The [Westwood] hillllls are alive, with the sound of music…oh, hello there. Sorry, I was busy prancing in the fields and playing with butterflies and songbirds. You see, we had our second perfect day of the season. You know, the kind of Saturday in the fall, where UCLA Football emerges victorious, and Southern Cal is a loooosing team. But this day is doubly sweet. UCLA exorcised some demons through a solid road victory. And as a cherry on top, Southern Cal loses…and its other hated rival wins. Now, I know many are not fond of Notre Dame, what with their insufferable fans. But when Southern Cal describes its own version of the Perfect Day, it includes a Southern Cal win, and a loss for both UCLA and Notre Dame. Sorry Trogans, no soup for you! Let’s make this the year of Perfect Days for UCLA!
Player of the Week: Marqise Lee, Southern Cal – I really, really wanted to put Ka’imi here, but he’s likely just our own player of the week. Brett Hundley threw 4 TDs and was masterful. But Marqise Lee was ridiculous on Saturday. I know he’s a Trogan, but he’s a special talent. And I can’t figure out why he’s not mentioned in Heisman discussions. Not that I want another player from that cheat factory to get the award. But when you have 345 yards receiving (easily breaking the Pac-12 record) and 2 TDs, some heads should get turned. No, instead they still talk about Barkley, who threw for 493 yards but also had 2 picks. When you contribute 70% of your team’s passing yards, maybe it’s not the QB who should be the talk of the town.
Stat of the Week: 246 – total penalty yards between Arizona and Southern Cal. Southern Cal is now the most penalized team in college football. #1!
Game of the Week: Oregon at Southern Cal, 4pm, FOX – a couple of other huge games this weekend, including our own Bruins’. But Oregon must be chomping at the bit to get its revenge against the Trogans, who upset them last year in Autzen. The game is at the Mausoleum, but the Ducks are chasing a BCS championship and need to make up some ground with the voters and computers…who happen to like Southern Cal. Who else wants a single camera dedicated to Kiffykin’s face all game?
1. Oregon (8-0, 5-0): all right, settle down everyone. Yes, a Pac-12 team is getting screwed in the BCS rankings, but dropping 70 on Colorado will impress no one. Not even if it means dropping 56 in one half. What’s impressive is that no single Duck had a huge day, though Kenjon Barner still had 104 yards rushing and 2 TDs. But the love went around the Ducks like a payoff goes around the Trogan locker room. This was likely just a scrimmage for Chip Kelly as he gets ready to visit Southern Cal. I have a feeling he has a little sumpin’ sumpin’ saved up for them.
2. Stanford (6-2, 5-1): a bit too close for comfort for the Cardinal. Wazzu came to town with a 2-5 record, but gave Stanford a big scare when they cut their lead to 7 in the fourth quarter and were driving to tie the game. The Cardinal D stepped up in time, but the offense was far from spectactular, generating only 256 yards. In fact, were it not for a defensive TD, this game was tied. A win is a win, but with games remaining against Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA, this could end up a rather average season for the Cardinal. For now, they get to travel to face Colorado.
3. Oregon State (6-1, 4-1): Mike Riley has done a fantastic job this year, but he will likely kick himself for his handling of Sean Mannion’s return. After backup Cody Vaz kept the Beavers’ record unblemished in Mannion’s absence, Riley brought the starter back for the road game against the Huskies. It turned out to be a disastrous decision, as Mannion’s timing was obviously not back to his pre-injury precision and he threw 4 interceptions before Riley finally pulled him for Vaz. You gotta feel for Mannion, who looked brilliant before tearing his meniscus, but perhaps a road game was not the ideal situation for a return, or perhaps Riley should have pulled the trigger after the 3rd interception. This one has got to burn, as the Beavers lost by a field goal despite playing horribly. They had better rebound when Arizona State visits after losing a close game of its own.
4. Washington (4-4, 2-3): with an opportunistic defense that took advantage of a QB returning from injury, the Huskies were able to notch a big division win to conclude the tough part of their schedule. Behind 92 rushing yards and 2 TDs for Bishop Sankey, the Huskies did just enough to pick up a victory, as Oregon State’s defense did their part but was put in constrained situations because of the offense’s turnovers. It was an otherwise lackluster and undistinguished effort for Sark’s team, yet somehow this team has now beaten two top-10 teams. With 4 very winnable games remaining, a decent bowl game could be on the horizon. Next up is a visit to Cal on Friday (6PM PST, ESPN2).
5. Cal (3-6, 2-4): it’s not a good day when you give up not one, but two 100-yard kickoff returns. Add to that 3 turnovers and you have yourself a rout. Utah’s stadium was rocking and Cal was reeling, down 28-6 at halftime on its way to a 49-27 beatdown. Turnovers plagued the Bears who could not summon their Magical Level in high altitude despite outgaining the Utes. A bowl game is now near unachievable for Cal who still has to play the Oregon schools. On a bright note, Keenan Allen became Cal’s all-time receptions leader with 205 catches, and he’ll be playing on Sundays. Cal comes back home to host Washington on Friday night.
6. Washington State (2-6, 0-5): a spirited performance by the swashbuckling Cougars has them move up a spot in the power poll, even without a win. Wazzu played Stanford tough in Palo Alto, losing by a touchdown. The Cougar offense is predictably one-dimensional, with nary a rush here and there, as Jeff Tuel was 43 of 60 for 401 yards and 2 TDs against a pretty good Stanford defense that also sacked him 10 times. But the Cougar defense has also given opponents fits, with aggressive disguised blitzes and coverages. The Pirate’s crew is getting better every week but still not reaping the fruits of their labor. Could that change next week, another road game against Utah?
1. Arizona (5-3, 2-3): an otherwise spirited effort and big win is, in my eyes, overshadowed and marred by a coach too eager to win, so eager that he let his QB stay in the game with a very obvious concussion. Matt Scott had 369 yards passing, 100 yards rushing, threw 3 TDs and ran for 1 TD. He is clearly the main cog in Rich Rodriguez’s offense, so important apparently that his health is an afterthought. I find it despicable. As has been the case with other Arizona games, the contest against Southern Cal was another shootout, with nearly 1200 yards of offense between both teams, and tons of penalties. So, in the end, Arizona showed it can win big games, that its offense is as dangerous as they come, and that player safety is not much of an issue. I hope that, when the visit the Rose Bowl, UCLA can show them how to win the right way.
2 (tie). Southern Cal (6-2, 4-2): Unfinished Forever. The Trogans were not able to put any distance between themselves and the other contenders in the division. They played a very undisciplined game, rife with penalties and mistakes. Flame Kitten thinks he is playing EA Sports college football, where just because his team is littered with talent, he can just win by throwing bombs. His favorite call? Throw it to Marqise Lee! And why not, the guy is a special talent. But you can’t win with hubris. The defense, like many others victimized by Arizona, was steamrolled and got called for penalties, even if it made plays here and there. This was not the way to go into the game against Oregon…oh well! Too bad so sad, Trogans. Get ready for the Duck migration.
2 (tie). UCLA (6-2, 3-2): a huge win for our program, potentially the most meaningful in the last 14 years. A come-from-behind victory in the waning seconds of a road game, the youth movement stepping up, veterans being reliable, Brett Hundley and Ka’imi with nerves of steel and some demons exorcised and a team poised for a tough final stretch should make every Bruin enjoy the week. Perhaps it is apt to say that it is not how you start, it is how you finish. But we shouldn’t just forget the early mistakes. Maybe this victory should have come even easier, but I think some character got built along the way. It will be crucial for this week’s game against Arizona, who comes in after beating the division leader, guns blazing.
4. Arizona State (5-3, 3-2): the game couldn’t have started any better for the Sun Devils. A muffed punt giving them a quick touchdown, a great drive, and ASU was up 14-0 before UCLA knew what had hit them. Then, behind by 9 with 9 minutes left, scoring 10 points to take the lead. But in the end, they just couldn’t make the final stop. Despite a balanced offense and a solid performance from their QB, the Sun Devils fell to our Bruins in the final seconds after letting them get in field goal range. Ironically, just as a UCLA freshman mistake gave them some free points, their freshman QB did the same to return the favor, tossing an INT from his end zone to avoid a sack. ASU’s remaining schedule is very similar to UCLA’s (3 common opponents), but much more difficult. 3 of the next 4 games are on the road, starting with a trip to Oregon State this week. Just like UCLA, they will have to show that their start was not a mirage, but have an uphill climb to prove it.
5. Utah (3-5, 1-4): nothing like a couple of 100-yard kickoff returns to shake you out of your doldrums. Utah was one of two teams without a conference win, and they took it out on a hapless Cal team that simply looks dispirited. Relying on workhorse running back John White, who ran for 105 yards and 2 TDs, the Utes also got contributions from Cal in the form of an interception and 2 fumbles (1 returned for a TD). All in all, 3 non-offensive TDs. Perhaps like last year, Utah is poised for a similar finish (5-1 in their last 6 games last year), given a favorable remaining schedule. They have 4 games to win 3 and keep their 10-year bowl streak alive, and it starts next week when Washington State visits.
6. Colorado (1-7, 1-4): oyoyoy. 56-0 at halftime. It’s just not fair. The gap between Colorado and Oregon is as vast as the empty space between Trogans’ ears. These games certainly do not help a rebuilding effort or a team’s psyche, but the Ducks are not in the business of uplifting anyone. Especially when they are trying to make up some ground in the BCS rankings. There wasn’t much redemption in this contest for Colorado, no silver lining. Instead they must regroup and take on Stanford at home. The best thing to do for this team is to enjoy the games, even if losing stinks. Freshman running back Christian Powell is going to be a force in the conference, perhaps Coach Embree can build a tough team around him.
That’s all she wrote, folks. Sorry for the delayed post. I urge all those who can to attend the game Saturday against Arizona. The weather will be nice and hopefully the result too. It will be a very tough victory to pull out, let’s hope our boys are ready!