Around the NCAA

4 10 2010

SEC Sucks!

If Alabama runs through the SEC undefeated, how can you consider that the best conference in the land? There’s no way they would make it through the Pac-12 gauntlet unscathed. I have to give LSU props for scheduling like they’re a member of the Pac-12 by playing two BCS opponents in non-conference.

It also helps that Les Miles is the luckiest coach on the planet. Check out the end of the LSU game today. When they won the championship in 2007 they weren’t even the best team in the country and they got an invite to play in the BCS championship, but on their way they had an amazing game winning play against Auburn.

Here’s how the conference stacks up against the Pac-12 and by my account we have a 6-3 edge over them with three ties. This season Oregon smashed Tennessee and Colorado beat Georgia today! Even if we give Alabama the advantage over Oregon, that’s still 5-3 in favor of the Pac.

SEC Pac-12
Alabama Oregon
LSU < Arizona
Auburn < Utah
Florida Stanford
Arkansas > USC
South Carolina > UCLA
Ole Miss < Cal
Miss State < Oregon State
Kentucky < Washington
Tennessee < Arizona State
Vanderbilt Colorado
Georgia > WSU

Go Big Blue!

Rich Rodriguez is back and he has his best player since Pat White at West Virginia. Although Michigan barely escaped Indiana yesterday, Denard “Shoelace” Robinson is the most exciting player in the country and the last piece that the read-option offense has lacked. The defense will cost them a couple of games this year, but their offense can score at anytime with their big play potential. If the Heisman Trophy was awarded today he would win it. The award is supposed to go to the best player in the country, not the best player on the best team. Marc Ingram is a great player, but Alabama still would have gone undefeated without him. Toby Gerhart was the reason that Stanford was even competitive.

Hurt Locker

Last night we saw exactly why Jake locker was touted as the number one quarterback on Mel Kiper’s draft board. He led the Huskies to their first road win since 2007, dissected Monte Kiffin’s defense all night long, and finished with 410 yards of offense. All of Locker’s weapons (Chris Polk, Devin Aguilar, and Jermaine Kearse) dropped perfect passes in critical situations, but the strong-armed quarterback shook it off and continued to make plays. Whenever Sarkisian rolled Locker out of the pocket he looked unstoppable and those flashes of brilliance need to continue if the Huskies want to make a bowl game this year. The 4th and 10 play on the game winning drive was a thing of beauty and you can see other highlights here.

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Pac-12 Week 3 Predictions

17 09 2010

The Pac-12 now boasts seven ranked teams in the two polls, but even more impressive is the fortitude to schedule four other ranked opponents (#8 Nebraska, #9 Iowa, #11 Wisconsin, #23 Houston) in addition to the playing the most difficult of all BCS conference schedules.

#25 Cal at Nevada: The Bears have the number one defense in the country and The Wolfpack have the number one offense. Colin Kaepernick hasn’t faced a front seven as good as the Bears in his entire career, but Cameron Jordan and Kendrick Payne will try to introduce themselves in the backfield. My guess is that the defense prevails. Bears 34 – Wolfpack 27

#18 USC at Minnesota: Lane Kiffin left the defense at home in his first game, he left the offense in Hawaii for game 2, could there be a special teams disaster on the horizon? Trojans 38 – Golden Gophers 20

#23 Houston at UCLA: The Bruins might be facing Houston without their Heisman candidate – Case Keenum, who suffered a concussion last week. If he’s unable to play the Bruins might get their first win behind a strong defensive performance. I’m guessing that Keenum plays. Cougars 24 – UCLA 19

Arizona State at #11 Wisconsin: The Sun Devils won’t have a chance if they can’t stop the 255lb running back known as John Clay. ASU is one of the most aggressive defensive teams in the conference, but they will need to minimize the penalties to keep the game within reach. Badgers 30 – Sun Devils 13

#8 Nebraska at Washington: The Cornhuskers freshman quarterback – Taylor Martinez, looks like a Jake Locker clone with the ability to make plays when they break down. The Husky defense will struggle to stop the running game, but if their offense gets rolling they will stay in the game. Dawgs 27 – Huskers 24

Wake Forest at #19 Stanford, 8:15: Stanford wants redemption after they lost a game in the final minutes at Wake Forest last year. Andrew Luck struggled against the talented UCLA secondary, but Wake Forest won’t be able to match the Pac-10 speed. Cardinal 34 – Demon Deacons 17

Portland State at #5 Oregon: The Oregon offense should keep on rolling and this game might be an opportunity to get a lot of reps out of Darron Thomas. Ducks 52 – Vikings 10

Louisville at #25 Oregon State: The Rodgers Brothers should put on a show against an inferior opponent, but this could be a statement game for new Louisville head coach Charlie Strong, former defensive coordinator of the Florida Gators. Oregon State wants to bounce back after their loss against TCU. Expect Ryan Katz to improve from his 9 of 25 performance in week one. Beavers 34 – Cardinals 14

#9 Iowa at #24Arizona: Arizona will attempt to spread out the Iowa defense and get their play makers in space. Iowa’s DE Adrian Clayborne leads arguably the best defensive line in the country and will likely shut down the Wildcat running game. I think Arizona plays with a chip on their shoulder and the secondary comes up with a big play late.  Wildcats 27 – Hawkeyes 23

#14 Utah at New Mexico: New Mexico is still recovering from the beat down that Oregon put on them, the Utes cruise in this one 37 – 14.

Hawaii at Colorado: The Buffaloes were cooked into bison burgers in Berkeley last week, but the benefits of the loss are learning where you can improve. Hawaii is not nearly as good on the road. Buffs 33 – Rainbows 24

2010 Prediction Record 20-1

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Pac-10 Positive Outlook

30 08 2010

I can’t remember a time when the conference was as wide open as it is this year with seven teams legitimately competing for the championship. Some people have UCLA as a dark horse, but their offensive line has been decimated in the off-season from players leaving for missions, injuries, and now academic ineligibility.

I’m tired of ESPN plugging the SEC as the top conference in the country just because they signed a $2.0 billion deal to cover their games. That conference is always top heavy with a couple teams that can beat anyone, but they also have six bottom feeders that would be average in any BCS conference. I don’t think Florida or Alabama could go undefeated against the top 7 in the Pac-10, but both of them somehow came out of the SEC unscathed until the conference championship. If I was betting on these Pac-10 teams to win the conference championship it would be due to the reasons mentioned below.

Oregon

  • Darron Thomas will be a household name by the end of the year, but not because he’s being mentioned on the police blotter like a former Ducks QB. Oregon fans will tell you about how awesome he was in the spring game and that he’s a more accurate passer than Masoli.  He will also be playing behind a talented offensive line and a stronger LaMichael James. If he’s anything near Dennis Dixon 2.0 then the Ducks could repeat as conference champion.

Cal

  • This team has all of the pieces in place, but the one thing that will make them a contender for the championship is the bump in production that typically happens to Pac-10 quarterbacks. Joey Harrington, Carson Palmer, Kyle Boller, Derek Anderson and Sean Canfield all know what it’s like to trod with mediocrity for three years only to see things slow down like Neo in the Matrix during their senior season. Kevin Riley is capable with the weapons he has at his disposal which could push the Bears over the top.

Oregon State

  • The Beavers have as much firepower as any team in the conference, but this year they will combine that with increased production in the trenches. Last year’s team ranked 8th in the conference in sacks allowed and the defense ranked 9th in sacks. Ryan Katz will have a much smoother transition with a more experienced offensive line and defensively the new linebackers will be looking for Stephen Paea to create gaps for them by taking on double teams.

Arizona

  • This team is replacing their defensive coordinator, both starting defensive tackles and their entire linebacking corps, but their defensive ends (Brooks Reed & Ricky Elmore) will be the best pass-rushing tandem in the conference. Combined with the fact that they have one of the best secondaries in the conference, they’ll have a solid defense to match their powerful offense.

USC

  • There’s been coaching turnover, players transferring, and the distractions of Reggie Bushgate, but USC  still has the talent to contend for the Pac-10 championship. The best USC teams of the decade had monsters on the defensive line that could get to the quarterback with a four man rush which allowed the linebackers and secondary to create turnovers. Jurrell Casey is one of the top defensive tackles in the country and Armond Armstead has shown big upside at defensive end.

Stanford

  • Kirk Hirbstreit already put the dreaded curse on Stanford by predicting that they will win the Pac-10 championship, but Jim Harbaugh wants to know what his deal is for adding pressure to an under the radar Stanford team? They have the best quarterback in the Pac-10, but for them to compete for the Rose Bowl it will be because of their currently underrated stable of running backs Jeremy StewartTyler Gaffney and Stepfan Taylor. The Cardinal offensive line proved that they’re one of the best in the conference, but even moderate production from the ground game will allow Andrew Luck to do whatever he wants through the air.

Washington

  • The Huskies have the most balanced offense in the Pac-10, but if they’re going to compete for the championship it will be due to a scrappy defense that creates turnovers. Nick Holt has seven returning starters which should translate into a better understanding of his schemes. With two all-conference calibur players in cornerback Desmond Trufant and linebacker Mason Foster, I’m anticipating a much more aggressive campaign from the Huskies.

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