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Conference Preview: Pac 10

crystalballIn an effort to address all the teams and conferences that make the fall so exciting, OTP’s All-Star Editorial staff is putting on their prognosticatin’ hats and taking a stab at each of the conferences and all of the teams in FBS. Alan and Edge are giving you the conference’s order of finish, the records, the superlatives for offense and defense, and the biggest surprise for each conference. At the conclusion of our series, we’ll have the Bowl Projections for all 34 Bowl Games.

OTP Conference Preview: Pac 10

pac10 logo
It’s easy for the national media and casual football fans to somehow look at the Pac 10 as USC’s playground with a host of other teams simply padding the Trojans win total year in and year out. While it’s true that USC has dominated the PAC 10 recently, and they are a lock for successful football betting, the gap between SC and the rest of the conference is getting smaller by the year. The resurgence of Oregon, Oregon State, and Cal, along with UCLA all put the Trojan dominance clearly on a precarious ledge heading into 2009.

Give the Pac 10 credit… they are a conference hellbent and determined on keeping the conference matchups as fair as possible. They don’t have a championship game and don’t seem to be interested in expanding the league to make that a reality. As it stands now, each Pac 10 team plays every other Pac 10 team… making the conference winner truly deserving. There is no ducking any other teams or imbalanced schedules, and though the road to the BCS clearly runs through Southern Cal, there are numerous teams gunning for that BCS berth. While the results may be similar to recent years, it is a sure bet that this year’s conference games for USC will be closer than many expect.

Last 5 Conference Champions:
2008: USC
2007: USC/Arizona State
2006: USC/Cal
2005: USC
2004: USC

Bowl Tie Ins:
The Pacific-10 Conference has six bowl tie-ins.
#1– Bowl Championship Series. The Pac-10 champion gains an automatic berth to a BCS bowl game, preferentially the Rose Bowl.
#2– The Holiday Bowl receives the second choice of Pac-10 teams.
#3– The Sun Bowl receives the third choice of Pac-10 teams.
#4-5– The Maaco Bowl Las Vegas and the Emerald Bowl coordinate their selections of the fourth and fifth teams to provide geographically favorable match-ups.
#6– The Poinsettia Bowl receives the sixth choice of Pac-10 teams. In years where the Pac-10 does not have six bowl eligible teams, the Poinsettia Bowl will select from the WAC instead.

Alan’s Pac 10 Predictions
Order of Finish:
USC: 11-1 (9-0) – Conf. Champion, BCS Rep
Oregon: 10-2 (8-1)
Cal: 9-3 (6-3)
UCLA: 9-3 (6-3)
Oregon St.: 9-3 (6-3)
Arizona: 5-7 (4-5)
Stanford: 4-8 (3-6)
Arizona State: 4-8 (2-7)
Washington: 2-10 (1-8)
Washington St.: 2-10 (0-9)

League MVP: Jeremiah Masoli, QB, Oregon
Offensive MVP: Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon St.
Defensive MVP: Taylor Mays, FS, USC

Biggest Surprise This Season: The Oregon-USC game is an instant classic as the Trojans pull one out in overtime versus the Ducks

Edge’s Pac 10 Predictions
Order of Finish:
USC: 11-1 (9-0) – Conf. Champion, BCS Rep
Oregon: 10-2 (8-1)
California: 10-2 (7-2)
Oregon St.: 9-3 (6-3)
UCLA: 7-5 (5-4)
Arizona: 5-7 (4-5)
Stanford: 4-8 (3-6)
Arizona St.: 4-8 (2-7)
Washington: 2-10 (1-8)
Washington St.: 1-11 (0-9)

League MVP: Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon St.
Offensive MVP: Jahvid Best, RB, Cal
Defensive MVP: Taylor Mays, FS, USC

Biggest Surprise This Season: USC drops in week 2 to Ohio State, but pulls back with an undefeated remainder of the season to edge Ohio State and take the #4 overall.

Prelude to a Season: #4

4.) Southern California Trojans

Southern CaliforniaWhat You Need to Know
In the conversation of teams of the last decade, clearly USC has a death grip on that title. No matter how you evaluate that honor, chances are head coach Pete Carroll and the Trojans have a resume bullet that exhibits their dominance. Under Carroll the Trojans have racked up not only the hardware (two AP National Championships, 1 BCS Championship) but also the finer points of success. 7 straight 11+ win seasons, 7 consecutive PAC 10 championships, 53 players selected in the NFL Draft, three Heisman Trophy winners, and 25 All American First Teamers all are impressive, not to mention the fact that the Trojans became the only team in history to win three consecutive Rose Bowls.

Through this decade, USC has made their living recruiting the best athletes in the country to easily transition between personnel changes for graduation or early entry to the NFL Draft. This year, the ability to seamlessly transition will be put to the test as USC loses valuable skill players on offense as well as an unbelievable number of defensive starters. Luckily for Carroll and the Trojans, there are a host of players on the roster ready to step in and be the next All-Stars.

Last season the Trojans had one minor blip which cost them a chance for a national title when they were upset at Oregon State. Their only loss dropped them from the #1 ranking and overshadowed their victory against #5 Ohio State the week prior. After that loss, the Trojans were simply dominant and ended their season with a 38-24 decimation of Penn State in the Rose Bowl. This season, the Trojans are gunning for their 8th consecutive season with a PAC 10 title and their 8th straight appearance in a BCS Bowl Game, both goals well within reach for this talented group of players and coaches.

Offensively, the Trojans lose only 2 starters in QB Mark Sanchez and WR Patrick Turner, but those 2 starters were integral parts of USC’s offensive attack last season. This year in fall camp a QB battle has begun between sophomore Aaron Corp and freshman Matt Barkley, with junior and former Arkansas Razorback Mitch Mustain waiting in the wings. Regardless of who wins the position battle, they will have an offense capable of great things and big plays. Last season the Trojans averaged 37.5 points per game, along with 455 yards. They return 4 of their best 5 rushing options from 2008, as well as 8 of their top 9 receivers. On the offensive line, the Trojans return all of last year’s starters, as well as all of their backups, making the Trojan offensive line one of the deepest and most talented in all of college football. Also mixed in with the transitional issues is the replacement of former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian with John Morton when Sarkisian left for the head coaching job at Washington.

Defensively is where many of the losses will be felt for the Trojans, as 8 starters are lost from a unit that was dominant throughout 2008. The Trojans held opponents to 9 points per game with 222 total yards, and only 134 through the air. Of the three returning starters, 2 of them are in the secondary with senior CB Josh Pinkard and senior FS Taylor Mays. The only other returning starter is junior NT Christian Tupou, meaning of the Trojans’ front 7, 6 of them will be new full time starters. The most notable departures are the exceptional linebacking crew of Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing, and Kaluka Maiava who are all on NFL rosters now. The majority of the USC defense’s new folks has playing experience, but hasn’t started consistently. How quickly those players develop into consistent playmakers in a starting role will determine how good this season is for USC. With Carroll and defensive coordinator Nick Holt at the helm and the talent these players possess, that should be an easy transition.

The Trojans have a schedule which features a remarkably challenging non-conference games in their road trips to Ohio State and Notre Dame as well as road games against some of their toughest in conference matchups. At home this season, the Trojans get San Jose State in their season opener for their only non-conference home games. In conference the Trojans host Washington St., Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, and Arizona. They must travel to Washington, Cal, Oregon, and Arizona State.

For the Trojans, they are facing a season in which many pundits and college football experts are consumed with Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma. However, with the schedule they have, should the Trojans win out, they are a virtual certainty to play for a national title.

Who You Need to Know & Their 08 Stats
RB Stafon Johnson: 138 att, 705 yds, 9 TDs
WR Damian Williams: 58 rec, 869 yds, 9 TDs
FS Taylor Mays: 53 tkls, 2 TFL

Game to Watch
All eyes will be on the Trojans September 12th for their contest in Columbus against Ohio State. A win puts the Trojans in great position to challenge for a national championship. After that, their road contests against Cal (10/3) and Oregon (10/31) will be their biggest roadblocks to winning their 8th consecutive conference crown.

They’ll Do Well If…
… the players new to the starter slots live up to their lofty expectations and their prior performances. It’s not like USC is replacing NFL caliber talent with people that wouldn’t starters at any other program in the country. Additionally, most of the folks, aside from the QB position, have significant playing experience.

Season Outlook
USC comes into this year’s season a consensus top 5 pick for most every major writer, coach, and preseason publication. Ironically enough, despite that lofty ranking, very few people are giving the Trojans much of a shot to push their way into the title conversation, reserving those sorts of talks for Texas, Oklahoma, and Florida. For USC, their out of conference schedule is simply brutal, road contest at Ohio State and Notre Dame are long travels and great teams in impressive home environments. In conference, trips to Cal and Oregon will be challenging. Look for a loss against either Ohio State or Notre Dame, which will knock the Trojans out of national title contention, but I expect the Trojans to run the table in the PAC 10. 11-1 overall, 9-0 in conference, and USC will be making a return trip to a BCS Bowl, their 8th straight.

Prelude to a Season: #11

11.) California Golden Bears

CaliforniaWhat You Need to Know
For the Cal Golden Bears, it’s tough being them. In-state rival and conference rival USC consistently grabs the headlines, the attention, and the titles, while Cal perennially is good but always seems a step behind the Trojans for the Pac 10 and the national championships. Last season it was a frustrating time for the Golden Bears as each time they appeared in the national polls, they lost the following week. They did close the season with an Emerald Bowl win against the Miami Hurricanes, but a 9-4 season left much to be desired. This year, though, Cal figures to have all the pieces needed for a Pac 10 title run but also potentially a national championship chance.

Most of those pieces for a title run are located on the offensive side of the ball for the Golden Bears. Junior RB Jahvid Best clearly is the most valuable weapon, as he led the Pac 10 in rushing last season while setting a Cal single-game record in the season finale with 311 yards. Best is clearly a front-runner for the Doak Walker award, and looks to give Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, and Colt McCoy some company at the Heisman Ceremony. Handing Best the ball will be junior Q B Kevin Riley, who no longer has to battle with Nate Longshore. Riley was far from epic last season, but looks to improve on his 50.7% accuracy. On the offensive line, the Golden Bears lose All American center Alex Mack, as well as 2nd Team Pac 10 RG Noris Malele but the Cal offensive line is experienced, talented, and deep. It will be hard to eclipse last year’s 32.6 points per game, but this unit is talented enough to do it.

Defensively, Cal returns 8 starters from a unit that allowed only 315 yards per game and 19.9 points. They do lose their top 2 tacklers, but return experience and talent all over the field. The most felt losses are LB Zack Follett, whose 10.5 sacks last season accounted for one-third of Cal’s total sacks and Worrell Williams. Anthony Felder also departs, as does Shea McIntyre, leaving the linebacking unit depleted and virtually the only area of concern for the entire Cal team despite highly touted young bucks chomping at the bit. The entire secondary returns, most notably Syd’Quan Thompson who excels not only as a corner but also as a punt returner.

Cal’s schedule is challenging but not impossible, as their lone out of conference road game is against Minnesota in a definite winnable game. Their most challenging out of conference game is their season opener against Maryland, at home. In conference, the Golden Bears play 5 of their 9 Pac 10 games on the road, but do get Oregon State and USC at home.

Since taking over in 2002, Jeff Tedford has built Cal into a consistent winner, perennial contender, and a team that no one can take lightly. When your “down year” is 9-4 with a Bowl win, that’s doing things the right way. This year, Tedford looks to take the Bears to the next level and challenge USC for the conference crown and the accompanying BCS berth.

Who You Need to Know & Their 08 Stats
RB Jahvid Best: 194 att, 1580 yds, 15 TDs
QB Kevin Riley: 112-221, 1360 yds, 14 TDs, 6 INTs
CB Syd’Quan Thompson: 70 tkls, 2 sacks, 5.5 TFL, 14 PBU, 4 INTs

Game to Watch
For the Golden Bears, they look to be undefeated, highly ranked, and able to make a gigantic statement about the rest of the season on October 3rd when USC rolls into Berkeley. Should they win, their next contest (after a bye week) on October 17th against UCLA could be their toughest remaining challenge for Pac 10 supremacy and a win there puts an undefeated season well within their sights.

They’ll Do Well If…
… Kevin Riley steps into the starter’s role with confidence and swagger. Many will point to the defensive losses as a reason Cal won’t succeed, but with enough success from Riley, that’s a burden easily overcome.

Season Outlook
For Cal, this season may not be historic, but it will be a good year to be a Golden  Bears fan. After running through their non-conference schedule at 3-0, Cal will put USC and UCLA to the test, defeating one of the two and losing a heartbreaker to the other. They’ll be favored in the rest of the conference matchups and close the year 11-1, with an outside shot at a Pac 10 championship depending on who the “1” was. A great year for Cal and another outstanding performance from Jahvid Best will make 2009 a year to remember.

Prelude to a Season: #16

16.) Oregon Ducks

OregonWhat You Need to Know
When it comes to the Pac 10, the media favorite is certainly not the team that plays their home games in Autzen Stadium. New head coach Chip Kelly is going to try his hardest to change that reputation and continue the strong, albeit relatively overlooked, program that former head coach and current athletic director Mike Bellotti built into a consistent winner. Kelly, while new to the head coach role, has been at Oregon as the offensive coordinator since 2007, where his offenses have been impressive to say the least. This year appears to be more of the same with talented skill position players, a darkhorse Heisman candidate, a serviceable defense, and a favorable, albeit tough, schedule.

Offensively, the Ducks return 4 starters, but in the case of senior RB LeGarrette Blount, 2008 backup to Jeremiah Johnson, he had a season most starters dream of. Despite a limited spring due to injury and a winter suspension, Blount looks to improve markedly on last season’s 1002 yards and 17 TDs. The most important position in Kelly’s spread attack is the quarterback , and Oregon has a talented one in junior Jeremiah Masoli. Catching balls from Masoli will be a talented group of inexperienced but very highly touted receivers. Junior Jeff Maehl is the leading returning receiver statistically, and senior TE Ed Dickson leads all pass catchers in returning yardage. The offensive line remains the biggest question mark for the Ducks, as they have lost 6 of their top 10 players on the offensive line including numerous selections to the All Pac 10 Teams with the lone returning starter junior RT Ce Kaiser. Those sorts of heavy losses up front may put a bit of a damper on the offense’s production and will almost certainly see a dip from last year’s record setting season.

Defensively, Chip Kelly returns 5 starters to a unit that gave up 389 yards per game (8th in the Pac 10) along with 28.2 points (7th in the Pac 10). The Ducks were stronger against the rush (2nd in conf.) than the pass (10th in conf.) but those numbers may not be the same this year. Among the losses are 3 of the front 4, including DE Nick Reed to the NFL. The lone returner on the D Line is senior DE Will Tukuafu, who used his 7.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss to be named to the 2008 2nd Team All Conference team. The secondary also took heavy losses as Patrick Chung and Jairus Byrd no longer suit up. Those two combined for 175 tackles, 2 sacks, 6 tackles for loss, and 6 interceptions and both received 1st Team All Pac 10 honors. Also of note for the Ducks is the loss of key special teams players like K Matt Evensen, P Josh Syria, and return man Jairus Byrd.

The schedule for the Ducks is daunting but manageable, in addition, their 9 conference games shake out favorably with 5 home games. Out of conference, the Ducks face Boise State, Utah, and Purdue, with BSU on the road to open the season. Despite the challenging schedule, Kelly’s first season as the head man in Autzen looks to be a continuation of success for a proud Oregon program.

Who You Need to Know & Their 08 Stats
QB Jeremiah Masoli: 136-239, 1744 yds, 13 TDs, 5 INTs, 127 rush, 718 yds, 10 TDs
RB LeGarrette Blount: 137 att, 1002 yds, 17 TDs
TE Ed Dickson: 35 rec, 508 yds, 3 TDs

Game to Watch
For the Ducks, they start 2009 with a bang, traveling to Boise State on September 3rd. Two weeks later on September 19th the Utah Utes make the trip to Eugene. In conference, their most challenging games come against Cal (9/26), USC (10/31), and in-state rival Oregon State for the annual Civil War on December 3rd. All those games are at Autzen Stadium, a tremendous home field advantage for the Ducks.

They’ll Do Well If…
… the Ducks’ offensive and defensive lines overcome a lack of experience to perform at a level that allows the UO offense and defense to succeed. Football is certainly a game won in the trenches, and for the Ducks to be successful this season they’ll need to win more battles than they lose up front.

Season Outlook
For the Ducks, the talent is certainly there, even if the experience is not. Were it not for that, this would be a disaster season in Chip Kelly’s first at the helm. The UO attack on offense will not be as potent as last year off the bat, which may lead to early season losses, most notably their season opener at Boise. As the year progresses, Oregon will improve dramatically week to week as the lines gain experience and the schematics begin to click. Look for the Ducks to upset at least one of either USC or Cal. When all is said and done, Oregon will be on the outside looking in for the Pac 10, but a 9-3 record (7-2 in conference) with this schedule and this team is impressive.

Former Bruin Looks at Cardinals

Ball State just landed a transfer of Michigan Wolverine proportion when Artis Chambers tossed away his winged helmet for Cardinal and White, but the biggest transfer news this offseason for Muncie could be one Chris Forcier from UCLA looking at schools in the Hoosier State, notably Purdue and one Ball State University.

Brian Dohn, from Inside UCLA, broke the news to an otherwise unknowing Cardinal Nation. Forcier is not exceptionally well known anywhere outside of Muncie either, even in his own family, as little brother Tate, he of recruiting website fame, is a freshman at Michigan this upcoming season. Forcier, listed at 6’4″ and 188lbs, is a speedster with sub 4.5 speed. He was the 19th ranked QB in the 07 class, and would have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out a year for transfer.

It seems like a strange move to consider the Cardinals, given that the QB position in Muncie seems to be pretty solid for the next couple of years with Kelly Page and Aaron Mershman, but I’ll gladly take a D1 athlete from a BCS school anytime I can get him. I’m sure Stan will be able to come up with ways to get him on the field, under center or otherwise, should he end up here. Stay tuned…

Weekend Carnage Report

This was one of the more ho-hum weekends in college football, as evidenced by the lack of change in the Top 15 of the BCS. The season is winding down, and some teams are beginning to believe again while others are realizing that their season or in some cases, their career, might be over. Some good finishes were there for the finding for the truly dedicated, but this may have been a nice weekend to step outside, get some fresh air, and remind your loved ones that you do indeed care about more than an oblong ball and a set of uprights. (Of course, this isn’t true, but loved ones are usually foolish, blinded by their feelings and emotions. This goodwill should last you at least through the conference championships, then you can buy enough Christmas gifts to allow you uninterrupted Bowl watching. Thank me later.) On to the weekend…

The Good

  • Florida. As in really really good. I think most thought the South Carolina-Florida game would at least be fun to watch. Not so much. Florida jumped on the Gamecocks early, often, and impressively in route to a 56-6 shellacking. I said it in June, and I’ll say it again here… this Florida team is the best in the country. And the National Championship is their’s to lose.
  • Utah. The Utes had to be hearing the whispers after an ugly win over TCU that they were a tad bit overrated. Coupled with the other non-BCS undefeateds and the Utes needed a statement win. They got it in the form of a 63-14 pounding of hapless San Diego State. Granted, SDSU is 1-10, but good teams blow bad teams out. A lesson some of the big boys and a few of the mid-majors would do well to remember.
  • Maryland. In defeating 16th ranked North Carolina on Saturday, the Terps not only made their claim for the ACC Championship, but also defeated their 6th straight ranked opponent. If Ralph Friedgen could ever figure out how to beat the Middle Tennessee’s of the world, the Terps would be amazing.
  • Ball State. The Cards defeated Miami on Tuesday last for their first 10-0 start in school history. They drop three spots in the BCS, leapfrogged by TCU and BYU in the process as their reward. Up next for the Cardinals will be Central Michigan on Wednesday, a game that should they win, will get the Cardinals some respect in the minds of the computers and the pollsters.

The Bad

  • Syracuse/Greg Robinson. Alas, the love affair between Greg Robinson and Syracuse has come to a bitter bloody end after a 39-14 beating by UConn in the final home game of the 08 season. Robinson was 9-36 in his career and 3-25 in the Big East. In trying to find at least a little humor in this otherwise awful situation for Syracuse fans, Robinson won 2 of his 3 games against Louisville. Proving yet again that Louisville sucks.
  • Washington. Remaining the only winless team in FBS, the Huskies now close the season against 1-10 Washington State and 6-4 Cal. If Ty is going to go out with a win, he would do well to beat Wazzu. At least they kept it semi-close against UCLA.
  • Tulsa. Just a few short weeks ago, Tulsa was everyone’s darling with thier glitzy high powered offense and head coach Todd Graham appearing on many short lists for vacancies. Looks like the Golden Hurricanes are petering out to be a minor rain storm as they get violated by Houston 70-30.
  • Michigan. One of the most storied programs in history has its first 8-loss season after the 21-14 loss to Northwestern. Deep breaths, M fans… with Coach Rod it only gets better after the first season.

The Ugly

  • LSU. The Tigers needed a 30-point fourth quarter to defeat the Troy Trojans 40-31. If you’re good at math, that means they were trailing 31-10 when the 4th quarter began. That’s simply inexcusable. It was a night game in Tiger Stadium for Christ’s sake. A lot of folks are talking about how overrated the SEC is, and LSU is one of the many reasons why.
  • Wake Forest/Florida State/North Carolina. Apparently, no one wants to win the ACC as all of the ranked teams in the conference got beat this weekend. At least Wake and UNC were on the road. The ACC Title and the accompanying BCS Bowl and $17 million payday is like a bad penny that no one wants. Do everyone a favor and just forfeit your auto-bid.
  • The BCS. I know I’m biased. But Ball State wins their game, they are undefeated, and ahead of them in the BCS standings are a bunch of two-loss teams and right behind them is LSU. They were jumped by TCU and BYU, effectively ending their hopes of a BCS game. It’s complete and utter bullshit, and I for one, am pissed. The major conferences created a shitty little sandbox and refuse to let anyone else in. There will be a post forthcoming about this, but I’m not happy right now.

OTP Helmet Stickers
From Alan:

  • Shonn Greene, RB, Iowa: Greene gashed Purdue for 211 yards and 2 scores in the Hawkeyes victory over the Boilers. Javon Ringer gets a ton of press, but Greene is just as good if not better.
  • Percy Harvin, WR, Florida: In a game ripe for stat building, Harvin took advantage of the South Carolina defense for 167 rushing yards and 2 TDs.
  • MiQuale Lewis, RB, Ball State: In the win over Miami, Lewis hung 165 yards and 2 TDs on the Red Hawks while helping BSU to its firsts 10-0 start in school history. Lewis has quietly amassed some impressive stats this season, moving to 7th in the nation in yards per game.

Humpday Quickies

It’s been a couple weeks since we’ve thrown up our Humpday Quickies, but here we are. It’s the humpiest of days. Nothing really of note on the Cardinals that wasn’t already covered, so we’ll move ahead to the Wildcats who face Vandy this week. Is it winnable? Sure. Will they win? Who the hell knows. This Wildcat team is anyone’s guess, as is Vandy, really. We’re just as likely to see a 50-40 game as we are 17-10. We’ll get to all that later in the week, but for now, here’s what’s happening…

Kentucky Quickies:

  • The Spread is coming to Kentucky! Of course, not by choice, more so because of the rampant injury bug going around.
  • Mark Story says regardless of Rich Brooks’ steady assertion that they need a 7th win to get to a bowl, they’re in.
  • Brian Rickerd from The State Journal chats a bit about the “crossroads” that this Kentucky team is facing.
  • Always entertaining TeamSpeedKills provides some humor with an SEC Coaches’ Poker Game. Rich Brooks thinks its bullshit.
  • As expected, DeMoreo Ford’s career is over. But some hope in the coaching department. Good luck, DF.
  • A Sea of Blue gives great insight and evaluation about the Cats offense and season. A must read.

Other Quickies:

  • In case you’re ever down here in College Park, MD visiting the OTP home office, beware large football players hanging out at Cornerstone Bar. They tend to instigate bar brawls and punch cops. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
  • Joel at RockyTopTalk, who we link to often and read even more often, has made his case for Mike Leach to be the next head coach at Tennessee. When my UT friend asked me who I would hire when the story broke, Leach was the first and only name I gave him. If UT is smart, they will throw mountains of money to get this man to Knoxville.
  • The BCS might be heading to ESPN, assuming Fox can’t pony up the same sort of dough. Which they won’t. So enjoy Mark May douching it up during the championship game.
  • Tirico Suave brings the LOLs for Notre Dame fans and haters as the Irish and Coach Weis sort of struggle to find their way.
  • Mike Leach is a helluva coach, and apparently a panic-inducer at the NASDAQ. No one said winning came cheap.
  • West By God Virginia opines on their offensive ineptitude this season in humorous fashion.
  • What’s that Ron Zook? Jealous of Indiana stealing all the press by losing to a MidAmerican conference team. Twice. Ok… you’re up.
  • USC and Pete Carrol? Stoked. But not about that stupid BCS mind you.

Weekend Carnage Report

With Monday comes clarity about the season as we take stock of the weekly shake ups and shockers in college football. We had a relatively upset-free weekend of college football save for one big Nittany Lion loss. Other than that, the outcomes were fairly predictable. Exciting, but predictable.

The Good

  • Texas Tech: The knock on Mike Leach’s Red Raiders was that they couldn’t play defense. Critics said there was no way that this team could bounce back against a Top 10 opponent after knocking off number 1. All Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree did was pound the Oklahoma State Cowboys 56-20 in Lubbock. Tech can solidify its place in the National Title hunt with a victory in two weeks against Oklahoma, but for now, it’s great to be a Tech fan.
  • Iowa: Effectively ending Penn State’s title hopes, the Hawkeyes rallied for a game-winning field goal with one second remaining to beat the Nittany Lions. It would have been nice to see Joe Paterno go out on top… by getting crushed by a one-loss Florida team in the National Championship.
  • Cincinnati: Quietly and effectively, the Bearcats under coach Brian Kelly are right in the running for a BCS berth. Sure, it’s because they play in the Big East, but after an upset of West Virginia, the Bearcats control their own destiny.
  • Michigan State/Oregon State: Similar to the Bearcats, color me shocked that Sparty and the Beavers controls their own fates for a BCS berth. Could we see an Oregon State/Michigan State Rose Bowl? Yawn.

The Bad

  • Indiana/Purdue: These two Hoosier state public schools would do well to take a lesson from fellow in-stater Ball State. Combined, the Boilermakers and Hoosiers are 6-14. It’s Purdue head coach Joe Tiller’s final season, and I would wager it might be Bill Lynch’s as well.
  • Illinois: A loss to MAC member Western Michigan puts a nice exclamation point on a craptacular season for the Illini. At 5-5, with Northwestern and Ohio State remaining, it will be a struggle for Illinois to even reach Bowl Eligibility.
  • Notre Dame: An ugly showing for the Irish on Saturday, as they were blanked by Boston College. It was BC’s 6th straight win over ND, and showed the type of sloppy play that Irish fans were hoping to avoid this season. Winning a game while committing 5 turnovers is hard to do, and with ND’s somewhat stagnant offense at times this year, perfection is a must.

The Ugly:

  • Alabama: A win is a win, and while playing a road game against a Top 15 team is tough, Alabama tried every way in the world to lose this game. Bama finds ways to win, and that’s impressive in its own right, but I have to believe their day is coming in the SEC Championship Game. Florida wins. And wins big.
  • Utah: Sloppy was the order of the day when Utah took on TCU on Thursday. This battle of BCS busters came down to the wire, and when the dust cleared, Utah stood victorious. Is Utah a good team? Absolutely. Is Utah the 7th best team in the country as they are now ranked in the BCS? Absolutely not. Is Utah even the best BCS buster? Probably not.
  • Tennessee: Wyoming. A 3-6 Wyoming. In Knoxville. My goodness.

OTP Helmet Stickers
From RV:

  • Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech: This kid catches everything thrown his way and continued the ride for Texas Tech, regardless of his coach’s affinity for Pirates. I hope this kid gets a chance to catch the ball on a team in the NFL that knows how to use him, because he’s amazing.
  • Beanie Wells, RB, Ohio State: Great game against an overrated Northwestern game, if he can stay healthy…OSU will continue to bore the shit out of me when I watch them.
  • Nate F*ing Davis, QB, Ball State: Straight up nasty on Wednesday against a competent NIU defense. He showed off well for the orange bowl scouts in attendance and will do it again on national TV on Tuesday.

From Alan:

  • Chris Williams, WR, New Mexico St.: Made the most of 7 catches with 220 yards and three TDs in a loss to Hawaii.
  • Darren Evans, RB, Virginia Tech: Gashed the Maryland defense in a primetime Thursday game to the tune of 253 yards and a TD. That’s a school record, folks.
  • Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Georgia: Rang up the vaunted Kentucky defense for 191 yards and a score in the Bulldogs 42-38 victory.

Weekend Carnage Report

Well, well, well. Quite the little weekend in this little sport known as college football. Epic finishes in the Big 10, Notre Dame going down in 4 OTs to Pitt, and maybe the best game in recent memory as Texas Tech said “Yarrrr!!!” to Texas’ number one ranking. Not 72 hours after the weekend kicked off, two coaches have announced they are saying goodbye at seasons’ end… one Tom Amstutz at Toledo, and the biggest one… Phil Fulmer at Tennessee. The breaking news about Fulmer says that he and UT officials reached a “mutual agreement” about his future at the school. I’m skeptical. But it’s Monday and time for the week that was in college football.

The Good

  • Texas Tech. In a win over Texas, the Red Raiders announced they were not only offensively minded as Harrel and co. threw the ball all over the field, but they also played defense when it counted, didn’t fold under a mounting Texas resurgence, and were able to exorcise some demons that came with their neighbors from Austin. Mike Leach has always been known as an eccentric coach. Now he can be known as a great coach as well.
  • Florida. Lovefest from ESPN aside, this is a damn good football team. After pasting Kentucky last week 63-5, the Gators took 6th ranked Georgia behind the woodshed to the tune of 49-10. This Florida team is a missed extra point away from being undefeated and the number one team in the country.
  • West Virginia/Pitt. Two schools that have quietly come back from early season shockers to post their claim for the Big East’s conference title along side Cincinnati. Who would have thought after the first few weeks that these would be the two teams battling it out for a BCS berth.

The Bad

  • Indiana. In what has become habit for the Hoosiers, they give a MAC school their first win over a BCS conference school. Following in Ball State’s footsteps, Central Michigan goes to Bloomington and takes out IU. Bill Lynch strikes again and wrecks another football program.
  • Tulsa. The Golden Hurricanes fell from the nation’s unbeatens, as Arkansas handed them loss number one in Fayetteville. Tulsa’s offense flew high, to the sound of 528 yards, but three costly turnovers sealed their fate against the Hogs.
  • Washington/Washington St. It’s hard living if you’re a football fan in the Apple State. The two state schools are a combined 1-16 this season and were outscored Saturday 114-0. That’s mind-numbingly awful, the likes of which are hard to recover from.

The Ugly

  • Kentucky. Anytime you can walk out of Starkville with a win, it’s a good thing, but Kentucky wins no style points for their 14-13 victory. The win got Kentucky to 6-3, which makes them bowl-eligible and heading to their third straight postseason. An epic feat, but an ugly win.
  • Utah. A 13-10 win over New Mexico keeps the Utes in the hunt for the BCS and undefeated on the season, but with pivotal game against TCU and BYU upcoming, the Utes will need to have a much better effort than Saturday.
  • Missouri. The Tigers won Saturday against Baylor, but needed a late field goal for a 3-point win. This is the same team that many were lauding as a potential threat to win the Big 12 title just a few weeks ago. Perhaps Gary Pinkel is looking over his resume rather than prepping his team for games against cupcakes like Baylor.

OTP Helmet Stickers
From RV:

  • LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh: 169 rush yards and a TD in Pitt’s 4 OT win against Notre Dame in South Bend.
  • Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech: 10 catches for 127 yards and a game-winning touchdown in the upset of No. 1 Texas in Lubbock.
  • Brian Brunner, QB, Central Michigan: Replacing starter Dan Lefevour and throws for a school-record 485 yards passing with 4 TDs. He also ran one in too. Impressive.

From Alan:

  • Graham Harrell, QB, Texas Tech: 36-53, 474 yards, 2 TD in win over Texas.
  • Justin Siller, QB, Purdue: 343 total yards and 4 TDs against the Michigan Wolverines in Purdue’s victory. Orchestrated a hook-and-lateral to perfection.
  • Tim Tebow, QB, Florida: 10-13 154 yards and 2 TD through the air, rushes for 3 scores as well, breaking Emmitt Smith’s school record for rushing TDs in the process.

Humpday Quickies

We’re back pulling double duty this week as Kentucky and Ball State gear up for a Saturday matinee. The Cats head down to Gainesville for a date with Florida, and BSU gears up for a Parent’s Weekend blasty blast with Eastern Michigan. We’ll have full previews of both games tomorrow, and this week’s Blogpoll will be along shortly, but it’s Humpday, and it’s time for Quickies.

Ball State Quickies:

  • Sports Illustrated, yes… that Sports Illustrated, has a great feature piece on the Cardinals, readable here.
  • The South Bend Tribune says it isn’t an easy road to the BCS for the Cardinals, but it is possible.
  • A Kansas City columnist not named Jason Whitlock is singing the praises of Nate Davis, mentioning him as a potential fix, and only viable draft option, for the Chiefs offensive woes.
  • A blogger from FanIQ lists his coaches on the hotseat, and not surprisingly, Bill Lynch is on there. His replacement nominee? Among others, Brady Hoke.
  • Interesting read from the Van Wert Times Bulletin about Cards receiver Briggs Orsbon.

Kentucky Quickies:

Everyone Else:

  • In addition to prepping for Kentucky, Tim Tebow says Colt McCoy is his Heisman front runner.
  • Interesting read about fellow MAC brethren Northern Illinois and the rebuild that Coach Kill has engineered there. Kill won’t be long for the MAC, and a bigger, better program has several fantastic MAC coaches to choose from.
  • BlackHeartGoldPants has a nice little piece on how SIDs occasionally distort the truth.
  • Biased I’m sure because I was at their last game against the Naval Academy, but Pitt looked exceptionally good. ESPN has a nice write up on their defense, which looked exceptional in defending the triple option.
  • Also at the WorldWideLeader is the latest edition of Bowl Projections. Texas is a unanimous choice to play for the title.
  • Cal throws their hat in the ring for the Fulmer Cup of 09, as two players were arrested for armed robbery.
  • Ralph Friedgen, he of large-waisted Maryland fame, says what I’ve been saying for years… that adding conference games is a terrible terrible idea.
  • A UT fan screaming for the head of Phil Fulmer. Not new… or surprising.
  • Orson at EDSBS offers wedding advice to Casey Dick of Arkansas who is recently engaged.