Friday, 23 September 2016

Shortly before week 4 kicks off ..

If Fridays night’s ASU match-up against Texas San Antonio was a Hoers-d’oeuvre for the Pac12 weekend it was sugar free jelly on a stale saltine. The Devils did manage to eke out a win over a cupcake with a late score and in six weeks it will just be one in the win column. The most glaring “highlight” was a pair of 54-yard field goals that were the ONLY special thing about their special teams play for the night. Manny Wilkins displayed consistency in being just a little short on most of his long passes though he scattered a couple that hit his receivers right in the hands. It may not be any better in Tempe when Cal Shows up.

The Bears knocked off Texas for the second year in a row but the game didn’t feel right. The two sort of took turns having brain farts with Bears having one less. I look for the same when they take on the Sun Devils and am throwing a dart, not a trident, when I pick Cal to build up some false hope back home in Berkely.


After Utah Sacked Southern Utah, pretty much non-stop and the Trojans continued to forget about this guy named McCaffery again and a again to their detriment the two face off in Utah. It’s hard to see Utah scoring enough points in a low scoring game to win but it is just as hard to think USC has a game plan. They haven’t had one yet this year. I guess I’ll pick the home team by a few points in a contest that won’t produce a top-10 play on ESPN.

Boise State is leaving the Smurf Turf to play on the Cow Pasture in Corvallis. They took care of WSU, a PAC12 team with a better offense than Oregon State has. While the Beavers are better than they were last year, it won’t show in the final score. BSU will have a short flight home.

Stanford and UCLA might put together the only decent game on the schedule for the conference this week. It’ll be only one team doing it though. Rosen is still too inconsistent and McCaffery will find plenty of holes in the Bruins’ blind man bluff defense, He may not play much in the 4th quarter.

Washington is beginning to impress me, even against as much resistance as I can muster. Arizona isn’t. The Huskies will go home with one more win before disaster hits.
If Oregon understood reading, as in whether to go for one or two points after a TD, or math which could have been in their favor, they probably would have made it least to overtime against Nebraska. As it was one of the best kickers in the country watched the whole game from the bench as the Ducks went down by three. It won’t be that way this week. It could be a shoot-out or a wipe-out but Oregon’s scores will be divisible by sevens and threes with nary a two to mess things up. Speakink of twos Colorado’s dream lasted until the second half in Michigan and they won’t do much better in

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Last big show vs the rest of college football, excet Notre Dame.

This could be a sad week for the Pac12 during which their depth will have been tested or a few teams could surprise and put the conference back on the playoff map.

The almost sure suicide mission for the week is Colorado daring to travel to Michigan to play Big Blue. On the other hand, the Buffs have put up a lot of points and yards and stuff and could surprise me which would set up one of the most important games in the season when they host Oregon next week. The elephant in the room is that they have slaughtered teams they should have slaughtered which is a new trick from their bag.

ASU is coming of a nice win and looking a little bit like they might be a factor in the south. They won’t get much more than a scrimmage from Texas-San Antonio but that might be just what they need.

UCLA is the third Pac12 team BYU has faced. They won one on a last second Field goal and made the more guts than brains decision to go for a two-point conversion and a last second win rather than an extra point and overtime opportunity in the other. Opportunity never knocked as they failed badly vs Utah. UCLA is not the match-up they should want for the rubber game. Rosen hasn’t exactly impressed me but he leads the first real offense the Cougars will face this year. UCLA should win by at least a touchdown and deny BYU a last second decision play. The bruins may be playing in the conference championship this year.

To do that they’ll have to beat USC who I expect to give them their first step in that direction by embarrassing themselves in Palo Alto against a solid Stanford team. I don’t expect it to be a close game.

Washington state is going to sneak into the win column when as they tussle with mighty Idaho. What could have been season two of a rise to relevance has started out with two stumbles so I’m not expecting the Cougs to play in a bowl game this year.

Oregon State, Washington and Utah are three more teams not being tested this week as they take on Idaho, Portland State and San Jose State respectively. A loss by any of them will be hard to fathom.

Speaking of surprises Cal is going to lay a big one on me if they beat Texas who handled Notre Dame to signal they might be a real team. The bears haven’t done that yet and won’t this weekend.

It’s Hard to call Hawaii as they play Arizona with both teams looking weak. I suspect the Rainbow warriors will continue to forget what they are doing vs what they should be doing and hand Arizona a win, but the Cat’s might turn it down. Not great before Solomon got injured, Arizona is still searching to figure it all out.

Finishing it off is Oregon visiting Nebraska. Betters have Nebraska as a three-point favorite, but I have three points indicating there might be a better way to bet. First, Nebraska is coached by Mike Riley who has spent quite a few years failing to beat an Oregon squad. Second is Nebraska is a member of the Big10ish where non-conference games are often an adventure. Third, the Huskers are an unrated team facing a rated one. While none of those are solid reasons, together they will find the strength to produce a two touchdown or more win for the Ducks.

Of course if I were a Nebraska fan I’d say first, Oregon has not proven it can defend against the run. Second, Oregon has not proven it can defend the pass yet and third The Cornhuskers lost a lot of very close games last year and should win a lot more games this season.

Neither concoction of addled reason means much so I’ll still predict a solid win for Oregon.

Monday, 5 September 2016

And they're off ... way off in some cases

The 51-31 score Cal rolled up in Australia is about as far from indicative of how good the Bears are as the distance they travelled to show off their new team. Goff has not been replaced. That’s probably not a surprise. The guy with two last names threw downfield passes about as well as I ever have. I completed one once. Downfield seems to be about 10 yards for him. Several of his passes were both incomplete and probably would have been intercepted in conference play, indicating he has some adjustment to make before he pulls the trigger in future games. He hit most of his screen passes to pad his numbers and the team blocked pretty well on those. Beyond that Hawaii made enough mistakes to cloud what the score should have been and guarantee the Berkeley crew a win. Not sure there wasn’t a reality TV guy pulling the strings in this game. Hawaii, playing Michigan for their second game in about a week, proved lopsided losses are not a fluke for them by bowing to big Big Blue 63-3.  NEXT UP for the Bears is San Diego state who solidly beat New Hampshire but was only Moderately impressive in doing it. Neither team did anything to change a prediction that would have been made before the season started. Cal should walk away with an easy win. It remains to be seen if they look like a contender in the north … so far  … no.

Utah jumped onto the gridiron and pretty much confirmed they are going to depend on their defense again this year with a 24 zip win over Southern Utah, a FCS team. While the Utes failed to develop a consistent attack they at least avoided potential heart attacks for their fans who are getting used to games like this. Their bouts with sleep were more due to watching the game than “the big one”. NEXT UP is the closest thing to a rivalry the Utes have, despite the PAC12 setting it up for it to be Coloraduhoh. BYU comes to town for its second PAC12 game after narrowly beating Arizona in Tucson. While Utah has not made a lot of improvement since last winter, BYU is not a juggernaut either. Home field advantage and that rivalry thing should be enough for Utah to walk off with a close win.

Oregon State traveled to Minnesota, more or less outplayed the Gophers, and didn’t embarrass themselves. They didn’t win either. The touchdown difference was largely because they were inconsistent where and when it counted, especially in play calling. After torching UM several times as a runner and a receiver Ryan Nall didn’t see many touches until later in the game when he came back to torch them some more, In between coach Andersen must have been trying to hide his best weapon from the prying eyes of PAC12 scouts so they wouldn’t discover him (assuming they had no video of last year’s game against Oregon.) He might want a do-over on his play selection. NEXT UP is Idaho State but that is two weeks away so I’ll hide my prediction about as well as Oregon State did their best running back. This week it’s rest and repair for the Beavs.

Stanford hosted Kansas State or Kansas City, depending upon which announcer you were listening to. They were consistent, regardless of who was on the field. Ryan Burns took over at QB after Kevin Hogan moved on to the NFL and Ryan delivered a solid passing game, though nothing special. Every eye was glued to Christian McCaffery whenever he touched the ball, including those of Kansas State players. Most of the Heisman candidate’s carries were stopped for average gains, even a few losses. A 90+ yard kick return was cancelled by a penalty which limited his all-purpose yardage to what is commonplace for most first string running backs. The 26-13 win would have been more boring without hope of seeing McCaffery tear it up. NEXT UP is a terrifying confrontation with might USC in two weeks. While Stanford is working on a game plan, the Trojans should rip up the one they had to beat Alabama.

Colorado Was the best looking, most surprising conference team to take the field in week 1. Colorado State has carried their play to legitimate rivalry level for the past few years. This year the Rams had no better luck figuring out how to keep the game close than did the announcer did having in discovering what the plural of “buffalo” is. According to him the Buffaloes did really well, and they did. Without seeing CU vs a better team, it is hard to tell if they will be as successful in the future but they looked like a real PAC12 team this week, something they did not do last year. NEXT UP Idaho State is not going to give us any better idea when the Buffalo become a 2-0 team with little trouble

USC has recruited almost as well as Alabama has while building its present team, with the caveat that those wearing the Tide uniforms play much better. I blame it on coaching, not this year but every year USC has had their guys on campus. There has been a lot more uncertainty since the days the Trojans received long overdue NCAA sanctions. Finished with those now, for a quarter USC looked like they had a clue and some toughness. Both dissolved in the second quarter and were washed away completely for the reminder of the game. I’d talk a little about their offense at this point if they had one, or their defense if they had one of those. NEXT UP I’m going to go out on a limb and pick USC over Idaho State this week.

I thought UCLA had the second toughest game of the week but I was a Wrong (Yep, with a capital) and it was indeed a tough assignment going to play Texas A&M. Josh Rosen got a lot of his creds because he plays in LA. While the defense kept the game close, Josh managed one great drive in the fourth quarter to tie the game and was moving down the field … until he threw a very late interception sending the game to overtime, where Rosen failed again. Don’t get me wrong; Josh is a servicable quarterback but not the guy to carry the team like the great ones can. NEXT UP UCLA should be able to roll against UNLV and even their record. Barring running the table the Bruins are out of the picture for a championship game slot.

The team that really had the 2nd toughest game must have been Washington State who is probably also out of the playoff picture. It appears they are building a new tradition, besides someone waving their flag every week for Game Day, by opening their seasons with losses to FCS teams, though they did come within a few points of a tie to send the game into overtime. This is now a two year tradition they might break next year by not scheduling a tough game like that. NEXT UP Once upon a time Boise State was a pushover team. This week they will send WSU to 0-2. (Maybe they could do so even if they were still a pushover team)

ASU waited until way after I was in bed before they posted an expected dominating score over Northern Arizona. They probably didn’t expect me to bother watching my recording on the hopper, and I almost didn’t. Going into the final quarter, they were up by 11 and it wasn’t a shootout. A tired NAU couldn’t keep up but still used some their nearly 350 yards of passing offense to score a TD in the final stanza. But for a few breakaway plays and a short field score thanks to their defense, their offense and their point total was far from what they should have displayed. NEXT UP  Seeing a stronger team next week when Texas Tech comes to town, I have to predict a loss for the Sun Devils. They need a deluxe version of that improvement that usually takes place between games 1 and 2 for the season to make me wrong.

Washington also had a misleading score even though they better than tripled up on Rutgers. They cruised to an easy win, the caveat being Rutgers looking a lot like a CCS team of their own volition. The Scarlet Knights were probably scarlet because of their clueless play and questionable play selection. The Huskies were enough better they’d have won even with a little more resistance. Both running and passing skills were amplified by the opposition. It was a neither questionable showing nor an indication they are serious contenders in the PAC12 North. For week 1 it was a decent start. NEXT UP They will have another week to work out any kinks and impress someone with Idaho coming to Husky Stadium.

Oregon broke in their latest transfer quarterback with expectation they’d give their number 2 guy a chance to get his feet wet. They’re still dry unless coming in with 17 seconds left and handing the ball to a running back counts. USC Davis scored first after a muffed punt and got field position again later in the game thanks to a fumble on a kick return. Both offense and defense showed effect from having four redshirt freshmen on the O-line and a whole new defensive set-up. Prukop looked comfortable and utilized his tools well to put up 53 points including three TD passes and another TD he ran in. It’s another team that has work to do before their next game. NEXT UP Virginia was supposed to come into to town as a step up from UC Davis but got clobbered by a lower level team (albeit one of the best at that level). Ducks should be able to use it as a tune up before they face Mike Riley and his Cornhuskers.