Rose Bowl Keys, Prediction and Open Thread

You’ll have to excuse me for not finishing with the linebackers and defensive backs. I decided I wanted to actually spend time with friends and family over winter break instead of just writing about Oregon football. Crazy, right?
And I’m writing this from my girlfriend’s cousin’s living room. Lucky for me, no one is up yet.
If you’ve been reading my position analyses so far, then you have a pretty good idea of what I expect to happen. But there are a few keys things that need to happen for the Ducks to get their first Rose Bowl victory in 15 years.
Big Game Masoli: So far, Jeremiah Masoli has been at his best when the pressure is on – both Civil Wars, the Holiday Bowl, USC, Arizona, etc – but this is by far the biggest of them all (hence, the Rose Bowl nickname).
This is the toughest defense Masoli will have faced in his career, especially with Ohio State’s prowess stopping the run.  The all-conference quarterback needs to get Ed Dickson involved early, speed up the tempo, and keep the Buckeyes defense guessing.
Just a heads up Ohio State fans, Masoli is a little better than Tate Forcier.
Get to Pryor’s Head, and Knee: Terrelle Pryor has had problems keeping his composure this season, even visibly yelling at teammates on the field during the Purdue game. With the news of Pryor’s partially torn PCL, I’m pretty sure I can guess how Nick Aliotti is going to start the game – pressure, pressure and more pressure.
The Ducks need to make Pryor feel uncomfortable, and if the former top recruit starts worrying about his knee more than finding the open receiver downfield, that spells disaster for the Buckeyes.
The 400,000 Duck fans that came down to Pasadena should help too.
Speed Racer: Ohio State has never seen an offense that plays at this fast of a tempo before. They’ve had over a month to prepare, but how will they be able to react on the field with the Ducks no huddle spread?
I feel Ohio State will keep up at first, but Masoli, LaMichael James and company will tire out the bigger, slower Buckeyes. If that happens, this game is over.
Recent Bowl History: How you do in a bowl game is based much more on motivation and desire than actual talent. Like we’ve seen so much this season, the better team often lets down because they think they should be in a better game and have nothing to gain by beating a weaker opponent.
Oregon State went from the Rose Bowl to the MAACO Bowl and got run over, Boise State beat Alabama last year because the Tide went from the championship game to playing a mid-major.
Ohio State is used to playing Texas, USC or an SEC power, will they get up for little ol’ Oregon the same way as the others? (Not that they did well against the others)
Prediction: Let’s just say, if by some chance I woke up and found $500 in my pocket tomorrow, I would parley all of it on Oregon and the over.
Oregon’s tempo wins out and runs away from Ohio State in the end.
Final: Oregon 38, Ohio State 23.
I want to make this a pre-game open thread. What are your thoughts? (Crazy Buckeye fans too)
It's easy: rattle Pryor, win the game.

It's easy: rattle Pryor, win the game.

You’ll have to excuse me for not finishing with the linebackers and defensive backs. I decided I wanted to actually spend time with friends and family over winter break instead of just writing about Oregon football. Crazy, right?

And I’m writing this from my girlfriend’s cousin’s living room. Lucky for me, no one is up yet.

If you’ve been reading my position analyses so far, then you have a pretty good idea of what I expect to happen. But there are a few keys things that need to happen for the Ducks to get their first Rose Bowl victory in 93 years.

Big Game Masoli: So far, Jeremiah Masoli has been at his best when the pressure is on – both Civil Wars, the Holiday Bowl, USC, Arizona, etc – but this is by far the biggest of them all (hence, the Rose Bowl nickname).

This is the toughest defense Masoli will have faced in his career, especially with Ohio State’s prowess stopping the run.  The all-conference quarterback needs to get Ed Dickson involved early, speed up the tempo, and keep the Buckeyes defense guessing.

Just a heads up Ohio State fans, Masoli is a little better than Tate Forcier.

Get to Pryor’s Head, and Knee: Terrelle Pryor has had problems keeping his composure this season, even visibly yelling at teammates on the field during the Purdue game. With the news of Pryor’s partially torn PCL, I’m pretty sure I can guess how Nick Aliotti is going to start the game – pressure, pressure and more pressure.

The Ducks need to make Pryor feel uncomfortable, and if the former top recruit starts worrying about his knee more than finding the open receiver downfield, that spells disaster for the Buckeyes.

The 400,000 Duck fans that came down to Pasadena should help too.

Speed Racer: Ohio State has never seen an offense that plays at this fast of a tempo before. They’ve had over a month to prepare, but how will they be able to react on the field with the Ducks no huddle spread?

I feel Ohio State will keep up at first, but Masoli, LaMichael James and company will tire out the bigger, slower Buckeyes. If that happens, this game is over.

Recent Bowl History: How you do in a bowl game is based much more on motivation and desire than actual talent. Like we’ve seen so much this season, the better team often lets down because they think they should be in a better game and have nothing to gain by beating a weaker opponent.

Oregon State went from the Rose Bowl to the MAACO Bowl and got run over, Utah beat Alabama last year because the Tide went from the championship game to playing a mid-major.

ESPN’s Ted Miller mentioned that Ohio State is used to playing Texas, USC or an SEC power, will they get up for little ol’ Oregon the same way as the others? (Not that they did well against the others)

Prediction: Let’s just say, if by some chance I woke up and found $500 in my pocket tomorrow, I would parley all of it on Oregon and the over. (Ducks by 3 1/2, over/under 50 1/2)

Oregon’s tempo wins out and runs away from Ohio State in the end.

Final: Oregon 38, Ohio State 23.

I want to make this a pre-game open thread. What are your thoughts? (Crazy Buckeye fans too)

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Breaking Down the Rose Bowl: Battle of the TEs

Continuing with position breakdowns, today I’ll go over the tight ends. If you missed yesterday’s, you can read about the wide receivers here.

That catch still gives me the jitters. Wow. Silly Arizona students on the field behind Dickson makes this even sweeter.

That catch still gives me the jitters. Wow. Silly Arizona students on the field behind Dickson makes this even sweeter.

Every fall, stories in Columbus start sprouting about how Jim Tressel will start featuring the tight ends more in the offense. It’s blind faith, fanciful optimism.

This matchup is a about as close as any Pac-10 game involving Washington State since 2007, a sprint between LaMichael James and Tressel, or the I Love My Ducks video compared to what Oregon State and Iowa pathetically attempted. You get the point.

Every fall, stories in Columbus start sprouting about how Tressel will start featuring the tight ends more in the offense. It’s blind faith, fanciful optimism.
Although I guess the keyword there is “more”.
It’s like saying you’ll take out the trash but you never do it. Passing to the tight end for Ohio State has become the equivalent of a defiant teenager who won’t do his chores.
When their tight ends combined for 11 catches last year – less than one per game – I guess “more” isn’t necessarily that far out of the question.
And hey, what do ya know, the Ohio State media nailed it – the Buckeyes jumped from their total of 11 all the way up to 15.
That’s about as impressive as predicting that the Love Guru or any movie with Larry the Cable Guy would strike out at the box office.
Somebody find their tarot cards!
Ok, so the Ohio State offense isn’t exactly built around throwing to the tight ends. But senior Jake Ballard and redshirt freshman Jake Stoneburner (what’s with the Buckeyes having players with the same name at the same position?) are both talented players.
Ballard is a great leader, a team spokesman and more importantly a terrific blocker – he even won the Jim Parker Award for best Ohio State offensive lineman.
Stoneburner brings a receiver’s athleticism to the position, even if he’s still learning how to block. The former four-star and No. 4 overall tight end recruit, has two catches for thirty yards on the season – but I bet they were both dandies.
If the Jakes can adequately pick up the blitz and give Pryor enough time to find DeVier Posey or Dane Sanzenbacher, and maybe sneak out for a first down catch or two, they will have done their job.
Gotta love high expectations.
Meanwhile, the Ducks have two legitimate pass-catching tight ends.
Everyone knows about Ed Dickson, but sophomore David Paulson has come out of nowhere to become an excellent complement the two-time all Pac-10 honoree.
Neither is used much for blocking, as Dickson usually lines up split out like a slot receiver, but why relegate them to blocking duty when they put up a combined 54 catches and 730 yards receiving?
And that’s even more impressive when you factor in that throwing the ball is Masoli’s third option.
But when Masoli focused on finding Dickson, the results were impressive. Against Cal and
Washington State, Dickson combined for 251 yards and four touchdowns on 18 catches. Not too shabby.
Dickson provides a matchup nightmare for any team, and even if he has to resort to playing decoy, it allows for James, Masoli or Maehl to beat the Buckeyes in other ways.
So let’s see, tOSU has 15 catches for 156 yards and zero touchdowns from the position and the Ducks have, well, a lot more than that.
I’ll take Oregon.
Rating:
Oregon 8.5, Ohio State 5.5.
Total: Oregon 33.5, Ohio State 27.5.

Although I guess the keyword there is “more”.

It’s like saying you’ll take out the trash but you never do it. Passing to the tight end for Ohio State has become the equivalent of a defiant teenager who won’t do his chores.

When their tight ends combined for 11 catches last year – less than one per game – I guess “more” isn’t necessarily that far out of the question.

And hey, what do ya know, the Ohio State media nailed it – the Buckeyes jumped from their total of 11 all the way up to 15.

That’s about as impressive as predicting that the Love Guru or any movie with Larry the Cable Guy would strike out at the box office.

Somebody find their tarot cards!

Ok, so the Ohio State offense isn’t exactly built around throwing to the tight ends. But senior Jake Ballard and redshirt freshman Jake Stoneburner (what’s with the Buckeyes having players with the same name at the same position?) are both talented players.

Ballard is a great leader, a team spokesman and more importantly a terrific blocker – he even won the Jim Parker Award for best Ohio State offensive lineman.

Stoneburner brings a receiver’s athleticism to the position, even if he’s still learning how to block. The former four-star and No. 4 overall tight end recruit, has two catches for thirty yards on the season – but I bet they were both dandies.

If the Jakes can adequately pick up the blitz and give Pryor enough time to find DeVier Posey or Dane Sanzenbacher, and maybe sneak out for a first down catch or two, they will have done their job.

Gotta love high expectations.

Meanwhile, the Ducks have two legitimate pass-catching tight ends.

Everyone knows about Ed Dickson, but sophomore David Paulson has come out of nowhere to become an excellent complement to the two-time all Pac-10 honoree. (Paulson’s catch at Washington: fast forward to the 2:35 mark)

Neither is used much for blocking, as Dickson usually lines up split out like a slot receiver, but why relegate them to blocking duty when they put up a combined 54 catches and 730 yards receiving?

And that’s even more impressive when you factor in that throwing the ball is Masoli’s third option.

But when Masoli focused on finding Dickson, the results were impressive. Against Cal and Washington State, Dickson combined for 251 yards and four touchdowns on 18 catches. Not too shabby.

Dickson provides a matchup nightmare for any team, and even if he has to resort to playing decoy, it allows for James, Masoli or Maehl to beat the Buckeyes in other ways.

So let’s see, tOSU has 15 catches for 156 yards and zero touchdowns from the position and the Ducks have, well, a lot more than that.

I’ll take Oregon.

Rating:

Oregon 8.5, Ohio State 6.

Total: Oregon 33.5, Ohio State 28.

Please visit my new store for UO Sports Dude merchandise.

My Obligatory Thanksgiving Break Rant, Enjoy

No, I'm a thigh man!

No, I'm a thigh man!

This was an extremely weird Thanksgiving break. Up was down, black was white and in-laws were well, in-laws.

I came home Friday afternoon, a whole week before Thanksgiving, so I could spend a few extra days with the girlfriend. I mean, what’s more important: seeing my girlfriend or going to business calculus and philosophy class? (Dad, I don’t want to hear your opinion)

After spending the past few months in the never ending black hole of overcast, rain, and perpetual 40 degree weather that is Eugene, my skin had a minor freak out upon walking out of the airport into 65 degree sunshine–in late November.

If it weren’t for Oregon football, I’d be kicking myself for ever leaving California’s year-round sunny weather.

Ok, enough weather. Why was this week so weird?

I spent more time in a mall than I did watching football. Seriously. That’s what happens when you have a girlfriend. Is it too late to go back?

I missed out on Tiger’s accident, Pete Carroll being Pete Carroll (read: douche), and six hours of planting my ass directly in front of the NFL Red Zone channel on Sunday.

Instead, I got to spend hours waiting in front of the dressing room at Forever 21, A’gaci, Charlotte Rousse, Bebe and every single other store on the San Francisco Peninsula.

I went to three (three!) different malls, including one on Black Friday. I am ashamed.

Quick tangent.

Is it just me or does everyone who works at Forever 21 and the like look exactly the same? It’s always a kinda-gangster looking Asian or Latina chick who wears clothes one size too small, too much make-up and jewelry (almost always huge hoop earrings), a small tattoo (most likely a tramp stamp) and might be cute if she lost 10 pounds.

I even saw one girl, who was almost cute, look in the mirror (while she was working) and remark to a co-worker, “all my blubber is showing.”

Yea, that’s because your shirt is one size too small, you eat McDonald’s on your break, the only exercise you get is walking to the stock room to check if that sparkly mini-skirt is in stock, and you read way too many fashion magazines that say if you want to get a guy you have to dress like it’s Halloween every single day.

Seriously. It’s the same girls at every store.

Don’t worry though, I’m earning my man card back tonight by watching Dennis Dixon make his first NFL start. Check my twitter if you don’t believe me.

It doesn’t matter that I’m only watching because my girlfriend is at the Kelly Clarkson concert, I’m still watching!

And the other weird thing this week?

I don’t think I’ve eaten a single healthy thing since Monday. And I’ve been a super health freak ever since I went from 205 to 145 on the scale since high school.

I fit in every single one of my San Mateo comfort-food favorite restaurants, along with a Thanksgiving feast and my mom’s birthday cake in a week. Pretty impressive, huh?

Burritos, teriyaki chicken, frozen yogurt, pumpkin pie, dim sum face-stuff fest, birthday cake. Not a good diet–even for a college student.

Yet somehow, I think my pants are actually looser on me now than they were last week. Now that’s impressive.

Gotta take advantage of the metabolism while I can.

Week Seven NFL Power Rankings: The Saints Go Marching On

Another week down and another crazy shake-up in the rankings. The Bears and 49ers faced reality checks, and I finally gave the Bengals the ounce of credibility they deserve. Due to midterms, I’m keeping the intro short and sweet this week.

Raiders Draft Football

Get used to that seat, JaMarcus. You'll be keeping it warm for a while.

On to the rankings.

32 (32) – Rams:
Poor, poor Steven Jackson. 143 rushing attempts on the season and still no touchdowns. Somebody give this man a hug.

31 (31) – Buccaneers:
Tampa Bay can now say they suck in two countries, which is probably more exciting than watching Josh Johnson try to throw a football.

30 (29) – Browns:
In his five games since taking over for the disgraced Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson has posted QB ratings of 30.9, 68.8, 15.1, 51.0, and 36.4. With a completion percentage of 44. Did Quinn beat up the GM? What does he have to do to get back on the field?

29 (27) – Chiefs:
On the bright side, that was an amazing touchdown catch by Dwayne Bowe. Unfortunately, it was their only one.

28 (25) – Raiders:
Andre Ware, Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf, Rick Mirer, Cade McNown, Jim Drunkenmiller, Todd Marinovich, Joey Harrington, David Carr, JaMarcus Russell. Not a good list to be on.

27 (29) – Titans:
Best PR move of the week goes to Jeff Fischer wearing a Peyton Manning jersey to a charity event: “I just want to feel like a winner.” Classic.

26 (28) – Lions:
Cancel your plans and clear your schedules for this Sunday. You don’t want to pick up the in-laws from the airport anyway. Why? St. Louis comes to town. I can barely wait.

25 (22) – Panthers:
Jake Delhomme’s three interception performance on Sunday actually raised his QB rating for the year. Sad. Hey John Fox, Delhomme sucks, your backups are worse, and you have two of the best running backs in the NFL, don’t you think it’s time to try the wildcat? There couldn’t be a better situation.

24 (26) – Redskins:
“I had to go to the senior center and cancel my bingo calling,” said the 67-year-old Sherm Lewis, who last worked in the NFL with the Detroit Lions during the 2004 season. “And I had to cancel my Meals on Wheels today.” This team is a joke. Need I say more?

23 (23) – Seahawks:
Has there been a team more decimated by injuries in any sports the last two years? Other than the New York Mets this year, I can’t think of any. Brutal. I actually kind of feel bad for them, except for when they play the Niners.

22 (24) – Bills:
Did you know Ryan Fitzpatrick has won his last five starts? Me either. Unfortunately, I don’t think that stat alone is going to make Terrell Owens feel any better. Oh well, T.O. is probably working on his next reality show anyway.

21 (21) – Jaguars:
Jacksonville plays the Titans and Chiefs in the next two weeks, teams with a combined 1-12 record. Can you imagine the Jaguars as a 5-3 team? Even if it happened, it would just be a façade because four of their five wins would be against teams with a combined one win (Rams, Chiefs, Titans twice).

20 (20) – Dolphins:
If you’re going to blow a 24-3 lead at home, it might as well be to the Saints. In fantasy news, is it time to take Ricky Williams seriously as a legitimate starting running back? I think it might be.

19 (11) – Bears:
ESPN seriously can’t find somebody better than Jeffri Chadiha to do their NFL Power Rankings. Here’s his weekly gem: “The Bears are 1-3 on the road this season. That doesn’t bode well for their future.” I appreciate all the hard work and analysis you put into that one, buddy.

18 (10) – 49ers:
You know things are bad in San Francisco when Mike Singletary turns to Alex Smith to be the savior. At least Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree are fun to watch.

17 (19) – Jets:
ESPN’s Michael Clayton: “Mark Sanchez showed great hot-dog security in not fumbling the dog he ate in the second half of the win over the Raiders on Sunday.” Take it down a notch, cowboy, you’re trying too hard.

16 (18) – Texans:
Gun to your head, who has the most passing yards and TDs in the NFL? 99% of people would guess Peyton Manning. And 99% of people would be wrong. The answer? Matt Schaub.

15 (13) – Chargers:
San Diego’s wins are against Oakland, Miami and Kansas City. Their losses are against Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Denver. Just beat one good team and I’ll believe in you, that’s not too much to ask for, right?

14 (17) – Cowboys:
Miles Austin, the undrafted wide received out of Monmouth, is the sole reason the Cowboys have a winning record. He already has almost double the entire yardage from the first three years of his career. Not too shabby.

13 (16) – Cardinals:
Arizona plays Carolina, Chicago, Seattle, St. Louis and Tennessee in the next five weeks. There’s a legitimate chance the Cards could be 9-2 heading into a crucial week 13 matchup against Minnesota.

12 (9) – Falcons:
Hey Matthew Berry, Michael Turner’s looking pretty good, huh? He’s currently ranked 11th behind Ricky Williams, and even Fred Jackson has over 150 more total yards.

11 (14) – Packers:
Green Bay went an entire game without giving up a sack. Definitely good news, but it would be a little more convincing if they weren’t playing the Lions.

10 (12) – Eagles:
Philadelphia actually got outgained by the Redskins. Good thing Andy Reid bought the Costco pack of Butterfingers so he could afford to give one to Antwaan Randle El.

9 (9) – Ravens:
In contrast with recent history, Baltimore has the third highest scoring offense in the AFC and sixth in the NFL, thanks to the emergences of Joe Flacco and Ray Rice. But Denver will provide a huge test this week. A loss would put them at 3-4, with two games still looming against Pittsburgh.

8 (15) – Bengals:
Ok, a 35-point blowout of a playoff-caliber team does a little bit to convince me that Cincinnati is for real.  I still can’t believe Cedric Benson is the NFL’s leading rusher.

7 (6) – Giants:
I’ve been waiting all season to say this: Hey Eli Manning, never go full retard.

I have unhealthy man love for Drew Brees. 6 (7) – Steelers:
That Lamar Woodley fumble recovery was eerily reminiscent to the one a few years ago against the Colts in the playoffs.

5 (5) – Patriots:

I really want to believe the 2007 Patriots are back, but until they do it to a team with a win, I can’t believe it. At Indy in two weeks will be a telling game.
4 (5) – Broncos:
If Denver beats Baltimore this Sunday, you can just go ahead and give him the Coach of the Year Award on the field after the game.

3 (1) – Vikings:
Brett Favre looked a lot more like the Brett Favre of recent memory than the one from the first six games this season. Maybe he forgot he has the best running back in the NFL in his backfield. Speaking of Adrian Peterson, that was one of the best hits I have seen this season.

2 (3) – Colts:
I’m scared that the Colts are going to absolutely destroy my Niners this weekend. Please NFL Gods, have mercy.

1 (2) – Saints:
The Saints are winning games they never would have won before. And how cool was it to see Reggie Bush make one of his signature plays from his USC heyday by jumping a legitimate five yards for a touchdown?

Shameless plug:  If you made it this far, please share this blog with friends, family, or even people you don’t know or don’t like. Thanks!

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Week Eight NFL Power Rankings: The Saints Go Marching On

Another week down and another crazy shake-up in the rankings. The Bears and 49ers faced reality checks, and I finally gave the Bengals the ounce of credibility they deserve. Due to midterms, I’m keeping the intro short and sweet this week.

Raiders Draft Football

Get used to that seat, JaMarcus. You'll be keeping it warm for a while.

On to the rankings.

32 (32) – Rams:
Poor, poor Steven Jackson. 143 rushing attempts on the season and still no touchdowns. Somebody give this man a hug.

31 (31) – Buccaneers:
Tampa Bay can now say they suck in two countries, which is probably more exciting than watching Josh Johnson try to throw a football.

30 (29) – Browns:
In his five games since taking over for the disgraced Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson has posted QB ratings of 30.9, 68.8, 15.1, 51.0, and 36.4. With a completion percentage of 44. Did Quinn beat up the GM? What does he have to do to get back on the field?

29 (27) – Chiefs:
On the bright side, that was an amazing touchdown catch by Dwayne Bowe. Unfortunately, it was their only one.

28 (25) – Raiders:
Andre Ware, Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf, Rick Mirer, Cade McNown, Jim Drunkenmiller, Todd Marinovich, Joey Harrington, David Carr, JaMarcus Russell. Not a good list to be on.

27 (29) – Titans:
Best PR move of the week goes to Jeff Fischer wearing a Peyton Manning jersey to a charity event: “I just want to feel like a winner.” Classic.

26 (28) – Lions:
Cancel your plans and clear your schedules for this Sunday. You don’t want to pick up the in-laws from the airport anyway. Why? St. Louis comes to town. I can barely wait.

25 (22) – Panthers:
Jake Delhomme’s three interception performance on Sunday actually raised his QB rating for the year. Sad. Hey John Fox, Delhomme sucks, your backups are worse, and you have two of the best running backs in the NFL, don’t you think it’s time to try the wildcat? There couldn’t be a better situation.

24 (26) – Redskins:
“I had to go to the senior center and cancel my bingo calling,” said the 67-year-old Sherm Lewis, who last worked in the NFL with the Detroit Lions during the 2004 season. “And I had to cancel my Meals on Wheels today.” This team is a joke. Need I say more?

23 (23) – Seahawks:
Has there been a team more decimated by injuries in any sports the last two years? Other than the New York Mets this year, I can’t think of any. Brutal. I actually kind of feel bad for them, except for when they play the Niners.

22 (24) – Bills:
Did you know Ryan Fitzpatrick has won his last five starts? Me either. Unfortunately, I don’t think that stat alone is going to make Terrell Owens feel any better. Oh well, T.O. is probably working on his next reality show anyway.

21 (21) – Jaguars:
Jacksonville plays the Titans and Chiefs in the next two weeks, teams with a combined 1-12 record. Can you imagine the Jaguars as a 5-3 team? Even if it happened, it would just be a façade because four of their five wins would be against teams with a combined one win (Rams, Chiefs, Titans twice).

20 (20) – Dolphins:
If you’re going to blow a 24-3 lead at home, it might as well be to the Saints. In fantasy news, is it time to take Ricky Williams seriously as a legitimate starting running back? I think it might be.

19 (11) – Bears:
ESPN seriously can’t find somebody better than Jeffri Chadiha to do their NFL Power Rankings. Here’s his weekly gem: “The Bears are 1-3 on the road this season. That doesn’t bode well for their future.” I appreciate all the hard work and analysis you put into that one, buddy.

18 (10) – 49ers:
You know things are bad in San Francisco when Mike Singletary turns to Alex Smith to be the savior. At least Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree are fun to watch.

17 (19) – Jets:
ESPN’s Michael Clayton: “Mark Sanchez showed great hot-dog security in not fumbling the dog he ate in the second half of the win over the Raiders on Sunday.” Take it down a notch, cowboy, you’re trying too hard.

16 (18) – Texans:
Gun to your head, who has the most passing yards and TDs in the NFL? 99% of people would guess Peyton Manning. And 99% of people would be wrong. The answer? Matt Schaub.

15 (13) – Chargers:
San Diego’s wins are against Oakland, Miami and Kansas City. Their losses are against Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Denver. Just beat one good team and I’ll believe in you, that’s not too much to ask for, right?

14 (17) – Cowboys:
Miles Austin, the undrafted wide received out of Monmouth, is the sole reason the Cowboys have a winning record. He already has almost double the entire yardage from the first three years of his career. Not too shabby.

13 (16) – Cardinals:
Arizona plays Carolina, Chicago, Seattle, St. Louis and Tennessee in the next five weeks. There’s a legitimate chance the Cards could be 9-2 heading into a crucial week 13 matchup against Minnesota.

12 (9) – Falcons:
Hey Matthew Berry, Michael Turner’s looking pretty good, huh? He’s currently ranked 11th behind Ricky Williams, and even Fred Jackson has over 150 more total yards.

11 (14) – Packers:
Green Bay went an entire game without giving up a sack. Definitely good news, but it would be a little more convincing if they weren’t playing the Lions.

10 (12) – Eagles:
Philadelphia actually got outgained by the Redskins. Good thing Andy Reid bought the Costco pack of Butterfingers so he could afford to give one to Antwaan Randle El.

9 (9) – Ravens:
In contrast with recent history, Baltimore has the third highest scoring offense in the AFC and sixth in the NFL, thanks to the emergences of Joe Flacco and Ray Rice. But Denver will provide a huge test this week. A loss would put them at 3-4, with two games still looming against Pittsburgh.

8 (15) – Bengals:
Ok, a 35-point blowout of a playoff-caliber team does a little bit to convince me that Cincinnati is for real.  I still can’t believe Cedric Benson is the NFL’s leading rusher.

7 (6) – Giants:
I’ve been waiting all season to say this: Hey Eli Manning, never go full retard.

I have unhealthy man love for Drew Brees. 6 (7) – Steelers:
That Lamar Woodley fumble recovery was eerily reminiscent to the one a few years ago against the Colts in the playoffs.

5 (5) – Patriots:

I really want to believe the 2007 Patriots are back, but until they do it to a team with a win, I can’t believe it. At Indy in two weeks will be a telling game.
4 (5) – Broncos:
If Denver beats Baltimore this Sunday, you can just go ahead and give him the Coach of the Year Award on the field after the game.

3 (1) – Vikings:
Brett Favre looked a lot more like the Brett Favre of recent memory than the one from the first six games this season. Maybe he forgot he has the best running back in the NFL in his backfield. Speaking of Adrian Peterson, that was one of the best hits I have seen this season.

2 (3) – Colts:
I’m scared that the Colts are going to absolutely destroy my Niners this weekend. Please NFL Gods, have mercy.

1 (2) – Saints:
The Saints are winning games they never would have won before. And how cool was it to see Reggie Bush make one of his signature plays from his USC heyday by jumping a legitimate five yards for a touchdown?

Shameless plug:  If you made it this far, please share this blog with friends, family, or even people you don’t know or don’t like. Thanks!

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Rivalry Renewed: Oregon Ducks Look for Sixth Straight over Huskies

I remember going to my first Oregon Duck football game last fall as a freshman. Because of weird scheduling circumstances, the Washington Huskies came to Autzen in just the second week of the season.

If Masoli is healthy, the Ducks will roll over the Huskies.

If Masoli is healthy, the Ducks will roll over the Huskies.

And being a fan of the Ducks for several years before I stepped on campus, I was well aware of the rivalry and was excited to witness it firsthand.

Soon after entering the stadium, I was quickly thrown into the competitive trash-talking that those clever collegians in the student section like so much. Well, this time we weren’t so clever.

From the very second the first purple-clad player appeared in the tunnel, there was a telekinetic-like power that united the entire stadium; students, alumni, and even children to stand up and chant: “Fuck the Huskies!”

Over and over again. I didn’t even know we were allowed to do that. Looking back, we probably weren’t, but it was too much fun it didn’t matter. The loathing between the two teams was palpable.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on the way you look at it, the dislike quickly turned to sympathy, as the Ducks went all Michael Vick on the Huskies, 44-10. To make matters worse, Washington didn’t win a single game the rest of the season, including a heartbreaker to the lowly Washington State Cougars.

For some reason, the rivalry didn’t feel so much like a rivalry to me anymore after that game. It was more of a business as usual, fifth straight win in a row type of thing.
But the Huskies are no longer a joke. No more Tyrone Willingham or Rick Neuheisel and his March Madness office pools.  Washington now has a legitimate head coach: Steve Sarkisian, who learned from the best of the best in Pete Carroll at USC. Coach Sark finally has the Huskies playing up to their full potential.

Despite going winless last season, Washington had plenty of talent, although most of it was inexperienced. Willingham brought in several solid recruiting classes, including QB Jake Locker in 2006 and receivers Jermaine Kearse and Kavario Middleton last season. He just couldn’t get anything out them. I mean, Locker is good enough that he should be able to win a handful of games by himself.

But now Locker has developed into the player many expected him to become, the West Coast’s version of Tim Tebow, Chris Polk emerged as a talented running back and Kearse has excelled in his first season.

However, the one thing that has kept the Huskies from a 2008 Miami Dolphin-like turnaround is their defense. Although better than last season, the Huskies still rank ninth in the Pac-10 in total defense, allowing 424 yards per game.

And that’s why the Huskies are at least a year away from putting a stop to Oregon’s five game winning streak. Jeremiah Masoli (who should play) and LaMichael James, two of the hottest players in the country, should be able to feast on the porous Washington defense.

With two weeks for the Ducks to rest up, and two weeks for offensive mastermind Chip Kelly to game plan, Oregon should be focused and ready to march into Husky Stadium for their sixth straight win.

Kelly has instilled his mantra of “one game at a time” into his players, as offensive tackle Bo Thran can attest: “They’re just the next team on our schedule.”

The only worry for the Ducks, is adjusting to the unfriendly confines of Husky Stadium. Only one game in their current five game winning streak over Washington came in Seattle.

But Chip Kelly has done a tremendous job preparing this team week in and week out. Going into the Rose Bowl before the bye, many fans were frightened because it was the first road game since the Boise State debacle, but Oregon overcame a lackadaisical first half to win handily.

“We don’t put any more stock in this game than another,” Kelly said. “By that, I don’t mean to diminish it, but we put everything we have into every game. We haven’t done anything different in terms of our approach. It’s a league game. It’s on the road. And that’s enough to get our players up and excited for practice.”

In Big Balls Chip I trust.

Prediction: Oregon 34, Washington 24

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NFL Power Rankings Week Seven: Vikings Ride Brett Favre Mojo

This was one of the worst sports weekends of my life. The Oregon Ducks had the week off, the 49ers were on a bye, the A’s are long gone, and it’s still preseason for the Warriors and the Sharks (wait, we’re two weeks into the NHL regular season already? I had no idea).

Thinks the Chiefs are regretting that Jared Allen trade now? Hell, they probably regretted it the moment they made it.

Thinks the Chiefs are regretting that Jared Allen trade now? Hell, they probably regretted it the moment they made it.

Without the privilege of watching my beloved Ducks on Saturday, I was forced to watch something only one step below water boarding on the torture scale—Big Ten football. Iowa-Wisconsin, Ohio State-Purdue, Penn State-Minnesota? Gross. And by the way, what’s Michigan doing playing an FCS team in Week Seven?

It was so bad I chose to write my four-page philosophy essay instead. The only reason I retained my sanity through the weekend was the NFL Red Zone channel.

But all will be made up for next weekend, when I travel to Seattle for the first time to support the Ducks in Husky Stadium. Who cares if my seats are in Lake Washington.

On to the rankings.
32 (32) – Rams:

Somebody please tell me why the Red Zone channel kept flashing back to this game during the last few minutes of the Ravens-Vikings game? Really. Did anybody outside of St. Louis or Jacksonville care? Hell, did anybody in St. Louis or Jacksonville care?

31 (30) – Buccaneers:

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they lose to Jake Delhomme’s Carolina Panthers. At home. The only bright spot was Cadillac Williams’ performance, because now my roommate can shut up about him being the reason why his fantasy football team is 1-5.  Your QB is Mark Sanchez! Cadillac isn’t the problem.

30 (25) – Titans:

This team couldn’t find an identity—until this week. They are now officially the best worst team in the AFC. And after witnessing Derek Anderson’s appallingly dreadful performance last week, Kerry Collins had to one-up him. He threw for negative seven yards in 12 attempts. Seriously. How bad can Vince Young be?

29 (27) – Browns:

Just so you get a sense of how truly pathetic Cleveland is, their top performer, according to the Yahoo! Sports box score, was fullback Lawrence Vickers, who had one touch for one yard.

28 (26) – Lions:

Scrappiness can only take you so far when you have almost zero talent. Jim Schwartz is a good coach, but can you really expect them to score even once when their QBs are Dante Culpepper and Mike Stanton and their number one wide out is Dennis Northcutt?

27 (28) – Chiefs:

That’s an odd way to score 14 points. Four field goals and a safety.

26 (24) – Redskins:

Washington has faced a winless team in every single game so far and they are still 2-4. If that doesn’t deserve firing, then I don’t know what does.

25 (31) – Raiders:

This could be the biggest upset in the history of survival football. Servers are still crashing as we speak.

24 (28) – Bills:

You force seven turnovers and still need overtime to score 16 points? Something tells me the Jets lost this game more than Buffalo won it.

23 (19) – Seahawks:

Fourteen total rushing yards. 0-11 on third down. Five sacks allowed. Seventeen minutes of possession. Talk about a bad football team. The bye week couldn’t come at a better time.

22 (23) – Panthers:

Why wouldn’t teams stack nine in the box? Jake Delhomme now has thrown 14 interceptions in his last six games and has a 56.8 QB rating for the season.

21 (22) – Jaguars:

The Jags were 11-16 on third down, outgained the Rams by 230 yards, and had only three penalties for 15 yards, yet still needed overtime to beat the least talented team in the NFL. How does that happen?

20 (17) – Dolphins:

The home team coming off of a bye week theory gets a big test this weekend when the Saints come to town. Not buying it.

19 (11) – Jets:

Congratulations to Mark Sanchez for becoming the first two-time winner of the weekly Simple Jack Award. Hey Mark, never go full retard.

18 (21) – Texans:

Houston made the Bengals look like, well, the Bengals. Matt Schaub has become a fantasy must-start every week.

17 (18) – Cowboys:

The epitome of mediocrity. 3-0 versus losing teams and 0-2 versus winners. Fantasy note: I am never drafting Roy Williams again.

16 (20) – Cardinals:

What is Arizona going to do when they play a team that takes away the pass? Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower are getting it done less than my food situation at home. I’ve been living off of Power Bars and instant oatmeal packets for two weeks. College.

15 (10) – Bengals:

This is what Jeffri Chadiha had to say about Cincinnati in ESPN’s power rankings this week: “Matt Schaub shredded them in their loss to Houston.” Thanks for all the hard work and insight you put into that one, Jeffri.

14 (16) – Packers:

And if his analysis of the Bengals wasn’t enough, Chadiha had this to say about Green Bay: “They still haven’t found a way to protect QB Aaron Rodgers.” ESPN, you seriously can’t find anyone better than this guy?

13 (15) – Chargers:

I hate fantasy football. Losing by three coming into Monday Night’s game, I owned Eddie Royal and Darren Sproles. Thanks to the amazing score settings in my lone remaining undefeated league, I received a total of 1.40 points from the duo, despite a combined three return touchdowns. Is there any activity more popular than fantasy football that causes so many complaints?

12 (6) – Eagles:

Is there anything more embarrassing for a head coach than losing to JaMarcus Russell? I can’t think of anything.

11 (13) – Bears:

Another gem from Chadiha: “Red zone problems killed them in a loss to Atlanta.” My freakin’ 11-year-old brother could have told me that.

10 (12) – 49ers:

Michael Crabtree is starting!! Michael Crabtree is starting!! Michael Crabtree is starting!! Michael Crabtree is starting!! Michael Crabtree is starting!! Yeah, I’m kinda excited.

9 (9) – Ravens:

Baltimore almost completed the greatest comeback of the season. Too bad almost counts for diddly squat. We almost made the playoffs. I almost won the lottery. They almost successfully completed your kidney transplant. You get the idea. Almost isn’t good.

8 (8) – Falcons:

Atlanta and New Orleans could be the most exciting division race this season. Their Week Eight will tell us a lot.

7 (14) – Steelers:

Big Ben is back, thanks to the re-emergence of one of the toughest football players in the NFL: Hines Ward. Man, does he play football the right way.

6 (4) – Giants:

The Saints stomped Eli Manning and the Giants so badly, that New Orleans even let Mark Brunell onto the field. Yes, that Mark Brunell. The one who hasn’t attempted a pass since 2006, and is making just under $5 million this season. Seriously.

5 (7) – Patriots:

This game looked eerily reminiscent of 2007. Have Tom Brady and the boys finally got their mojo back? We won’t find out until they play Indy in Week Ten, but it will be fun to see how many points they can put up at Tampa Bay on Sunday. Is 60 out of the question?

4 (5) – Broncos:

Josh McDaniels for Coach of the Year. That is all.

3 (3) – Colts:

I don’t have anything new to say because of the bye, so I’ll just repeat what I said last week:

The only thing better than Peyton Manning is this article from CNN. For all guys past puberty, Christmas just came early. This could transform college campuses, save marriages, and possibly bring world peace. Seriously, guys, you want to read this.

2 (2) – Saints:

Drew Brees passed for 369 yards and four touchdowns and I was still outscored by my opponent’s QB. I would be mad if I didn’t have such crazy man-love for Tom Brady.

1 (1) – Vikings:

I think someone brainwashed Brett Favre into thinking it’s 2001. He cannot possibly still be this good. So far, this is statistically the best season of his career. Wow.

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NFL Power Rankings Week Seven: Vikings Ride Brett Favre Mojo

This was one of the worst sports weekends of my life. The Oregon Ducks had the week off, the 49ers were on a bye, the A’s are long gone, and it’s still preseason for the Warriors and the Sharks (wait, we’re two weeks into the NHL regular season already? I had no idea).

Thinks the Chiefs are regretting that Jared Allen trade now? Hell, they probably regretted it the moment they made it.

Thinks the Chiefs are regretting that Jared Allen trade now? Hell, they probably regretted it the moment they made it.

Without the privilege of watching my beloved Ducks on Saturday, I was forced to watch something only one step below water boarding on the torture scale—Big Ten football. Iowa-Wisconsin, Ohio State-Purdue, Penn State-Minnesota? Gross. And by the way, what’s Michigan doing playing an FCS team in Week Seven?

It was so bad I chose to write my four-page philosophy essay instead. The only reason I retained my sanity through the weekend was the NFL Red Zone channel.

But all will be made up for next weekend, when I travel to Seattle for the first time to support the Ducks in Husky Stadium. Who cares if my seats are in Lake Washington.

On to the rankings.
32 (32) – Rams:

Somebody please tell me why the Red Zone channel kept flashing back to this game during the last few minutes of the Ravens-Vikings game? Really. Did anybody outside of St. Louis or Jacksonville care? Hell, did anybody in St. Louis or Jacksonville care?

31 (30) – Buccaneers:

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they lose to Jake Delhomme’s Carolina Panthers. At home. The only bright spot was Cadillac Williams’ performance, because now my roommate can shut up about him being the reason why his fantasy football team is 1-5.  Your QB is Mark Sanchez! Cadillac isn’t the problem.

30 (25) – Titans:

This team couldn’t find an identity—until this week. They are now officially the best worst team in the AFC. And after witnessing Derek Anderson’s appallingly dreadful performance last week, Kerry Collins had to one-up him. He threw for negative seven yards in 12 attempts. Seriously. How bad can Vince Young be?

29 (27) – Browns:

Just so you get a sense of how truly pathetic Cleveland is, their top performer, according to the Yahoo! Sports box score, was fullback Lawrence Vickers, who had one touch for one yard.

28 (26) – Lions:

Scrappiness can only take you so far when you have almost zero talent. Jim Schwartz is a good coach, but can you really expect them to score even once when their QBs are Dante Culpepper and Mike Stanton and their number one wide out is Dennis Northcutt?

27 (28) – Chiefs:

That’s an odd way to score 14 points. Four field goals and a safety.

26 (24) – Redskins:

Washington has faced a winless team in every single game so far and they are still 2-4. If that doesn’t deserve firing, then I don’t know what does.

25 (31) – Raiders:

This could be the biggest upset in the history of survival football. Servers are still crashing as we speak.

24 (28) – Bills:

You force seven turnovers and still need overtime to score 16 points? Something tells me the Jets lost this game more than Buffalo won it.

23 (19) – Seahawks:

Fourteen total rushing yards. 0-11 on third down. Five sacks allowed. Seventeen minutes of possession. Talk about a bad football team. The bye week couldn’t come at a better time.

22 (23) – Panthers:

Why wouldn’t teams stack nine in the box? Jake Delhomme now has thrown 14 interceptions in his last six games and has a 56.8 QB rating for the season.

21 (22) – Jaguars:

The Jags were 11-16 on third down, outgained the Rams by 230 yards, and had only three penalties for 15 yards, yet still needed overtime to beat the least talented team in the NFL. How does that happen?

20 (17) – Dolphins:

The home team coming off of a bye week theory gets a big test this weekend when the Saints come to town. Not buying it.

19 (11) – Jets:

Congratulations to Mark Sanchez for becoming the first two-time winner of the weekly Simple Jack Award. Hey Mark, never go full retard.

18 (21) – Texans:

Houston made the Bengals look like, well, the Bengals. Matt Schaub has become a fantasy must-start every week.

17 (18) – Cowboys:

The epitome of mediocrity. 3-0 versus losing teams and 0-2 versus winners. Fantasy note: I am never drafting Roy Williams again.

16 (20) – Cardinals:

What is Arizona going to do when they play a team that takes away the pass? Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower are getting it done less than my food situation at home. I’ve been living off of Power Bars and instant oatmeal packets for two weeks. College.

15 (10) – Bengals:

This is what Jeffri Chadiha had to say about Cincinnati in ESPN’s power rankings this week: “Matt Schaub shredded them in their loss to Houston.” Thanks for all the hard work and insight you put into that one, Jeffri.

14 (16) – Packers:

And if his analysis of the Bengals wasn’t enough, Chadiha had this to say about Green Bay: “They still haven’t found a way to protect QB Aaron Rodgers.” ESPN, you seriously can’t find anyone better than this guy?

13 (15) – Chargers:

I hate fantasy football. Losing by three coming into Monday Night’s game, I owned Eddie Royal and Darren Sproles. Thanks to the amazing score settings in my lone remaining undefeated league, I received a total of 1.40 points from the duo, despite a combined three return touchdowns. Is there any activity more popular than fantasy football that causes so many complaints?

12 (6) – Eagles:

Is there anything more embarrassing for a head coach than losing to JaMarcus Russell? I can’t think of anything.

11 (13) – Bears:

Another gem from Chadiha: “Red zone problems killed them in a loss to Atlanta.” My freakin’ 11-year-old brother could have told me that.

10 (12) – 49ers:

Michael Crabtree is starting!! Michael Crabtree is starting!! Michael Crabtree is starting!! Michael Crabtree is starting!! Michael Crabtree is starting!! Yeah, I’m kinda excited.

9 (9) – Ravens:

Baltimore almost completed the greatest comeback of the season. Too bad almost counts for diddly squat. We almost made the playoffs. I almost won the lottery. They almost successfully completed your kidney transplant. You get the idea. Almost isn’t good.

8 (8) – Falcons:

Atlanta and New Orleans could be the most exciting division race this season. Their Week Eight will tell us a lot.

7 (14) – Steelers:

Big Ben is back, thanks to the re-emergence of one of the toughest football players in the NFL: Hines Ward. Man, does he play football the right way.

6 (4) – Giants:

The Saints stomped Eli Manning and the Giants so badly, that New Orleans even let Mark Brunell onto the field. Yes, that Mark Brunell. The one who hasn’t attempted a pass since 2006, and is making just under $5 million this season. Seriously.

5 (7) – Patriots:

This game looked eerily reminiscent of 2007. Have Tom Brady and the boys finally got their mojo back? We won’t find out until they play Indy in Week Ten, but it will be fun to see how many points they can put up at Tampa Bay on Sunday. Is 60 out of the question?

4 (5) – Broncos:

Josh McDaniels for Coach of the Year. That is all.

3 (3) – Colts:

I don’t have anything new to say because of the bye, so I’ll just repeat what I said last week:

The only thing better than Peyton Manning is this article from CNN. For all guys past puberty, Christmas just came early. This could transform college campuses, save marriages, and possibly bring world peace. Seriously, guys, you want to read this.

2 (2) – Saints:

Drew Brees passed for 369 yards and four touchdowns and I was still outscored by my opponent’s QB. I would be mad if I didn’t have such crazy man-love for Tom Brady.

1 (1) – Vikings:

I think someone brainwashed Brett Favre into thinking it’s 2001. He cannot possibly still be this good. So far, this is statistically the best season of his career. Wow.

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College Football Quick Hits: the BCS Picture

With the Ducks off this week and the introduction of the first BCS rankings today, I thought it would a good time to see which teams still have legitimate  national championship dreams. Most don’t. There are a lot of pretenders in the top 10.

Is Tim  Tebow ever not yelling? His teammates must be so sick of it. I can only imagine him at a party.

Is Tim Tebow ever not yelling? His teammates must be so sick of it. I can only imagine him at a party: tap that keg!! tap it good!!!

No. 1 (AP Poll) Alabama

Granted, I don't know a whole lot about art history, but I swear something is different about this picutre.The SEC is thought of as the number one conference in college football, but somehow the Tide managed to play a schedule easier than a girl at a party who has done four keg stands. Yes, I was a witness Friday night. Let’s just say she was walking with a pretty major gangsta lean from the keg to the alley. Things didn’t end well. See where I’m going?

Alabama has a nice win at VA Tech but none of their other wins are too impressive. They still have one challenging match-up when they host LSU – another overrated team – before they play Florida in the SEC championship game. With a fully healthy Tim Tebow by then, Florida should be able to roll the Tide.

No. 2 Florida

This just in: Tim Tebow is pretty good. Still my BCS pick.

No. 3 Texas

Despite only beating the Sam Bradford-less Sooners by 3, the Longhorns deserve some credit for playing a tough non-conference schedule…wait. Louisiana-Monroe, Wyoming, and UTEP. Yea, seriously. Might as well play a line-up of Junior Colleges.

No. 4 USC

Their season comes down to the match-up with Oregon. I don’t see either team losing another game, save for this match-up, during the rest of the Pac-10 schedule.

No. 5 Cincinnati

This is not the fifth best team in the country. They will lose at least two of their last four games – Connecticut, West Virginia, Illinois, and Pittsburgh.

No. 6 Boise State

If the Broncos think they deserve a spot in the BCS they better do a lot better than beating UC-Davis by 18 and Tulsa by 7. When the second toughest match-up on your schedule is Idaho, you better be decisive in your victories. Overrated until further notice.

No. 7 Iowa

I’m waiting. Lose that game to that inexplicably bad Big 10 team any week now, Hawkeyes. Seriously, you’re not good. I have a good feeling about this week, though.

No. 8 Miami and No. 9 LSU

Ehh

No. 10 TCU

The only non-BCS team this year deserving of a top-10 ranking. Wins at Virginia, Clemson, and this weekend in BYU would go a long way in proving the Horned Frogs mettle.

No. 11 Georgia Tech

Are the Yellow Jackets really better than Oregon? I rest my case.

No. 12 Oregon

Win on Halloween against USC and the Ducks are golden. Legitimate BCS hopes with a victory.

No. 13 Penn State

They play one ranked team this season – Ohio State. Hey Joe Pa, are you too old to realize your non-conference schedule is absolutely worthless?

It’s not worth going any further down than this.

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Pac-10 Preview Week Seven: Watching from the Sideline

Ahhhhhh gotta love 'em.

Ahhhhhh gotta love 'em.

No matter what happens this weekend, I can 100 percent guarantee that it will not come even remotely close to the last five weekends.

Not even if I go to the best party ever. Going undefeated in beer pong? No big deal. Breaking ankles at the Rec Center? That’s an everyday occurrence. Hooking up with the hottest chick on campus? Well, that one I can’t do till winter term (when my girlfriend gets here)—among other reasons.

So why will this weekend pale in comparison to any other this fall? It will be the first Saturday since Sept. 12 without an Oregon Ducks football game.

So what is a Duck fan to do?

Spend the weekend watching inferior college football teams and hoping for the teams ahead in the rankings to drop faster than Mike Singletary’s pants in the 49ers’ locker room.

But fortunately, next weekend will more than make up for it. I’ll be making my first journey up to Seattle to watch the Ducks in Husky Stadium. Best $46 I’ve ever spent.

With no Oregon game to preview today, I am relegated to the rest of the Pac-10.

Once again, the Pac-10 has failed to deliver multiple national title contenders. With Cal being a shocking disappointment and USC once again losing to an unranked team, there is more mediocrity than ever.

With all the parity in the conference, only one team has started to separate itself from the rest of the pack—Oregon. But keep in mind, the three teams the Ducks have played so far are 0-8 in the Pac-10. Washington and USC will make or break the season for the Autzen faithful.

On to this weekend’s games.

Washington at Arizona State

I’m still trying to figure out this Sun Devil team. I’m not sure if they’re decent or flat-out bad. They blow out two awful teams at home, as expected, and then lose by a field goal at Georgia, a loss that looked a lot more impressive then than it does now.

Arizona State outplayed Oregon State on paper, outgaining the Beavers 406 to 295, but the three fumbles killed them. But more embarrassing than either of those losses was the 27-14 win over Washington State. Unless you have seen the Cougars play, you cannot appreciate how truly bad they are. Anything less than a blowout is officially a disappointment.

Meanwhile, the Huskies have regained a bit of their momentum after the Stanford loss by putting a solid game together on the road at Notre Dame and then a miracle win against Arizona. With a big matchup looming against Oregon next Saturday, it will be interesting to see if the Huskies let down against a lesser team.

Prediction: Washington 34, Arizona State 17

Cal at UCLA

There is a legitimate chance that at least one of these teams will end up not bowl eligible.

After starting the season scorching hot, the Golden Bears have fallen flat on their face. Granted, at Oregon and home against USC is an almost unfair way to start Pac-10 play, but it looked as if Cal didn’t even bother to show up to either of those games. They didn’t score a single touchdown and were outscored 72-6.

But don’t worry, Cal fans, you can still make the Emerald Bowl.

UCLA, meanwhile, would be lucky to make the Las Vegas Bowl. Needing three more wins to gain bowl eligibility, the Bruins still have to play Cal, Arizona, Oregon State, Washington, and USC. Assuming they beat Arizona State and Washington State, I don’t know which team they could beat for that elusive sixth win.

Prediction: Cal 24, UCLA 17

Stanford at Arizona

This probably isn't PC, but he looks like a homosexual ostrich.

This probably isn't PC, but he looks like a homosexual ostrich.

Just when I start to buy the Cardinal, the Quizz Show comes along and stumps Stanford. I still like the direction Jim Harbaugh has his team heading, but a Rose Bowl appearance this year looks out of the question.

They certainly have the pieces, with Andrew Luck, Toby Gerhart, and Ryan Whalen, but it seems like they don’t have the mentality of a winner—which makes sense, considering they haven’t been good since the beginning of the decade.

Arizona has a pretty impressive résumé, with their only slip-ups coming on the road to an extremely overrated yet undefeated Iowa team and to the Huskies in a heartbreaking loss in Seattle.

This will probably be the most competitive game of the week, because I think both of these teams are stuck in “good but not great” purgatory.

Prediction: Stanford 31, Arizona 28

USC at Notre Dame

I am so tired of this matchup. It hasn’t been close since the famous “Reggie Bush push” in 2005, and the Fighting Irish haven’t been half as good as the hype in over a decade, despite being given every advantage by the NCAA. Jimmy Clausen is for real, but they haven’t had a dominating win all season. I don’t think it starts here.

The Trojans, although overrated at No. 6, have so much talent that they can get by with only mediocre quarterback play. But for USC to be taken seriously as a title contender, Matt Barkley will have to show that he can make plays and not just be a game manager. Maybe he can learn a thing or two from his QB counterpart and fellow No. 1 overall recruit on Saturday.

Prediction: USC 34, Notre Dame 24

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