Pac-12 Championship

30 06 2010

This is what it all comes down to, a playoff championship. The Pac-12 should disband from the NCAA and form its own conference so it can have one of these every year. With Cal and USC playing for the championship on the same day as the Twilight Eclipse premier I noticed that each team shared some characteristics with the rivalry between Team Edward and Team Jacob. Both the Pac-12 championship and Twilight have the good vs evil, favorite vs underdog (or underwolf), and competition for the love of the fans.

USC fans are notoriously known for their pretentious attitude, which happens to be the same way Edward Cullen carries himself in Twilight (at least the first two movies). Edward and the Cullen’s are in the same tax bracket as USC fans, and like USC coach Lane Kiffin and Athletic Director Mike Garrett, their condescending tone gets old quickly. Like USC, Edward has the speed and power that make men want to be him, and the women want to be with him. He has been sitting in his room and thinking about 16 year old girls since Abraham Lincoln was President, which makes him like one of those three guys in high school that’s pulling tail left and right, but with 100 years of experience to hone his craft. In a similar fashion, USC has a long-lasting tradition of Rose Bowls, National Championships, and Heisman Winners. Edward’s advantage is that he can read minds, USC’s advantage is that they buy their star players houses in San Diego and give them cars with ridiculous looking rims.

Cal fans desperately want what USC has the way Jacob wants Edward’s girlfriend Bella. Bears and werewolves are both fetid creatures like Cal hippies, and you’ll probably find Cal fans wearing the same jorts & birkenstocks as Jacob Black and his buddies. The pack that Jacob rolls with is native american and these tree-sitters that delayed the Memorial Stadium upgrade tried to make a case that the land surrounding the area was a sacred Indian burial ground. Luckily for the Bears, this is football, not fantasy. The games actually have to be played instead of dancing around and flirting with each other.

The Trojans came in as seven point favorites, but you couldn’t tell based on how the teams were played inthe first half. The Bears received the kickoff and gashed the USC defense for an 8 play 73 yard drive that was capped by a 12 yard Anthony Miller TD in the corner of the end zone. Matt Barkley would march his troops all the way into the red zone before a tipped pass was intercepted by Sean Cattouse in the middle of the field. With the Cal offensive line holding its own, Kevin Riley was able to find Marvin Jones on a play-action pass for a 36 yard pickup to put the Bears past midfield. After a Jeremy Ross reverse and HB screen to Shane Vereen the Bears went up 14-0. The Trojans would come right back though with Allen Bradford plowing over Cal freshman linebacker Chris Martin to pick up 15 yards. Matt Barkley started to find his groove completing 3 of 5 passes with a beautiful over the shoulder pass to fullback Stanley Havili on a wheel route that resulted in a touchdown. The Bears struggled the rest of the half as the Trojan defense started to get more aggressive. Devon Kennard and Jurrell Casey each notched a Kevin Riley sack with Casey’s resulting in a fumble and recovery for USC. The final score of the half was USC freshman Dillon Baxter’s 25 yard TD out of the wildcat to cut the halftime score to 20-17 in favor of the Bears.

The Trojans came out in the second half and looked undisciplined offensively by racking up two false start penalties in the first five plays. This set up a 3rd and 12 for Kiffin in his own territory and he played it conservatively with a delayed hand off only to see CJ Gable hit in the backfield by Cameron Jordan. After a Trojans punt the Bears drove right down field in 6 plays, but failed could only manage a field goal to go up 23-16. USC looked like they were about to tie it up on their next possession, but a Matt Barkley fumble at the Cal 6 yard line shifted the momentum to the Bears.  Just when Cal fans thought Jeff Tedford would go to his classic we-only-have-a-one-score-lead-but-will-play-ultra-conservative strategy, Kevin Riley was throwing on 3 consecutive downs to move the chains back into Trojan territory. Shane Vereen would have a 15 yard TD called back on a Jeremy Ross holding call and the Bears would have to settle for another field goal to put them up ten points. Trojan wide receiver Ronald Johnson finally got into the mix with a 47 yard completion to get them back in the red zone. Two plays later Matt Barkley would hit Bryce Butler in the middle of the field for a 19 yard touchdown to get within three with 6 minutes to play in the game.

Isi Sofele would collect the ensuing kickoff for the Bears and take it all the way back to the Cal 43 yard line. We were certain that Jeff Tedford would milk his lead, but he came out with play-action on first down that he tossed it to the H-back Spencer Ladner for a 13 yard gain and a first down. Two out of the next three plays were out of the wildcat formation, but Shane Vereen would only gain seven yards and failed to get a first down. The Bears were forced to punt with 3:45 to play and Bryan Anger delivered by pinning it at the five yard line. With the Trojans 95 yards away from victory, everyone expected a drive similar to the one Matt Barkley had the year before against Ohio St. With the Bears dropping eight into coverage to prevent the long-ball, CJ Gable took a screen pass 8 yards. Freshman WR Robert Woods and caught a  10 yard pass to give them a first down. Matt Barkley then hit Kyle Prater on the sideline for a 25 yard pass, but it was called by on a holding penalty and resulted in an 8 yard loss. Matt Barkley shook it off and went right back to business hitting Ronald Johnson on a slant play resulting in a 15 yard gain. On second and three Lane Kiffin tried to keep the defense honest by running the ball one more time, but Bradford failed to pick up positive yards or run out of bounds and it kept the clock running. With only 60 seconds to play the Trojans started to feel desperate and pick up the pace, but two incompletions by Matt Barkley would end the USC’s drive. Cal fans stormed the field and the band was on the field!

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Pac-12 Playoffs: Down 2 Party

28 06 2010

#1 USC vs #6 UW

The last time the Huskies faced the Trojans, Lane Kiffin was taking jabs at Urban Meyer like a younger brother vying for some attention. This time Steve Sarkisian filled in that role by tugging at big brother’s sleeve.

Sarkisian accused Kiffin of violating NCAA recruiting rules at a Washington Booster breakfast at the Seattle Convention Center.

“I’m going to turn USC in right here in front of you,” Sarkisian told the crowd. “As Sione Potoae was here on campus, his phone keeps ringing. And so one of our coaches is sitting in the meeting with him and says,’Who is that?’ And he looks at the phone and says, ‘Lane Kiffin.’

“Just so you know, you can’t call a recruit on another campus. But I love the fact that Lane had to cheat and still didn’t get him.”

USC came out determined to run the ball, and the Trojan horses were galloping right through the porous Husky defense. The opening drive featured six straight runs for USC and ended with an 11 yard CJ Gable touchdown. Jake Locker struggled to hit open receivers in the first half and was seen getting yelled at on the sideline by his wide receiver Jermaine Kearse. Locker would blame his inaccuracy on seeing flashes of Edward Cullen popping up when he was dropping back to pass. The Trojans piled on 150 yards rushing in the first half to go up 31-7. The second half was another dosage of CJ Gable reminding Kiffin why he was the starter back in 2006 by tearing off 120 yards and another TD to finish the Huskies at 52-17.

#4 Cal vs #8 Arizona

Mark Stoops came out of the tunnel looking five years younger. He was screaming and yelling at his players like he did when he first arrived in Arizona. Erin Andrews spoke to him briefly before the game started and he was all flustered because of the US losing in the World Cup. His sentiments were rooted much deeper in hatred for the Ghana team, and he even suggested that next time the US team take his WR Deleshaun Dean to send a message. The Arizona players didn’t respond like the coach expected and they couldn’t get on track. Nick Foles was sacked six times in the game and finished 13-31 for 111 yards and a TD. Cal quarterback Kevin Riley seemed to gain confidence after some early success that featured a 47 yard TD pass to Jeremy Ross three plays into the game. He finished the day with 286 passing yards on 17 of 24 passes and three TD’s. The Bears linebacker, Mike Mohamed led the way for the defense with 15 tackles and an INT. Rolling along the Bears cruised in this game to a 34-16 game.

The Pac-12 Championship will feature #2 USC vs #5 Cal, a match up that can only be paralleled by Team Edward vs Team Jacob. Who will be victorious and become the first Pac-12 Playoff Champion? Early line has the Trojans as 7 point favorites.

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Pac 12 Playoffs : Final Four

28 06 2010

#1 Oregon vs #8 Arizona

In what looked like an easy road for Oregon to the Pac-12 championship, quickly turned into off-roading in a Ford Pinto. Arizona forced a Nate Costa fumble on a Brooks Reed sack at midfield and Nick Foles threw three straight completions to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead. LaMichael James had difficulty running up the middle, but had some success on tosses and sweeps with three runs of 20+ yards. Nic Grisby scored a 35 yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the second half to give Arizona a 20-10 lead, but the Ducks would not go away easily. Senior quarterback Nate Costa led an eight play 71 yard drive to bring the score to 20-17 midway through the third quarter. With five minutes to play, Oregon would take a 24-20 lead behind a 15 yard HB pass to LaMichael James. Mike Stoops looked inconceivably calm as the Wildcats just squandered the lead.  Nick Foles would throw over the top of blown coverage by Talmadge Jackson in the secondary to take a 27-24 lead with 55 seconds to play. The Ducks converted two first downs to get to the 40 yard line, but missed the potential game tying 57 yard FG.

#2 USC vs #10 ASU

Contrary to the rumors, Pete Carroll did not call the plays for Lane Kiffin during the game through his Twitter page, he sent him all the information he needed the night before via facebook message.

Matt Barkley looked more svelte after dropping some of his baby fat in the off-season and his improved mobility was displayed with constant pressure from the ASU defense. Barkley threw for 215 yards on 14 of 23 passing and with two TD’s and an INT. True freshman Dillon Baxter had a youtube worthy 25 yard TD run on a left toss where he slipped past two ASU defenders who came crashing into each other as they reached out for the tackle. The Sun Devils managed just 250 yards of total offense and managed just 10 points while giving up 390 yards and 27 points.

#3 OSU vs #6 UW

Oregon St got off to a strong start with James Rodgers returning the opening kickoff to the UW 27 yard line. His younger brother Jacquizz Rodgers finished the drive with a 7 yard TD run to take an early 7-0 lead. On the ensuing drive Chris Polk was met by Stephen Paea in the backfield on a on third and one play to force a Huskies punt. Three minutes before halftime, Huskies cornerback Desmond Trufant picked off a Ryan Katz pass and returned it thirty eight yards for a TD to give the Huskies a 10-7 lead. After an exchange of TD’s in the third quarter the Beavers took a 21-17 lead on a James Rodgers screen pass. Jake Locker saved his best drive for last as he completed 7 of 8 passes for 71 yards to give the Huskies a 24-21 lead with 21 seconds left in the game. The Beavers failed to convert a first down as time expired.

#4 Utah vs #5 Cal

In the rematch of the Poinsettia Bowl the Bears were determined to contain Utah QB Jordan Wynn. Jeff Tedford took a page out of the Cobra Kai’s method of business and the Bears were more aggressive from the start. Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan came up with two sacks, three QB knockdowns, and 2 late hit penalties to set the tone for the defense and the Utah offense never got into a rhythm. Kevin Riley had a solid  performance hitting 16 of 25 passes for 210 yards and Shane Vareen carried the ground game with 135 yards on 25 carries. Coach Jeff Tedford was quoted after the game saying that he’s boycotting the new Karate Kid, because he’s such a big Ralph Maccio fan and he was even seen doing a crane kick as the time expired with a 31-23 Bears victory.The Bears advance to face Arizona in the Final Four.

The Final Four pairs up

#2 USC vs #6 Washington – Can the former Trojan coaches Steve Sarkisian and Nick Holt stay undefeated against their former colleague in Lane Kiffin? Trojans favored by 10.

#5 Cal vs #8 Arizona – Cal survived against a potential game winning drive from Arizona in 2009 by a strange Nick Foles double pass, will they get lucky again? Bears favored by 3

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Pac-12 Playoffs

24 06 2010

The first Pac-12 playoffs are ready to kick off! The top four teams in our initial conference rankings get a bye week, but there are some intriguing match ups to get us started. How will Stanford QB Andrew Luck perform without Toby Gerhart against Vontaze Bufict and one of the top defenses in the country in the ASU Sun devils?

U-Dubb and their R.E.I. loving Husky fans will be facing their doppelgänger of the mid-west in the Colorado Buffaloes.  Arizona and UCLA will be battling in something other than the softball World Series as the winner of this game will gain some position for having the best looking coeds in the conference.  Cal and Wazzu will be a match up of top-of-the-food-chain mascots, but that’s about where the competition ends between the two teams with Cal coming in as 31 point favories.

The betting lines

#5 Cal (-31) vs #12 WSU

#6 UW (-21) vs #11 Colorado

#7 Stanford (-7) vs #10 ASU

#8 Arizona (-13) vs #9 UCLA

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Pac-12 Conference

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