January 01, 2008

Rose Bowl: Trojans Dominate in Statement Win

PASADENA, Calif. -- Most people thought the Rose Bowl would be a blowout. Most people were right.

Save a stretch in the third quarter when Illinois' offense woke up, USC dominated the entire game en route to a 49-17 win to secure its second consecutive dominant Rose Bowl win. While USC tied a Rose Bowl record with 49 points and set a record with 633 yards of total offense, the Trojan defense set the tone early in the game.

"I'm so fired up about the way we played against such a terrific offense that plays that scheme of offense," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "They might have given us too much time to prepare."

Continue reading "Rose Bowl: Trojans Dominate in Statement Win" »

Rose Bowl: Booty's USC Career Concludes

PASADENA, Calif. -- With about seven minutes left in the game, John David Booty's career at USC has come to an end. With USC holding a 42-10 lead, Mark Sanchez has taken over at quarterback and Booty ends his college days with his second consecutive Rose Bowl win.

He ends the game completing 25-of-37 passing attempts for 255 yards and three touchdowns. His three scoring throws today give him seven career touchdown passes in the Rose Bowl, surpassing Mark Brunell's old record of five in two games with Washington State.

Rose Bowl: Hits Keep Coming for USC

PASADENA, Calif. -- Now it's just a question of how much USC wants to pad John David Booty's newly acquired Rose Bowl touchdown record. After setting the record with his sixth career Rose Bowl touchdown pass to Fred Davis in the third quarter, Booty added another to start the fourth quarter, this time to David Ausberry.

USC now holds a 42-10 lead and has sent Illinois fans scurrying from the stands.

Rose Bowl: McKnight, USC Back in Charge

PASADENA, Calif. -- Illinois tried to go big to respond to USC's latest touchdown. It didn't work. Juice Williams' first pass of the drive sailed about 30 yards in the air before Cary Harris intercepted it. The Trojans in turn went for the jugular with a quick-strike drive that ended with a Joe McKnight touchdown to give USC a seemingly insurmountable 35-10 lead.

Meanwhile, McKnight has likely sealed up player of the game honors and possibly the full-time starting job at tailback for USC next season. So far he has eight carries for 116 yards and a touchdown, five receptions for 49 yards and has made some big plays in the return game. On a field full of burners, nobody's been able to keep up with McKnight.

Rose Bowl: Heartbreak for Illinois

PASADENA, Calif. -- Just as the Illini were about to roar back into this game, a turnover kept them out of the end zone and completely changed the tone. On the possession after Rashard Mendenhall ran for a 79-yard touchdown, he took a swing pass 55 yards to set up Illinois in scoring position again.

Illinois quarterback Juice Williams connected with Jacob Willis who bolted toward the end zone inside the 10. USC linebacker Kaluka Maiava had other ideas, punching the ball out, where it rolled into the end zone for a USC touchback.

A few plays later Joe McKnight picked up a loose ball on a lateral from John David Booty and ran 65 yards to set up an eventual touchdown pass from John David Booty to Fred Davis. Just when it looked like Illinois would cut the lead to 21-17, the Trojans increased their lead to 28-10. The 14-point swing could very well take the air out of Illinois. How they respond here with about five minutes left in the third quarter could determine the game.

Rose Bowl: Illinois Finds End Zone

PASADENA, Calif. -- Illinois got just what it needed to kick off the second half with a big play from Rashard Mendenhall. The speedy tailback finally found a hole in the USC defense and broke through for a 79-yard touchdown run that equaled the team's total offensive output in the first half.

The Illini fans, who have been plenty loud while their team struggled, erupted and have the Rose Bowl actually feeling like the Rose Bowl as USC leads 21-10.

Rose Bowl: Illini Faithful Stay Strong

PASADENA -- Either Illinois' fans don't realize they're down 21-3 or they're not bothered by it. I've been nothing but impressed by the Illini faithful who were the loudest before the game, steadfast during the USC-dominated first half and have been the most spirited during halftime -- and we're just a few miles away from USC's campus.

If just for their sake, it'd be nice to see their football team play a more competitive second half.

Continue reading "Rose Bowl: Illini Faithful Stay Strong" »

Rose Bowl: Illinois Breaks Through

PASADENA -- So much for the shutout. Illinois responded to USC's latest touchdown with its best drive of the day to get on the board with 38 seconds left in the first half and cut the deficit to 21-3. The drive stalled and ended in a 28-yard field goal, but it's something positive for the Illini to work with going into halftime.

Rose Bowl: Illinois Livin' on a Prayer

PASADENA, Calif. -- The Illinois band takes an honest approach about things. With Illinois starting at its own 10 for its worst field position of the day, the Illini band rolled out with Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer. Very appropriate.

USC's lighting-fast defense again allowed nothing as the Illini were forced to punt again and set up USC near midfield, where it marched 43 yards for a Chauncey Washington touchdown to take a 21-0 lead with about two minutes left in the first half. The question now is whether or not Illinois will be able to score.

Rose Bowl: USC Leaving Door Open

PASADENA, Calif. -- After exploding for the first two touchdowns of the game, USC's offense has stalled since John David Booty's interception. USC scored twice before even facing third down on offense, but hasn't been able to get much going since.

Illinois is seeing the benefits with good field position, but has yet to capitalize. The difference right now is USC's defense, lauded by many as the best in the nation. So far, Illinois has 28 plays on offense for 45 yards.

If the Illini find a way to break a big scoring play, this could get interesting. The way things are going, it may have to come from defense or special teams.

Rose Bowl: Ilini Squander Opportunity

PASADENA, Calif. -- Illinois got exactly what it needed to make this a competitive game when Justin Harrison intercepted John David Booty and returned the ball 45 yards to the USC 20. Illinois picked up a first down near the 10 and looked ready to score, but stalled on three straight plays.

Well, at least they would get on the scoreboard with a chip shot field goal. Or not. Jason Reda missed the 29-yard attempt just when it looked like Illinois was ready to get into the game. USC still leads 14-0 at the end of the first quarter while the Illinois fans search hard for something to cheer about.

Rose Bowl: Tricky Tricky Trojans

PASADENA, Calif. -- USC is pulling out the stops already as a trick play put the Trojans on top of Illinois 14-0 halfway through the first quarter. After a Rey Maualuga interception set USC up in Illinois territory, the USC offense struck quick when John David Booty took the snap and lateraled it back to widout Garrett Green. Green, listed as a WR-QB on the lineup card, showed his quarterbacking prowess with a 34-yard strike to a wide open Desmond Reed for USC's second touchdown of the game.

The scary thing for Ilinois is that it hasn't been able to get anything going on offense. In need of a response to USC's first touchdown, the Illini started to march toward midfield, but Maualuga's interception and 19-yard return set up the easy score for USC.

As I wrote this entry, Illinois went three and out and just punted the ball back to USC. This looks very much like the blowout most people expected.

Rose Bowl: Trojans Take Charge Early

PASADENA, Calif. -- Illinois looked ready to make the first statement of the Rose Bowl when it got off to a good start with a 16-yard run from Rashard Mendehnall on the opening play. But USC forced a punt after three more plays and looked like a team angry not to be playing in the national championship.

Led by precision passing from John David Booty and a lucky bounce on a batted ball that ended up in Joe McKnight's hands, USC needed just 2:12 to march 72 yards and score the game's first touchdown for a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.

The Trojans, an experienced and loose BCS team, proceeded to perform a choreographed dance routine on the sideline as Illinois waited for the ensuing kickoff. It's obviously early, but Illinois would be well-served to respond with a good drive here.

Rose Bowl: Screw Tradition

PASADENA, Calif. -- There are two schools of thought with today's Rose Bowl matchup between USC and Illinois. One believes in tradition and pageantry with Pac-10 and Big Ten loyalists gagging at the thought of an interloper from another conference playing in the grandaddy of them all.

Then there's the progressive point of view that believes the Rose Bowl, being the esteemed event that it is, shouldn't settle for anything but the best show possible. It's a red-state, blue-state thing and an argument that's been hashed over countless times since the BCS announced that No. 7 USC would play a 9-3 Illinois team that backed into a BCS bowl despite a ranking of 13 in the final standings.

Both sides are equally passionate about the Rose Bowl and believe their point of view is the best for the New Year's Day classic. Both sides will stand their ground with the fortitude that fuels political debates on cable network news. Both sides can't be right.

And the wrong side won out this year. I'm a born and bred ACC man with no affiliation with Pac-10 or Big Ten tradition. I want what's best for college football, which is the best possible matchup for the game's premiere bowl.

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December 31, 2007

OREGON MAULS USF 56-21 AT BRUT SUN BOWL

EL PASO, TX - The Oregon Ducks (9-4) held a slim 18-14 halftime, but erupted for 28 third-quarter points en route to a record-setting 56-21 win over the South Florida Bulls (9-4) at the 74th annual Brut Sun Bowl.

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EL PASO, TX - In what was a close 18-14 game at halftime, the Oregon Ducks exploded for 28 third quarter points, en route to a 56-21 win over South Florida in the 74th version of the Brut Sun Bowl.

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USF SCORES

EL PASO, TX - Taking over the ineffective and shaken up Matt Grothe, USF's Grant Gregory hit A.J. Love for an 11-yard touchdown to cut Oregon's lead to 49-21 with 6:34 remaining in the game.

THE ROUT CONTINUES

EL PASO, TX - Matt Evensen added a 30-yard field goal to give Oregon a 49-14 lead with 12;14 left in the game.

DUCKS REWRITING SUN BOWL RECORD BOOK

EL PASO, TX - The Oregon Ducks are having their way with South Florida, not just on the scoreboard, 46-14, but in the Sun Bowl record book.

Though the game is only three quarters old, a number of records have been set in today's rout.

Continue reading "DUCKS REWRITING SUN BOWL RECORD BOOK" »

AN OREGON ROUT

EL PASO, TX - The Ducks keep piling it on.

Justin Roper is looking like anythig but a freshman, throwing his fourth touchdown pass of the game. This time it was an eight-yarder to Jonathan Stewart to make it 46-14 with 4:05 left in the third.

DUCKS FLYING AWAY WITH IT

EL PASO, TX - When it rains, it pours. Ten seconds after Oregon took a 32-14 lead over USF, Ducks' cornerback Walter Thurmond III intercepted a Matt Grothe pass and returned it 25 yards for a TD to make it 39-14 with 7:25 to go in the third period.

OREGON TAKING CHARGE

EL PASO, TX - Justin Roper threw his third touchdown pass of the game, a 15-yarder to Ed Dickson to give Oregon a comanding 32-14 lead over South Florida with 7:35 to go in the third quarter.

Roper, the Ducks' freshman replacement for Dennis Dixon, is now 13 of 23 for 145 yards.

DUCKS LOOKING TO TAKE COMMAND

EL PASO, TX - After taking a 25-14 lead, Oregon recovered a Taurus Johnson fumble on the USF 36-yard line. An unsportsmanlike penalty took the Ducks back to midfield, but they are now looking at a first down at the Bulls' 18-yard line.

OREGON EXTENDS LEAD

EL PASO, TX - Freshman quarterback Justin Roper hit Jaison Williams with a 14-yard touchdown pass to give the Ducks a 25-14 lead with 10:17 left in the third quarter.

This was Roper's second TD pass of the game.

The key play of the drive was a 41-yard run by Jonathan Stewart, who is nearing the Brut Sun Bowl record for rushing yards. Stewart has 186, the record is 197, set by LSU's Charles Alexander in 1977.

USF GETS THE BALL TO OPEN 2ND HALF

EL PASO, TX - USF, down 18-14, opened the second half of the Brut Sun Bowl with the ball, but after a single first down, are forced to punt from their own 35 yard line.

USF CUTS INTO LEAD AT HALF

EL PASO, TX - South Florida's Delbert Alvarado nailed a 35-yard field goal as time ran out to cut Oregon's lead to 18-14 at halftime.

In a half that featured as many yellow hankies as big plays, Oregon has been almost unstoppable on the ground while USF is having the better of it through the air

Continue reading "USF CUTS INTO LEAD AT HALF" »

STEWART EXPLODES FOR LONG TD

EL PASO, TX - Jonathan Stewart exploded for a 71-yard touchdown run to give Oregon an 18-11 lead over South Florida with 3:17 to go in the second quarter.

Stewart, who started slowly, has now rushed for 141 yards on just 12 carries (11.8 yards per carry).

FLAG FEST

EL PASO, TX - Playing like they haven't been on the field for a month, Oregon and South Florida have already combined to tie the all-time Brut Sun Bowl record for most penalty yardage in a game with 162.

Oregon has been flagged 10 times for 102 yards, South Florida has seven penalties for 60 yards.

Oh, and by the way, they tied the record with 5:25 to go in the second quarter.

SOUTH FLORIDA TIES IT UP

EL PASO, TX - Quarterback Matt Grothe escaped a heavy rush and hit Taurus Johnson with a 21-yard touchdown pass to get within 11-9. On the two-point try, Grothe hit Cedric Hill in the back of the end zone to tie Oregon 11-11 with 7:04 left in the second quarter.

SOUTH FLORIDA GETS ON THE BOARD

EL PASO, TX - South Florida's Delbert Alvarado kicked a 29-yard field goal to cut Oregon's lead to 8-3 with 14:49 left in the second quarter.

The Bulls kept the ball for 16 plays and 6:39, but were unable to get it into the end zone.

OREGON LEADS SLOPPY SUN BOWL AFTER ONE

EL PASO, TX - In an opening quarter that saw both teams combine for 12 penalties for 112 yards, the Oregon Ducks lead the South Florida Bulls 8-0.

Oregon has seven penalties for 67 yards, while South Florida has been flagged five times for 45 yards.

DUCKS TAKE EARLY LEAD

EL PASO, TX - Freshman quarterback Justin Roper hit wide receiver Garren Strong with a seven-yard TD pass to give Oregon an early lead in the Brut Sun Bowl.

Oregon decided to roll the dice early and go for two. Roper pitced to Matt Evensen, who ran it in for the two-point conversion to give Oregon the 8-0 lead with 6:28 left in the first quarter.

OREGON GOES ON OFFENSE FIRST

EL PASO, TX - Oregon takes the opening kickoff and will go to work with freshman quarterback Justin Roper, filling in for the injured Dennis Dixon.

BRUT SUN BOWL A WASH OF GREEN

EL PASO, TX - The Brut Sun Bowl is a sea of green with both Oregon and South Florida fans donning their respective team's primary color - green.

Even the skydivers who dropped into the stadium with the game ball dropped in with green parachutes. The last skydiver dropped in with a huge American flag waving behind him to the delight of the 51,000 fans.

SUN BOWL A BATTLE OF FORMER NUMBER TWOS

Today's Brut Sun Bowl pits two teams who are still wondering what might have been.

Both the Oregon Ducks (8-4) and the South Florida Bulls (9-3) were ranked as high as second in the nation this season but were unable to sustain it due to a combination of injuries and bad luck.

Of course, Oregon's loss of (at the time) Heisman Trophy frontrunner Dennis Dixon quickly transformed the team from a national title contender to a very mediocre squad. After losing their quarterback, the Ducks have gone on to lose three straight games.

South Florida opened the season with six straight wins but also went on a stretch when they lost three straight games (by a combined 15 points).

However, the Bulls recovered to finish the season on a three-game wining streak and are ranked 21 in the BCS standings.

Oregon comes into the Brut Sun Bowl with wins over USC, MIchigan and Arizona State. South Florida registered victories over Auburn, West Virginia and Louisville.

Some of the players to watch in this one are Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart (1,469 yards, 10 TDs), wide receiver Jaison Willliams (51 catches, 804 yards, 7 TDs) and defensive end Nick Reed (60 tackles, 12 sacks, 22.5 tackles for loss).

For South Florida, QB Matt Grothe (2,473 yards passing, 13 TDs, 832 yards rushing, 10 TDs), freshman RB Mike Ford (637 yards, 12 TDs) and DE George Selvie (14.5 sacks, 32 tackles for loss).

It is a great day for football! The Brut Sun Bowl will kick off at 2 p.m. eastern and will be played under sunny skies (60 degrees), there isn't a single cloud to be found. There is a slight 10-15 mph breeze though.


December 29, 2007

POST-GAME WRAP

SAN FRANCISCO - Mike Riley always seems to come up with the right game-plan in bowl games.

In this case, it was pretty obvious. Friday night at AT&T Park, Riley improved his postseason record at Oregon State to 4-0, as the Beavers beat the Maryland Terrapins 21-14 in an ugly - and at times, unwatchable - Emerald Bowl.

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December 28, 2007

BEAVERS WIN 21-14

SAN FRANCISCO - Final score here from AT&T Park: Oregon State beats Maryland 21-14.

I'll be back after post-game interviews to wrap this baby up.

WIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIDE LEFT

SAN FRANCISCO - The Terps had their best drive since the first quarter, but it went for naught.

Kicker Obi Egekeze shanked a 32-yarder wayyyyyy wide left.

Like the rest of this game, it was ugly.

BEAVERS TAKE THE LEAD

SAN FRANCISCO - Oregon State has its first lead of the game.

Mike Riley finally came to his senses and let Yvanson Bernard take him to paydirt - kinda.

Continue reading "BEAVERS TAKE THE LEAD" »

WHO'S STILL WATCHING?

SAN FRANCISCO - Is anyone still watching this game?

If you happened to flip channels or take a bathroom break or a run to the store, you haven't missed anything. And that's no joke.

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BREAK OUT THE PONCHOS

SAN FRANCISCO - The Maryland fans have stuck out a little more now - no, not because they're being louder; they broke out the color-coded ponchos.

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14-14 AT HALFTIME

SAN FRANCISCO - It's only fitting that this game is tied at halftime because neither team deserves to be winning.

Neither Mike Riley nor Ralph Friedgen can be too happy about that second quarter, which featured a combined five turnovers and some horrible decision-making.

Continue reading "14-14 AT HALFTIME" »

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

SAN FRANCISCO - A couple more minutes and a couple more turnovers.

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TURNOVER CITY

SAN FRANCISCO - In a span of two minutes and two seconds, there were three turnovers.

Two fumbles by the Beavs, one interception by the Terps.

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WELCOME HOME

SAN FRANCISCO - The California kid is having himself one heck of a first quarter.

Maryland's quarterback Chris Turner has 154 passing yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter, the latest a 63-yarder to Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Continue reading "WELCOME HOME" »

(NOT SO) SPECIAL TEAMS

SAN FRANCISCO - Oregon State has just tied it at 7-7 and it has Maryland's Adrien Moten to thank for that one.

Continue reading "(NOT SO) SPECIAL TEAMS" »

TERPS STRIKE FIRST

SAN FRANCISCO - Well that's quite a way to start a ballgame.

Maryland's opening drive went 80 yards on 11 plays and lasted 4:39. It was capped off by a 9-yard touchdown pass by Chris Turner to receiver Isaiah Williams.

Continue reading "TERPS STRIKE FIRST" »

Maryland vs. Orgeon State - Pregame Notes

SAN FRANCISCO - Welcome to tonight's live coverage of the Emerald Bowl, a game featuring Maryland (6-6, 3-5 ACC) and Oregon State (8-4, 6-3 Pac 10). We're about 15 minutes from kickoff here at AT&T Park, which isn't your typical (or for that matter, preferred) bowl game stadium. The San Francisco Giants play here, and other than tonight's bowl game, it is pretty much only used for baseball.

Something tells me Barry Bonds will not be making a guest appearance here tonight...

Continue reading "Maryland vs. Orgeon State - Pregame Notes" »

A Happy Holiday Bowl For Texas

SAN DIEGO - Tabbed as a BCS-worthy squad prior to the start of the 2007 season, few prognosticators believed Texas would wind up in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl. But as everyone would soon come to find out, not much would go according to plan in the college football world this past season and that the entire landscape would be turned on its head.


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Texas with 52 points on Charles run

SAN DIEGO - The Longhorns toppled the 50-point mark when Jamaal Charles, who was already having a monster of a game, scored with 2:24.

Texas 52, ASU 34 with 2:24 remaining

No quit in ASU

SAN DIEGO - Give ASU credit. They're not folding despite it being nearly impossible to climb back into this thing. Jarrell Woods just scored from a couple yards out to cap a methodical ASU scoring drive.

Texas 45, ASU 34 with 3:40 remaining

December 27, 2007

Too little, too late

SAN DIEGO - An impressive drive by ASU, as Dany Sullivan finds Michael Jones in the end zone. But it took way too long for the Sun Devils to find their scoring touch in this one.

Texas 45, ASU 27 with 8:49 remaining

Texas flexes its collective muscles

SAN DIEGO - Vondrell McGee scampers virtually untouched into the end zone to make the 2007 edition of the Holiday Bowl an official blowout.
Apparently it was a leap year for the "most exiting bowl game of the season."

Texas 45, ASU 20 with 11:03 remaining in the contest

The finishing touches

SAN DIEGO - With 12: 55 to go in the 4th, Ryan Bailey boots a gimme of a field goal to put Texas ahead 38-20. Barring the miraculous, the Longhorns have this one snatched up.

ASU keeps breathing on Carpenter TD pass

SAN DIEGO - A prime-time return by Rudy Burgess gives ASU the ball at their own 49-yard-line. It will be interesting to see what the ASU offense can muster.

On 3rd down, Carpenter throws off his back foot and miraculously finds Michael Jones in the end zone for a sterling 22-yard TD pass.

This keeps Arizona State alive, but-not-so-well, as they find themselves in a 15-point deficit, 35-20, with 2:49 left in the third.

The Stars align for the 'Horns

SAN DIEGO - Marcus Griffin intercepts the ball to put a quick end to ASU's drive, followed by McCoy coming up with a clutch third-down completion.

McCoy then felt the need to go to his feet on another third-down as he scampered out of bounds to move the chains.

The Texas punt team was forced to come out, but give the Longhorns credit for eating up a chunk of the third quarter.

Not that it matters...ASU gives it right back to the 'Horns as Henry Melton recovers a muffed punt.

McCoy then takes off for a wild jaunt, weaving in and out of the ASU defense right to the 4-yard-line before fumbling into the endzone.

As has been the case all night long, things work out for Texas as Jermichael Finley recovers McCoys fumble in the end zone to put Texas up handily, 35-13.

ASU showing life

SAN DIEGO - ASU forces Texas to punt out of their own endzone and are doing all the neccessary things to make this one interesting in the fourth quarter.

28-13, Texas with 9:27 left in the third

A Happy Horns Holiday

SAN DIEGO - Tabbed as BCS-worthy squad prior to the start of the 2007 season, few prognosticators believed Texas would wind up in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl.
But as everyone would soon come to find out, not much would go according to plan in the college football world this past season and that the entire landscape would be turned on its head.
So in the most bizarre of collegiate pigskin seasons, it was fitting that Texas would end its 2007 campaign on a bizarre note.
Sure, Texas bested Arizona State 52-34 in the 30th edition of the Holiday Bowl Thursday night at Qualcomm Stadium, but it was the matter in which they went about it that will have people in Austin half-heatedly chuckling at what could have gone wrong.
A fumble late in the third quarter at the 4-yard-line by a scrambling Colt McCoy bounced into the end zone and was somehow found at the bottom of an unforgiving pile by the Longhorns' Jermichael Finley. It resulted in a Texas touchdown that put them safely ahead, 35-13.
That strange fumble sequence, however, was as routine as they come when compared to what transpired on one play in the second quarter.
Behind by 21 points, Sun Devils quarterback Rudy Carpenter was drilled by Texas linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy and the ball fell to the ground, about three yards away from the Longhorns sideline.
A then-unidentifiable Longhorns assistant wearing a burnt orange jumpsuit was also on the field at the time and actually reached for the ball to pick it up. The problem was, the ball was still in play.
Texas defensive end Aaron Lewis recovered the fumble, but the call was reversed minutes later and the ball was awarded to ASU. This gave the Sun Devils undeniable momentum and Carpenter capped it with a TD pass that electrified the Sun Devil faithful.
Then came word of who the potential goat of the 2007 Holiday Bowl was...yup, you guessed it...Mack Brown's stepson.
Luckily for Texas, Chris Jessie (a member of his stepfather's football staff), will not put his name in the history books next to the Steve Bartman's of the world.
The 52 points Texas laid on ASU made sure of that.

2:58 left in 1st half, Texas looking mighty fine

ASU had better hope they can stifle Texas in what will likely be the 'Horns final drive of the half. If not, this one is in the books.

Home for the Holiday Bowl?

By Matt Burke

SAN DIEGO - They say everything is big in Texas, however the Longhorns' fan contingency at the 30th Annual Holiday Bowl appears to be quite less than large as fans begin tricking inside Qualcomm Stadium tonight.

Strolling through the parking lot hours before gametime, there wasn't exactly a sea of burnt orange and as CSTV.com's Adam Caparell wrote today in the Red Zone, about only half of Texas' 11,000 alloted tickets were sold.

Sure Arizona State is only a Rudy Carpenter spiral away from San Diego, but c'mon...this is Texas. We'll see if things pick up on the attendance side for the Hook 'Em's right before kickoff.

December 23, 2007

Thrilling Finish

LAS VEGAS - BYU added another miracle finish to its memory book this season.

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December 22, 2007

Missed Opportunity

LAS VEGAS - UCLA missed a crucial conversion while trying to drive for the lead.

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Forbath Comes Through Again

LAS VEGAS - Kai Forbath kicked his second field goals of 50 yards or longer tonight to pull UCLA within a point of BYU.

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Injuries, but no scoring

LAS VEGAS - BYU junior right guard Travis Bright broke his right leg in the third quarter and was carted off the field.

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Big Mistake By BYU

LAS VEGAS - The BYU coaching staff is kicking itself in the locker room right now.

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Collie Drawing Flags

LAS VEGAS - BYU wide receiver Austin Collie is making an impact in his bowl debut without even making a catch.

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Forbath Kick Record Worthy

LAS VEGAS - UCLA kicker Kai Forbath put his name in the Las Vegas Bowl record book with a 52-yard field goal.

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BYU Forges Ahead

LAS VEGAS - The turnover bug just came back to bite UCLA.

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BYU Kick To Tie

LAS VEGAS - BYU has tied the game at 3-3 on a 29-yard field goal by Mitch Payne near the end of the first quarter.

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BYU Turns It Over

LAS VEGAS - After making it a point to cut down on turnovers in the rematch with UCLA, BYU turned the ball over on its first possession when quarterback Max Hall was hit by UCLA defensive end Bruce Davis and fumbled and the Bruins recovered.

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Rematch About To Begin

LAS VEGAS - Kickoff is just a few minutes away here at Sam Boyd Stadium for the Las Vegas Bowl game between BYU and UCLA.

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December 02, 2007

Warriors' beliefs power win over Washington

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It's 3:30am Eastern Time, Here's What You East-Coasters Missed

ColtBrennan.jpg
(It was a BCS and Heisman-worthy performance by Hawaii and Colt Brennan)

Hawaii fights back to close the half

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Washington takes an early 14-0 lead

HONOLULU, HI

The Hawaii defense was called for illegal substitution, giving the Huskies a first down on fourth-and-four at midfield. Jake Locker, on 2nd and goal, rushed for an eight-yard touchdown and Ryan Perkins added the extra point to give the Huskies the first lead of the game at 7-0.

On their first offensive possession, third down, Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan fumbled the ball, and Washington took over on the Hawaii 21 yard line. With the ball at the one yard line on fourth and goal, Washington converted the second score of the night. Perkins kick was good for a 14-0 lead with 8:30 left in the first quarter.

December 01, 2007

Warriors-Huskies set for kickoff

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Trojans Rose Bowl Bound... Again

LOS ANGELES -- Ho-hum. Another Pac-10 championship for USC. Another Rose Bowl appearance. Another BCS game. That's what USC has to be excited about tonight after a dominant defensive performance ends with a 24-7 win over rival UCLA -- a win that avenges last season's upset in Pasadena and sends the Trojans to their sixth straight BCS bowl game.

"There's nothing we like more than winning championships," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "I know everybody talks about all the rest of the stuff. But we don't have control of the other stuff. What we do have control of is the Pac-10."

Continue reading "Trojans Rose Bowl Bound... Again" »

Braving the Elements

LOS ANGELES -- I'm going to face the harsh winter winds of Southern California on the field. With less than six minutes remaining, USC holds a 24-7 lead over UCLA and has the ball. I don't see the Bruins doing much from here. I'll check back in with a wrap after the press conference.

What Was He Thinking?

LOS ANGELES -- I haven't seen much UCLA football this year, but I can understand why the Bruins fans want Karl Dorrell out. With USC inside the Bruins five, UCLA came up with a third-down stop, setting USC up for a likely field goal attempt. The officials called USC for a hold on the play, but that should be inconsequential. The result of the play is a fourth down -- you decline the penalty. Anybody that's ever watched a football game knows that, right?

Well evidently not Dorrell. The Bruins accepted the penalty, giving USC another chance on third down. The Trojans made them pay with a touchdown pass from John David Booty to Fred Davis to increase the lead to 24-7 and seemingly put the game out of hand with about 12 minutes remaining.

I don't understand.

Another Turnover -- USC Ball

LOS ANGELES -- On the second play after forcing a turnover, UCLA gave the ball right back to USC when Patrick Cowan threw an interception to set USC up in Bruins territory. In case you're scoring, that's three turnovers in five plays. This game is officially ugly.

USC leads 17-7 at the end of the third quarter.

Blown Opportunity

LOS ANGELES -- Apparently neither team wants to win this game. Given a golden opportunity to cut into the USC lead, UCLA turned the ball over for a third time on first down in Trojan territory. Brandon Breazell fumbled the ball on a busted play, giving the ball right back to the Trojans.

But just as USC looked ready to put the game out of hand, Joe McKnight fumbled the ball in the red zone to give the ball back to the Bruins. Somebody -- anybody, please step up and win this ball game.

So Much for that Idea

LOS ANGELES -- UCLA looked ready to make this a one-possession game. Then fourth-and-19 happened. After opening the third quarter with consecutive first-down plays, the Bruins managed to move backwards on three consecutive plays thanks to two penalties and a sack. Now USC has the ball again and UCLA has squandered a great opportunity to cut into the 17-7 Trojan lead.

Somehow UCLA Still in this Game

LOS ANGELES -- Despite being outgained 243 yards to 101 in the first half, UCLA is hanging with USC going into halftime. The Bruins almost tripled their yardage with a 65-yard drive that ended with a spectacular one-handed touchdown grab in the back of the end zone by Dominique Johnson to cut the USC lead to 17-7.

In fact, this game is looking a lot like the Stanford upset earlier in the season. USC outplayed the overmatched Cardinal in the first half, but couldn't put them away on the scoreboard and Stanford hung around long enough to steal the game in the final minutes.

UCLA gets the ball to start the third quarter. If they can pick up some points, then things should get interesting.

Trojans Pad Lead

LOS ANGELES -- A 46-yard field goal from David Beuhler extended USC's lead to 17-0 with 45 seconds left in the first half.

Meanwhile, UCLA just picked up its second first down of the day in a desperation attempt score before halftime. With time running down, they're trying to keep it a two-possession game, which is about four possessions closer than it should be. One thing's for certain about this game; UCLA coach Karl Dorrell's seat is hotter than its ever been.

UCLA Offensive

LOS ANGELES -- It's been a long time since I've seen a college offense look this bad. With about two minutes left in the first half, UCLA has 36 total yards of offense. It's averaging .5 yards per carry. And amazingly USC only has a 14-0 lead.

The Trojans have racked up 213 yards and 15 first downs, but some uncharacteristic drops from tight end Fred Davis and stalling in the red zone have kept UCLA a Trojan mistake away from getting right back into this game.

Washington Returns, Scores

LOS ANGELES -- After leaving the game with a bruised hip, Chauncey Washington looked just fine in his return to the field, rumbling for a 10-yard touchdown run to give USC a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.

So far, USC has 14 first downs while UCLA has 17 total yards of offense. That's not a typo. If the Bruins don't come to life soon, this game could get out of hand.

Another Trojan Down

LOS ANGELES -- It's a good thing USC goes about eight-deep at tailback. After losing Chauncey Washington in the first quarter, Joe McKnight is out with a sprained knee. Stafon Johnson should see a lot of carries as the game continues.

Whistle Stop

LOS ANGELES -- While it's not quite a "Giving Him the Business" moment, the Coliseum crowd and press box just got a good chuckle out the officials.

With about three minutes left in the first quarter, an official stopped the game to instruct one of the 90,000 fans in the seats to "please refrain from blowing your whistle." Evidently somebody's trying to officiate from the stands. As for the game, USC still leads 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Bruins Catch a Break

LOS ANGELES -- With a stagnant offense and USC threatening to score, the Bruins caught a break to keep the game from breaking open early when David Buehler missed a 40-yard field goal to keep the score at 7-0, USC.

So far, the Trojans have had three genuine scoring chances and have just the one touchdown to show for it. If the Bruins could muster any semblance of an offense, they could make this a game.

Chauncey's Out

LOS ANGELES -- Bad news for the Trojans. Bruising back Chauncey Washington just left for the locker room with a bruised hip.

Trojans Strike First

LOS ANGELES -- So much for that good start for UCLA. The Bruins couldn't survive their second turnover of the first quarter as USC quickly turned a UCLA fumble into a touchdown for a 7-0 lead.

Starting at the UCLA 32-yard line, John David Booty needed just two plays to find the end zone thanks to a 27-yard strike to Stanley Havili and a five-yard touchdown run from Joe McKnight.

Up and Down Already in L.A.

LOS ANGELES -- Six minutes in and this game is already a roller-coaster ride. What looked like a great opening defensive stand for UCLA almost turned into USC points before the Bruins came up with another big stop.

Pinned inside their own 20 to start the game, USC went three and out before a lackluster punt that landed near midfield, setting UCLA up with what looked like great field position. That was until Trojan linebacker Thomas Williams forced a fumble setting up USC at midfield.

But the Trojans couldn't do much with the ball again, advancing about 25 yards before UCLA held them up on fourth and short at the 25.

Now the Bruins have the ball and Patrick Cowan is in at quarterback. Regular starter Ben Olson was scheduled to start, but apparently isn't healthy enough. So far, with UCLA playing tough defense and Patrick Cowan leading the offense, this looks a lot like last year's game at the Rose Bowl.

Fashion Faux Pas and a Rose Bowl Berth

LOS ANGELES -- I realized about halfway through my drive from San Diego that I had made a grave fashion decision this morning. Knowing it's going to be cold today (by Southern California standards), I grabbed the first sweater I found in my closet. It just happens to be light blue.

As I walked through the parking lot at the L.A. Coliseum, I was made even more aware of my poor decision by several USC fans who mistook me for a Bruin (which I most certainly am not) and had some not so kind words. It's ok -- I'm pretty thick-skinned.

Despite relatively disappointing seasons for both the Bruins and Trojans, today's atmosphere is as tense as ever as UCLA finds itself once again in the position to play spoiler for USC.

Continue reading "Fashion Faux Pas and a Rose Bowl Berth" »

November 24, 2007

Oregon-UCLA: My, how far Oregon has fallen

PASADENA, Ca.--

UOCheer.jpg
Sure enough, without Dennis Dixon, Oregon laid a big fat "O."

On November 11th, the Oregon Ducks were No. 2 in the nation. Then came what I am getting closer and closer to calling the worst injury in the modern history of college football.

So this was not the Oregon team we were supposed to see. Not the same team a lot of people had pegged to play for the national championship.

But who could've guessed this? The Ducks ended the game - yes, the game, not the first quarter - with 148 total yards against that good, but not great UCLA defense.

And can someone explain to me why Dennis Dixon is no longer considered a Heisman Trophy candidate? I mean if you look at the Heisman as a most valuable player-type of award, Dixon is easily the nation's MVP.

JonathanStewart.jpg
(Jonathan Stewart found no running room against the swarming Bruins)

Continue reading "Oregon-UCLA: My, how far Oregon has fallen" »

Oregon-UCLA: Game Over. Bruins win.

PASADENA, Ca.--
This game comes to an anti-climatic end here at the Rose Bowl. The Bruin defense dominates and Oregon is obviously not a team worthy of the BCS if they don't have Dennis Dixon in the game.

Scoreboard.jpg

Scoreboard totals as shown above are correct. UCLA improves to 6-5 and 5-3, keeping its still-dim Pac 10 title hopes alive. (I know, that sounds bizarre, but it's true.) Oregon drops to 8-3 and 5-3.

More in a bit...

Oregon-UCLA: Ducks won't be Rose Bowlin'. Now down 16-0.

PASADENA, Ca.--
Bruins just slammed the door on this one. And a loud cheer just went up over in South Central L.A. as the USC Trojans will now be in the driver's seat for the Rose Bowl. UCLA's lead balloons to 16-0 as Craig Sheppard just ran in a clinching touchdown with 5:29 left. (This ain't the SEC, so Oregon is NOT going to come back and win.)

The Drive:
4 plays
31 yards
1:51 elapsed time

Oregon-UCLA: Teams trade interceptions. Still 9-0 Bruins.

PASADENA, Ca.--
These two teams just traded interceptions. But now there is under nine mintues left, so Oregon MUST find some offense.

BruinGirls.jpg
(Without Dennis Dixon, even the Bruin Girls could stop the Ducks today)

Oregon's Justin Roper threw an interception to UCLA's Trey Brown. Roper is Oregon's third quarterback of the day and that was Brown's fourth interception of the season.

But then UCLA's Ben Olson returned the favor with an interception of his own two plays later, in the Oregon end zone. Duck ball.

Oregon-UCLA: Forbath kicks field goal No. 3, UCLA now up 9-0

PASADENA, Ca.--
Another Oregon turnover, this time an interception deep in UO territory, has led to another Kai Forbath field goal for the Bruins.

KaiForbath.jpg
(Yawn. Kai Forbath is the only offense in today's game)

The Bruins now lead 9-0 after three quarters.

Total Offense:
UCLA- 50 plays, 124 yards. (Passing: 3-15, 35 yards through the air.)
Oregon- 56 plays, 103 yards. (Passing: 6-25 for 56 yards through the air.)

This ain't the SEC, people.

Oregon-UCLA: A couple of things i should mention

PASADENA, Ca.--
Did I happen to mention that it's a 75 degree day with a cloudless sky here in Southern California? Except for the smog and bad plastic surgery, it's perfect here.


RoseBowlDay.jpg
(What, it's not warm and sunny where you are?)

Also, Ben Olson is the UCLA starting quarterback for the second half, but didn't get much going in his first two drives. The first drive of the second half ended when Olson's 4th-down pass went incomplete.

Oregon now has the ball in UCLA territory... but I still wish I was at the Tennessee-Kentucky game.

Oregon-UCLA: Halfway through and STILL nothing exciting

PASADENA, Ca.--

UOCheer.jpg
(There hasn't been a lot of "O" in this game)

It's 6-0 UCLA at the half here in the Rose Bowl.

Offensive offense:
UCLA- 29 plays, 40 yards, 2 first downs.
Oregon- 44 plays, 101 yards, 9 first downs.

Poor passes, dropped catches, no running lanes, and just general inept play all the way around so far between these two teams today.

Two turnovers have led to Bruin field goals, which makes sense since UCLA can't get anything going behind 4th string quarterback Osaar Rasshan.

Hell, bring back Wayne Cook.

Oregon-UCLA: Leaf still gimpy, Bruins go up 6-0.

PASADENA, Ca.--
Trainers are working with Brady Leaf, but he still looks pretty weak on that gimpy right stilt of his.

LeafInjured.jpg
(Leaf looked shaky on the field AND here in front of the trainers with his injured ankle)

He doesn't appear to be going in any time soon, though after Kempt's interception, he may be a necessity. Bruins turn interception into another Kai Forbath field goal to go up 6-0. UCLA is now 1-of-7 on third down conversions.

Oregon-UCLA: Ladies and Gentlemen, here's your Heisman contender today

PASADENA, Ca.--

After one full quarter, it's UCLA 3-0.

Dixon.jpg
(Dennis Dixon is manning the headset for Oregon)

Previously a Heisman front-runner, Dennis Dixon is in his jersey, but merely to stand on the sidelines and relay the signals from the press box to the Quarterback on the field. Bummer.

If Dixon stayed healthy, Oregon would be moving up to No. 1 after LSU's loss yesterday. Instead, Oregon is battling to stay in contention for the Rose Bowl.

UCLA is 0-for-4 in third down conversions. Oregon can't get much going either, totalling 70 yards in 26 plays. It's going to be an inept defensive struggle today in Pasadena.

Oregon-UCLA: Career-long field goal for UCLA's Kai Forbath puts Bruins up 3-0

PASADENA, Ca.--

CodyKempt.jpg
(Backup QB Cody Kempt's fumble led to UCLA's first score.)

After recovering a fumble by Oregon back-up QB Cody Kempt at the Duck 34, UCLA went backward a few yards before settling for a field goal.

The Drive:
1:56
4 plays
-4 yards

It was the 3rd longest field goal in UCLA history, and the longest ever by a Bruin at the Rose Bowl. This was his third field goal of 50+ yards this season, tying that mark with Justin Medlock, who is on the Chiefs practice squad. Nice.

Oregon-UCLA: Shelley Smith an Oregon fan?

PASADENA, Ca.--
For the second year in a row I'm at an Oregon game here in SoCal, and I've spotted ESPN's Shelley Smith tailgaiting with a bunch of Oregon fans. Last year, it was outside the Coliseum before the USC game, today it's before the UCLA game.

ShelleySmith.jpg
(I tried to get my camera out to take a picture of her, but it would've been too obvious I was taking a picture of her, so you get this on-camera shot instead)

I know she is a Nebraska grad and currently lives here in SoCal in San Pedro, but just found out the other day that she has a daughter who plays soccer for Oregon. So there's your Ducks/Shelley Smith connection.

Game time is just under two hours away, I'm going to go try to score some free food and beers out at a tailgate somewhere. More later.

Oregon-UCLA: Hell Freezes Over! (USC fans will be pulling for UCLA)

PASADENA, Ca.--
Oregon-UCLA Quick Preview:

It happens about as often as a total eclipse in Southern California, but the fan base of the Trojans need their cross-town rivals to pull off the upset of No. 9 Oregon in order for their team to make it to the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.

The Pac 10 Standings:
USC - 6-2
Arizona State - 6-2
Oregon - 5-2
Oregon State - 5-3
UCLA - 4-3

Believe it or not, UCLA could still end up with a share of the Pac 10 title if the Bruins beat Oregon, beat USC and Arizona beats Arizona State. Unlikely, right? Well have you noticed how many crazy things have happened this season?

Continue reading "Oregon-UCLA: Hell Freezes Over! (USC fans will be pulling for UCLA)" »

November 22, 2007

USC regains class of the Pac status

TEMPE, Ariz. - Visiting USC flew by the Sun Devils, 44-24, for the eighth straight meeting between the two teams to retake first place in the Pac-10. All USC needs to do now is beat UCLA on Dec. 1 and for Oregon to lose one of its final two games in order for the Trojans to clinch a trip to the Rose Bowl.

Continue reading "USC regains class of the Pac status" »

Drive safely and enjoy the leftovers

TEMPE, Ariz. - An exodus as begun at Sun Devil Stadium. Fans began filing out moments after John David Booty connected with tight end Fred Davis on a 34-yard pass to put USC up 44-17.

Continue reading "Drive safely and enjoy the leftovers" »

USC in control

TEMPE, Ariz. - After 30 minutes of play, USC leads, 27-17. While the game has been relatively close, the Trojans are clearly controlling the game. The USC offense has attacked at will, especially through the air. Quarterback John David Booty has thrown for 227 yards, two touchdowns and snuck a 1-yard score up the middle.
The Trojan defense has been equally dominating, shutting down ASU's rushing attack. Sun Devil running backs Dimitri Nance and Keegan Herring combined have carried the ball 10 times for three yards.
Don't count ASU out yet though. The Sun Devils have trailed six times at halftime this season, coming back to five of the games.

Continue reading "USC in control" »

Back to square one

TEMPE, Ariz. - ASU ties the game 17-17 on a 25-yard field goal from kicker Thomas Weber. ASU has managed to even the game despite rushing for minus-1 yard.

Injuries a plenty
A trio of ASU players left the game with injures. Safety Josh Barrett left early in the game but has returned with a brace on his right knee. Left tackle Brandon Rodd and wide receiver Chris McGaha have both returned to action after walking off the field alongside ASU trainers.

USC starting running back Chauncey Washington is still sitting on the Trojans' training table after getting looked at by USC's personnel.

Anything you can do, I can do better

TEMPE, Ariz. - ASU senior wide receiver Rudy Burgess takes a kickoff 98 yards for touchdown after USC scores on its opening drive. The Trojans' drive started with Ronald Johnson running the kickoff to mid-field.

USC fans have shown up strong in Sun Devil Stadium. Trojan faithful, include a mini version of the USC marching band, dominate six sections. Former USC quaterback and current Arizona Cardinal Matt Leinart has been spotted on the Trojans' sideline.

Marcus Allen and Charles Barkley are also watching from the field.

Calm before the storm

TEMPE, Ariz. - Arizona State and Southern California play every year. Yet, tonight's game is anything but another game. Billed the unofficial Pac-10 title game, the winner will be comfortably seated and and strapped in the conference's bid to the Rose Bowl.

Continue reading "Calm before the storm" »

November 16, 2007

Final -- Arizona 34, Oregon 24.

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The bid for the national championships is over for the Ducks. With the loss, they can stil hope for the Rose Bowl, or a BCS at-large bid, but no more championship dreams.

Continue reading "Final -- Arizona 34, Oregon 24." »

November 15, 2007

Halftime

TUCSON, Ariz. -- At least Leaf got a field-goal scoring drive in before the half. Still, there's a ways to go and there's word that Dixon will not return in the second half, according to Oregon's spokesman David Williford. He's done for the night and perhaps we'll find out about his availibility for next week after the game.

Continue reading "Halftime" »

It gets worse

TUCSON, Ariz. -- After another three-and-out by the Oregon offense, the Ducks punted the ball and the Wildcats' star corner and punt returner Antoine Cason returned the ball for a touchdown to put Arizona ahead 31-11.

Kiss the national title goodbye.

Adjustment time

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Just as Dixon strapped on his helmet, Tuitama hits Mike Thomas for a 46-yard touchdown on third and ten. Things can't be worse for the Ducks right now.

Continue reading "Adjustment time" »

Leaf goes in and...sputters

TUCSON, Ariz. -- After Dixon's injury, Brady Leaf started taking the snaps. He completed his first pass for four yards and the next pass that was caught was by Arizona's Antonie Cason, who returned it for a touchdown.

Continue reading "Leaf goes in and...sputters" »

Arizona reverses Oregon's fortune

TUSCON, Ariz. -- Quickly marching to the five-yard line, Dixon hit a wide-open Derrick Jones in the endzone, except Jones had the ball bounce of his chest and into the arms of safety Nate Ness, who ran it to the Oregon 45-yard line.

Continue reading "Arizona reverses Oregon's fortune" »

Dixon does it again

TUCSON, Ariz -- As if he wanted to make a Heisman statement early into the game, Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon faked a handoff to running back Jonathan Stewart on fourth and three, and ran 39 yards into the endzone.

Continue reading "Dixon does it again" »

Oregon looks to avoid the 'No. 2' curse

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Four teams have already been defeated as the No. 2 team in the nation. Cal, USC, South Florida and Boston College all suffered losses that will likely keep them out of the BCS picture.

Continue reading "Oregon looks to avoid the 'No. 2' curse" »

November 11, 2007

USC-Cal: USC runs Cal aground.

BERKELEY, Ca.--
USC kept itself grounded tonight. Literally.

Much like the smackdown of Nebraska I reported on back in September, the Trojans resembled the student body right days in wearing down the Cal Bears in a 24-17 win. For the game, USC ended up with 239 yards on the ground, though it seemed more like 500 yards. The Men of Troy air attack gained just 129 yards.

But 16 of SC's 19 offensive plays in the fourth quarter were running plays, accounting for 82 yards.

Chauncey Washington led the grindhouse offense, churning out an impressive 220 yards on 29 carries.

Continue reading "USC-Cal: USC runs Cal aground." »

November 10, 2007

USC-Cal: Trojans salt away the win, 24-17

BERKELEY, Ca.--

USC never gave the ball back to Cal's offense after Terrell Thomas' interception of a Nate Longshore pass at the Trojan 17 with three minutes left. USC improves to 8-2 and 4-2, Cal drops to 6-4 and 3-4.

Game wrap-up coming soon.

USC-Cal: Forsett, Forsett, Forsett, then Cal decides to pass

BERKELEY, Ca.--
Cal just started its last drive at its own four-yard line. With a pair of long Justin Forsett runs and a Justin Forsett swing pass, the Bears quickly moved the ball inside the Trojan 40. But curiously, Cal went away from what was working and Nate Longshore just threw another ill-advised pass, resulting in an interception by Terrell Thomas.

Now it's SC ball at its own 17 with just under three minutes remaining. Cal will probably get the ball again, but I'm not banking on Longshore's passing to be able to lead them back. And judging from the groans in the press box here, the Cal people don't believe so either.

USC-Cal: The Trojans go all Woody Hayes on us, now lead 24-17

BERKELEY, Ca.--
USC just completed a 97-yard touchdown drive where eight on the 10 plays they ran the ball, grinding it from their own three-yardline out to midfield. Then a 1st and 20 pass to TE Fred Davis put the ball into Bear territory.

In fact, 72 yards of the drive came on terra firma with Stefon Johnson going the final three and giving USC the lead.

A 97-yard drive can be a backbreaker. Let's see how Cal responds.

USC-Cal; Maybe Lavelle Hawkins should have a Heisman campaign

BERKELEY, Ca. --
When Cal needed a game-breaker, they went to Lavelle Hawkins on that drive. Hisdiving catch in the back of the end zone just tied this game up at 17 as we go to the 4th quarter now. For the record, Hawkins came into the game with more catches (53) and more yards (681) than DeSean Jackson. Now he's got twice as many touchdown catches (2).

Prior to that, the streamlined Bear wideout lined up at quarterback and got a direct snap, carrying the ball for five yards and a key first down on a 3rd and two.

The third quarter was filled with penalties and a pair of key turnovers, but we go into the last 15 minutes all knotted up. So much for Lee Corso's pick of USC winning in a blowout.

USC-Cal: Rhetorical question: Do you remember DeSean Jackson's Heisman campaign

BERKELEY, Ca.--
DeSean Jackson just caught a five-yard pass and it reminded me that he was once the flash-in-the-pan Heisman contender after that brilliant punt return against Tennessee.

Oh he still has that game-breaking ability. In fact, just before halftime he caught that 41-yard bomb to set Cal up for a late score. Though, a sack and fumble later and Cal had to punt.

But Jackson is as quiet as it gets on this Bears team, despite his 55 catches. In the Arizona State game I covered a couple a weeks ago, once again he showed great flash, catching a toe-dragging 21-yard TD. But that has been his only touchdown catch of the season so far. And other than that 77 yard punt return against Tennessee, he's got 9 returns for just 29 yards coming into tonight.

USC-Cal: Remember what I said about turnovers? SC up now 17-10

BERKELEY, Ca. --
While there were stunningly no turnovers in the first half, there have already been two in the first five minutes of the second half.

The second one was an interception from the arm of Cal's Nate Longshore at his own 13 yard line. But the defense bowed up and held the Trojans to a field goal.

A minute or so before that, SC tailback Chauncey Washington dropped the pill at the Cal two yard line.

USC-Cal: We've sloshed halfway through this one, SC up 14-10

BERKELEY, Ca. --

So far it's still wetter than a steamy summer night on Bourbon Street here in Memorial Stadium on the Berkeley campus, in the shadow of the tree people.

Halftime:
USC - 14
Cal - 10
Mother Nature - Everything else.

When the defenses have been good, they've been really good.

But both offenses have had their moments where they look unstoppable on their touchdown drives, the last of which was USC going 71 yards in nine plays capped by Chauncey Washington's 36-yard run.

That drive put SC ahead by four with just over four minutes remaining in the half.

A 41-yard bomb to DeSean Jackson put Cal back in business right before the half deep in USC territory, but a sack and fumble by Longshore put the Bears out of field goal range. Just another indicator that the defenses are still dictating things tonight.

Continue reading "USC-Cal: We've sloshed halfway through this one, SC up 14-10" »

USC-Cal: What's the record for number of plays inside the 10 without scoring a touchdown?

BERKELEY, Ca. --

The Cal Bears just ran eight plays inside the 10 yard line and only have a 23-yard field goal by Jordan Kay to show for it. It's now 10-7 Cal here in the second quarter.

USC on the other hand, continued to show why they are notoriously undisciplined, getting a fumble recovery at their own two, but having it nulified by an encroachment penalty. This is becoming the USC trademark this year.

USC-Cal: Slipping through one quarter here tied at 7-7

BERKELEY, Ca.--


It's ironic that in water polo earlier today, Cal beat USC 10-9.
In water skating out here tonight, it's a 7-7 tie after one quarter.

This field is slippery as hell tonight people.

After one quarter, two things are obvious:
1- Whichever team gets a better grip out here tonight is going to win.
2- Despite the five losses between them, there's still a lot of talent on this field.

Both teams went through the other defense like milk in their touchdown drives. Cal went 73 yard in nine plays to go up 7-0. Then USC went 50 yards n five plays to tie the game.

Justin Forsett went in on a 17-yard run and Spenser Havili caught a 5-yard pass from John David Booty for SC's TD.

Cal total offense:
136 yards
USC total offense:
64 yards

USC-Cal: The Joe Roth "throw-back" unis for Cal

BERKELEY, Ca. --
It's 30 minutes before kickoff here in Strawberry Canyon, but the big news is that the Cal Bears came out of the locker room today wearing vintage-1976 throwback uniforms supplied by Nike. They are bright blue jerseys with bright yellow pants, similar in color to USC's pants.

The helmets are also bright yellow and feature a block "C" surrounded by a blue oval. The facemasks are also yellow.

The uniforms are being worn to honor the late Joe Roth, an All American quarterback from the 1975-76 teams.

More on Joe Roth...

Continue reading "USC-Cal: The Joe Roth "throw-back" unis for Cal" »

USC-Cal: The Game That Was Supposed To Mean More

BERKELEY, Ca.--
Welcome to USC-Cal, the game that was supposed to be a lot bigger than the three-legged dog it has become.

Here in Berkeley, it's cool, rainy and dark. I assume those portable lights are going to help a lot.

Continue reading "USC-Cal: The Game That Was Supposed To Mean More" »

November 04, 2007

Defense Leads Trojans Past Oregon State

LOS ANGELES -- USC wasn't very good on offense tonight. It didn't matter. When your defense logs nine sacks, scoring a bunch of points isn't necessary.

That's exactly what the Trojans did as they dominated Oregon State 24-3 to stay alive in the Pac-10 race.

"We had a terrible week getting yelled at all week," linebacker Keith Rivers said of USC's week of practice coming off a loss to Oregon. "Somebody had to pay for it. Oregon State was the team that had to pay for it."

Continue reading "Defense Leads Trojans Past Oregon State" »

November 03, 2007

Ducks top ASU, could play for National Championship

EUGENE, Ore. -- Last week Matthew Harper talked about how Oregon's defense may bend, but won't break. You might be able to say that about the entire Oregon team right now.

Continue reading "Ducks top ASU, could play for National Championship" »

I'm Calling It: USC Still in Control

LOS ANGELES -- In what may be the most boring second half of football ever played, USC has maintained its 24-3 halftime lead over Oregon State. The clock reads 6:19 in the fourth quarter, so I'm going to head to the field to prep for postgame. If a miraculous comeback occurs between now and the end of the game while I'm away from my computer, I sincerely apologize for not bringing you the action. Don't hold your breath.

Another Big Play for USC Defense

LOS ANGELES -- With about five minutes left in the third quarter, Oregon State finally put together a drive that landed its offense in the red zone. But the Trojans defense stepped up again, forcing the Beavers to go for it on fourth-and-two at the four-yard line. This time the hero was Brian Cushing, who sacked Sean Canfield to force a turnover on downs and further crush the Beavers' hopes of a comeback.

Stats Tell the Story as USC Maintains Control

LOS ANGELES -- Ok. This game has officially become a snoozer as USC maintains its 24-3 lead with about seven minutes left in the third quarter; so I'll give you a breakdown of the pertinent stats.

Continue reading "Stats Tell the Story as USC Maintains Control" »

Field Rush

EUGENE, Ore. -- I think I counted 13 seconds after the PA guy said "please stay off the field until players have left" before hundreds of fans flooded the field. Now there's a bunch of them in the middle jumping up and down, waving their arms and doing some sort of dance. Last week The Duck did some crowd surfing, but I don't see that yet.

Final is Oregon 35, ASU 23. Mike Bellotti is hugging everyone. And the crowd is chanting "B-C-S!" For the first time in quite awhile, that just might be a reality for the Ducks.

Off to postgame, will report more soon.

Defense wins games ... and its about to win this one

EUGENE, Ore. -- My God, things could not go much worse for ASU. Carpenter threw a 35-yarder to Thompson, who made a great catch despite the fact that about six Oregon players were within a few inches of him. He spun, got tackled, and then fumbled. LC Willie Glasper picked it up for the Ducks and now it's Oregon's ball on their own 22. 2:51 to play. This one's pretty much over.

Carpenter has throw more than 350 yards this game and the Sun Devils are losing. However, he has been sacked seven times, if my calculations are correct. SEVEN TIMES.

ASU trims Ducks' lead

EUGENE, Ore. -- Carpenter hooks up with Jones for a 54-yard pass, putting the Sun Devils at the Oregon 11. Then Carpenter tosses an 11-yarder to TE Brent Miller and the PAT is good, so the Ducks' lead slims to 12. Oregon leads 35-23 with 5:17 to go. The 59,379 (third straight time the Ducks have set an Autzen and state of Oregon attendance record) people here just took a deep breath, telling themselves it's going to be OK.

First down Ducks at their own 16 after Stewart's 15-yard kickoff return.

Trojans D Steps Up Again

LOS ANGELES -- USC just took a 24-3 lead thanks to -- yep, you guessed it -- a big play on defense. Defensive end Kyle Moore brought the heat on Oregon State quarterback Sean Canfield, who threw an interception to cornerback Terrell Thomas, who returned the ball to the OSU 14. The USC offense, faced with a short field once again, took advantage as John David Booty threw his second touchdown of the game, this time to Patrick Turner.

USC has the ball again and looks content to go to halftime with the 21-point advantage.

Bad day for Carpenter

EUGENE, Ore. -- You can't start to think a game is over with Arizona State, because then Rudy Carpenter goes and throws a 32-yard pass to MaGaha to put the Sun Devils on the Oregon 15.

And right as I typed that, Carpenter threw an interception that Walter Thurmond III picked off and returned for 13 yards.

In not-so-good news for the Ducks, receiver Garren Strong has been diagnosed with a right shoulder injury and will be out the rest of the game. Because that's exactly what the Ducks need, another hurt receiver. They're going to have to start suiting up some random kids with the way the receiving corps is depleting.

In other games that matter to these teams, Florida State leads BC 7-0 at the end of the first quarter. Ooooooh.

Trojans Raging Against the Machine

LOS ANGELES -- Now this is a new one. I've been known to complain about the USC band's lack of diversity in song choice, which usually consists of alternating between two fight songs with an occasional radio hit thrown in.

But they just busted out Rage Against the Machine's 'Killing in the Name' during the last TV timeout, which totally caught me off guard. It's a pretty unorthodox and violent choice, but maybe it got the USC defense pumped up.

Continue reading "Trojans Raging Against the Machine" »

Leaf in at backup

EUGENE, Ore. -- Dennis Dixon is going to take a little break on the sideline after getting tackled pretty hard on his 11-yard carry a second ago. Ducks were first and 10 on their own 30, Dixon faked and ran up the middle right, was holding his left knee as he got up. He ran off the field with minimal limping, though he's taking some time at the trainer's table right now.

From the replay it looks like Dixon tweaked his knee when he planted it, not on the tackle. He's up on the sideline walking around now. For the night -- in case he doesn't return -- Dixon was 13-22 passing with 189 yards and four TDs and carried for 11 times and 57 yards. Brady Leaf is in at backup. Leaf played quite a bit toward the end of last year but has only seen scrub minutes this season. I'm betting Dixon will stay out the rest of the game since the Ducks are leading 35-16 with 11:38 to go. This might be a good opportunity for Leaf to get some quality minutes against a decent defense just in case something should happen to Dixon in the future.

Nice use of a timeout

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Ducks called a 30-second timeout with :01 remaining in the third, and a few of us in the press box muttered "what a waste" under our breath.

What do we know?

Dixon faked another hand off, then stepped right a few times to throw a 19-yarder to Drew Davis, who made a diving catch. Oregon leads 35-16 as we head into the fourth. Stewart also had 20 yards on the ground in Oregon's scoring drive. That's a fourth of the yards in that scoring drive.

Booty, Trojans Break Through

LOS ANGELES -- After threatening several times early, USC finally got through the Oregon State red zone for a touchdown. After fumbling to set up an Oregon State field goal, John David Booty battled back to lead a seven-play, 54-yard drive that ended with a one-yard Chauncey Washington touchdown run. The Trojans lead 10-3 and there are still no signs of live from the Oregon State offense.

Carpenter sacked. Again.

EUGENE, Ore. -- Had to disappear for a bit to watch the end of the LSU/Alabama game. While I was gone, Carpenter got sacked again, this time by Boyd, who was probably trying to make up for that personal foul call. It was Carpenter's fifth time being sacked.

Oregon's got the ball, first and ten, on ASU's 30. Dixon just tossed a 9-yard completion, then Crenshaw picked up five yards. First and 10 at ASU's 35. 2:24 to go in the third, Ducks still lead 28-16.

LSU is going to win, which is a shame for whoever wins this game. Nice for the Tigers though, and the SEC.

Booty Sets Up Oregon State Score

LOS ANGELES -- While the USC offense has been lackluster so far, the defense has been great. But even a unit this stingy can't keep Oregon State off the scoreboard when the Beavers get the ball at the USC 17-yard line.

That's exactly what happened when John David Booty fumbled the ball under intense pressure from Oregon State lineman Victor Butler. Booty escaped an initial sack attempt, but started to pass the ball before changing his mind when Butler attacked. He lost the football and Oregon State recovered to set up a 21-yard field goal for a 3-3 tie. As with both their losses, turnovers are proving costly for USC yet again.

Defense, defense, defense

EUGENE, Ore. -- I cannot say it enough, and neither can Mike Bellotti. His guys just stopped ASU at fourth and one on Oregon's 36. Ducks take over now. It's been awhile since we've seen something big from Dixon, be it a pass (though he's trying with Jaison Williams) or a nice fake and run. 4:53 to play in the third.

LSU and 'Bama are tied at 34 with 2:49 to go. In some ways, that game is becoming just as important as the one we have going on here.

But Stewart can run

EUGENE, Ore. -- Stewart slipped past a tackle, sprinted up the sideline, then tip-toed into the end zone. Ducks 28, ASU 16. Stewart with a 33-yard run, already doubling his rushing total.

Also, because it matters since LSU is No. 3 in BCS standings, Alabama currently leads the Tigers 34-27 with 4:49 to go in the fourth.

Williams ... can't catch that one

EUGENE, Ore. -- Remember in the movie "Little Giants" when the receiver can't catch the ball to save his life, so he puts sticky stuff on his hands and then makes a big catch that wins them the game? If anyone has any of that stuff on the Oregon sideline, give it to Jaison Williams. Dixon threw a beauty to him -- probably about 40 yards -- and Williams bobbled it before dropping it. Ducks punt, ASU takes over at their own 4.

And nothing worked out for the Sun Devils on that series, so now Weber's going to punt. He's practically under the FG post. Ducks first and 10 at ASU 42.

USC Gets on Board... Barely

LOS ANGELES -- Faced with a 38-yard field, the Trojans looked primed to break the 0-0 tie with Oregon State late in the first quarter. They did, but it wasn't impressive. They gained nine yards on six plays and had to settle for a David Buehler field goal attempt. This time, his 46-yard kick rang true.

The Trojans are averaging a paltry 3.3 yards per play on 23 plays from scrimmage, including 2.8 yards per rush. Thankfully for USC, the defense is keeping Oregon State from making any consistent progress. USC leads 3-0 after one quarter.

Weber scores this time

EUGENE, Ore. -- Sure, Weber can make a 50-yard FG when he's cold after halftime, but not a 34-yarder in the first half? Oooookay.

What am I saying? I couldn't kick a 13-yard FG.

Ducks lead 21-16, but it's been awhile since they scored. I'm thinking Jonathan Stewart knows this and is anxious to get the ball. 12:02 to play, ASU to kick off ... The Sun Devils have been great in the second half the last few weeks, and there's no reason to think this is going to be any different.

Bend, Don't Break

LOS ANGELES -- On two drives, USC's offense has looked pretty good -- until it starts driving into Oregon State territory. After stalling at the 31 on the first drive, the Trojans came up short on third and 10 at the Beavers 36 on their second drive. A questionable decision to run the ball up the gut led to a two-yard loss and a USC punt.

The Trojans just forced an ensuing three-and-out and start their third drive at the Oregon State 38. If they can't manage to score here, they may be in trouble today.

USC, OSU Both Stall on Opening Drives

LOS ANGELES -- It was an ominous start for USC, which looked ready to take an early lead with a solid drive that set up a first down at the Oregon State 31. But tailback Joe McKnight got crushed in the backfield for a nine-yard loss and USC stalled before David Buehler missed a 48-yard field goal attempt.

Oregon State found disappointment in its first drive too, wasting a 39-yard gain on a James Rodgers rush to the USC 31. The Beavers couldn't do anything from there as Alexis Serna matched Buehler with a 48-yard miss of his own.

Whoops

EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon's defense is going to have to play tough right here, after Dixon fumbled and ASU's Luis Vasquez finally hopped on it at the Oregon 49. The Ducks still lead 21-13 with 3:16 to go, but this is what the Sun Devils like to do. They enjoy the dramatic comeback. If ASU can score before the half's up, it's a whole new ballgame, momentum to ASU.

Trojans Look to Stay in Pac-10 Race

LOS ANGELES -- After losing to Oregon last week, No. 13 USC returns home today to face Oregon State looking to avoid a third conference loss. With a 3-2 conference record, the Trojans are looking up at 5-0 Arizona State, 4-1 Oregon and 4-2 UCLA, which lost to Arizona earlier today.

With a win, it's an uphill battle. With a loss, USC is pretty much out of the race. The good news for USC: John David Booty is scheduled to return after sitting out three games with a broken finger he suffered in the stunning loss to Stanford. Some USC fans might not agree that his return is actually good news. If he can avoid the turnovers that doomed the Trojans in both their losses, USC should be fine. If not, Oregon State could seal the Trojans' Pac-10 fate.

Continue reading "Trojans Look to Stay in Pac-10 Race" »

Sack time

EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon's Nick Reed must have spent this week working on sacking Carpenter, because the junior has already done it twice, the second time for a loss of 8. Long day for Carpenter, I'm guessing, and we're not even finished with the second quarter. ASU punts, and Aaron Pflugrad, a homegrown Duck, returns it for nine yards.

ASU likes FGs

EUGENE, Ore. -- Carpenter just threw his first incompletion of the afternoon at 8:28 to go in the second, which sounds impressive, but doesn't mean too much because Oregon has had the ball the majority of this game.

However, the Sun Devils were able to score with a 34-yard FG by Thomas Weber. They had to go for the FG because Walter Thurmond III (don't forget that last part) broke up Carpenter's pass. Between Thurmond, Harper and R Patrick Chung (who has about 17 tackles already) the Ducks defense is looking better and better as the game goes on. And they looked pretty good at the beginning.

Good to have a good line

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Sun Devils are within striking distance, first and 10 on the Oregon 18 and a big reason why is Herring, who delivered a nasty block to an Oregon defender, allowing Carpenter to scramble away for 12 yards. Carpenter then made a 12-yard pass, and here we are in a timeout while ASU decides how to best stick it to the Ducks.

ASU in double digits

EUGENE, Ore. -- Hurt thumb or not, Carpenter looked pretty good throwing a 26-yard TD pass to MIke Jones. Carpenter was off-balance, falling down and doesn't have a healthy hand. Impressive touchdown. PAT is good, so Ducks lead 21-10.

I was just talking with the guy next to me about how scary it is to think about what Oregon could be playing like if a few of its key starters weren't out with season-ending injuries. However, you have to wonder the same thing with ASU and Carpenter because that wouldn't have been an easy pass when you're completely healthy.

All Ducks

EUGENE, Ore. -- I feel like I should be writing something about ASU because it's been mostly about UO, but if you look at the scoreboard (Ducks 21, Sun Devils 3) you understand.

However, the Sun Devils have a first down and they're about to start this series on Oregon's 26 and Carpenter did have a nice 31-yard pass to TE Tyrice Thompson, so maybe they'll try that again. There was just a media timeout, though I don't think any of us in the press box requested it.

Wow

EUGENE, Ore. -- I think I might be typing that word a lot today. Or maybe I need to find another because we're only 24 seconds into the second quarter and Oregon is playing fantastic football.

Dixon to Williams (he's 3 for 5 on catches today) for a 27-yard TD pass and Oregon leads 21-3. The Duck, who does push-ups after every UO score to match the scoreboard, is going to be tired after this game. The Ducks look great -- and their back-ups (specifically WR-wise) have come up big the past few weeks. Garrett Strong had a 14-yard reception on that scoring drive, perfect timing for a kid who wasn't going to get any playing time originally.

Maybe it's Carpenter's thumb

EUGENE, Ore. -- Hmm, well, I'm going to guess that quite a few four-letter words are coming out of Dennis Erickson's mouth right now. On third and four on ASU's 40, Carpenter bobbled the snap (maybe it hit his thumb?), then got sacked for a loss of 9 by Oregon's Nick Reed. ASU punts, Ducks' ball on the 25 after a 10-yard penalty. Dixon is already 5-7 for 101 yards and two touchdowns and we have 53 seconds to go in the first quarter. Who's got a Heisman ballot near them?

Ducks score again

EUGENE, Ore. -- I'm going to need to type faster.

The Ducks just scored again, this time on a pass to Stewart, who ran about 10 yards into the end zone. Ducks lead, 14-3. Two plays before that, Dixon faked a back-handed pass to Stewart, then ran for five yards. I don't think I'd ever want defend Dixon -- it is so hard to tell if he has the ball or has passed it, and we all have a pretty good view up here.

PA guy just announced to the crowd that Navy beat Notre Dame 44-42 in three overtimes, which caused an eruption of cheers, adding more proof that everyone hates Notre Dame.

ASU on board

EUGENE, Ore. -- Nick Aliotti, the Ducks' defensive coordinator, is in his 17th year at UO. And he's finally starting to earn his money.

The Ducks' D has looked surprisingly good all season, maybe none more so right there, when the Ducks held ASU from scoring a TD hree times, forcing them to settle for a 19-yard FG. Ducks lead 7-3.

Is this shaping up to be the high-scoring game so many of us anticipated for both the Oregon/Cal and Oregon/USC matchups, neither of which happened?

That was fast

EUGENE, Ore. -- Jaison Williams must be reading the blog at his super-cool locker in the Ducks' locker room. Remember how I said he needed to CATCH the football this week? Well he did just that, to the tune of a 43-yard pass from Dixon.

Oh, and then he caught a 26-yard pass one two plays later to give the Ducks their first score a whopping 1:13 minutes into the game. Wow.

TV time

EUGENE, Ore. -- You know, usually I don't think many people read this blog because in this day and age, if you like a team and they're decent, they're probably on TV. Well, this week, approximately 17 people were originally scheduled to see this game and that was only if they had Oregon Sports Network.

Then ESPN and College Gameday stepped in and now everyone is going to be able to see the game. But you can only watch on ESPN if you DON'T live in Oregon or Arizona. If you live in one of those states, you have to watch the game on a lesser channel with not as high quality and not as cool announcers. This means I will need to step my game up, blog-wise. I'll try to channel UO's Harper's spirit, since he stepped up big last week.

Ducks are coming on the field as we speak, wearing a hideous combo of yellow pants and black jerseys. And they're being led by The Duck, who road a motorcycle onto the field. Some turf maker somewhere isn't going to think that's a good idea.

Also everyone is chanting "over-rated!" to ASU as they take the field.

Pregame in Eugene

EUGENE, Ore. -- Supposedly, traffic is backed up on the interstate about 25 miles outside of Eugene. That might explain why the parking lot and stadium still isn't very full for what is easily the biggest game of the week in college football.

Continue reading "Pregame in Eugene" »

October 28, 2007

Cal-ASU: Post-game lagniappe

TEMPE, Az. --

First off, Why this?...

ASUfansOnField.jpg

You mean Arizona State students rushed the field because the Sun Devils beat a team that came in with two losses and was ranked at No. 21? C'mon ASU fans, you're smarter than that. Save it for a win that really matters, like the 1996 win over No. 1 ranked Nebraska. This one just wasn't worth ruining a perfectly good goalpost.

Now, on to other things.

Player of the Game:
Easy. ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter.
Carp went 12-for-16 for 174 yards in the second half and looked like he was from another planet filled with superior beings in a galaxy far, far away. He was so cool, it's not even funny. Spot-on time and time again and making all the right decisions. He went just 5-for-13 for 45 yards in the first half. So his 180 was the key to the win - and a wicked, swarming defensive effort to boot.

Play of the Game:
Dimitri Nance's eight-yard touchdown run on 4th and 1 that put ASU ahead to stay at the 10:03 mark of the 3rd quarter. Especially considering that Nance looked like he was snuffed for a loss before bouncing outside to find paydirt. If not that play, then possibly the three times in the first half that ASU's defense forced Cal to settle for field goal attempts instead of touchdowns. If that doesn't happen, then Cal could've been up by as much as three touchdowns at halftime.

Post-game quote of note:
"We didn't really do anything big, just made an adjustment or two on both sides of the football. One thing about this team, when they go to halftime with a deficit, they still believe." - Dennis Erickson when asked what he did to change the game at halftime.

Next up:
Oh yeah. Lick your chops college football freaks. No. 4 (BCS) Arizona State takes its sparkling-clean record of 8-0 to Autzen Stadium and the No. 5(BCS) Oregon Ducks. Should be the biggest matchup of the weekend - rankings wise. Oh sure, there's that LSU vs. Nick Saban game in Tuscaloosa, but the ASU-UO game will match two teams in the Top 5.

Cal will play host to Washington State and hope to break this three game skid.

Cal-ASU: Final assessment? ASU is for real.

TEMPE, Az. --

It's becoming a habit.

As LSU found out at Kentucky, you can only mess with fire so many times. Guess who's messing with fire now? Yep, the Sun Devils. For the fourth time, Arizona State has gotten behind by double-digit amounts in the first half, only to come back to win the game.

First quarter score:
Cal - 13
ASU - 0

Final score:
Cal - 20
ASU - 31

This marks the sixth time in Devils history that they have started the season 8-0.

Tonight's turnaround was spearheaded by State quarterback Rudy Carpenter. Despite getting battered, beaten and going just 5-for-13 in the first half, he came out with a new purpose on the second half. In the telling third quarter alone, Carp went 7-of-9 for 143 yards.

He continued that trend in the second half, slicing the Bears for a pair of touchdown drives that put the game out of reach, 31-20 with seven minutes remaining. For the game, Rudy was 17-for-29, 219 yards and a touchdown.

The other big story was the revamped Sun Devil defense. After halftime, Cal was completely stymied and went without a third down conversion. They also intercepted Nate Longshore twice.

Guess who's next for Arizona State? A trip to Eugene to play the No. 5 ranked Ducks.

Cal-ASU: Longshore throws another pick. ASU goes for the throat

TEMPE, Az. --

For the second staight drive, Cal's Nate Longshore threw an interception, allowing ASU to take advantage of a short field. Rudy Carpenter then capped an 8-play drive by hitting Kyle Williams on a 12-yard inside slant route for paydirt.

ASU now leads 31-20 with just 7:07 remaining in the game.

Good night nurse! Has this game made a 180 or what?

Cal-ASU: "Today, we salute you Mr. Un-athletic sports talk radio guy"

TEMPE, Az. --

During the last break in action, the radio station that is broadcasting tonight's game played one of those brilliant "Real Men of Genius" radio spots from Budweiser.

This edition went something like this:

"Today, we salute you Mr. Un-athletic sports talk radio guy

You know more about the world of sports, except how to play them. You talk sports for eight hours a day, which is seven hours and 45 minutes longer than anyone listens.

Open up a cold fresh Budweiser, because we salute you Mr. Un-athletic sports talk radio guy."

Cal-ASU: Devils stay hotter than a pair of red sox, lead after three

TEMPE, Az. --

At the end of the 3rd quarter, it's now Arizona State 24, Cal 20.

Thomas Weber just blasted a 47-yard field goal through the uprights to boost ASU's lead from one to four. This has been another typical Sun Devil 3rd quarter domination as they have now outscored their opponents 92-17 this season.

In other words you night owls, DON'T GO TO SLEEP ON THESE SUN DEVILS. Go drink a Mountain Dew. Set your alarm to go off every two minutes. Stay awake. The game now heads to the final 15 minutes with all the momentum going to the maroon and gold side.

Cal-ASU: I'd like to welcome all of you that were watching the Red Sox game

TEMPE, Az. --

I'm sure most of you just went ahead and have gone to bed. You wimps. C'mon, we've got a bitchin' game here in the Valley of the Sun.

It's Arizona State leading 21-20 late in the 3rd Quarter.

For those of you still tuning in, congratulations. For those of you who have gone to bed and are reading this on Sunday morning - well LATER ON Sunday morning, you're missing a damn good game going on now. And you're still a wimp.

And by the way, the Red Sox are bad-ass. Not that I recommend pro sports on anyone, but if you have to watch pro sports, the World Series is one time you want to. Especially with Boston kickin' A like it is.

Cal-ASU: The Devils go all Les Miles on Cal, pulls ahead.

TEMPE, Az. --

Fourth down? ASU pulls an LSU and goes for it, and scores.

ASU must've made a deal with the Devil, 'coz they've just gone on 9-play, 91-yard go-ahead touchdown drive, getting a fourth down four-yard carry from Dmitri Nance to go ahead 21-20 here early in the 3rd quarter.

Again, that was a 91 yard drive. ASU only had 95 total yards in the first half alone. The ASU radio announcers are saying, "once again, Arizona State overcomes a double-digit first half deficit to pull ahead."

Cal-ASU: The best and worst mascots in college football

TEMPE, Az. --

Here's Sparky, the very athletic and enigmatic Sun Devil mascot. Easily the most entertaining mascot I've seen in all my years of covering college sports... with the possible exception of Montana's "Monte" the Grizzly.

Sparky.jpg


Then there's the Cal Bear. Don't know his name, but this slouch should be called "Homer Simpson." He's a little goofy looking and has a horrible build. Sorry folks, I love Cal, just not their mascot.

CalBear.jpg

October 27, 2007

Cal-ASU: It's past midnight (EST) so I'm SURE the Easterners are in bed now. This has been the longest first half in the history of amateur sports

TEMPE, Az. --

After three very long video replays, six time outs, 14 penalites marched-off and the usual amount of television timeouts, the first half has mercifully come to an end. This game started at 7:15pm and it's now 9:11pm. At some point I kept waiting for a game official to get on the p.a. and say, "that routine 2-yard run where nothing in particular really happened is being reviewed because we're sure something happenend."

Cal leads 20-14. They had the game seemingly well under control at one point, 13-0 and then again at 20-7, but ASU keeps scrapping its way back into this game. None-the-less, ASU deserves nothing better than a "C" grade

Check out these total yards numbers:
Cal- 270
ASU- 95

California should be up by a whole lot more but has settled for field goals and killed themselves with nine penalties.

Cal-ASU: The Devils aren't ready to wither away, score a TD.

TEMPE, Az. --

Just when I decided to start watching the ASU cheerleaders and dance squad instead of the Sun Devil offense, they go 65 yards in 12 plays, including a pair of 4th down conversions (one being a bone headed play on Cal's part for too many men on the field).

Somehow Arizona State is still in this game, cutting the UC lead to 20-14. Dmitri Nance got his second touchdown, running it in from two yards out.

It does appear that the Devils have found a soft underbelly in Cal's defense, since 60 of the 65 yards came on the ground. Run Devils run.

Cal-ASU: Bears score again, now up 20-7

TEMPE, Az. --

California didn't waste any time in displaying that they are, indeed, still the better team here tonight. DeSean Jackson scored a very unpopular touchdown on a 21-yard pass from Nate Longshore, though it appeared as if Jackson's foot was dragging on the white. The ASU fans booed like it was a Iranian parade.

I guess the whole "inconclusive" ruling must've come into play on that one. Because field judge Shane Anderson sure didn't make a confident touchdown call on the play. Ee-yah! Cal's getting the breaks for the most part.

And right now the ASU students are chanting what sounds something like "Bull-spit! Bull-spit!"

Total yards so far:
Cal: 224
ASU: 47

Cal-ASU: All that blustering about ASU? They're living up to it

TEMPE, Az. --

It's now Cal 13, ASU 7 after the Devils finally got, not only a first down, but a complete drive with a touchdown and everything.

Dmitri Nance scored on a touchdown run around the left side of the line. Carpenter looked sharp, including that long bomb that Michael Jones let bounce right off his hands. Jackie Smith, are you in the house?

7 plays
59 yards
2:17

Cal-ASU: Okay, all that blustering about ASU? Fuggedaboutit!

TEMPE, Az. --

Cal goes up 13-0 with just 1:13 left in the 1st quarter. This drive went 10 plays, 62 yards.

Cal is making minced meat of Arizona State's defense. Only positive for the Devils? They've held Cal to three straight field goal attempts. Two of them have been made.

The ASU radio announcers just said, "it's another one of those forgettable first quarters for ASU, only this time it's not Colorado or Washington State they're playing."

Cal-ASU: Devils crumbling so far. Cal up 10-0

TEMPE, Az. --

Jordan Kay just punched through a 41-yard field goal to put the Bears up by 10. That drive included a great, acrobatic 44-yard catch to help give the drive a boost.

So far the Devils aren't looking good at all. This resmbles the usual bumbling and stumbling that ASU has gotten off to in most of their games this season. So far this year, Arizona State has been outscored 56-33. The Devils also have yet to pick up a first down, having just gone three-and-out with the help of another penalty. Es no bueno por Diablos.

The drive for Cal:
6 plays
61 yards

Cal-ASU: No facemask, Cal scores defensive TD.

TEMPE, Az.--

Frosh D-End Cameron Jordan picked up a fumble by Rudy Carpenter and ran in the first score of the game. Rulon Davis ran roughshod at Carpenter, pulled him down by the collar and forced the fumble. Though the replay showed his big mitt slid across the facemask first. But no grab, so no call.

By the way, with UCLA's loss to Washington State up in the Palouse, ASU now has a chance to grab sole possession of first place in the Pac 10. Although most of the buzz around the press box is that Oregon is playing the best football and is the team to beat. See? When you get down to it, even fellow Arizona media members don't believe in this team. Tsk. Tsk.

Cal-ASU: Know what this is? It's the current East Coast time

TEMPE, Az. --

ASUStartTime.jpg

And this is also the start time of tonight's ASU-Cal game. So that's why not many people back East know much about the Sun Devils (I'm looking your direction Harris Poll voters with a 10pm curfew!)

All five of ASU's previous home games this season have started at 7pm Pacific Time or later.

Cal-ASU: Welcome to Barry Bonds country

TEMPE, Az.--

Feel free to hiss or cheer that fact, but here we are in Tempe, Arizona.

BondsSign.jpg

No. 7 Arizona State and No. 21 California are about 30 minutes away from kick off. Although the game is officially a sell-out, maybe ASU fans are like L.A. sports fans, fashionably late. Because the stands are still largely barren - except for the student section of course.

One thing to keep an eye on is the heat. At 5:00, my car temperature guage showed 95 degrees. Al Gore may be onto something there. Here's another factor to keep an eye on during the game, Cal's sideline is equipped with six of those Big Fogg misters. ASU's slideline doesn't have anything for the heat relief.

BigFoggs.jpg

Harper finishes it for Ducks

EUGENE, Ore. -- And now it's over. Thank Oregon's Harper, who just grabbed his second pick of the game. Ducks are going to win this one, 24-17. Kid is having the game of his life.

Penalties hurting Trojans

EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon just punted, which you might think is bad because now USC gets the ball back with 2:58 to go, but then the Trojans go and get a 15-yard penalty, pushing the ball back to their own 17. I tell ya, penalties are going to be a big difference come the end of this game. If USC loses, I mean. If they win I guess we'll once again blame the Oregon defense for being soft, as is customary if you cover the Pac-10.

Fourth and one on the 26 with 1:34 to go ... McKnight gets a little more than one yard, giving the Trojans a first down.

It's not over yet, folks!

USC not going away

EUGENE, Ore. -- Hmm, well, perhaps this game isn't over yet.

Sanchez has just completed two long passes, the second of which went to Turner, his favorite target and the Trojans have first and 10 on Oregon's 14. 4:44 to go (that's a lot of 4's in a row).

And 19 yards on the touchdown pass to David Ausberry. And USC reminds us why they've been so dominant for so long -- scoring drive was five plays for 85 yards in just 48 SECONDS. PAT was good, so we're Oregon 24, USC 17. Still 4:44 to go.

I'm not rooting for Oregon, but I really hope this doesn't end the way Cal did, with Oregon looking like it was in control before, well, losing control.

PA is everywhere ...

EUGENE, Ore. -- Seems that the press box announcer's voice is EVERYWHERE. I just walked into the bathroom and let me tell you, it's slightly terrifying to be sitting in the stall and then hear, "Stewart! For a 12 yard gain!" boom over you.

First and ten for USC their own 20. Sanchez is taking an awfully long time to talk to his teammates ("OK, um, I'm not having the greatest day but we need to score," is what I'm guessing is being said in the huddle while the Duck defenders jump up and down, imploring the crowd to make more noise.

Sanchez incomplete on his first try, completes a 7-yard pass while avoiding being sacked. Third and three, 7:33 to go. Ho-hum.

Ducks score again

EUGENE, Ore -- As you've probably heard by now, Dixon spent his offseason throwing baseballs instead of footballs. This made a lot of Ducks fans (and Mike Bellotti) mad. But everyone now is saying that it's paid off because he's playing so well.

Well I think Dixon's time on the baseball diamond also helped him get sneakier, because he is so good at making defenders think he's handed the ball off. Dixon kept the ball for an 8 yard gain, then a 2 yard gain and then he gave the ball to Stewart to finish the series in the end zone. Ducks 24, USC 10. 11:39 to go.

Watching USC lose is ... weird.

Whoops again for USC

EUGENE, Ore. -- If I were Pete Carroll, I think I'd put Booty in about now.

Sanchez was just intercepted on second and one by Matt Harper on the Oregon 15 yard line. Harper returned it 27 yards to the 42 and we're already at second and 14 on the 39. Good thing there's only one minute to go in the third. Carroll probably wants to have a chat with everyone about, you know, staying calm, making tackles, not staring at your receiver before you attempt a pass.

On the USC sideline, clipboard coach looks defeated. I can't see tears from here, but he wasn't as fired up as before, instead looking just beyond devastated.

Stewart ends the third quarter with a 15-yard run, giving the Ducks a first down to start the fourth.

Bad place to fumble

EUGENE, Ore. -- Well somebody go high-five Will Tukuafu. He just stripped the Trojans of the ball, forcing a fumble and recovering, so now the Ducks are first and ten on the USC 16. My, that's a good place to be if you want to score. Clipboard coach is going crazy. Pete Carroll also looks pretty ticked.

And Jonathan Stewart scores again. I swear, this is happening right as I type it. Stewart got into the end zone on a 16-yard run. Evensen was good with the PAT, so it's 17-10 Oregon. And now Stewart just became the 13th Duck of all time to rush more than 1,000 yards. Someone high-five him, too.

5:17 to go in the third.

Tied up

EUGENE, Ore. -- Answer: yes. It took three plays and a nice long delay because of a review, but Sanchez connected with Patrick Turner on a 9-yard TD pass. PAT was good and we've got a tie game at 10 all.

Oooooh, I smell trouble. A USC flag-waving guy (I'm not sure of his official title if it's not "male cheerleader") just ran over and waved the flag in front of the UO student section. That's not going to go over well with anyone dressed in green and yellow.

And ... we've got an attendance record, both for Autzen Stadium and the state of the Oregon. And ... the ... winning ... number ... is ... 59,277. That's a lot of people.

10:53 to go in the third.

Still Sanchez at QB

EUGENE, Ore. -- It's a media timeout, so I feel like I should do some work.

Thought we might see John David Booty to start the second, but ti's still Sanchez. He hooked up with a receiver a bit ago for a nice gain, so now it's fourth and five on the Oregon 32.

And Patrick Turner just made a nice snag on the 11 yard line, a gain of 21. First and ten on the Oregon 11 now. USC gonna score?

Halftime

EUGENE, Ore. -- It's halftime and the Oregon marching band just did a tribute to 007, James Bond. Aren't you sad you missed that?

Quick stats: USC ran 32 plays for 111 total yards, Oregon 42 plays for 224 yards. Dixon leads Duck rushers with 50 yards, Stewart comes in second with 39. Dixon also passed for 133 yards, completing 13-19. Dixon's USC counterpart went 8-13 for 56 passing yards, and running back Chauncey Washington leads the Trojans with 27 yards. The good news for USC is that they have 27 total tackles to Oregon's 14.

Most telling stat might be this: USC has 3 penalties for 40 lost yards. Oregon has no penalties.

Ducks just came back on the field with 3:43 to go in halftime. No sign so far of the Trojans. I wouldn't be surprised if the assistant coach with the clipboard is flipping out in the locker room right now.

Ducks settle for FG, lead 10-3

EUGENE, Ore. -- Well I can tell you that Dennis Dixon was definitely mad about having to settle for a field goal right there. Ducks had it first and 10 on the USC 39 with a minute to go, hooked up with Stewart for a 15-yard pass and then went three plays on the USC 24 trying to score. Dixon threw three times to Williams, though two of the times it didn't really look like he was throwing to anyone. The press box announcer said differently though, and he seems like a trustworthy guy.

Matt Evensen's 41-yard FG was good with 15 seconds left, so Ducks lead 10-3. And that's the first half, ladies and gentlemen. I'll let you know about stats in a bit.

USC's defense stops Ducks

EUGENE, Ore. -- Seems the USC defense had a little chat about Jonathan Stewart and NOT letting him score again for the Ducks. Rey Maualuga and Anthony McCoy stopped him on fourth and one, and the Trojans take over at their own 13. Impressive D by the Trojans, who are proving Mike Bellotti right so far. Washington talked last week about how it's hard to simulate Oregon's offense in practice. I'm just guessing, but I bet it's hard to simulate USC's defense, too.

USC on board

EUGENE, Ore. -- You know, I've always wondered how frustrated coaches get when they have to settle for a field goal. Perhaps we can ask Pete Carroll afterward.

Trojans were on Oregon's 9-yard line but Kevin Garrett put a stop to that, wrapping up McKnight for a loss of 4. Next play Sanchez saw about four defenders coming to sack him and tried to run away and make something happen, but instead he pretty much threw the ball to no one. Trojans go for the FG, now are on the board as Oregon leads 7-3.

Ah, the penalty flag

EUGENE, Ore. -- Poor USC. Just when Joe McKnight breaks out for a 65-yard run up the sideline for a score, the touchdown gets called back because the offensive line was called for holding. Then Sanchez was sacked for a loss of six on the next play. Rough times for the Trojans.

Start of the second, Ducks still lead 6-0, USC's ball on their own 23.

Ducks score

EUGENE, Ore. -- There's been a lot of talk so far this season about Dixon's ability to fake handoffs. If you watch closely on TV you understand how he sells it so perfectly before taking off. He just did that again, running two yards to give Oregon its first score, 6-0. To get to the end zone Stewart broke out for a 15-yard run to put the ball on the USC 11. One thing is for sure -- if Dixon can continue to sell the fake, he is going to give a lot of defenses headaches.

PAT was good, so we're 7-0 with 2:50 to go in the first.

Back and forth

EUGENE, Ore. -- A few weeks ago when I was here for the Cal game it seemed like each team spent A LOT of time on offense; there wasn't so much back and forth. This game is already a different story.

USC didn't score on the fumble recovery and just now Oregon had to punt after pushing the ball downfield in whatt looked like a promising sets of series. Now it's Trojan ball on their own 25.

It is REALLY loud in here. The crowd is doing everything it can to disrupt the USC offense, and they erupt into cheers whenever the D makes a good play. This means up in the press box -- where it's open air -- we have to yell to hear each other. There's a guy on the Oregon sideline that doesn't seem to have a job besides running out a few feet every time the defense makes a stop and swing a towel around his head, whooping. And on the USC sideline, I swear I saw an assistant coach threaten to hit an O-lineman with his clipboard. But I'm really far away, so what do I know.

Sanchez fir few passes have been incomplete and now the Trojans will punt. Again. 7:41 to go.

Not a great start for the Ducks

EUGENE, Ore. -- Uh, this isn't a good sign.

The Ducks just fumbled on the kickoff return. And it was an Oregon player whose helmet caused the fumble according to the press box announcer. Sanchez's first pass from Oregon's 21 was incomplete, but this isn't the best way for the Ducks to start the game.

Good for USC though.

Top Ten Match-up in Eugene

EUGENE, Ore. -- The press box is packed, parking is a nightmare and we've got our first-ever match-up of top ten teams in Autzen Stadium.

Continue reading "Top Ten Match-up in Eugene" »

Cal-ASU: Additional Pre-game notes

Some more notes on the upcoming Cal-Arizona State game.

- First some pre-game MUSICAL notes


GoreGoreTempe.jpg
(The Gore Gore Girls stying and profilin' on their amps)

A pre-game party at Club Red here in Tempe was highlighted by an outstanding high-heeled/mini-skirt clad performance from Detroit's The Gore Gore Girls. Led by lead singer Amy Gore (in all white) and guitarist Hammer, the Gores ripped through an 18-song set of outstanding garage rock ditties. No chants of overrated were heard during the hour-twenty minute show.

- Sold Out.
The 71,716-seat Sun Devil Stadium is officially sold out for the Cal game Saturday night. There will also be a national TV audience watching on Fox Sports Net as part of a Pac 10 triple-header. Then again, that's only available to those people with satellite TV or cable systems that carry the Fox Sports network. Otherwise, I guess it's not exactly "national television" is it?

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October 26, 2007

Cal-ASU: The Day-Before Preview

TEMPE, Az.-

1957.
1963.
1975.
1986.
1996.
And now, 2007?

Listed above are all the once-a-decade teams that Arizona State has had that made a major splash on the national college football scene. So far, this year's Sun Devil squad is a perfect 7-0. But this five-game stretch to end the season will be as tough as any team in the country has to go through.

Tomorrow's game against Cal will be either a coming out party for the Devils or a "told-you-so" raspberry from the rest of the country. Since we all know so much about this year's California team, I've decided to treat this game as a chance for the nation to see what Arizona State is all about. Be it legit. Or a farce.

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October 20, 2007

Ducks streamroll Huskies in 55-34 win

SEATTLE -- Oregon piled up 465 yards on the ground and 661 total yards in a see-saw battle with Washington.

Jonathan Stewart ran for a career-high 251 yards on 32 carries and scored twice. He came in averaging between 16 and 17 carries per game and nearly doubled that output against the Huskies.

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Ducks' reponse? We're better at scoring than you are.

SEATTLE -- Oregon scores yet again, this time in nine plays for 62 yards. Stewart's over 200 yards now and Crenshaw is getting a good deal of the carries too.

At this point, I don't know which defense is worse. The Huskies will always give up chunks of yards while the Ducks' will have a few good stops and then surrender a long touchdown. What's worse?

Washington responds again

SEATTLE -- Will the scoring never end? After Oregon moved 94 yards down the field to take the lead, Washington responded with "Oh yeah? Have some more of this!" as Locker and Reece hooked up again, this time for a 38-yard touchdown.

Continue reading "Washington responds again" »

Oregon takes its time to score

SEATTLE -- After cornerback Jairus Byrd picked off a Locker pass at the six-yard line, Oregon drove 94 yards on 15 plays to score a touchdown on a pitch to running back Andre Crenshaw.

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Huskies tie it

SEATTLE -- That didn't take long. Three minutes into the third quarter, Washington catches Oregon in a blitz with a screen pass to running back Louis Ranking for a 43-yard touchdown to tie at 24.

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Halftime update

SEATTLE -- Locker led a field-goal drive and left Oregon with a less than a minute to go before the end of the half.

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Yep, it's a Pac-10 game

SEATTLE -- The Ducks responded to the Huskies score by driving 90 yards on six plays in little over a minute.

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Okay, I understand the hype

SEATTLE -- Locker just escaped a 10-yard sack from Oregon safety Patrick Chung, possibly the Ducks' best defender, and turned it into a nine-yard gain while eluding multiple Oregon defenders.

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Washington holds the line

SEATTLE -- After scoring a field goal to make it 17-7, the Ducks held the Huskies to a three-and-out and safety Patrick Chung blocked the ensuing punt.

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Oregon on the board again and this time Washington responds

SEATTLE -- Again, the Ducks used precise passing and Stewart's hard running to score their second touchdown. But on the next play from scrimmage, Washington scored on an 83-yard pass from Jake Locker to Anthony Russo.

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Oregon runs unopposed for touchdown

SEATTLE -- The Ducks take their first drive and go 61 yards on nine plays.

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Trojan dominance complete

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Notre Dame tried to avoid the shutout, but came up short. USC won 38-0 and looked like a BCS contender for the first time in a month. While the team and band celebrate in the corner of the field, the Notre Dame band is playing the Notre Dame Victory March, which sounds a lot more pleading than it does confident these days.

This was a defeat of historic proportions for the Irish...

Continue reading "Trojan dominance complete" »

Turner emerges as most important '1' for UCLA

PASADENA, Calif. -- California wide receiver DeSean Jackson wears No. 1 on his jersey and it looked like he would be the one to lead the Bears to their first victory in the Rose Bowl since 1999.

Instead it was someone else wearing the No. 1 who made the biggest impact.

UCLA cornerback Alterraun Turner intercepted Cal quarterback Nate Longshore and returned it 76 yards for the clinching touchdown to lead UCLA to a 30-21 victory to remain atop the Pacific-10 Conference standings.

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UCLA balancing act put them ahead

PASADENA, Calif. -- The Bruins used its physical run game, coupled with some good short passes to take the lead, 23-21, on a Kai Forbath field goal with 3:08 remaining in the game.

The Bruins went 42 yards on 11 plays and capped it with Forbath's 27-yard field goal to put them in the lead heading into the closing minutes of the contest.

Rough crowd - what's left of it

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A Bronx cheer went up from the student section when Armando Allen rushed for a first down a moment ago. It was Notre Dame's first first down of the half.

Hey! Where's everybody going?

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Notre Dame fans have begun streaming for the exit with just under 12 minutes to go and their team trailing 31-0. This is yet one more thing I have never seen before, but Notre Dame hasn't been 1-7 before either. At least not in my lifetime.

Make that 38-0 on a Joe McKnight run off tackle. Now, you'd think the place was on fire.

And the hits just keep on comin'

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The third quarter was yet another disaster for the Irish, starting with the fumble by Thomas and ending with a generous spot by an official that gave USC a first down.

When USC had the ball, they ran it down their throats and threw it over the top. On defense, they delivered hit after hit, especially on Evan Sharpley, who was sacked three times, including one where nose tackle Sedrick Ellis jumped up and landed on Sharpley's shoulder pads.

USC outgained Notre Dame 130-0 in the quarter.

The Trojans seem pretty committed to the ground game right now, so Pete Carroll may have called off the dogs.

Between quarters, a Delta jet flew low, right past the north end of the stadium. It was close enough that we could see what the passengers were eating (peanuts). I don't remember the stadium being in a flight path before.

Bears take back lead... for now

PASADENA, Calif. -- DeSean Jackson is doing his best to make up for last weekend.

So far so good.

Continue reading "Bears take back lead... for now" »

Smashmouth football in the passing game

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - You might not think a 48-yard touchdown pass qualifies as smashmouth football, but this one did. After two tough runs up the middle, Vidal Hazelton was left uncovered down the left sideline and caught the ball around the 25. He cut back inside, stiff-armed one defender, spun, stiff-armed another defender and dove into the end zone for the score. USC now leads 31-0 with most of nine minutes left in the third quarter.

Hazelton, by the way, is one of two #7s that started for USC today. The other is CB Cary Harris. Did USC retire all their numbers?

Big hittin' early

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The Trojan defense came to hit in the second half. On the first play after the kickoff, they gang-sacked Evan Sharpley, which was the second sack of the day for USC. On the second play, Cary Harris stuck Travis Thomas hard right after he caught the ball, causing a fumble, which USC recovered. Two plays later, it was 24-0.

Which reminds me that I need to make a slight correction to an earlier report. I said USC had two sacks at halftime, but the official stats only show one. One of the plays I assumed was a sack is a rush for negative yards in the stats. On that play, Sharpley dropped back to pass, was flushed from the pocket, scrambled and tackled two yards short of the line of scrimmage. In the pros, that's a sack, but I guess it isn't in college.

Ducks wear white and hope to move up in BCS

SEATTLE - It's been 10 years since Oregon won in Husky Stadium.

While that sounds bad, part of the reason is because the Ducks haven't played here since 2003 - the years when Washington has been a Pac-10 doormat - and have won three straight against the Huskies, eclipsing them by at least 20 points each time.

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It's tricky in the Rose Bowl

PASADENA, Calif. -- UCLA offensive coordinator Jay Norvell evoked his inner Run DMC with a trick play that put the Bruins back on top in the Rose Bowl, 20-14, in the third quarter. The Bruins ran an end-around to Brandon Breazell, faked the reverse, and had Breazell throw it over the top.

Breazell appeared to make a mistake when he threw to Dominique Johnson, who had two Cal defenders near him, while other players were wide open downfield. His trust in his fellow wideout paid off as Johnson made a terrific catch in the end zone for the 29-yard touchdown pass.

Bell is ringing up yards

PASADENA, Calif. -- UCLA running back Khalil Bell doesn't always get the recognition of his backfield mate, Chris Markey, but if UCLA is going to deliver California its second loss in as many weeks, Bell is probably going to be the man who makes it happen. The 6-foot, 211-pound bruiser had 100 yards on 11 carries in the first half.

More of the same for ND

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - USC drove down for a field goal with 11 seconds left in the half to give the Trojans a 17-0 lead at the break.

Evan Sharpley hasn't been living up to his name in the first half. He was 6-16 for only 41 yards before USC conceded three underneath completions at the end of the half. As those numbers indicate, he hasn't been terribly accurate. He's faced some pretty good pressure, even though the Trojans only have two sacks. He seems to be rushing throws even when he's not under fire, which is not terribly uncommon phenomenon for quarterbacks facing a lot of heat.

Not surprisingly, Notre Dame isn't getting much going on the ground either. The Irish only have 22 yards on 10 carries in the first half. They are playing today without James Aldridge, who hurt his leg last week.

After a rough start, Matt Sanchez has acquitted himself reasonably well for USC. He's 18-32 for 182 yards and two touchdowns.

The Trojan band is on the field. Nobody cares because the Song Girls are out there too.

Making himself feel right at home

PASADENA, Calif. - California might be in Northern California but Coach Jeff Tedford recruits the Los Angeles area like Berkeley is just one of the dozens of Southern California suburbs.

Arguably his biggest recruit since he's been at Cal is wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who spurned USC to play for the Bears. Jackson reminded UCLA fans why he was so highly touted coming out of football factory Long Beach Poly in the first half.

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What's a fair catch?

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Tom Zbikowski waved off his teammates on a punt that was going to bounce short, but when it hopped right to him, he grabbed it and took off running. The refs stopped the play though saying he called for fair catch.

I wonder if we got the same refs they had at Connecticut last night. There, a UConn player called for a fair catch, caught the ball and ran it for a touchdown while Louisville's players stood there in shock.

You wouldn't think the fair catch rule would be so difficult to enforce.

Methodical march

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Time for the Trojan band to break out that march. That's what their team just did to the Irish - march down the field. They 79 yards in 10 plays for a 14-0 lead.

Up until this drive, the Notre Dame defense had done a decent job of getting off the field. USC would get a first down or two, but eventually, the drive would stall.

Notre Dame's offense is also doing a good job getting off the field. The Irish only have 51 yards and two first downs with just under 4 minutes left in the half.

-15 yard punt, no return

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Notre Dame made its own break in the punt game on a play I haven't seen before. David Bruton broke through the middle and, while diving to make the block, actually caught the ball right after it came off the punter's foot. That set the Irish up at the USC 29.

However, because this is Notre Dame, they went three-and-out, giving up a sack along the way, and then their field goal attempt was blocked.

USC has now sacked Sharpley twice and hit him hard a few other times. Still, I've seen worse pressure on ND quarterbacks this year than he is getting today.

Bending but not breaking

PASADENA, Calif. - UCLA is moving the ball on California but the Bears' defense isn't just giving away points. In three trips to the red zone, UCLA has scored all three times - but twice were held to field goals, which is a big reason Cal leads, 14-13, with just over five minutes left in the first half.

Unluck of the Irish

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A USC punt turned into the first big break of the game when a punt hit Notre Dame's Munir Prince in the back. Vincent Joseph pounced on it at the Irish 6 for USC and one play later, Sanchez hit TE Fred Davis for the score.

USC is having success throwing the ball in the flats and getting the receivers one-on-one with the Irish linebackers and DBs.

A big kick return by freshman Armando Allen has the Irish faithful excited and the offense in Trojan territory.

One of a kind

PASADENA, Calif. - It's been a few years since I've been at the Rose Bowl, in large part because traffic coming into and out of the Arroyo Seco is a nightmare for even the most savvy Los Angeles driver.

That being said, there is truly nothing like the roar of the Rose Bowl with the San Gabriel Mountains painting the horizon. And there was quite a celebration from the Bruins' faithful just a moment ago as defensive end Bruce Davis hit Cal quarterback Nate Longshore from behind to cause an incomplete pass and force a punt.

Khalil Bell followed on first down with a 64-yard run to the California 2-yard-line. UCLA tight end Logan Paulsen scored on the following play catching the 2-yard pass from Pat Cowan despite being interferred with on the play and UCLA has its first lead, 10-7, with 11:08 remaining in the first half.

Trying too hard to get McKnight involved

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - USC's second offensive possession was going great until the Trojans tried a little too hard to get freshman Joe McKnight involved. Three plays had USC in Irish territory, but then they like up McKnight at tailback and gave it to him twice on runs between the tackles, which he kind of shied away from. Notre Dame wasn't fooled at all. He lost three yards on those plays and USC was eventually forced to punt once again.

While USC was on the field, Evan Sharpley was warming up behind the Notre Dame bench, which you don't usually see someone who is already in the game doing unless they're checking for a potential injury.

Another thing you don't usually see is two guys who play a lot wearing the same number. McKnight wears #4 for USC, but so does starting strong safety Kevin Ellison.

USC off to rocky start

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - About the only thing the Trojans offense did right on the first possession was not turn the ball over.

After a good kick return set them up at the 42, a run by Chauncey Washington went nowhere and then Matt Sanchez was forced to call a time out because his formation was wrong.

That was followed by an incompletion, a false start penalty and a 14-yard gain on 3rd and 15.

Sanchez brought them to the line to go for it on fourth down and when USC lined up, Notre Dame was still scrambling to get guys in position. Instead of snapping the ball and falling forward for a first down, Sanchez delayed and by the time he got the ball snapped, Pete Carroll called USC's second timeout from the bench.

Then, they punted.

That's not exactly the kind of start you want on the road against a fired up and undermanned opponent.

SoCal kids put Cal ahead of UCLA early

PASADENA, Calif. - Think Cal likes having Nate Longshore back? With the 6-foot-5 junior back behind center, the Bears just finished a beautiful drive to take an early 7-0 lead. Longshire completed all seven of his passes on the 12-play, 71-yard touchdown drive, capping it with a 21-yard touchdown pass to tight end Craig Stevens.

The Bears' quarterback, tight end and place kicker, Jordan Kay, are all from Southern California. Longshore played high school ball in the Santa Clarita Valley, which is north of UCLA. Stevens and Kay actually went to the same high school, which is located in the South Bay area of Los Angeles.

Please have your pencils and scorecards handy

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - We've just been given the lineup changes for USC. Baker is out, replaced by freshman Butch Lewis. Also, Brian Cushing will start at LB after missing five games with an ankle injury.

Our pregame ceremony included half a dozen parachutists landing on the field...

Continue reading "Please have your pencils and scorecards handy" »

Cal-UCLA about to start

PASADENA, Calif. - The Bruins are undefeated in the Pac-10 and should get a huge boost to keep things that way with Patrick Cowan set to start at quarterback. Cowan is a gutsy, slightly goofy quarterback who plays loose and it seems to fit well with the Bruins offense. Remember, it was Cowan who led the Bruins over USC last year.

California officials are mum on which quarterback will start for the Bears, freshman Kevin Riley or veteran starter Nate Longshore, who did not play last week due to an ankle injury. We'll find out right away because Cal is set to receive the opening kickoff. The Bears also have a few lineup changes with Lavelle Hawkins starting at wide receiver over Robert Jordan while defensive end John Allen and SAM linebacker Justin Moye will be two new starters on the defensive end.

The Rose Bowl isn't entirely filled despite it being just a few short minutes before kickoff. UCLA coach Karl Dorrell had an extra week to make sure his team has recovered from seven turnovers and a loss at home to a previously unbeaten Notre Dame. The bigger question in this game, however, might be whether or not the Bears have recovered from last week's stunning loss at home to Oregon State.


USC injury update

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - RB Stafon Johnson was out with the team during warmups and participated in the drills. OT Sam Baker was nowhere to be seen.

USC-ND Pregame Thoughts

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - When these teams last met here in South Bend, USC came from behind to beat the Irish 31-28 when Matt Leinart completed a fourth down pass to Dwayne Jarrett for 61 yards, which set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Leinart that is now known as the "Bush Push."

Getting that close to the Trojans now seems like a pipe dream.

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October 13, 2007

USC Survives Close Call With Wildcats

LOS ANGELES -- Last week, USC saw its national title hopes crash and burn against Stanford. This week a realistic shot at the Rose Bowl was on line for much of the game until a Joe McKnight punt return turned things around as the Trojans escaped with a 20-13 win over Arizona.

USC survived spotty quarterback play from backup Mark Sanchez, a solid attack from Arizona signal-caller Willie Tuitama and came up with the big plays when it needed to avoid losing consecutive games at home. Without McKnight, a talented back who had struggled to find a role in the offense, the Trojans would likely be traveling to Notre Dame next week riding a two-game losing streak.

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Game Over: Arizona Turns Ball Over on Downs

LOS ANGELES -- Arizona just came up short on fourth and nine, giving USC the ball back with 13 seconds left and setting the Trojans up with a much-needed 20-13 win. I'm going to get some quotes and come back to wrap things up.

Arizona Has Life

LOS ANGELES -- The Wildcats held USC to a field goal on its last drive and the Trojans now hold a 20-13 with 57 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Arizona's defense forced a best-case scenario, giving the offense the ball with a chance to tie.

McKnight Sets Up Likely Trojan Victory

LOS ANGELES -- Once again, Joe McKnight has come to the rescue for USC. With the clock ticking on a drive that started at the Trojans one-yard line, McKnight broke off a 59-yard run to set USC up in Arizona territory. Now USC is threatening inside the Arizona five-yard line with about a minute left on the clock while holding a 17-13 lead.

Arizona's going to need a miracle to pull this one out.

USC Defense Energized

LOS ANGELES -- Since the latest Trojan touchdown, the USC defense has responded in kind, holding Arizona to consecutive unproductive drives as we approach the seven-minute mark in the fourth quarter.

But the Wildcats just got another huge play from freshman punter Keenyn Crier, who has been pinning USC inside its own 10-yard line all day long. His latest effort was one for the books, an 83-yard line drive that sailed over returner Joe McKnight's head and settled on USC's one-yard line. Unbelievable. So far, Crier has averaged 49.2 yards on six punts and has generally kept USC out of any kind of decent field position.

USC still leads 17-13.

USC Grabs Lead, Momentum

LOS ANGELES -- The Trojans couldn't get anything going on offense, so Joe McKnight gave them a boost on special teams. McKnight returned an Arizona punt 45 yards to the Wildcats 25, waking up the dormant USC crowd and giving the offense a short field.

Mark Sanchez took quick advantage finding Fred Davis, who again came up big for USC, with a touchdown pass to take a 17-13 lead with 10:47 remaining in the fourth quarter. It's a whole new ball game now with the pressure suddenly switching back to Arizona.

Arizona Takes Lead into Fourth Quarter

LOS ANGELES -- We're through three quarters at the Coliseum and Arizona is holding onto its 13-10 lead over USC. The story of the game so far is Willie Tuitama's efficiency for Arizona and Mark Sanchez's inability to get anything going for the USC offense.

Whatever has been ailing the USC offense, Sanchez is not the answer as he's completed 10-of-18 passes for 65 yards and two interceptions. It doesn't help that his receivers continue to drop passes, a problem that has plagued USC all season. Ronald Johnson is the biggest culprit so far, dropping two sure first-down passes so far.

Tuitama, meanwhile, continues to make smart decisions and accurate passes and has led the Wildcats to produce just enough offense to stay on top of the Trojans.

Arizona Takes Lead Over USC

LOS ANGELES -- USC needed to make some halftime adjustments. Less than four minutes into the second half, it doesn't look like it made the correct ones.

The offense came out flat, going three and out on its first possession, and the defense still hasn't figured out Willie Tuitama, who led the Wildcats on a 40-yard drive inside the USC 30-yard line. Faced with fourth and two at the USC 28-yard line, Arizona coach Mike Stoops decided to play it safe and kick the field goal instead of trying for the first down. It paid off as Jason Bondzio converted on a career-high 45-yard field goal attempt to give the Wildcats a 13-10 lead early in the second half.

Tuitama, meanwhile, has completed 18-of-23 passes for 182 yards.

Cason Comes Up Big, Sets Up Halftime Tie With Trojans

LOS ANGELES -- Facing second and nine inside their own five, the Trojans decided to go for the big strike with less than two minutes left in the half. It didn't work.

A deep pass down the sideline intended for Fred Davis was well covered by Antoine Cason, who intercepted the pass and set the Arizona offense up in field goal range. The Wildcats stalled, but got enough yardage for Jason Bondzio to hit a chip-shot field goal to tie the game 10-10. With Cason being arguably the best cover corner in the country, Sanchez's decision was clearly a mistake.

It almost got worse when Sanchez threw another interception on the ensuing drive. Fortunately for the Trojans, Arizona cornerback Corey Hall fumbled the ball right back to USC with 47 seconds left in the half. Needless to say, Sanchez didn't throw another pass before halftime and USC went to the locker room reeling and lucky to be in a tie game.

Tuitama Picking Apart USC Defense

LOS ANGELES -- Dink and dump, dink and dump. Arizona's efficient spread attack finally found the end zone with 5:31 left in the second quarter when Willie Tuitama found the end zone on a quarterback keeper from the one-yard line to cut the USC lead to 10-7.

Tuitama has been close to perfect, completing 14-of-15 passes for 134 yards and USC once again looks to be in trouble at home against a seemingly inferior opponent. Halftime adjustments are going to be the difference in the outcome of this game.

Trojans Get Field Goal off Arizona Fumble

LOS ANGELES -- USC had plenty of opportunities to find the end zone after a Nic Grigsby fumble set the Trojans up with the ball in Arizona territory, but ended up with a 27-yard field goal to take a 10-0 lead.

After stalling, Pete Carroll decided to go for it on fourth-and-three at the 24 yard line, converting when Sanchez found go-to tight end Fred Davis for a six-yard gain. A personal foul facemask penalty set the Trojans up with yet another first down in the red zone, but they came up short, gaining just 21 yards on a 10-play drive.

Arizona Finding Spots in USC Defense

LOS ANGELES -- Arizona's spread offense is giving USC trouble. Often lining up four or five wide, the Wildcats are playing dink and dunk offense with quarterback Willie Tuitama running it very efficiently.

So far, Tuitama is 10-for-11 for 67 yards. But the early turnover lack of a big play have stalled the Wildcats. While Tuitama has been deadly accurate, his longest pass has gone for just 13 yards. Eventually the short passes will put Arizona in the end zone if USC doesn't make some adjustments on defense.

Chains on the Move

LOS ANGELES -- It looks like all the USC offense needed was one first down to get started. After struggling on their first few plays, Mark Sanchez and the rest of the offense started to find their rhythm when Sanchez hit David Ausburry for a first down at the Trojan 31-yard line.

From there, they ripped of three consecutive first-down plays as a collection of play-action passes and Chauncey Washington runs led the Trojans to the first score of the game. Chauncey Washington's 18-yard touchdown run gives the Trojans a 7-0 lead with 3:41 left in the first quarter. So far, Sanchez is 4-for-5 for 42 yards.

Sanchez Takes First Snap

LOS ANGELES -- USC's defense came up with a big play early when Keith Rivers recovered Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski's fumble, setting up Mark Sanchez and the USC offense near midfield.

But Sanchez's first stint under center didn't go far with a one-yard drive ending with a punt back to Arizona.

New Beginning at USC

LOS ANGELES -- A new era of USC football starts today -- at least for this week. After suffering a broken finger during last week's stunning loss to Stanford, John David Booty is on the bench in favor of highly-touted sophomore backup Mark Sanchez. Sanchez actually challenged Booty for the starting job as a redshirt freshman in 2006 and ends up getting his chance a little bit earlier than expected.

While the USC party line has been to remain loyal to Booty -- that he's only on the bench because of injury -- the Trojans have to hope that Sanchez can provide a much-needed spark in an inconsistent and at times errant passing attack that was the difference in last week's loss.

Continue reading "New Beginning at USC" »

October 07, 2007

It's for Real: Stanford Stuns USC

LOS ANGELES -- Before the season, Stanford Head Coach Jim Harbaugh called USC the best team in the history of college football. That's clearly not the case, but Stanford's 24-23 stunner over USC tonight serves as a landmark win in Cardinal lore and one of the biggest upsests in recent college football memory.

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October 06, 2007

Game Over... Stanford Stuns USC

LOS ANGELES -- I don't believe it. John David Booty just threw an interception on fourth down to seal USC's fate as Stanford will end the game with a 24-23 shocker, eliciting boos from the LA Coliseum fans. I'm going down to get interviews and will check back in with all the details. This is hands down the biggest upset I've ever witnessed in college football.

Un Freakin' Believable

LOS ANGELES -- Move over App State-Michigan. There may be a new upset king in town. Stanford just converted its second fourth-down of the drive with a fourth-and-goal from the 10 when Tavita Pritchard hit Mark Bradford to give Stanford a 24-23 lead with 49 seconds left.

USC has the ball at its own 42 yard-line to start its drive. I'll check back in when it's over. This is unreal.

Booty Interception Sets Up Big Ending

LOS ANGELES -- John David Booty just threw an interception on third and 23 with about three minutes remaining to set up Stanford on the USC 45 yard-line trailing, 23-17. This is much more exciting than it should be.

Stanford Takes Points off the Board, Loses Time

LOS ANGELES -- Trailing 23-14 with about seven minutes left, Stanford kicker Derek Belch hit a 45-yard field goal. But USC had jumped off sides to give the Cardinal a first down. Stanford elected to take the first down and drove to the nine-yard line, but couldn't get into the end zone. Belch eventually converted a field goal, but more than a minute ticked off the clock. Still needing a touchdown, that time could have come in handy for the Cardinal. Now they'll have to stop USC now for it to even be relevant. The Trojans lead 23-17 with 5:43 to go.

Yet Another Big Strike for USC

LOS ANGELES -- When he's not turning the ball over or being failed by his receivers, John David Booty is making the big play today. Just when things started to look desperate for USC, Booty came up with another deep ball -- this time to Ronald Johnson.

After feeding the Cardinal defense a steady diet of tailback Chauncey Washington on a drive that started on the 14 yard-line, Booty hit Johnson on a 47-yard bomb to increase the USC lead to 23-14.

But Stanford has the ball again, and its suddenly resurgent offense is driving. The Cardinal look to have come to far to just roll over in the fourth quarter.

Stanford Offense Wakes Up, Cuts USC Lead to Two

LOS ANGELES -- After depending on the defense to get on the board first, Stanford's offense finally woke up to wind down the third quarter. The Cardinal came up with three first-down conversions after starting on their own 25 and Tavita Pritchard hit Mark Bradford on a 37-yard strike to set up first-and-goal at the USC one yard-line.

Anthony Kimble converted to start the fourth quarter and cut the USC lead to 16-14. This crowd is noticeably nervous. And it should be.

Davis Comes up Big Again For USC

LOS ANGELES -- After turning the ball over on three straight possessions, John David Booty finally found some magic and hit Fred Davis for a career-long 63-yard touchdown pass on third and two from the USC 37. After struggling to make big plays for most of the young season, it seems that's all USC can come up with today. The Trojans lead 16-7.

Another Trojan Turnover

LOS Angeles -- USC turned the ball over on a third consecutive possession when John David Booty tried to throw the ball deep near the Stanford 20. The pass never had a chance and cornerback Nick Sanchez, who assisted on the tackle that kept USC out of the end zone on fourth-and-goal in the first half, picked the ball off.

Once again, Stanford couldn't do anything with the ball and turned it right back over when Taylor Mays intercepted Tavita Pritchard deep in USC territory. USC still leads 9-7.

Orange Alert: Cardinal Cut USC Lead to 9-7

LOS ANGELES -- If college football had a threat alert system, USC would be on orange alert approaching red. After ending the first half with a failed fourth-and-goal attempt, the Trojans opened the second half on even worse terms, turning the ball over for a Stanford touchdown.

After a three-and-out from each team to start the half, John David Booty stepped back to pass on third and one from the USC 28. Booty's pass ended up in cornerback Austin Yancey's hands and eventually in the end zone for a Stanford touchdown. To make matters worse, USC turned the ball over again on the next drive when Fred Davis fumbled the ball just past midfield.

Fortunately for the Trojans, their stout defense is shutting Stanford down and the offense has the ball again with about seven minutes left in the third quarter.

Best. Halftime. Ever.

LOS ANGELES -- As usual, the Stanford band brought the pain today and stuck it to USC during the halftime show. Led by their fearless and sometimes sober tree mascot, the Stanford band took the field to spell out UCLA while its announcer gave homage to the only respectable school in Southern California that he could think of. The announcer then went on to insinuate that USC made under-the-table payments to its recruits. Good times.

But USC was prepared with a response.

Continue reading "Best. Halftime. Ever." »

Cardinal Come up With Huge Stop

LOS ANGELES -- Holding the ball on the one yard-line with a 9-0 lead and 13 seconds remaining in the first half, USC decided to go for a potential knockout blow. Stanford was having none of it.

Instead of opting for a field goal, Pete Carroll called for the touchdown attempt and gave the ball to Chauncey Washington a yard away from the end zone. Cornerback Nick Sanchez and safety Bo McNally stood him up as he tried to run through the tackles and the Cardinal took over to end the half with a 9-0 lead. So far this hasn't been the confidence-inspiring performance USC was hoping for today.

Turner Comes Through, Trojans take 9-0 Lead

LOS ANGELES -- Patrick Turner did his best to make up for earlier struggles as the Trojans went to the big play again with a 31-yard pass from John David Booty to Turner setting up a one-yard touchdown run for Chauncey Washington. But the struggles continued for USC in special teams as the extra point was blocked to hold the Trojans lead at 9-0.

Continue reading "Turner Comes Through, Trojans take 9-0 Lead" »

Wildlife in the Coliseum

LOS ANGELES -- It's not the distraction that the bugs provided at last night's Indians-Yankees MLB playoff game in Cleveland, but three fearless pigeons have set up camp on the field at the Coliseum. They have yet to interfere too much with play, but they're following the ball and can usually be found within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. On the last punt, they flew up in the middle of Stanford's punt unit and I'd imagine they had freak out the players running through them. I'm keeping an eye on them to see if they play a bigger role.

Continue reading "Wildlife in the Coliseum" »

Turner Struggles, Davis Shines Early for USC

LOS ANGELES -- USC has taken a 3-0 lead over Stanford at the 6:25 mark of the first quarter, but things don't all look well with the Trojan offense. On the field goal drive, Booty hit tight end Fred Davis for a 56-yard gain that looked to really get the ball rolling. But the offense stalled in the red zone and the rest of the USC passing attack has been off -- primarily with top receiver Patrick Turner.

Continue reading "Turner Struggles, Davis Shines Early for USC" »

Trojans Looking for Big Win Over Stanford

LOS ANGELES -- Awsesome. We just got a flyover and parachute drop into the L.A. Coliseum for today's USC-Stanford game. That's a nice surprise -- the last time I saw a flyover in L.A. was for last year's Notre Dame game. No offense to the Cardinal, but Stanford isn't exactly Notre Dame. Well -- maybe this year Stanford is a tougher matchup.

Continue reading "Trojans Looking for Big Win Over Stanford" »

September 29, 2007

Cal gets first win in 20 years

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Bears hadn't won at Autzen since 1987. And now that's a thing of the past.

Continue reading "Cal gets first win in 20 years" »

Dixon's streak over

EUGENE, Ore. -- Dixon just threw his first INT of the season. Not a great time to turn the ball over. Oregon fans look beyond dejected. For crying out loud, these people should come up to Corvallis for awhile. There, interceptions area regular thing. Fans get used to it.

However, I'm thinking Cal is about to score on this play and if Oregon loses this game it's possible that people will say it was the turnover that lost it for the Ducks. But we've still got 3:11 to play, so every should just calm down. 31-24 Cal.

Longshore down

EUGENE, Ore. -- Longshore got smacked pretty hard on that last play and is now taking some time to enjoy the Autzen turf. Longshore's a tough kid -- I think he'll get up and be OK in a few minutes. In the meantime, the Oregon video board is screaming for fans to get "LOUDER!" You know, because it's nice to cheer when the other team is hurt.

Longshore's up, but off to the sidelines. Here comes Kevin Riley, the back up QB. All I can tell you is that he's a 6'3 redshirt freshman. And I'm sure the Oregon defense is having a field day talking trash to the kid. (You know, I have a good friend who played linebacker in the Pac-10 for a few years, and he said they actually don't talk trash that much. What is that? If I were in the Pac-10 I would talk trash all day long. Especially if my name were DeSean Jackson.)

The Dixon-Dixon connection

EUGENE, Ore. -- Turns out there's another guy on the Oregon roster named Dixon. Ed Dixon, in fact. And he just got the Ducks within one yard of the endzone on a nice little catch. Before that, Denis Dixon (I vote we call him "D-Squared" in tribute to my math nerdiness) dropped back to pass, waited awhile, waited a little more -- I'm sure this whole time he was hoping someone would get open -- and then scampered around for a 10 yard gain. I don't think we're giving his offensive line enough credit. They are pretty good if he has that much time to decide what he's going to do.

Oh yeah, the Ducks scored again. 24 all, 7:06 to go.

Cal score again

EUGENE, Ore. -- This is more like it.

Longshore to Jackson for a 31-yard touchdown. PAT was good, too. Cal leads 24-17. Now, let's think about this. At halftime it was 10-3. In 18 minutes the Bears have scored 21 points. Much more impressive.

And now the Ducks just had a nightmare happen: Cal kicked off and the Oregon plays ran into each other. Yeah, I know -- into EACH OTHER. Cal recovered the fumble and it's already 2nd & 10 at the 26. Eek. This game could get out of hand quickly.

Record attendence

EUGENE, Ore. -- The press box PA guy -- who happens to double as the men's basketball sports info director -- just announced that today's attendence is 59,273, which is an Autzen and state of Oregon record. That means they beat -- by almost 1,000 -- the record that was set last year against Oklahoma. (See: Really Bad Officiating Calls for more on that game.)

Cal's ball, third and 7, 12:58 to go. Bears take a timeout to talk things over. If I were them, I would suggest getting the ball to Jackson again. But I'm sure they've already thought about and discussed that.

17 All

EUGENE, Ore. -- Forsett went a whole yard for that score. And the PAT is good. Tie game again.

By the way, that pass to Jackson was a 31-yarder, not 25. My bad.

Bears within striking distance

EUGENE, Ore. -- Cal is about a foot short of a touchdown. But we'll be back after this break for some commercials that probably aren't funny. Then we start the fourth quarter, and I'm betting the Bears are going to score. Longshore found Jackson again for a gain of about 25, setting up the Bears' soon-to-be scoring drive.

After 30 minutes of trying to find cool things around the stadium to look at, this game is finally getting some excitement. Alright, this is what me and 54,000 other people were hoping for.

And now the play right before the quarter is under review. I thought it looked like Cal got into the endzone, but what do I know. This is why the officials are paid a lot of money, to make tough calls. That and because they have to wear those funny-looking hats, which are flattering on no one.

Anything Longshore can do ...

Dixon can do better. The Oregon QB just hooked up with Colvin for a 42-yard TD. I'm sure this makes Oregon fans a little happier with Colvin. Now we've got some offense! It's 17-10, Oregon. The Ducks did their scoring pretty quickly, too, using just over two minutes to take the lead back. 2:39 to go in the third.

High-Five the Bear!

EUGENE, Ore. -- Hey, Jackson finally got involved. Scored on a 25-yard pass from Nate Longshore. Then he high-fived the Cal Bear, who is looking really geeky dressed in a yellow sweater. And the extra point is ... good! Now it's tied 10-10. 4:44 to go in the third.

You know, while this hasn't be an on-the-edge-of-my-seat game, I'm betting D-coordinator Nick Alioti is feeling good about his coaching this week in practice. I mean, yeah, Jackson did just score, but the Oregon defense hasn't looked this good in a long time. There was a point last weekend when the Ducks were losing to Stanford. Stanford! Do you know how bad Stanford is? (Answer: Worse than Michigan.)

Some quick stats

EUGENE, Ore. -- I guess it would be easy to say that Jackson has been a non-factor for Cal because he only has 42 total yards, but it's not like anyone is really standing out on the stat sheet. Longshore is 13-21 with no INTs and Mohamed has six tackles for Cal. Ho-hum. The most telling stat is easily rushing yardage: Oregon has 123, Cal 31. Cal has a total of 119 yards, Oregon 186. Dixon was 11-17. Thurmond and Boyd have six and five tackles, respectively, for the Ducks. Stewart has 82 rushing yards, five of which he went for in the Ducks' score. That's pretty much it.

Halftime

EUGENE, Ore. -- It's halftime. It's still 10-3. We'll have stats coming soon. Until then, it's time for some hot chocolate.

Ducks in the endzone

EUGENE, Ore. -- You had to know this was coming: Stewart barrelled his way through the Cal defense for an Oregon score and the Ducks now lead 10-3. Here we go, baby! I can feel the 40 points coming on.

Now it's tied

EUGENE, Ore. -- This is, uh, not exactly the most exciting game. Cal kicked a FG. Now it's tied 3-3. Whoooooo. 6:20 to go. It's not that this is a bad game, it's just not breathtaking. So far. Maybe now me saying that will turn things around. Because I'm sure the Oregon and Cal players are reading this while they're on the sideline. Maybe they'll read it at halftime though. I'm sure you've heard Oregon locker room is really sweet. I bet they have Wi-Fi in there.

Who's kicking for Oregon? No one knows.

EUGENE, Ore. -- Seems the Ducks are trying to throw off the Bears by using multiple kickers. Luke Bellotti (yep, it's the coach's son) kicked off to start the game, then Morgan Flint, who's No. 23 on our rosters but is actually wearing No. 14 for this game, kicked off after the Ducks' score. I'm sure all of this is driving Tedford Bonkers. And you thought college coaches weren't full of trickery.

For the record, Oregon's kicker last year sucked. He sucked a lot. So much so that I don't even remember his name. However, after the Civil War (Oregon vs. Oregon State) I was walking into the press conference next to a shall-remain-nameless Duck player who screamed, "We need to recruit a %*&$ing kicker!" Seems (Coach) Bellotti heard him.

Oregon still leads 3-0. 9:30 left in the half.

Oregon on scoreboard

EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon got on the board with a 32-yard FG by Matt Evensen. Now the Ducks lead 3-0.

I predicted that with all the explosive offensive talent on the field the score would be 46-41 Cal. And yet again, it looks like I will be wrong.

Duck-Bear Throw-down?

EUGENE, Ore. -- Even if the game turns out to be a blowout, we in the press box are looking forward to a potential mascot throw-down.

As I'm sure all college football junkies know by now, the Duck was suspended after Oregon's opener against Houston when he engaged in an all-out brawl with the Houston mascot. (I think the Duck won.) This is Ducky's first game back and he's promised to be tame, but all bets are off against the Bear. My money's on the Duck, personally.

It occurs to me that I wrote about Follett because I completely forgot that he was out this week. This is Follett's second straight missed game, after what Tedford will only describe as a "neck stinger."

It's 15 minutes to kickoff and the band is playing Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" for the cheerleaders. I am not even making this up.

College GameDay in Eugene

EUGENE, Ore. -- Who knew college students were willing to be up before 10 a.m.?

Continue reading "College GameDay in Eugene" »

September 23, 2007

USC Offense Scary Good

LOS ANGELES -- When the offense isn't running on all cylinders at USC, the grumbling begins. They run the ball too much. They're flat. Where's the flash of the Reggie Bush/Matt Leinart days?

Well -- those days are gone. There is no Reggie Bush on this team. But what became clear in tonight's 47-14 win over Washington State is that this offense has something special that might be just as good. All you have to do is look at the box score to see it.

Continue reading "USC Offense Scary Good" »

September 22, 2007

Okay - I'm calling It

LOS ANGELES - USC backup Mark Sanchez just thew an interception, but I'm pretty confident the turnover won't turn this game around. The Trojans hold a 47-14 lead with 4:37 left, so I'm heading down to the field to get some quotes. I'll check back in with a recap.

Cue Up the Heisman Campaign

LOS ANGELES - If John David Booty ends up as a Heisman finalist, it's going be because of games like tonight. He just threw his fourth touchdown pass and has the Trojans ahead 47-14 early in the fourth quarter. And he's been deadly efficient. He's completed 28-of-35 passes so far for 279 yards. I know Washington State isn't prime-time competition, but that's still a Pac-10 defense his knifing through (no snickers from the SEC peanut gallery).

Lone Bright Spot for Cougars

LOS ANGELES -- Washington State scored again on the arm of Alex Brink, who has shown flashes of resilience in an otherwise forgettable performance for the Cougars. He hit Michael Bumpus on a 20-yard strike for his second touchdown pass of the night to cut the deficit to 34-14.

It didn't take long for USC to respond as the John David Booty-Chauncey Washington-Fred Davis show continued to shine with the Trojans expanding the lead to 40-14 (missed extra point) toward the end of the third quarter. Right now, USC's offense looks like the balanced juggernaut that warrants a No. 1 ranking. The defense looks pretty good as well.

There's Chauncey Washington

LOS ANGELES -- Chauncey Washington has made an appearance. After being used sparingly in the first half, the bruising USC tailback became a starring player to start the third quarter. He ran three times for 38 yards on USC's opening drive, highlighted by a punishing seven-yard touchdown run where he bounced off of three WSU defenders to give the Trojans a 34-7 lead.

Who Else is Sick of the Dave Matthews Promo?

LOS ANGELES -- I don't know if they're doing this in every college stadium, but USC plays the Dave Matthews Band free concert promotion seemingly during every break in play. You know the one I'm talking about. If you're reading this blog you watch enough football on TV to have heard Dave Matthews growl about eight million times.

I get it. Sorority girls love Dave Matthews. The band is from Charlottesville. They have college spirit. Enough already. Grrrr.

New Look Trojans in First Half

LOS ANGELES -- Against Nebraksa, USC proved to the country it could run the ball. Through the first half today, the Trojans are intent on pressing the passing game. So far, John David Booty is 19-of-24 with 191 yards and two touchdowns while USC has run the ball just 14 times for 55 yards.

The Trojans have used the reputation of their running game to the fullest, continually setting up the Washington State defenders with play action as Booty has found receivers all over the field. The success in the passing game has led to a 27-7 halftime lead. We'll see if they slow things down carrying a 20-point lead into the second half.

Trojans Tack on Three More

LOS ANGELES -- USC lost two yards on its latest drive and still managed to score.

Under intense pressure from the entire USC defensive line, Alex Brink dumped an interception into the hands of Kyle Moore, who returned the ball 14 yards to set up the Trojans at the WSU nine-yard line. Three unproductive plays later, David Buehler took the field to kick a field goal and increase USC's lead to 27-7.

Too Early to Nail the Coffin Shut?

LOS ANGELES -- It's still early, but Washington State may have just made the mistake that seals its fate today. Punter Darryl Blunt botched the snap as the Cougars readied to punt, setting up USC with first and 10 at the Washington State 20.

Three plays later, John David Booty, who continues to shred WSU defense, connected with tight end Fred Davis in the end zone for the second time today to give the Trojans a 24-7 lead about halfway through the second quarter. Already, David has a career high six receptions and his first two-touchdown game at USC.

Rainbows, Ponchos and a USC Lead

LOS ANGELES -- The strangest thing happened on the last USC drive. Before the Trojans took the field on offense, the rain started up again. But as the drive progressed, the clouds broke on the USC side of the field with sun shining on east end zone. Meanwhile, rain was still falling on the other half of the field and the fans in the west end zone.

On a good note, the strange weather created a short-lived rainbow shining on downtown L.A. On a sadder note, the USC Song Girls put on rain ponchos to keep dry. Luckily the rain has since stopped and the ponchos are gone.

Continue reading "Rainbows, Ponchos and a USC Lead" »

Cougars' Brink a Pressure Player

LOS ANGELES -- Washington State responded to USC's opening score with a touchdown of its own highlighted by several clutch plays from quarterback Alex Brink to tie the game at 7-7. The Cougars looked defeated at several points in the drive, but Brink came up with clutch plays to convert on third down four times, culminating with a touchdown pass to tight end Jed Collins on third and goal.

Continue reading "Cougars' Brink a Pressure Player" »

What Running Game?

LOS ANGELES -- Steve Sarkisian knew that Washington State's defense would focus on stopping the run tonight. The USC offensive coordinator took immediate advantage, as John David Booty led a methodical, efficient 83-yard drive that saw just two runs to take a 7-0 lead over Washington State five minutes into the game.

Continue reading "What Running Game?" »

Pete Carroll Must Control the Weather

LOS ANGELES -- Mother Nature evidently is aware that a football game's about to kick off, as the rain has cleared in Southern California just in time for tonight's USC-Washington State matchup.

For the first time in months, the skies opened up last night, prompting us spoiled Southern Californians to complain about the weather and promptly drive poorly. Alas, the rain wouldn't dare mess with a USC game; I haven't seen a drop in the last hour. There are some menacing clouds over the L.A. skyline, though, so the respite may not last.

Continue reading "Pete Carroll Must Control the Weather" »

September 16, 2007

USC-Nebraska: USC wins. Neither team shines. But NU fans are left to wonder.

LINCOLN, Neb.- Suffice to say the Bill Callahan era has taken another step back tonight.

Almost every Nebraska fan worth his salt that you ran into this week was saying the same thing: This was the biggest game in Lincoln in years.

Well it didn't turn out to be the biggest. It did possibly turn out to be the most telling.

Callahan.jpg
(Bill Callahan said in the post-game that "he loves this team and where they're at". But does the Corn Nation feel the same way?)

Nebraska got a real close view at what big time college football looked like. The kind of big time college football that they used to set the example for. USC came into Memorial Stadium and played a smashmouth brand that even a Nebraska fan could look at longingly and admit they miss. SC had some late hiccups, but won convincingly 49-31.

Continue reading "USC-Nebraska: USC wins. Neither team shines. But NU fans are left to wonder." »

September 15, 2007

USC-Nebraska: What would a USC game be without a picture of the Song Girls?

LINCOLN, Neb.- USC continues to dominate this game, this time increasing its lead to 49-17 on a 6-yard touchdown run by Allen Bradford with just under seven minutes left.


USCsongirls.jpg
Because it's always requisite viewing at any USC game, here's a quick picture of the Song Girls.

Going down on to the field to go get some post-game quotes. I'm pretty sure I know what Pete Carroll will say, so I'll go get some from Bill Callahan in the Husker presser.

USC-Nebraska: NU finally gets more points. Still needs miracle.

LINCOLN, Neb.- It's been a while, but the Huskers finally dent the scoreboard again with a one-yard dive by Marlon Lucky to close the gap to USC 42 - Nebraska 17.

It had been since the 1:03 mark of the first quarter since NU had reached paydirt. Now, with most of the student section already making for the exits, USC needs to merely run basic plays and take good care of the ball to salt this one away.

Any three-and-outs or turnovers in their own territory by the Men of Troy and I'll have to go back to saying that the Cornhuskers still have a chance in this one.

USC-Nebraska: Yawn, I shoulda offered to cover the Ky-L'ville game

LINCOLN, Neb.- USC has just shut down Nebraska here in the third quarter and will probably score again and again (as long as they stay on the ground) and build on its 42-10 lead.

Meanwhile, CBSSportsline's Dennis Dodd and ESPN's Ivan Maisel both had that wild finish of the Kentucky-Louisville game on their laptops. Only question I had about that game, isn't Louisville supposed to play "wide as the widest and deep as the deepest" in that type of situation? That's what we were always told in our initial football practices of the season. How did that UK receiver get behind the defense? Aweful.

Then again, my high school team played better defense that this Louisville team.

USC-Nebraska: Forget "Neb-Colorado of '01" this is turning into "USC-Arizona State of '05"

LINCOLN, Neb.- Sam Keller just threw his second pick in as many drives and USC made it pay with a one-yard touchdown run by Chauncey Washington. The Trojans are now up 35-10.

As you all probably have heard ad nauseum this week, Keller threw five interceptions in that '05 game in Tempe, which made a 21-3 halftime lead melt into a 38-28 Trojan win.

We're only at the 9:14 point of the third quarter, so there's still time for NU to make it interesting. But they have to play - dare I say - error free from here on out.

USC-Nebraska: Okay, this is NOT what Nebraska needed

LINCOLN, Neb.- I told anybody who would bother to listen that if Nebraska got an early turnover in either half, it would make for a tight game and give them a chance.

Well, the second half starting with a tip-and-interception by USC was a dagger to the heart of the Huskers. SC just went five plays and 33 yards to go up 28-10 at the 11:29 mark of the third quarter.

Booty went to a wide-open Anthony McCoy for the two-yard touchdown pass.

This does two things, puts Nebraska well behind the 8-ball and pins USC's ears back on defense.

USC-Nebraska: Two cool things I'd like to point out

LINCOLN, Neb.-

1- Just like when I was a kid going to these Nebraska games, the stadium staff always does a good job of updating scores from around the country. Back then they announced scores on a constant basis over the stadium P.A. Nowadays they do it by having a constant running scoreboard updates at the bottom of the JumboTron. Strong work Memorial Stadium peeps.

2- At halftime, the local TV station did a "halftime weather update" on the video board. It is now 54 degrees and the drive home conditions called for a chance of sprinkles. As the Grand Island native next to me pointed out, "This is the Midwest, things could change weather-wise in a hurry."

USC-Nebraska: Halftime Ruminations

USC takes a 21-10 lead into the locker room at the mid-point of the game.

So far, we've seen two games, the one before Vincent Joseph got hurt and the one after USC finally decided to play some smashmouth football, ala the Charles White days.

Continue reading "USC-Nebraska: Halftime Ruminations" »

USC-Nebraska: "Like Colorado in 2001"

Is there a reason why USC even bothers to use its passing game?

The Trojans just went nine plays and 73 yards in 3:52 to go up 21-10.

Booty threw on first down three times during the drive, but the big chunk of yardage came on simple dive plays and trap plays. Stafon Johnson went right up the gut for the final yards and paydirt.

Shoulda heard the frustrated gasps that many of the press members let out on repeated USC running plays during that drive. One of them even blurted out "Like Colorado in 2001" after the touchdown run.

USC-Nebraska: Trojans move ahead 14-10. But what about Booty's Heisman campaign?

LINCOLN, Neb.-

SC moves the ball 45 yards in five plays and goes up by four over Nebraska with 6:50 remaining in the half. The drive culminated on a 2-yard TD run by Stanley Havili.

Only problem is... all five plays were on the ground. Just like their first scoring drive, most (or in this case, all) of the yards came on the ground. Will John David Booty win a Heisman trophy with the student-body-right being the main weapon?

USC looked much better on that drive. But their defense is still looking leaky.

USC-Nebraska: Even the NU students are first class fans

LINCOLN, Neb. - After a long delay due to the injury and stretchered removal of USC's Vincent Joseph, I thought it was interesting that the students in Nebraska student section were standing and clapping as well as the rest of the stadium.

I guess they start the "best fans in the nation" early up here.

USC-Nebraska: NU moves ahead 10-7. USC still undisciplined

LINCOLN, Neb,-

Let me say this, USC is getting good pressure on NU's Sam Keller, but the short, sharp passing game is riddling the Trojan D so far.

There's also the fact that USC is playing in its typical undisciplined manner - as has marked the Pete Carroll era.

- A disconcerning call on a field goal game NU a first down at the 2.
- A late hit on Keller gave the Huskers and extra 15 yards on this last drive.
- A near-disaster on fielding a punt inside the 10-yard line nearly put NU at the SC five.

This is not a good sign for Trojan fans. The fans are getting into the game more and more and other than those two long runs, the Husker defense has the right to think those were just flukes.

But a "whaddya doin'" look goes to Bill Callahan and company for moving deep into USC territory by mixing it up, then running Marlon Lucky three straight playes to stall the drive.

USC-Nebraska: Larry the Cable Guy/Will Farrell make JumboTron

Between the 1st and 2nd quarter, the video screen that is bigger than most Santa Monica house lots showed some Larry the Cable Guy and Will Farrell clips.

LarryCableGuy.jpg
(Here's Larry the Husker Fan)

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(Here's an even blurrier pic of Will on Talladega Nights)

Surprisingly, the loudest cheer from the crowd might've come from the clip of Farrell doing his "Need more Cowbell" clip on Saturday Night Live.

USC-Nebraska: What is "disconcerning?"

This game turning into a Big East scorefest for one.

NU just went on a 10 play, 52-yard drive to make this a 7-7 game with a minute left in the 1st quarter on a one-yard dive by Cody Glenn.

After setting up for a field goal and getting flagged for something the ref called "disconcerning" the Huskers punched the ball into the end zone two plays later

Guess that means the SC defense was imitating the "hut-hut" of the offense. And let me say, although I'm back up in the whisper-quiet press box, the stadium sounds a bit louder now. That will obviously help NU if they stick around in this game.

USC-Nebraska: Desmond Reed is right and the stadium ain't as loud as I thought it'd be.

LINCOLN, Neb-

After the Trojans swiftly drove down the field, USC reserve tailback stood up on the bench and turned to the fans in the West stands and yelled, "We don't care WHO'S house this is!"

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(Okay, so I snapped this picture just after he turned back around. Damn. Sorry.)

Reed was right. SC goes 96 yards in four plays. In other words, went through the Blackshirt defense like freakin' milk. SC up 7-0.

Surprisingly, after spending the first two drives down on the field level, I found that the crowd wasn't as loud as I thought it would be. The frenzied fans of the NU-Texas game last year were much louder. Maybe the driving snowstorm helped.

Tressel gets 200 wins, OSU beats up on UW

SEATTLE - Jim Tressel prefers Diet Pepsi.

Continue reading "Tressel gets 200 wins, OSU beats up on UW" »

USC-Nebraska: Tailgate report

LINCOLN, Neb. - Tailgates are fun. And alcohol seems to help bring out the true feelings in fans.

Just got back from a Nebraska tailgate just outside the stadium and a giant USC tailgate.

NUstudents.jpg
Think these fans picture here are pumped? Like something out of a KISS concert, the students waiting here at the gates of the student section were chanting "Open the F#@%in' doors!" wanting to race to their seats in the stadium two hours before gametime. Yeah, I think they're keyed up.

More about the tailgates, read on...

Continue reading "USC-Nebraska: Tailgate report" »

Ohio State is going to win this game

SEATTLE - This is pretty much over.

Continue reading "Ohio State is going to win this game" »

OSU increases lead

SEATTLE - The Buckeyes just kicked a FG after UW broke up their last pass attempt ... they now lead 20-7 with 13:57 to play in the fourth. There have been some really exciting plays on both sides, but most of it was happening when Ohio State went on it's little 14-0 run. Since then, it's been a little blah. And the people dressed in purple are kinda quiet right now. At least they're not booing their QB for throwing 2 INTs like at SOME Pac-10 schools.

Not a freshman?

SEATTLE - I want to see Locker's birth certificate to prove he's just a redshirt freshman. This kid can PLAY.

Continue reading "Not a freshman?" »

Yikes

It's amazing how quickly momentum can shift.

Continue reading "Yikes" »

Buckeyes score

And just like that, Ohio State takes the lead with a beautiful 68-yard pass from Boeckman (who doesn't seem so rattled in his first road start) to give the Buckeyes the edge. They made the extra point, too, and now lead 10-7 with 9:36 to go in the game.

Stat time

A little stat info while we wait for the measure guy to come out and decide if UIW really did get that first down.

Continue reading "Stat time" »

USC-Nebraska: Three hours before Cornhusker Armegeddon

LINCOLN, Ne.-

It's still three hours before kickoff and the Nebraska band is out practicing to a smattering of people in the stands.

CalmB4Storm.jpg

This is the look of things from the press box right now, but imagine how wild this place will be with the endless amounts of red slapdashed all over the stadium. Last year's NU-Texas game was supposed to be the loudest this stadium has been since the 1978 Oklahoma game, so we'll see if it gets louder tonight.

Continue reading "USC-Nebraska: Three hours before Cornhusker Armegeddon" »

Huskies lead

Wahoo, we're back! Our internet troubles are over ... for the time being.

Continue reading "Huskies lead" »

Purple and Gold everywhere

SEATTLE -- Traffic sucked.

Continue reading "Purple and Gold everywhere" »

September 14, 2007

USC-Nebraska: The day before preview

LINCOLN, Neb. - This is a battle to see who hits the alarm clock first.

Both teams seem to be sleeping. Nebraska didn't light up the sky with its three-point escape at Wake Forest. And USC plodded its way through the Idaho game with its eyes seemingly at half-mast.

Both teams need a Red Bull. A Rock Star. And a couple of Jolt Colas.

Continue reading "USC-Nebraska: The day before preview" »

September 02, 2007

Trojans Win Big -- Sort Of

LOS ANGELES -- A reporter asked quarterback John David Booty what it felt like to win by four touchdowns when USC was expected to win by six. That pretty much sums up the night as top-ranked USC pulled off a dominant but not quite satisfying 38-10 victory over Idaho on Saturday night.

Continue reading "Trojans Win Big -- Sort Of" »

JACKSON CATAPULTS THE BEARS TO REVENGE

BERKELEY, Calif - DeSean Jackson was only given one chance to return a punt all night, but for Tennessee, it was one time too many.

Jackson broke a 14-14 tie in the second quarter with a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown, and Cal would never fall behind for the rest of the game, as the Bears beat the Volunteers 45-31 to open the 2007 season at Memorial Stadium.

Continue reading "JACKSON CATAPULTS THE BEARS TO REVENGE" »

Booty's Done

In the official sign that this game is truly over (not that it's been in doubt), Michael McDonald has taken over for John David Booty as USC's quarterback. Booty kicked off his Heisman campaign with a solid, but not spectacular performance. Here's his final unofficial stat line:

12-of-32 for 206 yards; 3 touchdowns; 1 interception

Meanwhile, USC still leads 38-3 with about six minutes to go. With the outcome squarely in hand, I'm going to head to the field to get some interviews. But don't worry; Gametracker's not going anywhere.

McKnight Not Helping His Case

After spending much of the game on the bench behind Stafon Johnson and C.J. Gable, USC tailback Joe McKnight just fumbled inside the Trojans' 20-yard line. For a guy fighting tooth and nail for playing time, that's not going to help his case.

So Much for that Sellout Streak

USC's expected sellout season came to an end early. For the first time in 10 home games, tonight's crowd of 90,917 fell short of a sellout. Evidently enough hype doesn't exist to get Trojans' fans that excited about a matchup with Idaho. As far as the game goes, USC is on cruise control and holds a 38-3 lead. The Idaho team that looked respectable in the first half has been absent in the third quarter.

That's Not Going to Cut It

I don't know what was worse on the last set of plays -- Idaho's turnover, or USC's inability to do anything with it.

Backed up near his own end zone, Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle committed a cardinal sin. With no Trojan within three yards, he cocked his hand to throw the football, but the ball didn't cooperate. He fumbled the ball behind him, where Kyle Moore picked it up to set up USC at the Idaho nine-yard line.

Continue reading "That's Not Going to Cut It" »

USC Looks Good, Not Great

By the time USC scored its third touchdown on its third drive and laid a couple of beatdowns on Idaho ball carriers on defense, it looked like the Trojans were ready to break the game wide open. But after watching the rest of the first half and looking at the halftime stats, this clearly isn't the performance I was expecting from the much-hyped Trojans.

Continue reading "USC Looks Good, Not Great" »

September 01, 2007

Vandals Break Through

This time Tino Amancio would not be denied. With 22 seconds left in the half, the Idaho kicker got the Vandals on board with a 30-yard field goal to cut the USC lead to 21-3. The score was set up courtesy of a 41-yard Idaho drive highlighted by a 29-yard pass from Nathan Enderle to Eddie Williams, setting Idaho up at the USC 7. They couldn't break the end zone, but did answer my question of whether or not they would even show up on the scoreboard.

CAL WINS

BERKELEY, Calif. - It's offical, Cal has beated Tennessee 45-31 to open the 2007 season. I'm going to get reaction to the win, for the Bears, and the loss, to the Vols. Stay tuned for more from Memorial Stadium.

TENNESSEE GETS A LIFE LINE

BERKELEY, Calif. - The Bears looked set to put the game away, with the ball at the Vols 1-yard line with less than three minutes left, but Nate Longshore fumbled the snap and Tennessee recovered in the endzone. Cal reviewed the play, but the ruling stood and the Vols now have the ball on its own 20 with 2:30 left.

Idaho Denied

With the second quarter winding down, the Vandals did manage to break into the red zone. But they came up short on third-and-nine from the 19; and to make matters worse, Clay Matthews blocked Tino Amancio's 36-yard field goal attempt to keep Idaho off the scoreboard. While the outclassed Vandals aren't going down without a fight, they find themselves in a 21-0 hole against USC with less than two minutes remaining in the first half.

CAL ON THE VERGE OF REVENGE

BERKELEY, Calif. - A year ago, it was Tennessee that looked superior in everyway when these two school, met. This year, it hasn't been complete domination by Cal, but it's easily been good enough.

Last year, the fans chanted "S-E-C," to mock the "soft" Bears, but just moments ago the Bear fans returned the insult, with a "Pac-10 football" chant directed at Tennessee and its supporters.

Cal is up 45-31 with the ball at the Vols 8-yard line and 4:10 left on the clock. It's been a crazy game, but it at least seems like this one is going to go the Bears way.

Cushing in Locker Room, USC on a Roll

Categorize this under the last news that USC fans want to hear. Star linebacker Brian Cushing went to the locker room, presumably to have his ankle checked on. I'll update as soon as we hear any news.

Everything else is going the Trojans' way, though.

Continue reading "Cushing in Locker Room, USC on a Roll" »

BEARS REGAIN CONTROL

BERKELEY, Calif. - In yet another impressive drive, thanks in most part to the passing of Longshore, Cal drove down the field to double its lead, as the Bears now hold a 45-31 advantage, with 9:10 left.

It's now up to the Cal defense to put this game away for the Bears, although, I have a feeling it's going to be a long 10 minutes for everyone involved.

TENNESSEE INCHES CLOSER

BERKELEY, Calif. - Freshman Daniel Lincoln probably just kicked the biggest field goal of his young career, to get Tennessee within seven, at 38-31.

Tennessee could argue that it got robbed at the end of the drive, when pass interferance wasn't call on a third down play that forced the field goal attempt.

Bottomline is Cal has not looked impressive iin ts last two drives, and Tennessee is alive and well early in the fourth quarter.

One interesting statistic, because Cal has scored a fumble return and punt return for a touchdown, the Vols have dominated the time of possesion, leading 26:43 to 19:25. So Cal's defense might be tired (they look it).

Cal just went three and out, so Tennessee will have a chance to tie getting the ball with 12:28 left.

THE VOLS ARE BACK IN IT

BERKELEY, Calif. - The Tennessee defense came up with a stop, and the Vols offense rewarded them, scoring a touchdown on a 10-play drive to cut the deficit to 10, at 38-28 Cal.

The big play on the Tennessee touchdown drive might have been a block.

Reciever Quintin Hancock leveled a Cal defended to free up Adrian Foster on a 3rd down reception.

Ainge has continued his great play, he's now 26-of-32 for 242 yards and three touchdown.

Tennessee's defense just had another stop, so the Vols will have a chance to get within singe digits.

Trojans Strike Quick, Vandals Moving the Ball

USC didn't take long to find the end zone, mounting a 10-play, 80-yard drive on its first possession; and it shared the wealth along the way.

C.J. Gable, the official starter at game time, got the bulk of the yardage with 44 yards on three carries, including a 33-yarder on the first play from scrimmage. But Stafon Johnson got the goal-line love with a four-yard touchdown to give the Trojans a 7-0 lead six minutes into the game.

Continue reading "Trojans Strike Quick, Vandals Moving the Ball" »

TENNESSE IS DENIED AT THE GOALINE

BERKELEY, Calif. - In a game that has featured very little defense, Cal's goaline unit might have just put the Bears in control of this game.

Tennessee's Arian Foster had a 43-yard run to the Bears 4-yard line, but the Vols stalled inside the 2-yard-line, and lost the ball on downs. Erik Ainge had only two incompletions all game, but he threw two incompletions during the goaline sequence, including a poor pass on fourth down.

Cal has just punted the ball away, so the Vols are still in this game, they just can't waste anymore opportunities.

THE VOLS CAN'T STOP THE BEARS

BERKELEY, Calif. - It took less the 90 seconds into the second half, for Cal to score its fith touchdown of the game.

DeSean Jackson picked up 21 yards on a reverse play, and Nate Longshore completed three pass culminating in a 3-yard pass touchdown to Lavelle Hawkins, to make the score 38-21.

Tennessee is in some trouble now. Scoring points shouldn' t be a problem, but at some point they will have to stop Cal. Rocky Top Nation can't be happy.

USC-Idaho: Let the Hype Begin... Errr, Continue

LOS ANGELES -- I showed up to the L.A.Coliseum a couple of hours early today to keep tabs on Cal-Tennessee from the press box and I've got to say; I'm shocked that Tennessee Coach Philip Fulmer let his punter kick the ball in the same time zone as DeSean Jackson. Alas, I'm not here to write about the Vols and Golden Bears, but to see if the much-hyped USC machine is all it's cracked up to be against a highly overmatched Idaho team.

My guess is yes, it is.

Continue reading "USC-Idaho: Let the Hype Begin... Errr, Continue" »

CAL ADDS THREE, LEADS 31-21 AT THE HALF

BERKELEY, Calif. - Tennessee finally couldn't answer a Cal touchdown, and the Bears kicked a short field goal with 12 second left in the half, to take a 31-21 lead into the break.

I was a fantastic first half to watch, and there is no reason to think that the second half won't be the same.

Continue reading "CAL ADDS THREE, LEADS 31-21 AT THE HALF" »

CAL ADDS THREE, LEADS 31-21 AT THE HALF

BERKELEY, Calif. - Tennessee finally couldn't answer a Cal touchdown, and the Bears kicked a short field goal with 12 second left in the half, to take a 31-21 lead into the break.

I was a fantastic first half to watch, and there is no reason to think that the second half won't be the same.

Continue reading "CAL ADDS THREE, LEADS 31-21 AT THE HALF" »

IT'S OFFICAL, THERE WILL BE NO DEFENSE TONIGHT

BERKELEY, Calif. - You gotta love college football.

It seems neither defense has any kind of answer for the opposing teams offense, so the only question now is who can outscore who.

The Bears continued our back and forth pattern, with Robert Jordan scoring a touchdown from a wide reciever screen play inside the Vols 5-yard line. So now it's 28-21.

The Vols currently have the ball at the Bears 46-yard line. Is there any doubt that they are going to score?

After slow start, Badgers finish strong against WSU

MADISON, Wis. -- Entering this season, some were concerned about Wisconsin's ability to pass the football. Not anymore.

Continue reading "After slow start, Badgers finish strong against WSU" »

Third Qtr: Cougars climbing back

A poor punt from Badger Ken DeBauche proved costly as Washington State got the ball at the Wisconsin 42-yard line and used a nine-play drive to get back to within seven points. Running back Dwight Tardy had a nice run through the gut on a third-and-eight, and quarterback Alex Brink later converted a QB sneak on third and inches. Brink hit Brandon Gibson on a seven-yard strike to make it 28-21.

Cougars back in it

MADISON, Wis. -- A poor punt from Badger Ken DeBauche proved costly as Washington State got the ball at the Wisconsin 42-yard line and used a nine-play drive to get back to within seven points. Running back Dwight Tardy had a nice run through the gut on a third-and-eight, and quarterback Alex Brink later converted a QB sneak on third and inches. Brink hit Brandon Gibson on a seven-yard strike to make it 28-21.

No better student-fan attraction

MADISON, Wis. -- When the third quarter came to a close the Badgers were nipping at the goal line again, trying to slam the door on a Washington State team that seemed more prepared than most every college football expert had given them credit for. Then the Wisconsin students had their party -- an end zone rendition of 'Jump Around' that was so powerful it shook the press box located several levels above. The regular home game event is always a spark to the offense and, sure enough, soon after followed a touchdown that gave the Badgers a commanding 35-21 lead.

Swan a one-man attack for Badgers

MADISON, Wis. -- With two catches, one a fade for 43 yards, the other a 30-yard catch amidst three defensive backs -- Badger receiver Luke Swan served as the catalyst on a seven-play, 82-yard second quarter touchdown drive that gave Wisconsin its first lead of the game over underdog Washington State. The senior receiver now has four catches for 92 yards with 36 minutes of football remaining on the clock. Reserve tight end Garrett Graham scored on a short pass to cap the drive.

1st quarter update: No room to run for Badgers

MADISON, Wis. -- The end of the first quarter saw a 14-14 tie, but the most noticeable stat in the Badgers game against Washington State was P.J. Hill's average per carry -- a measly 3.1. Hill was expected to dominate on this day but so far all the sophomore has been able to do was walk through a sizeable hole for a one-yard score. With seven carries, Hill's longest run so far has been six yards.

The star so far: Washington State quarterback Alex Brink, who completed seven-of-10 passes for 94 yards and picked up a key 18-yard run.

Cougars get quick start

MADISON, Wis. -- Some poor pass coverage by Wisconsin All-American candidate Jack Ikegwuonu and a fortuitous bounce have helped Washington State get out to a quick 7-0 lead on the Badgers.

Continue reading "Cougars get quick start" »

Badgers begin Big Ten title chase

MADISON, Wis. -- State Street is buzzing with red-wearing Badger backers, all with the same thought on their minds: can today be the first step in a 2007 BCS march? Of course, Washington State stands in the way, and Wisconsin has not faced many quality non-conference opponents in recent years.

Continue reading "Badgers begin Big Ten title chase" »

August 31, 2007

Beavs win going away

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- I think MIke Riley's refusing to shave until he picks a quarterback.

Continue reading "Beavs win going away" »

Moevao back in

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Moevao is back in, now that the Beavs have a nice 24-7 lead. They pretty much run one play, which is hand the ball to Bernard. It's a good play. It works a lot. 8:13 to go in the game and Utah doesn't really show any signs of pulling off a comeback. But when you consider they lost two of their top players, you have to respect the fact that they aren't getting blown out by 30+ points.

It's about time to head down to the field, so the next post will be post press conference. Hopefully the players will be quotable and non-cliche-y. Cross your fingers.

Beavs pulling away?

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- This Grady kid is tall, but he didn't see that sack coming. Who could have? The OSU defense is coming out of nowhere on some plays.

Beavs lead 17-7. Yawn. Game isn't too exciting. I"m disappointed that Johnson's out (and I'm sure his team feels the same way) because I was really looking forward to him making things tough on the OSU defense. Some people who follow Pac-10 ball compared him to Dennis Dixon, the QB down at Oregon who can make mouths drop open when he's on his game.

However, right as I say that OSU freshman Rodgers (who Mike Riley decided to not redshirt at the last minute) had a nice 26-yard run up the sideline. He's got 60 yards on four carries. Oh and then Bernard, The Man Who Would Not Go Down, shouldered off about six defenders on a nice little run.

OSU takes lead

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Catchings is starting to live up to his name. Canfield just connected with him for a 10-yarder that gave the Beavs the edge, 14-7. Two plays before that, Bernard had the sweetest catch of the game: he had a defender on his right side and Canfield threw it a little to his left, so Bernard balanced on one leg, held off the defender and snagged it with his left hand. They only gained seven yards on the play, but it looked really cool, especially when they did the replay on THE BIGGEST VIDEO SCREEN IN THE PAC-10.

August 30, 2007

Johnson seperates shoulder

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- The guy to my left, who has someone on the inside, confirms for us that Johnson seperated his shoulder (a soft seperation which means ... crap, as far as I'm concerned. What on earth is a "soft" seperation? Does it mean it doesn't hurt as much? Something tells me Johnson would beg to differ.) and won't be returning. Also, Asiata is at the hospital getting X-Rays because they think he broke his leg. Not a good night for the Utes. Let's see what this Grady kid has up his sleeve though. I hardly think this game is over.

Also I was right: Riley went with Canfield. We'll see how long it lasts.

Halftime

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- That was pretty uneventful.

Continue reading "Halftime" »

Johnson gone for the Utes, too?

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Alright, to steal the cliche from my friend next to me, the Utes are dropping like flies. Johnson had to come out after a particularly nasty hit, though he didn't need any assistance walking off. At first we thought he might have just got the wind knocked out of him, but he just went to the locker room, so who knows what's going on. However, if Johnson is gone for the rest of the night, that might be the ball game.

Johnson's back up is Tommy Grady, a senior who is 6'7.

Beavs on the board

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Yvenson Bernard is little. Also strong. Because of this, he can plow his way through defenses and use some of his littleness to sneak inside, which is what he just did, breaking through the Utah D on the right side to get the Beavs their first score.

Continue reading "Beavs on the board" »

Asiata gone for game

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Remember how I wrote earlier about Asiata, the JuCo tranfer that Utah was eager to get in the game? He was the player carted off the field awhile ago, and he just left in an ambulance. Not good news for the Utes, though they're still up 7-0.

Utah scores

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- So we were just sitting up here talking about how good the OSU defense is looking and then WR Brent Casteel sneaks away and Johnson tosses a 36-yarder for the game's first score. Utah 7, OSU 0.

Time for a new QB?

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- OSU coach Mike Riley said that after the first quarter -- no matter the score or situation -- he was going to switch quarterbacks. Sophomore Sean Canfield started the first quarter ... no turnovers, but no scores, either. The Beavs are in the middle of a drive (2nd and 7), but will Riley really pull Canfield and put in Moevao?

Looks like he's going to do it ... now let's see what this kids got.

Um, he through an interception on his first play. Alright, so is Canfield coming back?

Scoreless

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- No score yet in Beaver Nation. Johnson hasn't done much, but that's probably because OSU's offense isn't giveing hima lot of options. They're smothering his receivers (though Brian Hernandez did break out for one long catch early in the quarter) and rushing him before he gets the chance to scamper away. However, not all is great for the Beavs: Serna's first punt went a whopping 13 yards. Um, this might be a long night. (He next one was better at 37 yards but still, what the heck?)

We're in a timeout right now as a Utah player is carteed off the field ... looks like a knee,b ut he was pounding his chest telling his teammates to have "heart," so I don't think it's too bad an injury.

Kickoff coming soon

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- We are just 16 minutes from kick off and an alarming number of people are missing from the pressbox. I"m guessing it's the traffic. If you've never been to Corvallis, let me explain it to you: we are a small, family (read: farm) town. We are not equipped for heavy amounts of traffic. And when game day comes around it is absolute madness trying to drive around. I left my house three hours before kick off and it took me a good 30 minutes to get the 2.3 miles from my house to the stadium This also might be why most of the stadium is empty. That and it's a work day and sadly, not all bosses understand the pull that is college football.

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It's good to be back in the press box

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- It's hot. Really hot. Sticky and sweaty hot. But who am I to be complaining? I spent the the entire summer in New York City (how do you people live in humidity) and compared to the bad days there, this is like the tundra.

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July 26, 2007

Pac-10: Trojans Looking to Escape Shadows

LOS ANGELES -- They saved the best for last here at Pac-10 Media Day as USC's Pete Carroll and John David Booty were the final group to take the podium. I guess they wanted to make sure everybody stuck around. Carroll was his normal talkative, full-of-energy positive self while Booty showed up dressed to impress, looking like he took a page from the Matt Lienart book of working the L.A. media scene. Now all Booty has to do is look like Leinart on the field.

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Pac-10: Rocky Top Redemption on Cal's Mind

LOS ANGELES -- Cal comes into the season missing its best offensive and defensive players from 2006. But with Marshawn Lynch Daymeion Hughes both gone to the NFL, the Golden Bears might actually be better than the 2006 team that finished 10-3.

It's thanks in large part to the return of quarterback Nate Longshore and one of the best receiving corps in the nation, led by Heisman candidate DeSean Jackson.


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Pac-10: UCLA Offense Playing Catch Up

LOS ANGELES -- This is the year for UCLA. At least for Karl Dorrell's sake, it better be. The oft-criticized coach brings a stout defense and 10 returning starters on both sides of the ball to a team the media picked to finish third in the Pac-10. Oh -- and there's that little 13-9 win over USC from last season to build on.

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Pac-10: Familiar Face in Tempe

LOS ANGELES -- He may be new to ASU, but first-year Sun Devils Coach Dennis Erickson is no stranger to the Pac-10. A two-time national champion at Miami, Erickson also has two Pac-10 Coach of the Year trophies from Washington State and Oregon State.

"I was looking at the press guide before I came in -- reading my biography, and it started to look like an obituary," Erickson said. "I know two (Pac-10) fight songs and I'm about to learn a third here."

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Pac-10: USC Best Team Ever?

LOS ANGELES -- While the Pac-10 appears to be strong from top to bottom, most expect USC to be head and shoulders above the rest of the conference, as evidenced by its unanimous choice as the preseason favorite.

But if it looks like the Trojans are media darlings, the love they're getting in the press doesn't compare to what some coaches are saying about the four-time defending conference champions. Take for instance what first-year Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh had to say.

"USC is not only the best team in the country, but maybe the best team in the history of college football," Harbaugh said.

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Pac-10: Looking for Some Good News

LOS ANGELES -- The officiating scandal in the NBA is weighing heavy on all aspects of sports life. Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen made it one of the first points of the day to reiterate the focus on officiating in his conference.

"Gambling is an insidious problem and of grave concern," Hansen said. "I pray that it's just one person that's at fault on this occasion... It will only heighten our efforts to see that it doesn't happen again in any sport."

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Pac-10: Take that, Les Miles

LOS ANGELES -- Contrary to LSU coach Les Miles' beliefs, the Pac-10 is far from a cakewalk. In fact, the Pac-10 boasts some of the top talent and some of the toughest schedules in the country in and out of conference. Just ask Washington Coach Ty Williingham, whose Huskies face the toughest start, if not the toughest schedule in the nation.

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Pac-10: No Surprise -- USC Unanimous Pick

LOS ANGELES -- In news that surprises nobody, media members all agree that USC is the favorite to win the Pac-10. It marks the fifth straight time the Trojans have been picked to win the conference and the third unanimous selection in four years.

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