FBS foes. Oregon State has lost six in a row. But one team will be forced, no matter how hard it tries to screw it up, to win Saturday in Corvallis. The other, of course, will start to earnestly feel the burning sensation of a season in flames. And both of these coaches, who seemed as secure as any in the Pac-12 in the preseason, could be forced to endure hot-seat talk.

There's no need to recite the numbers -- you can seek out exotic ways to flesh out these teams' shortcomings here -- but if one team has slightly more hope, it might be the Wildcats.

While the Beavers opened with a loss to FCS team Sacramento State and lost at home to UCLA, the Wildcats have lost to the Nos. 6 (Oklahoma State), 7 (Stanford) and 9 (Oregon) teams in the country before losing at 4-1 USC by seven points last weekend -- a 48-41 barnburner in which the Wildcats showed spine by coming back from a 34-12 third-quarter deficit.

The Wildcats also showed signs of a running game, rushing for 129 yards against the Trojans. If QB Nick Foles gets just a bit of help from a run threat keeping defenses honest, the Wildcats could outscore foes the rest of the season, while the schedule's degree of difficulty trends down.

And then defensive reinforcements arrive when safety Adam Hall and linebacker Jake Fischer return from preseason knee injuries over the next couple of weeks.

The Beavers also have hope, though glancing at the schedule might not inspire it. They showed some pluck at Arizona State, and redshirt freshman QB Sean Mannion has flashed ability. Further, the Beavers won at Arizona last year.

Bottom line: Somebody will walk away smiling on Saturday.

Well, it's not certain that Stoops will smile if he wins, or that Riley won't even if he loses. But you know what we mean.

Links: Trojans' midseason inventory

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
4:04
PM ET
WeAreSC breaks down the Trojans at midseason.

Greg Katz writes Insider: USC's 4-1 record isn't much of a surprise heading into the bye week, but how will the Trojans fare down the stretch?

Garry Paskwietz writes: It's a midseason review in this week's Roundtable, as the WeAreSC panelists discuss the biggest positives, negatives and surprises of the first five games.

Erik McKinney writes Insider: A look at this weekend's high school action WeAreSC looks at Friday's high school slate, Ryan McDaniel's injury and USC's official visit plan.

Video: Talking with USC commit Jaydon Mickens

Link: More on Andrew Luck sweepstakes

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
3:00
PM ET
If you really love your NFL team, you will root for its bus to fall into a sink hole. Or an avian flu epidemic to hit the locker room. Widespread jail time would be good, too.

Because if you really love your NFL team, you want it to lose this season like a Jenny Craig class.

That's because the worst team gets to draft the best quarterback to come along since Peyton Manning himself -- Andrew Luck of Stanford.

Read more from Rick Reilly's latest column on Luck.

Lunch links: Luck downplays calling plays

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
2:30
PM ET
Happy Friday.

Video: Friday Four Downs

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
1:00
PM ET


Ted Miller takes a look at four keys for this weekend's Pac-12 games.
Tags:

Pac-12

Thomas the man if James is out

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
12:32
PM ET
If running back LaMichael James is out for more than a few weeks, Oregon will need several players to step up. But the player who will need to step up the most is not the guy -- or guys -- who will replace James. It's QB Darron Thomas.

James is the Ducks A-lister. He's the Doak Walker Award winner, the unanimous preseason All-American. He's the first guy the Ducks look to. Thomas is the second.

Thomas has been overshadowed by other fancypants QBs in the conference thus far, but he entered Thursday's game with California ranked 17th in the nation in passing efficiency with 12 touchdowns and just one interception.

But he was mediocre-to-bad in the first half against Cal, completing just 8 of 19 for 101 yards with a bad interception in Bears territory. He was particularly bad when the Bears blitzed, according to ESPN Stats & Information, completing 4 of 9 with the pick.

In the second half, Thomas didn't need to pass much, but he was effective when he did, throwing all three of his TD passes after the break. And when Cal blitzed he was 4 for 4 with two TDs, averaging 23.5 yards per attempt.

Resilience might be Thomas' best quality. He rarely has two halves of bad football. Recall how bad he was early in the national title game against Auburn, and then how he bounced back and nearly led the Ducks to a comeback win.

The hope is James will be back sooner than later -- certainly sooner than how his dislocated elbow seemed to initially indicate -- but while he's not in the huddle, Thomas will need to take charge, starting with a tricky date with Arizona State on Oct. 15.

James says he'll be back -- but when?

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
10:00
AM ET
Oregon running back LaMichael James said the dislocated elbow -- X-rays were negative on any breaks -- that he suffered in the Ducks' impressive 43-15 win over California won't end his season, but it's fair to say he's highly doubtful for the Oct. 15 game with Arizona State.

Replays of the injury on ESPN were hard to watch, but James told reporters after the game that he immediately popped his elbow back into place. He hurt it early in the fourth quarter, at which point he had already accumulated 239 yards rushing. He produced a 53-yard touchdown run as well as runs of 47 and 30 yards.

[+] EnlargeLaMichael James
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty ImagesLaMichael James dislocated his elbow against Cal Thursday night.
James now has 30 rushes of 30 yards or longer in his career, the most by any FBS player since the start of the 2004 season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. A 2010 Heisman Trophy finalist and the nation's leading rusher, he moved into fifth place on the conference's career rushing list with 4,129 yards.

The apparent red-letter date on the Ducks' schedule is the Nov. 12 visit to Stanford, which could be a battle for the Pac-12 North Division between a pair of top-10 teams. After the Arizona State game, the Ducks play at Colorado on Oct. 22, Washington State on Oct. 29 and are at Washington on Nov. 5.

Kenjon Barner is James' capable backup. He rushed for 88 yards on just 10 carries with a touchdown against Cal. Barner got hurt in the opener against LSU and missed two games. He's rushed for 167 yards and three scores this season.

The Ducks are getting a dual threat from true freshman De'Anthony Thomas. He rushed for a 17-yard touchdown and caught six passes for 114 yards and two scores.

James' injury also could mean more carries for 227-pound true freshman Tra Carson. He's rushed for 116 yards on 18 carries this year.

Oregon has options at running back. Losing James doesn't cripple its high-powered offense.

But James, the 2010 Doak Walker Award winner, is the nation's best running back. Entering Thursday's game, among all FBS players, James has the most rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, 20-plus yard rushes, 50-plus yard rushes and 100-yard rush games.

That's not something you can easily replace.

More on James here and here.

Pac-12: Did you know?

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
9:00
AM ET
Some notes to get you through the hours until Saturday. Many thanks to ESPN Stats & Information.
  • Now conference rivals, Arizona State and Utah haven’t met since 1993. Arizona State, which leads the series 16-6, has won the past seven meetings. Utah hasn’t beaten the Sun Devils since 1976. This is the first meeting in Salt Lake City since 1977.
  • Arizona State has forced nine opponent turnovers in its past two games, including four interceptions last week against Oregon State.
  • The Sun Devils defense leads the nation in 3rd down efficiency, allowing opponents to convert on only 24.2 percent of 3rd downs (16-66).
  • Utah is trying to avoid starting 0-3 in conference games for the first time since 2002 (started 0-4 in MWC).
  • Utah has already lost once at home this season. The Utes haven’t lost more than one home game in a season since 2006 (lost two).
  • Its trip to Stanford is the inaugural Pac-12 road game for Colorado. The Buffs lost at home last week to Washington State in their conference opener.
  • Stanford owns the nation’s longest winning streak at 12. The Cardinal haven’t lost since Oct. 2 last season, to Oregon. Since that date, Colorado is 3-10.
  • Colorado has lost 20 consecutive games outside its home state, last winning at Texas Tech in 2007. That's the longest active streak in FBS.
  • Stanford is looking for its first 5-0 start since 1951 (9-0). Last season, the Cardinal started 4-0 before losing to Oregon for their only loss of the season.
  • Andrew Luck is 24-5 in his career as a starter. The 24 wins is tied with Steve Stenstrom for most in school history.
  • This is the first meeting since Stanford beat Colorado 41-37 in 1993. The series is tied 3-3.
  • Arizona leads its series with Oregon State 21-12-1, but the Beavers won in Tucson 29-27 last year.
  • The Wildcats have lost nine consecutive games against FBS foes. They have lost their past seven conference games.
  • UCLA leads its series with Washington State 38-18-1, including a 42-28 victory last year.
  • The Cougars recorded their 500th all-time victory last weekend at Colorado.
  • The Cougars are averaging 44.5 points per game. Last year, they averaged 19.6 ppg.
  • The Cougars are looking for their first 4-1 start since 2003. They haven't won three consecutive road games since 2006.
  • The Pac-12 keeps track of 33 statistical categories every week. UCLA ranks in the top five of the conference in just four: rushing offense, pass defense, sacks against and penalties.

Video: LaMichael James on injury

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
2:08
AM ET


Oregon running back LaMichael James exits in fourth quarter with right elbow injury in the Ducks' 43-15 win over Cal on Thursday night.

Final: Oregon 43, California 15

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
12:47
AM ET
Oregon won big over California, but it also may have lost big.

The No. 9 Ducks used a dominant second half to beat California 43-15, but it appears that they lost running back LaMichael James to a serious arm injury.

James injured his right arm early in the fourth quarter. He was carted off the field after trainers stabilized the arm in a sleeve. The Heisman Trophy finalist last season had rushed for 239 yards and a touchdown before he was hurt.

Whether you are an Oregon fan or not, a serious injury to James would be a complete drag. He's one of the best players in college football. His performance against the Bears would have put him again squarely in the Heisman race.

Oregon trailed 15-14 at the half but rolled after the break.

California also lost QB Zach Maynard, who was knocked out in the second half, which brought backup Allan Bridgford into the game.

While potentially losing James is a big hit, it's hard to ignore a a 29-0 second half from the Ducks, which certainly made a statement for the program.

Oregon improves to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the conference. Cal falls to 3-2 and 0-2 in the conference.

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