Although I enjoy the first month of the season, this year I'll be glad when it's done. Trying to preview eight to nine Pac-10 games is way too much work compared to four or five. I'm going to get vertigo tomorrow trying to channel flip between all of them.
The early afternoon promises to be remote control hell. Here's the televised schedule.
- #3 USC at Washington, 3:30 PM EST/12:30 PM PST, ABC (this is only true for the yellow region on this map)
- Iowa at Arizona, 3:30 PM EST/12:30 PM PST, ESPN2 (unless you live in Arizona or Iowa, in which case this game will be shown on ABC and you'll be blanked out of USC-UW in favor of Va. Tech-Nebraska)
- #16 Utah at Oregon, 3:30 PM EST/12:30 PM PST, ESPN (national telecast)
- #21 Cincinnati at Oregon State, 6:45 PM EST/3:45 PM PST, FSN (Will Air on FS Arizona, Detroit+, Midwest, North, Ohio, Southwest, West; FSN Northwest, Pittsburgh; CSN Bay Area, New England, Washington; SportSouth; MSG+; FCS Central)
- Louisiana Monroe at Arizona State, 10 PM EST/7 PM PST, FSAZ (HD) / FCS Pacific (cable) (not likely to get it unless you have large sports cable package or live in Arizona)
- Kansas State at UCLA, 10:15 PM EST/7:15 PM PST, FSN (Will Air on FS Arizona, Detroit, Florida, Houston, Midwest, North, Ohio, South, Southwest, West; FSN Pittsburgh; CSN California, Chicago (JIP), New England, Philadelphia, Washington; MSG+; FCS Central)
- Non televised games: SMU at Wazzu, 5 PM EST/2 PM PST, San Jose State at Furd, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST
I say chronologically is the way to go here. Quick hits, shall we? Questions to ponder in the comments are in bold.
#3 USC at Washington
Conquest Chronicles breaks down Corp vs. Barkley. Who should USC stick with this season if they're healthy?
It is nothing against Aaron Corp; it is just clear that Carroll looks at Barkley and sees the prototypical NFL style QB. Yes, Corp gives the USC offense the added dimension of mobility and that has its advantages but Carroll is an NFL guy and he looks at QB's in that light.
There is no question that Corp has better grasp of the playbook, he is more comfortable in running the plays and yes he has shown to make better decisions when running the offense. Unfortunately he was injured Barkley stepped up and where we are is where we are. All this snark about not losing job if you are injured or questioning whether or not there really is a level playing field in regards to competing for the job is for people looking to make some noise.
The Husky POV and other games after the jump.
UW Dawg Pound is fairly confident that the Huskies will be able to contain the Trojan run game. If they can stop the Trojan running backs, will they be able to stop Best and Vereen in December?
USC is living by the run early this season to take the pressure off their freshman quarterback. the Trojans always have a strong run game and they use it effectively to balance their offensive production at the other skill positions. The Washington defense has done one thing exceptionally well this season and that is stop the run. They were already tested by a great offensive line is the LSU game and the talent they face this Saturday may even be better. Idaho by the way was no slouch in the offensive line and running department. Washington stuffed them most of the game.
Washington's goal is to control the USC running game and put the game on the shoulders of Matt Barkley or Aaron Corp. Nathan Endele who is no Matt Barkley or Aaron Corp picked apart the UW midsection last week which is probably something USC will try to do. The difference this week is that Washington will be playing its "A" team almost the entire game. Alameda Ta'amu and Cameron elisara need to have the biggest games of their careers this week. Ta'amu is the budding star nobody knows about. This week may just be his coming out party on ABC.
Iowa at Arizona
The always excellent (and occasionally dour) Black Heart Gold Pants has ten reasons why Iowa will lose to Arizona.
10. Hubris. After last week's performance we probably think we are the '85 Bears, with this guy at RB. I think it was Euripides who said, "those whom the gods would destroy they first make all powerful." Expect a big fall.
9. Dorothy, We're Not in Iowa Anymore. Winning the mythical State of Iowa Championship is impressive, but only if you're talking wrestling. Since we're talking football, it's about as impressive as winning best tattoo at a Raffi concert. Expect a wake-up call as we leave state-only competition.
8. Next Man In. It used to be a mantra to keep Iowa's back-ups motivated. Now it's a coaching command after every third or fourth play. If Iowa can't stay healthy playing the Iowa Sisters of the Poor, imagine what a team filled with genuine athletes will do to us. Expect weekly try-outs the rest of the season to keep the roster filled.
5. Nic Grigsby. Whose name is an anagram for Run Your Ass Over.
4. Mike Stoops. Tough...Hard Working...No Nonsense...Winner! And these are just a few of the words used to describe Bob Stoops. One would have thought whatever coaching DNA Mike shares with his more successful brother would have revealed itself by now. Knowing our luck it will finally emerge this Saturday.
2. Pac-10 Dominance. College football aficionados didn't require even more proof in the form of Ohio State's debacle against USC to know that the Big Ten is the new MAC. The contrast of the fiber optic Trojans against the dial-up Buckeyes is just the most up-to-the-minute incontrovertible evidence of Big Ten decline. And to think, OSU is the gold standard of speed and athleticism in the Big Ten. How bad is it? In order to mask the conference's speed deficiency the Big Ten Network has resorted to highlight packages edited against the Chariots of Fire soundtrack.
Arizona Desert Swarm is more optimistic. Do you see Arizona replicating their home dominance in Iowa City?
The numbers indicate that neither team has excelled so far this season passing the ball, and Iowa has not exactly been a prolific rushing attack either. Neither team has faced an opponent this season that matches each others caliber. This game should be a turning point for both programs. Can Arizona stop a balanced attack? Can Iowa keep a legitimate rushing attack in check? The peripheral numbers seem to edge towards Arizona, but Iowa has one huge advantage. Kinnick. If Matt Scott, or Nick Foles, turn the ball over, Kinnick will be in a frenzy. Arizona's best (and only) shot at winning this game will be to control the clock, keep the crowd out of the game, and keep turnovers to a minimum. The first quarter will probably be an emotional, fast-paced 15 minutes. After that, the Cats should look to settle down, and keep that crowd off its feet.
#16 Utah at Oregon
For Chip Kelly, confidence in his ability will only go as far as the success on the field. If they lose, I don't think their fans will be advocating his firing, but things will get dicey. With their schedule (Cal, @ UCLA, USC, @ Stanford, @ Arizona, Oregon State) they could be facing a losing season. Hell, maybe even worse than a losing season. All those games listed could be potential losses and if that's the case, it doesn't seem unrealistic to expect 8-losses if things get out of control for Kelly and his staff.
Which is why I believe this game is more important for Oregon. Utah and Kyle Whittingham can easily get away with a loss here. We're not expecting a BCS run anymore. We're not even expecting an 11-1 campaign with what we've seen the last two weeks. But a winning season, with this schedule, is still extremely likely. Hell, even ten-wins isn't entirely out of the question - even if they lose at Oregon. The Ducks aren't so lucky.
Addicted to Quack has realigned their paradigms for success this season. What is a successful season for Oregon this season?
But watching this team will be very different from years past. In recent years, we've seen Oregon teams jump out to a roaring start and this has led to heightened expectations early in the season. While some of these seasons may not have ended like we'd hoped, they were filled with a good deal of hype. This season is different. We have no expectations now. Many national pundits have already written off the Ducks. Watching this young team come together, the leaders step up, and the coaching staff do it's job will be a different kind of excitement that what we are used to.
And I'm just fine with that. While this team has many questions, I'm greatly looking forward to the rest of the season, to watching just what this team can become, because, let's face it, we have no idea how this season is going to turn out. Almost every game could go either way. We're sure to see some football that will make us cheer one moment, and pull our hair out the next. Hopefully this will lead to a good number of wins, but at this point, I'm just excited to see how this season unfolds.
#21 Cincinnati at Oregon State
Building the Dam believes a win by the Beavers over the Bearcats could set up Oregon State for great things this season. Is Oregon State capable of being a Pac-10 champion this year?
To me, winning this game tomorrow would not just be a victory that spans the course of one week. If the Beavers win tomorrow at Reser Stadium, it will be a game that could act as a springboard for some great things.
If there are any experienced procrastinators out there, you know the feeling when you complete that project far before the deadline-- the sense of accomplishment, relief... you know what I mean. It seems that what Oregon State has been doing in recent years is simply procrastinating-- losing early season games they should win, and pulling out dramatic victories at the end to make up for it.
Tomorrow is a chance to end that streak-- to prove that Oregon State can come out and take care of business in the pre-season, and leave no doubt that they are a team that can make a splash in conference play.
Louisiana Monroe at Arizona State
House of Sparky states the Sun Devils need to be careful about looking ahead to avoid a repeat of the disastrous start from last season. Will the Sun Devils be caught looking ahead?
I expect the team to come out rusty again, but to handle the Warhawks by at least 28 points. I don't expect a massive blowout, mainly because this offense has yet to show us anything truly spectacular. I for one will give Danny Sullivan an opportunity to really get a hold of this team going into our SEC showdown.
Kansas State at UCLA
This match-up is like the ultimate example of the irresistible force versus the immovable object. If Daniel Thomas is the force, then UCLA's defense is the object. Or vice versa.
Simply put, K-State has a better overall offense than UCLA - as hard as that is to believe - and the injury to Kevin Prince should only render the Bruins more impotent on that side of the ball.
Speaking of passing games, ours frankly sucks. If you watched last Saturday's game on ESPN360, you already know that. If you didn't, be glad. There's even talk that Thomas may start at QB, which probably could only be an improvement over what we've seen. And the really scary thing is that UCLA is even better than us on defense, especially considering they played (and won) in hostile Neyland Stadium and we played (and lost) on anemic Cajun Field.
Bruins Nation seems enthused at Kevin Craft starting at quarterback Saturday night over Richard Brehaut. Do you think Neuheisel and Chow made the right decision?
hicalliber makes some excellent points on why it would be reasonable for Neuheisel and Chow to go with Craft to start the game this coming Saturday. I have only seen Brehaut for a series and read about his performance from this past spring and fall camp courtesy of few practice observers with a track record of not sugercoating with homerific povs. Based on those datapoints I can get a sense of Brehaut having an advantage over Craft in terms of athletic potential.
However, right now the focus should be on winning from week to week. It seems like at this point of time, Craft might have a slight advantage due to the factors hicalliber outlines and also number of other tangibles. As I mentioned above, I don't think Craft has the same athletic abilites as Brehaut. Brehaut made throwns I never saw Craft made in all of the games he started this past season. Still I don't believe Craft's performance (in terms of numbers) is indicative of the kind of QB he is given he received no protection and zero support from the running game.
Southern Methodist at Washington State
WSU Football Blog is talking about...giant inflatable dolls. Can you really blame them?
Some of you may not know (OK, if you are reading this from the great Northwest, you probably DON'T know), but allow me to introduce you to Big Tex. Big Tex is a big fixture in the Lone Star state. Here's all you need to know about Big Tex:
Big Tex made his debut at the 1952 State Fair of Texas. Wearing size 70 boots and a 75-gallon hat, Tex towered 52' above wide-eyed visitors. His denim jeans and plaid shirt were donated by the H. D. Lee Company of Shawnee Mission, Kansas. Cosmetic surgery the following year straightened his nose, corrected a lascivious wink and allowed him to talk.
Wait, allowed him to talk? Really? How cool is that. Naturally the question now is, "what does he sound like?" Like this. They like to do things big down there.
Speaking of which, I think we should have a gigantic George Washington, don't you? We could call him "Big George" or "The Big Wash" or "G-DUB". He could do The Puyallup, the Spokane Fair, Bumpershoot, Mariners and Seahawks games, the whole works. Maybe program him to give directions to the nearest porta-potty, something like that? I guess we'll just have to settle for Mt. Rushmore for now, as well as the occasional race at Washington Nats baseball games...
There's a silver lining for Wazzu's failures. Coug Center's traffic numbers are higher than ever! I wonder what CGB would've been like if it had kicked off in the Tom Holmoe era...
San Jose State at Furd
A far more accurate representation of the interest in Stanford football is the number of season tickets sold, which the Cardinal doesn’t make public — although you can bet a seat on the 50 that it would release the figure if it sold 40,000 of them. (I say that because it used to, back when the numbers were respectable.)
But multiple sources have told me that the current season-ticket number is 14,000-15,000, which is essentially the same as last year’s figure.
Now, you might say that flat sales represent a victory for the Cardinal marketing department because of the economy.
I say: Hogwash.
If the marketing department were doing its job, season ticket sales would be up significantly — into the 20,000 - 25,000 range.