Pac-10 Football

September 15, 2006

Showdown Saturday

Tomorrow is Showdown Saturday. There are seven games that feature AP Top 25 teams going head-to-head. Teams from seven conferences plus Notre Dame will take part in those games. For some odd reason (or perhaps because it's the best game on ABC tomorrow), ESPN College GameDay is headed to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the Nebraska-USC showdown, even though it was voted as the 3rd most popular game this week in an ESPN user poll. I suppose they didn't want to hype a game on CBS (LSU-Auburn) or NBC (Michigan-Notre Dame). It's a shame that they can't go to a better game though. Anyway, here are the games with my score picks (with rankings in parentheses):

(2) Notre Dame 21 - (11) Michigan 20
(3) Auburn 15 - (6) LSU 9
(12) Louisville 27 - (17) Miami 24
(18) Oregon 31 - (15) Oklahoma 17
(20) TCU 38 - (24) Texas Tech 31
(4) USC 42 - (19) Nebraska 21
(7) Florida 20 - (13) Tennessee 14

November 08, 2005

Bruins, Hokies Go Down

UCLA's luck finally ran out on Saturday as they showed up in Tucson unprepared and unmotivated and got absolutely blown out by Arizona, 52-14. It was one of the most lopsided games I've ever witnessed, and that's saying something considering it was the 2-6 team beating up on the 8-0 team. UCLA had overachieved all season; Arizona had underachieved. And finally on Saturday afternoon in Tucson, the tables turned. I made the 500-mile roadtrip from Los Angeles to witness it.

Sign shows that I'm closing in on Tucson

Here comes the prey.

UCLA takes the field

As you can see, it was a beautiful afternoon for football. It may be November, but in Arizona, it was mostly sunny and a high of 84 degrees. And since it was homecoming and there was an undefeated team in town, the stadium was nearly filled to capacity, which isn't bad when your team is 2-6.

Arizona Stadium

It wasn't even halftime when this thing started to get really ugly. The Bruins couldn't move the ball. The Wildcats couldn't be stopped.

Scoreboard: Arizona 28 - UCLA 0 with 10:08 in second quarter

The guy carrying this flag probably started cramping up by the fourth quarter.

UofA flag

Meanwhile, about 3,000 miles to the east, Miami completely shut down previously unbeaten Virginia Tech, the opposite of what I had predicted. It was not the Hokie defense, but rather the 'Cane D that made the big impact on this game as Miami rolled to a 27-7 win. The Hurricanes pressured Marcus Vick all night and made him look absolutely mediocre, as he finished 8-of-22 for 90 yards, 0 TDs, and 2 INTs.

We started with five. Now we're down to three: USC, Texas, Alabama.

November 05, 2005

My Game for Week 10: UCLA at Arizona

It's the first Saturday in November and I'm here in the desert this weekend, Tucson, Arizona, for this afternoon's Pac-10 battle between the undefeated UCLA Bruins (8-0, 5-0) and the Arizona Wildcats (2-6, 1-4). UCLA comes in 8-0 after needing big fourth quarter comebacks to win four of their last five games. Arizona, for a 2-6 team, has had some good looking performances that they just couldn't quite finish. Today, Arizona will test the Bruins early but UCLA will turn it on late.

Jimbo's Pick: UCLA 49 - Arizona 35

October 27, 2005

ESPN's Bayless is Clueless on Trojans and Longhorns

In his latest contribution to Page 2, Skip Bayless makes two bold, and somewhat absurd, proclamations in one sentence. “The Trojans, who wield the most difficult to defend offense in NCAA history, would beat Texas by two touchdowns on a neutral field. Maybe three.” (I tacked on the second “sentence” just because it makes his thesis a little more ridiculous.)

Plenty of pundits agree with Bayless, and they’ve been cramming it down your throats, so if you don’t understand what’s so ridiculous about that sentence, don’t feel badly. I’ll break it down for you.

First of all, Southern California’s offense has not earned a place in history, at least not yet. It’s true that the Trojans lead America in several offensive categories, including the two most important: total offense (581.14 ypg) and scoring offense (49 ppg). Quarterback Matt Leinart is the defending Heisman Trophy winner, and halfback Reggie Bush appears to be the heir apparent. The Trojans have won 29 consecutive games, and boast back-to-back Associated Press national championships. So why am I so critical of Bayless’ assessment?

For starters, anyone who gives a football team a definitive historical ranking during the middle of its season is setting himself up for criticism. How long ago was it that Oklahoma was labeled the greatest team in history? Kansas State didn’t agree, to say the least.

But my beef with this statement runs deeper than sheer principles. Simply put, the Trojan offense has yet to be tested against a legitimate defense. Out of SC’s seven opponents in 2005, Oregon ranks highest in total defense, good for 53rd in America. For those keeping score, that ranks the Oregon defense in the top 45% of Division I-A. It gets worse from there. Take a look.

Rank Team YA YPGA
98 @Hawaii 3011 430.14
78 Arkansas 2763 394.71
53 @Oregon 2878 359.75
108 @Arizona St 3152 450.29
65 Arizona 2656 379.43
97 @Notre Dame 2979 425.57
102 @Washington 3040 434.29
85.86 AVERAGES 2925.57 409.58

KEY: YA = Yards allowed, YPGA = Yards per game allowed

The popular counterpoint to the above table is to consider that the Trojans had a hand in these terrible defensive rankings. Such a point is valid, so here’s what that same table would look like if statistics from each team’s encounter with USC were discarded.

Rank Team YA YPGA
91 @Hawaii 2493 415.50
35 Arkansas 2027 337.83
36 @Oregon 2366 338.00
94 @Arizona St 2521 420.17
23 Arizona 1932 322.00
92 @Notre Dame 2503 417.17
106 @Washington 2650 441.67
68.14 AVERAGES 2356.00 383.53

The statistics do improve. This is not shocking considering USC does lead the nation in total offense. However, these numbers still aren’t very good. Over 43 games played, these teams average over 383 ypg allowed. That number puts this squad right behind Indiana in average total defense. Furthermore, lowly Washington actually improved its defensive numbers by playing the Trojans.

The numbers don’t lie. Battering seven suspect defenses does not warrant comparisons of this unit to the greatest offenses of all time, and it certainly does not justify anyone ranking them at the top of such a list.
Now all of this goes back to Bayless’ ridiculous thesis, and I stated that he made two absurd claims. So let’s get back to the other one. He thinks the Trojans would beat the Longhorns on a neutral field by 14 to 21 points. I wonder what his pick would be on a not-so-neutral field, like say the Rose Bowl, which is just a short distance north from Los Angeles, and therefore almost a home game for Southern California. (Apologies to UCLA fans. I know that referring to the Rose Bowl as the Trojans’ home in any capacity makes your blood boil.)

None of us know how that match-up will turn out, or even if it will occur. However, USC’s margin of victory over its last four games has been a little more than 15. Three of those four wins came against less than stellar competition: Arizona State (3-4), Arizona (1-6) and Washington (1-6). Even if you take Notre Dame out of the picture, the other three victories are still by an average of less than three touchdowns. Therefore, I question the credibility of his three-touchdown prediction for USC over Texas. Get a clue, Skip.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Texas ranks sixth in total defense. That’s a little bit better than Oregon.

ESPN Page 2: Oscar Meyer Winner

October 22, 2005

UCLA's Drew Olsen, ND's Brady Quinn Score 6 TDs Each

I was at the Rose Bowl tonight for UCLA's 51-28 win over Oregon State. I was surprised by how the Bruins dominated the game after giving up a touchdown on the game's opening series. And how about Drew Olsen! The much maligned senior quarterback for UCLA tossed six touchdown passes tonight, breaking the school record. The Bruins just might be for real after all. They're off to their first 7-0 start since 1998.

Meanwhile in South Bend, the Irish avoided a hangover thanks to Brady Quinn tossing six touchdowns of his own. The junior quarterback looked superhuman, especially in the first half, when he started 25-of-30 for 287 yards and four touchdowns.

No surprise how easily Texas defeated Texas Tech. Tech was a paper tiger, nothing more. That 6-0 record against inferior competition proved nothing. Today was their day to make a statement, but they're simply not on the same level as the boys in Austin.

Can the Big Ten get any wackier? Northwestern blows out the Spartans while the Michigan game comes down the the final minute yet again. All five of the Wolverines' conference games have been decided in the final minute. Today, the Wolverines were on the winning side of a 23-20 overtime matchup against Iowa.

Down south, the SEC had two nailbiters. Georgia, after losing quarterback DJ Shockley to a knee injury, struggled before holding off Arkansas 23-20. And in Tuscaloosa, the Tide scored a late field goal against Tennessee to win a barn-burner, 6-3.

My Game for Week 8: Oregon State at UCLA

Game #163 for me will be at the Rose Bowl as Oregon State comes into town to battle the undefeated, eighth-ranked UCLA Bruins. While the Beavers are unranked and unheralded, the Bruins better beware. Oregon State is improving quickly: after losing at home to Arizona State, the Beavers have since defeated Washington State at home and California on the road in the last two weeks. The Bruins, meanwhile, have staged three straight late comeback wins to keep their record perfect. I expect the Bruins to continue the streak this afternoon, but it will be close.

Jimbo's pick: UCLA 45 - Oregon State 42

October 18, 2005

Trojans Sneak Past Irish, 34-31

It's taken me a few days to recover. And while I am very disappointed in the outcome, a 34-31 USC win over Notre Dame, I appreciate that I attended the greatest college football game of the season, and perhaps one of the greatest college football games of our time. Had the Irish stopped USC on that fourth and nine or had Matt Leinart come up short on that final quarterback sneak, this certainly would have been my favorite game I've ever witnessed. Greater than the 1993 UCLA-USC game that ended with Marvin Goodwin's end zone interception. Greater than the 1996 USC-UCLA overtime game that featured a 17-point Bruin comeback. Greater than either the 2002 or 2004 Michigan-ND games.

I've been to 162 college football games in my life. I've seen ND-USC and UCLA-USC countless times. I've been to 13 Rose Bowl games and have seen teams crowned national champions six times. But no football game in my memory received as much hype and lived up to the hype as much as this one did. The atmosphere was electric. This was college football pageantry at its best. And even the weather cooperated: it was a perfect fall day with clear skies, moderate winds, a crispness in the air and the temperature in the mid-60s. The game was hard fought by both teams for a full four quarters. Big plays were made (Tom Zbikowski's 59-yard punt return in the second quarter; Dwayne Jarrett's 61-yard pass reception on fourth and nine late in the fourth quarter). The Irish came out in their green uniforms. And the officials, even without the aid of instant replay, did a fine job of officiating.

Simply put, there is no one to blame for Notre Dame's loss. I can't single out one individual who blew it or claim that the officials made a string of bad calls. USC just beat them. Simple as that. A great game to win for USC. A tough pill to swallow for Notre Dame, knowing that they played their absolute best and still could not get the job done. USC is just that good.

Well, in any event, here are some photos that I took on that fateful day, Saturday, October 15, 2005:

The College GameDay set in front of the stadium:
College GameDay at Notre Dame

Touchdown Jesus:
Touchdown Jesus

Irish take the field in green jerseys:
Notre Dame football team in green jerseys

Opening kickoff:
Opening kickoff

Jeff Samardzija's 32-yard touchdown reception:
Jeff Samardzija

Fourth quarter view from section 16, row 48:
USC vs. Notre Dame, 4th quarter

October 12, 2005

Why Notre Dame Will Beat USC

Being a ND '04 grad, It's no secret that I'm an avid Notre Dame football fan. So it should come as no surprise that I'm picking the Irish to upset the Trojans this Saturday in South Bend. Here are my reasons why and how Notre Dame can beat USC:

1. Timing

In their last 16 games that follow a bye week, Notre Dame is a remarkable 15-1. This year's bye week could not have come at a more favorable time. The Irish were originally scheduled to play Pittsburgh last week. But during the offseason, the decision was made to move that game up to the front of the schedule to give Notre Dame one extra week to prepare against the defending national champions. USC on the other hand spent last week playing a closer-than-the-experts-predicted game against Arizona. A Notre Dame bye week gives the team a healthy rest and the coaching staff an extra week of prepare time.

2. Confidence

Notre Dame's confidence has suffered terribly since losing to Boston College in 2002. After surging to an 8-0 start, the Eagles win over the Irish that season dampened any national championship aspirations and the Irish have not been the same since. A few weeks later, #7 Notre Dame faced #6 USC. This is where the destiny of the two teams diverged sharply. After a 41-10 Trojan whipping of the Irish, Notre Dame was sent into a two-year downward spiral, while USC went on to win back-to-back national championships. In the 2003 and 2004 games, the Irish probably never even thought they had a chance to beat the Trojans. And it showed. Two more 31-point losses only proved that Notre Dame didn't even belong on the same field as USC. Enter Charlie Weis and Notre Dame's 4-1 start. The team is playing with a confidence not witnessed since they rushed out to that 8-0 start in 2002 by defeating Florida State on the road. This is a team, unlike Tyrone Willingham's squads, that believes they can win. And the student body and alumni are buying into it as well.

3. Overconfidence

While restored confidence benefits Notre Dame, overconfidence could plague USC. After three games of mediocre play, the Trojans have lulled themselves into overconfident laziness. They've proved to themselves against Oregon, Arizona State, and Arizona that they don't have to work hard, can underachieve, and still win whenever they want to. This may have worked against these opponents, but to defeat Notre Dame in South Bend, USC will have to play much better than they have the past three weeks.

3. This ain't last year's Trojans

Last year's Trojans were a nightmare for opponents because they were literally unstoppable offensively and their defense did not budge. This season, while performing well in the second half, the USC offense has been very shaky at times in the first half. Matt Leinart has been rattled. Reggie Bush has been stuffed. The offensive line has been porous at times. Wide receivers have dropped balls. What's more surprising is how mistake-prone the Trojans have been: penalties have taken their toll as have slow starts and poor special teams play. The Trojan defense also has left much to be desired.

4. This ain't last year's Irish

With a senior offensive line and numerous receiving targets, Brady Quinn is proving himself to be a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate and just may be invited to New York come December. In the past three seasons, Notre Dame has only mustered only four touchdowns against USC, and those have all come in the first half. Expect more from the Weis-run offense in this meeting. Unlike the past three meetings against USC, Notre Dame will not be outcoached in this one. As the LA Times points out, Pete Carroll may have finally met his match.

5. Mystique

The Golden Dome that tops the administration building on Notre Dame's campus was recently re-guilded over the summer. The last re-guilding occurred in 1988, the year that Notre Dame faced #1 Miami at home. In the past three meetings, Miami had defeated Notre Dame by a total of 93 points. But 1988 was Lou Holtz's first home game against the Hurricanes. The Irish went on to win 31-30. Hmmm... 93 points, re-guilding, #1 ranking. Sound familiar? Okay, so it's just an historical comparison. But what's Notre Dame without a bit of mystique thrown in the mix?

The Bottom Line

For the first time in a long time, this game will mean something. Long regarded as one of the greatest rivalries in college football, this game has been competitively dormant, meaningless, or both for over a decade. Now, for the first time since 1990, both teams are ranked in the top 10. With they pre-game excitement at fever pitch, the big bulls-eye on USC's #1 ranking, and Notre Dame's momentum and confidence in themselves, I predict a Notre Dame win on Saturday to propel the Irish firmly back among the nation's elite. As USC's 23-game win streak in 1973 ended in South Bend, so too will USC's 26-game win streak in 2005.

Jimbo's Pick: Notre Dame 38 - USC 37

October 11, 2005

My Game for Week 7: USC at Notre Dame

After taking last week off, I am headed out to South Bend this weekend and will cover the USC - Notre Dame game. I will arrive in South Bend on Thursday afternoon to get ready for the biggest football weekend to hit the ND campus in several years. Friday night, I will be at the pep rally in Notre Dame Stadium. For those of you who cannot make it, ESPNEWS will televise it beginning at 7:00 p.m. EDT. Early Saturday morning, I plan to stake out a front-row spot for ESPN's College GameDay broadcast live from the Library Quad. (Look for the biggest ND flag; that'll be me!) And of course Saturday afternoon, I will be in the stadium for the game between #1 USC and #9 Notre Dame.

October 02, 2005

Bruins Need Late Rally to Beat UW, 21-17

UCLA played poor football for the first 30 minutes and struggled for the next 30, but managed a win anyway. A fourth down conversion and a 40-yard Drew Olsen to Marcus Everett play on the final UCLA possession set up the Bruins game-winning touchdown with 1:08 left. While the Huskies fall to 1-3 on the season, the Bruins improve to 4-0, but it wasn't easy. Washington surprised me by running the ball effectively: the Huskies finished with 213 yards rushing. On the other side, UCLA's Maurice Drew, who rushed for over 300 yards in this game last year, finished Saturday night's matchup with a meager 33 yards on 14 carries.

Next week's game at the Rose Bowl will feature two of the remaining three undefeated Pac-10 teams as UCLA takes on 5-0 Cal. The Bears will by far be the Bruins toughest opponent so far this season: Cal has as many wins (5) as all four of UCLA's previous opponents combined.

October 01, 2005

My Game for Week 5: Washington at UCLA

After taking last week off, I'm back in action tonight and will be heading to the Rose Bowl once again, this time to see Washington take on UCLA. The Bruins are the only team in the nation who has zero turnovers. My pick: UCLA 52 - Washington 20.

Trojans Wear Down Sun Devils, 38-28

Well, I was close, but wrong. Arizona State was outscored 35-7 in the second half and was defeated by USC 38-28. Credit goes to the Trojan offensive line for turning the game around. They simply wore down Purdue's front seven and opened up huge holes for LenDale White and Reggie Bush, who finished with 197 and 158 yards, respectively.

Trojans in Trouble

USC is demoralized right now as they head into the locker room at halftime, trailing the Arizona State Sun Devils 21-3. Never in the past three seasons have I seen the Trojans look so mediocre for an entire half. USC committed seven penalties in the first quarter alone; their offense has not been able to get into any kind of rhythm and have been stopped twice on fourth down attempts. Matt Leinart looks average at best. Reggie Smith has been held in check.

The Sun Devils deserve a lot of credit. Their defense is playing huge right now, knocking Leinart on his back several times (once illegally). They have stuffed USC's run game and kept the passing game in front of them, only allowing completions underneath: the longest USC pass play was a 23-yard Leinart to Dwayne Jarrett completion early in the first quarter. On the other side, the Sun Devils offense hasn't done anything really impressive. But they've methodically moved the ball down the field and have avoided any big mistakes.

Last week when USC went into halftime down 13-10 against the Ducks, they had momentum and confidence. Anyone can tell that they outplayed Oregon toward the end of the first half. This week is much different: ASU has all of the momentum and confidence and I expect that they will hold onto their lead and come out on top after the next 30 minutes. Bottom line: they are simply outplaying USC right now.

Week 5: GameDay Picks

I'm off to an impressive 4-0 start after the Hokies blew out the Yellow Jackets last weekend. But on this Saturday, I'm really going out on a limb. We'll see what happens... The current standings are as follows:

Jimbo 4-0
Kirk Herbstreit 3-1
Lee Corso 2-2

The Trojans head into Tempe, Arizona with a 25-game winning streak and arguably the greatest offense ever seen. The Sun Devils will need something special today if they are to slow down USC. Both Herbstreit and Corso are picking the Trojans. I am picking an upset special: Arizona State will defeat USC. Sam Keller is the real deal and he'll prove it today in front of a sellout crowd and a national television audience.

Jimbo's pick: Arizona State 31 - USC 30

September 25, 2005

Who Can Beat USC?

Was Oregon's 13-0 second quarter lead a sign that there is a chink in the Trojans' armor? Perhaps. Or was USC's 45 unanswered points a sign that they have an unstoppable offense that can score at will? At this point, can anyone hope to defeat the two-time defending national champions who have won 25 straight?

USC still faces four ranked teams that should give the Trojans some trouble. And three of these games will put the Trojans in hostile road situations. And you can bet that these teams have seen USC's vulnerable side. Consider this: In the first twenty minutes of yesterday's game at Oregon, USC committed 9 penalties for 78 yards. Quarterback Matt Leinart was rattled early and by halftime had completed only 12 of 25 passes with as many touchdowns, one, as interceptions. The second half was a different story as USC completely dominated overmatched Oregon and won convincingly, 45-13. Do any of USC's remaining regular season opponents have a chance?

at #14 Arizona State (10/1): Tuning up for the game next week at Sun Devil Stadium, ASU beat up the Beavers in Corvallis, 42-24. Sun Devil quarterback Sam Keller leads the nation in touchdown passes with 16 and almost led his team to a victory over #4 LSU two weekends ago in Tempe, falling short in the last moments of the fourth quarter.

at #13 Notre Dame (10/15): The Irish face Purdue in West Lafayette next week and then get a bye week to prepare for the game against the Trojans. USC has owned Notre Dame lately, winning each of the last three games by a 31-point margin. But under new head coach Charlie Weis, the Irish offense will not be intimidated by USC as they have been in recent years. This game should be a back and forth shootout.

at #12 California (11/12): Despite losing JJ Arrington and Aaron Rogers, the Bears are off to a 4-0 start, albeit against limited competition. Still, this game has proved tough for Trojans in recent seasons. The Bears were the last team to defeat the Trojans before the 25-game winning streak began. And last season in the Coliseum, Cal was a dropped pass in the end zone away from upsetting the Trojans in L.A.

#20 UCLA (12/3): The Trojans close the regular season at home against crosstown rival UCLA. Last season, the Trojans narrowly escaped the Rose Bowl with a win over the Bruins in a down year for UCLA. But UCLA is playing much better football this year, as evidenced by their 3-0 start. And in a rivalry game of this magnitude, you can throw the records out the window and expect this to be a hard-fought and close game that will come right down to the wire.

But in reality, it may be that the only ones that can beat the Trojans are the Trojans themselves. If the Trojans bring their A-game week after week, there's not a team on their schedule that matches up with them. Now having to face Texas or Virginia Tech in a bowl game may bring the Trojans an opponent that can match up with them. But it's way to early to even think about that now, isn't it?

September 24, 2005

Pac-10 Reviewers Need Reviewing

Three reviews by three different Pac-10 replay officials had me scratching my head today.

Notre Dame - Washington: While the field officials were from the Big Ten, the replay officials up in the press box were from the Pac-10. The play under review occurred late in the fourth quarter when Washington was driving for its first touchdown. Husky quarterback Isaiah Stanbeck scrambled to the left side of the field and lunged for the end zone as he was knocked out of bounds. The original ruling on the field was a touchdown. But the play was reviewed. Watching the replays that ABC was showing, it was clear that the ruling on the field should stand: Stanbeck stretched his arm toward the goal line and the ball made contact with the inside of the pylon as his body hit the sideline. Surely, this play would stand as called. Except it didn't. The referee explained that there was indisputable video evidence that the runner hit out of bounds at the one-yard line. Sure looked like a touchdown to me (and Keith Jackson and Dan Fouts for that matter). But it was inconsequential as the Huskies scored on the next play courtesy of a Mark Palaita run.

USC - Oregon: The play in question came on the game's fourth play when the Ducks were forced to punt. Aaron Knowles' 33-yard punt was muffed by a Trojan and the loose ball resulted in a swarm of bodies forming a pile on the ball at the USC 40-yard line. Originally, it was ruled that the ball was recovered by USC. But the replay officials upstairs wanted another look. ABC showed several different replay angles and none of them appeared conclusive. No one watching these replays would have been able to see who recovered the ball first. Surely, the ruling on the field would stand. Except that it didn't. The referee explained that there was conclusive evidence that the Ducks had recovered. Did the replay officials have an angle that ABC wasn't showing us? I couldn't figure it out. But in any case, it was Ducks' ball, first and ten.

Arizona State - Oregon State: This review was just entirely unneccesary. Early in the third quarter, Sun Devil quarterback Sam Keller was under heavy pressure. Beaver lineman Henry Anderson had Keller in his arms and was bringing him to the ground. Clemens decided to throw the ball away to avoid the sack, drawing an intentional grounding flag from the referee. When I first saw it happen live, I thought that Keller's knee actually had hit the ground before he released the football and that the penalty flag should not have been thrown because the play was dead at the spot. Well, I figured that it didn't matter because the penalty for intentional grounding is simply a "loss of down at the spot of the foul" (NCAA 2005 Football Rules Book, Rule 7-3 Article 2.f). In other words, there is no yardage penalty; a sack results in the same thing as an intentional grounding penalty.

But the officials for whatever reason decided to waste time to review it anyway. As it turns out, Keller's knee had in fact hit the ground prior to the ball being released and so the reviewers got this one right. So, the penalty was picked up and the ball was placed at the point of the sack. But it was a moot point. The result was exactly the same.

Although the TBS announcers Ron Davis and Charles Thulin had absolutely no clue about this. They kept insisting that Arizona State had received a break courtesy of the replay because now it was second and long as opposed to second and really long. Of course, that comment makes no sense because, again, there is no yardage marched off against a grounding penalty.

September 11, 2005

Week 2: Sunday Morning Notes

My notes after a college football Saturday that lived up to all the hype:

It is rare that an excessively hyped up early regular season game can live up to its billing. But Texas - Ohio State certainly was a game for the ages as Texas prevailed 25-22. In the week leading up to the game, Buckeye linebacker Bobby Carpenter gave the Longhorns some high grade bulletin board material: “Our goal is when Vince Young leaves here, he won’t be a candidate for the Heisman,” Carpenter said. Well, Mr. Carpenter, you've managed to put Young front and center in this year's Heisman race. The Longhorn quarterback finished with 346 yards of total offense. And his big plays came through the air; he completed 18 of 29 passes for 270 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs. His game-winning 24-yard touchdown pass to Limas Sweed all but sealed the game. "Obviously he's a great runner," Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "Tonight he showed us he's a great passer."

Iowa State blew up Iowa 23-3 yesterday. There goes my national championship pick. And it wasn't even close! The Hawkeyes' furthest offensive penetration was the Cyclones' 26-yard line.

Georgia survived a surprisingly close scare from South Carolina yesterday in Athens. The Gamecocks gave the Bulldogs all they could handle but a missed extra point on South Carolina's first touchdown came back to haunt them.. After all that pregame talk about running up the score on Steve Spurrier, Georgia barely held on for a 17-15 win.

Finally, LSU and Arizona State each needed a fourth and 10 conversion to win the game late in the fourth quarter. The difference was LSU converted theirs, as JaMarcus Russell connected with Early Doucet on a 39-yard strike on fourth and 10 with 1:13 remaining. The Sun Devils were unable to respond and the Tigers won 35-31 in a thriller in Tempe.

My Game for Week 2: UCLA 63 - Rice 21

Another late night out watching the Bruins resulted in another big Bruin victory. And this one was over by halftime, when UCLA took a 49-14 lead into the locker room.

Rose Bowl Rose Bowl champions

I hadn't been to the Rose Bowl since I watched Texas defeat Michigan on New Year's Day, so I walked over to check out the Wall of Champions and to my surprise, the 2005 result had not yet been posted. The only thing I can think of is that some Cal alumnus must be in charge of getting the new signs.

Goalposts UCLA driving to a touchdown

My seats at the Rose Bowl for UCLA home games are considerably better than the ones I had to sit in at Qualcomm Stadium last weekend. My family has been sitting in section 2, row 24 of the Rose Bowl for about 20 years now.

Opening kickoff

At the opening kickoff, the stadium wasn't maybe one-third full and at no point in the game did the crowd fill up even half the stadium. Attendance was announced at a meager 44,808.

Final score: UCLA 63 - Rice 21

Thanks to a dominating performance by the UCLA offense, the Bruins cruised to a 63-21 victory over the Rice Owls. Bruin quarterback Drew Olson completed 18 of 25 attempts for 296 yards and 3 TDs and Bruin halfback Maurice Drew was electric, running for 96 yards on 11 carries and returning a punt return for a touchdown for the second week in a row, this one a 66 yarder.

September 10, 2005

My Game for Week 2: Rice at UCLA

I'll be heading to the Rose Bowl tomorrow night to see the Rice Owls take on the UCLA Bruins. Rice will show off their new spread offense in their season opener against UCLA. This will be my 159th college football game and my 88th at the Rose Bowl.

My pick: Bruins roll big time. UCLA 56 - Rice 17

September 04, 2005

Notes from San Diego

I got back to Los Angeles from San Diego this morning at 1:00 a.m. Here are some highlights from my trip down south to see the Bruins battle the Aztecs.

San Diego Freeway

It was quite a long trek from west L.A. down the 405 to the 73 to the 5 to the 805 to the 52 to the 15 to Qualcomm Stadium. I left my place at about 3:15 p.m. and didn't get down to Qualcomm until 6:30 p.m. That's Labor Day weekend traffic for you, I guess. But I still got there in plenty of time for the 7:15 p.m. start.

Colorado wins

And on the way down there, I listened to the fourth quarter of the Colorado State - Colorado game on my new Sirius satellite radio. I love that thing! After that game was over, I tuned in to Notre Dame - Pittsburgh.

Great seats

Point of advice: Don't sit in the field level of Qualcomm Stadium. This place was built for baseball, not football. I'm sure that my seat in the eighth row is great for catching fowl balls, but the sight lines are horrendous for football. Anyways, the Padres don't even play there anymore! I can't believe they actually hosted a Super Bowl in this dump just two years ago.

Two games at once

During the first half of the UCLA - San Diego State game, I kept one eye on the field and the other on my TV screen so I could keep up with the second half of the Notre Dame - Pittsburgh game. I had my pocket radio plugged into my ear for good measure.

ESPN cameraman

Eventually, I moved to the other end of the field and found a seat in the plaza section, just above the field section, but those ESPN guys kept getting in my way!

UCLA wins

Well, in the end, the Bruins won big, thanks mainly to the ineptness of the opponent that they had scheduled. Next week's game: Rice - UCLA at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

September 03, 2005

Air Force Second-Team Offense

How about Air Force playing their entire second unit offense for an entire series during the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second quarter? The idea by head coach Fisher DeBerry is to keep both units fresh and healthy because the triple offense style of football that the Falcons play is so punishing on the body play after play. And that second team led by quarterback Adam Fitch looked pretty impressive, keeping the football for about six minutes and moving it down to the Huskies 30 before fumbling. The drive also included a successful fake punt.

Jimbo's Game: UCLA at San Diego State

To start this college football season, I will be attending tonight's UCLA vs. San Diego State game at Qualcomm Stadium. This will be my 158th college football game that I have attended and the 10th that I have seen at Qualcomm Stadium (formerly known as Jack Murphy Stadium).

After starting going a meager 12-13 in his first two seasons, UCLA head coach Karl Dorrell is under serious pressure to get the Bruins turned around in 2005. The Aztecs are 0-19-1 vs. the Bruins all-time. That trend will continue tonight.

My Pick: UCLA 33 - San Diego State 27

Speaking of this being my 158th college football game, here is a table of my previous 157 games with results:

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