2010 Is Finally Here

Does anybody deserve an early start to the college football season more than USC?

After enduring one of the worst offseasons in recent college football memory, tonight we finally get to sit back and watch our team on TV actually playing football, instead of being the subject of countless roundtables, crosssfires, and endless media coverage that, until recently, has been significantly more bad than good.

We’ll be here all day and night bringing coverage of tonight’s matchup against Hawaii to you, with live updates here on the homepage and Fresh Droppings below staying current with coverage of tonight’s game from around the country.

Happy Football Everyone!

Fall Practice Schedule Announced

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Stephen Dunn – Getty Images

Well, the 13-game 2010 USC football season is a lot closer than you think. Granted most of the talk this past month has centered around conference expansion and the NCAA sanctions (thanks Paul Dee), but in just over two months, our Trojans will be strapping on the shoulder pads and facing off against unranked Hawaii on the road in Honolulu on September 2nd. Boy, that can’t come soon enough.

But before that happens, there’s fall camp as many of you are aware of, and yesterday, the athletic department announced practice times for the month of August. All in all, between Aug. 4 and Aug. 31, there will 28 practices (23 days of practice, 5 two-a-days), and all will be held at Howard Jones Field on campus, located right next to McDonald’s Swim Stadium on the northwest corner of campus.

Aug. 4 — 3 p.m. 
Aug. 5 — 3 p.m. 
Aug. 6 — 3 p.m. 
Aug. 7 — 3 p.m. 

Aug. 8 — 3 p.m. 
Aug. 9 — off day 
Aug. 10 — 8:45 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. 
Aug. 11 — 3 p.m. 
Aug. 12 — 8:45 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. 
Aug. 13 — 3 p.m. 
Aug. 14 — 3 p.m. 

Aug. 15 — off day 
Aug. 16 — 8:45 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. 
Aug. 17 — 3 p.m. 
Aug. 18 — 8:45 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. 
Aug. 19 — off day 
Aug. 20 — 8:45 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. 
Aug. 21 — 3 p.m. (possibly at Coliseum) 

Aug. 22 — off day 
Aug. 23 — 4 p.m. (First day of class) 
Aug. 24 — 4 p.m. 
Aug. 25 — 4 p.m. 
Aug. 26 — 4 p.m. 
Aug. 27 — off day 
Aug. 28 — 3 p.m. 

Aug. 29 — 3 p.m. 
Aug. 30 — 4 p.m 
Aug. 31 — 2 p.m. 
Sept. 1 — walk-through at Aloha Stadium 
Sept. 2 — USC vs. Hawaii, 5 p.m. (8 p.m. PT)    

(note: Thanks to ESPN’s Pedro Moura for providing the practice schedule above) 



Football weekender info

If you’re going on the road this year to watch the Trojan football team play, here is the official information from the USC Alumni Association about the 2010 USC Football Weekenders.

Included are details about the alumni host hotels (with special USC rates), pep rallies and other events surrounding each game.

USC’s 2010 road schedule:  Sept. 2 at Hawaii, Sept. 18 at Minnesota, Sept. 25 at Washington State, Oct. 9 at Stanford, Nov. 13 at Arizona and Nov. 20 at Oregon State.  The Dec. 4 game against UCLA in the Rose Bowl isn’t included among the weekender info because it’s basically in town.

Spring Reports

Our last report on spring scrimmages. Click here, here and here to view previous reports. Announced attendance included when available.

Big East

West Virginia: Running back Noel Devine played only a half, but rushed for 73 yards and one touchdown in 12 carries. Attendance: 21,029.

Conference USA

Southern Methodist: No spring game for the Mustangs. "I think it's overrated," June Jones said.

Mid-American

Kent State: Running back Eugene Jarvis, seven months removed from a lacerated kidney that ended his 2009 season, scored a touchdown and was elected captain for a team-record fourth time. Attendance: 3,000.

Pacific 10

Oregon: Quarterbacks Nate Costa and Darron Thomas each had their moments, but look for Costa to win the starting job in the fall. Attendance: 25,211.

Oregon State: Ryan Katz completed nine of 20 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. The projected starter had one pass intercepted. Redshirt freshman Jack Lomax, son of former NFL quarterback Neil Lomax, threw three touchdown passes, all to Mitch Singler. Jacquizz Rogers did not play. Attendance: 7,141.

USC: Matt Barkley suffered a hand injury and Mitch Mustain made the most of extended playing time, passing for nearly 300 yards and five touchdowns. Freshman running back Dillon Baxter ran for 129 yards, including 58 after a flashy double-spin move. But Lane Kiffin's team remains a work in progress. Attendance: 15,000.

Washington: Nick Montana, son of Hall of Famer Joe Montana, completed 21 of 34 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns. He had an interception returned for a score by cornerback Anthony Boyles. Attendance: 15,000.

Western Athletic

Fresno State: Receiver Devon Wylie caught three touchdown passes and cornerback L.J. Jones scored on a 24-yard interception return. Attendance: 2,000.

Hawaii: The Warriors displayed more punch to their running game, but the quarterback derby remains a puzzle, a concern with the opener against USC in 122 days. Attendance: 1,000.

New Mexico State: The Aggies have college football's longest bowl drought at 51 seasons, but DeWayne Walker's rebuilding plan could be paying dividends. Quarterback Matt Christian, a junior college transfer, completed 16 of 26 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown.



Urban Meyer Threatens Reporter

Jeremy Fowler, a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, was in the line of fire Wednesday at the close of a Florida spring practice session.

Fowler was among two dozen reporters watching coaches and players exit the field when coach Urban Meyer approached the group and went after Fowler for a story he filed Monday. Fowler's story contained a quote from Deonte Thompson suggesting the receiver was happy to be playing with a quarterback not named Tim Tebow.

"You never know with Tim," Thompson said. "You can bolt, you think he's running but he'll come up and pass it to you. You just have to be ready at all times. With [John] Brantley, everything's with rhythm, time. You know what I mean, a real quarterback."

Meyer, who claimed Fowler misrepresented Thompson's comments, ripped into the reporter, with the exchange videotaped by Steve Johnson of Gator Bait.

Meyer: "You’ll be out of practice — you understand that? — if you do that again. I told you five years ago: Don't mess with our players. Don't do it. You did it. You do it one more time and the Orlando Sentinel's not welcome here ever again. Is that clear? It's yes or no."

Fowler: "Urban, come on. Don't make any threats. That’s fine. I'll play by rules.  But all I was doing is quoting the guy. I don't think I was the only one."

Meyer: "You're a bad guy, man. You’re a bad guy."

Fowler: "Thanks Urban, I appreciate that."

Meyer then issued his threats, telling Fowler, "If that was my son, we'd be going at it right now."

As he walked away, Meyer told Fowler to "be very careful."

Meyer retreated to greet his daughter Nikki. "Seconds later, they both turned in our direction and Meyer pointed toward me," Fowler wrote on the newspaper's Swamp Things blog.

It's one thing to try and bully a reporter, but another to threaten one. At the least, Meyer owes Fowler and apology before the same group of reporters who witnessed the threats. A reprimand would be in order, but Florida's probably as spineless as its coach.

Wednesday marked the latest round of irrational behavior and jackassery from Meyer, who has barred reporters from talking with players or coaches until further notice.

In the December run-up to the Sugar Bowl, Meyer announced that he would be taking an indefinite leave for health reasons. But he hung around long enough for the recruiting season to end before taking a vacation to Hawaii, which apparently did him little good.

Meyer is said to be one who can never relax, and a check of the local criminal justice system is probably why. The Sentinel reported last year that the "arrest rate for the football team going back to Meyer's first season in 2005 is roughly 10 percent (24 arrests out of 239 players listed on the official roster).

"Compare these numbers to the general population. In 2004, the last year statistics are available, the Uniform Crime Reporting Program of the Department of Justice reported the arrest rate in the United States to be 4.7 percent (4,752.4 arrests per 100,000 residents)."

To put it in perspective, Florida players are more than twice as likely to be arrested than a member of the general population.

Meyer took a shot last August at Illinois' Ron Zook, who preceded Meyer at Florida. Meyer said freshmen under Zook were treated as "non-people." Zook fired back, saying he was disappointed because the comment came "from someone who wasn't there at the time."

Florida's next practice is Friday, and Fowler writes that he'll be there, "with questions ready."



BOWL SWAG RUNDOWN, 2009-2010

Bowl swag has to be the best indicator overall of a bowl’s prestige/lack of prestige. Take the Emerald Bowl, aka The Chan Gailey Invitational, which this year features USC, and just one moment please. We have to check something right quick here.

USC Washington Football
USC lost to Washington and is in the Emerald Bowl. Your argument is invalid.

Sorry. That feels so wrong to type “USC” and “Emerald Bowl,” especially when all they’re getting is a Fossil Watch, which is cool because they were interested in picking up middle schoolers from the 1990s, and a Fossil Watch will really help with that. Going to the Hawaii Bowl is really its own gift, but that comes at the cost of getting next to no swag whatsoever with only a Hawaiian print shirt for your effort. (If Noir Rich Brooks were running this, you’d get a broken bottle in the stomach for your efforts, and like it.)

The higher up the chain you go the better the swag gets, though that has its own variances. The Brut Sun Bowl gives you a hairdryer, the item getting our vote for the bowl swag most likely left at the hotel. (Along with a hundred sad Fossil watches littering the Holiday Inns of America’s mid-sized cities.) The distribution of plentiful Best Buy gift certificates will have the unintended circumstances of at least one scholarship player getting kicked off the team for stealing another’s newly purchased XBox or Playstation. Thanks, Best Buy. (Dicks.)

Canadians, not properly understanding football, are actually giving those who come to the International Bowl a..um..football. The BCS Bowls lead with the Sony Gift Suites, but even they insist on foisting watches and fleece caps, since fleece caps are apparently something bowl organizers assume the kids want, though the Fiesta Bowl just lists hat. One can hope for some creativity there.



Under Armour Rosters

Here’s the rosters for the Under Armour High School All-America game on Jan. 2 in St. Petersburg, Fla. QB Jesse Scroggins and TE Xavier Grimble are the current USC commitments in the game.

TEAM BLUR
Note: Some players have the same jersey number, but won’t be on the field at the same time.
No. Player Pos. Ht., Wt. School (State) College
1 Chris Dunkley WR 5-11, 170 Pahokee (Fla.) Undecided
1 Joshua Shaw CB 6-2, 181 Palmdale (Calif.) Florida
2 William Gholston DE 6-7, 250 Southeastern (Mich.) Michigan State
3 Kadron Boone WR 6-1, 197 Trinity Catholic (Fla.) Texas Tech
3 Lamarcus Joyner CB 5-8, 165 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) Undecided
4 Dietrich Riley S 6-1, 196 St. Francis (Calif.) Undecided
5 Michael Dyer RB 5-9, 200 Little Rock Christian (Ark.) Auburn
5 Cody Riggs CB 5-8, 154 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) Undecided
6 Jordon James RB 5-10, 188 Corona (Calif.) UCLA
7 Christian Jones OLB 6-4, 215 Lake Howell (Fla.) Undecided
7 Antonio Goodwin WR 6-1, 170 Booker T. Washington (Ga.) Auburn
9 Tai-ler Jones WR 6-0, 182 Gainesville (Ga.) Notre Dame
9 Alec Ogletree S 6-3, 214 Newnan (Ga.) Georgia
10 Demarco Cobbs WR 6-1, 200 Tulsa Central (Okla.) Texas
11 Shaun Lewis OLB 6-0, 197 Hightower (Texas) Oklahoma St.
11 Chase Rettig QB 6-3, 201 San Clemente (Calif.) Boston Coll.
12 Brandon Coleman WR 6-6, 200 Bishop McNamara (Md.) Undecided
14 Blake Bell QB 6-5, 212 Bishop Carroll (Kan.) Oklahoma
15 Jesse Scroggins QB 6-2, 189 Lakewood (Calif.) USC
17 Nick Dew S 6-2, 190 First Colonial (Va.) Virginia Tech
21 Ryan Ayers CB 5-10, 175 South Paulding (Ga.) Georgia Tech
21 Da’Rick Rogers WR 6-2, 205 Calhoun (Ga.) Georgia
22 Kip Smith K 6-0, 200 Legacy (Colo.) UCLA
43 Jackson Richards DE 6-4, 235 Carroll (Texas) Texas Tech
44 Konrad Zagzebski ILB 6-3, 220 D.C. Everest (Wis.) Wisconsin
48 Jeff Luc ILB 6-1, 241 Treasure Coast (Fla.) Undecided
51 Michael Taylor OLB 6-0, 193 Westlake (Ga.) Tennessee
52 Shane McDermott C 6-3, 265 Palm Beach (Fla.) Miami
55 Corey Lemonier DE 6-4, 221 Hialeah (Fla.) Undecided
56 James Kittredge DT 6-4, 250 Don Bosco (N.J.) Vanderbilt
56 Kolton Houston OG 6-5, 265 Buford (Ga.) Georgia
64 James Stone OG 6-5, 297 Maplewood (Tenn.) Undecided
68 James Hurst OT 6-5, 285 Plainfield (Ind.) North Carolina
70 Ja’Wuan James OT 6-6, 305 North Gwinnett (Ga.) Tennessee
71 Brent Benedict OT 6-5, 280 Bolles (Fla.) Georgia
72 Cam Feldt OT 6-5, 290 Pilot Point (Texas) Arkansas
73 Michael Thornton DT 6-1, 273 Stephenson (Ga.) Undecided
75 Chaz Green OT 6-5, 286 Tampa Catholic (Fla.) Undecided
76 Torrian Wilson OG 6-4, 300 Miami Northwestern (Fla.) Stanford
77 Louis Nix III DT 6-3, 318 Raines (Fla.) Notre Dame
80 Xavier Grimble TE 6-5, 241 Bishop Gorman (Nev.) USC
81 Dakota Mosley TE 6-4, 250 Little Rock Christian (Ark.) Auburn
88 Blake Barker TE 6-6, 238 B.B. & Nichols (Mass.) Harvard
90 George Uko DT 6-4, 299 Don Antonio Lugo (Calif.) Undecided
91 Bronson Kaufusi DE 6-8, 240 Timpview (Utah) BYU
93 Corey Miller DE 6-4, 231 James Byrnes (S.C.) Tennessee
95 Todd Chandler DT 6-1, 283 Miami Northwestern (Fla.) Miami

TEAM NITRO
Note: Some players have the same jersey number, but won’t be on the field at the same time.
No. Player Pos. Ht., Wt. School (State) College
1 Aaron Benson OLB 6-2, 205 Cedar Hill (Texas) Texas
1 Justin Hunter WR 6-4, 172 Ocean Lakes (Va.) LSU
2 DeMarcus Milliner CB 6-0, 185 Stanhope Elmore (Ala.) Alabama
2 Mike Davis WR 6-0, 176 Skyline (Texas) LSU
4 Toney Hurd Jr. CB 5-9, 179 Thurgood Marshall (Texas) Notre Dame
4 Darius White WR 6-3, 195 Dunbar Senior (Texas) Undecided
5 Jonathan Dowling S 6-3, 180 Southeast (Fla.) Florida
5 Nick Montana QB 6-2, 177 Oaks Christian (Calif.) Washington
7 Demar Dorsey S 6-1, 180 Boyd Anderson (Fla.) Florida
7 Devin Gardner QB 6-4, 198 Inkster (Mich.) Michigan
8 Adrian White CB 5-11, 175 DeSoto (Texas) Texas
10 John Fulton CB 6-1, 180 Manning (S.C.) Undecided
10 James Louis WR 5-11, 180 Atlantic Community (Fla.) Ohio State
11 Solomon Patton WR 5-10, 175 Murphy (Ala.) Florida
14 Phillip Sims QB 6-1, 218 Oscar Frommel Smith (Va.) Alabama
15 LaDarius Owens DE 6-2, 225 Jess Lanier (Ala.) Auburn
15 Corey Brown WR 6-0, 171 Cardinal O’Hara (Pa.) Ohio State
18 Cody Parkey K 6-0, 190 Jupiter Community (Fla.) Auburn
19 Corey Nelson OLB 6-1, 195 Skyline (Texas) Texas A&M
23 Luke Muncie S 6-2, 200 Klein Oak (Texas) LSU
32 Jordan Hicks OLB 6-2, 210 Lakota West (Ohio) Undecided
32 Storm Johnson RB 5-11, 210 Loganville (Ga.) Miami
33 Leon Orr DT 6-5, 315 Gulf (Fla.) Florida
33 Mack Brown RB 5-11, 185 Martin Luther King (Ga.) Florida
35 Alfy Hill DE 6-4, 240 West Brunswick (N.C.) Alabama
40 Dakota Royer DE 6-3, 220 Manheim Central (Pa.) Penn State
41 V.J. Fehoko ILB 5-11, 210 Farrington (Hawaii) Undecided
41 Travis Dickson TE 6-3, 230 Ocean Springs (Miss.) LSU
45 Taylor Bible DT 6-3, 280 John H. Guyer (Texas) Texas
47 Dominique Easley DE 6-3, 260 Curtis (N.Y.) Penn State
50 Jake Holland ILB 6-1, 220 Pelham (Ala.) Auburn
54 Miles Dieffenbach C 6-5, 277 Fox Chapel (Pa.) Penn State
55 A.J. Cann OG 6-3, 260 Bamberg-Ehrhardt (S.C.) South Carolina
72 Luke Joeckel OT 6-6, 280 Arlington (Texas) Texas A&M
75 Evan Hailes DT 6-1, 315 Oscar Frommel Smith (Va.) Penn State
75 Evan Washington OT 6-6, 286 DeSoto (Texas) LSU
76 Eric Mack OG 6-4, 318 Calhoun County (S.C.) South Carolina
77 Ian Silberman OT 6-5, 256 Fleming Island (Fla.) Florida
79 Chad Lindsay OG 6-3, 307 The Woodlands (Texas) Alabama
82 Brian Vogler TE 6-6, 245 Brookstone (Ga.) Alabama
83 Adrian Hubbard DE 6-7, 227 Norcross (Ga.) Undecided
85 Ashton Dorsey DT 6-2, 275 John Tyler (Texas) Texas

Can Charlie Weis beat USC?

DC Trojan and I collaborated on this…

It is an interesting question that many have asked, particularly the Notre Dame faithful who have nothing they can look back on fondly from the Pete Carroll period of this rivalry… actually, if someone got hit on the head while rushing the field before the officials put enough seconds on the clock for the Bush push, and didn’t see the end of the game, they’d have something positive to remember.

But back to the question at hand: Can Weis beat USC? The short answer is of course yes… if USC could finally beat Lou Holtz after their 13 game run without a loss against SC in the 80s and 90s, then Notre Dame as coached by Charlie Weis certainly can end the Irish drought. But it seems like it’s more important this year. Is it that people see an opportunity with USC doing, if not rebuilding, some serious remodeling?

It’s too short-sighted to think that this is just about USC: this seems like a make-or-break year for Weis. Many ND fans were clamoring for his head after last season until he beat Hawaii in the Hawai’i bowl game last season. That saved his hide, but now that he has apparently got out of his rut, the fans want to see further results…

Weis has brought a lot of this on himself.

As everyone knows, Weis came to South Bend with a lot of swagger. His overexposed quote to the team that his coaching style and experience would provide Notre Dame a “decided schematic advantage” over their opponents because of his involvement in the NFL winning three Super Bowls. Weis has leveraged that in bringing in some highly respected recruits during his tenure, but when results haven’t followed, the rub has been can he coach them up?

Weis’ best season was his first season where he took USC down to the wire before losing 34-31 with Ty Willingham’s players. Despite sometimes heroic efforts, Brady Quinn and other strong Willingham recruits were left with some bad memories – although a lot of USC fans were left with a lingering respect for Quinn almost literally carrying the rest of the team in his last game despite getting crushed.

Weis just couldn’t seem to get the results he originally promised with his players. Whether it as deliberate or just the perfect storm of suck, Weis has had a watered-down schedule the past couple of years in order to get “easy” wins. That didn’t always quite work out as planned.

This season, Notre Dame has had some nail biters that have resulted in wins – 11 seconds from being undefeated, or a few plays from being 1-4, depending on how you look at it – and the fan base has a buzz, and Weis is now touting that even his players this year think they can beat USC this season.

That is telling…I would think that for a storied rivalry like USC – Notre Dame that the players would always think they could beat USC. This is the greatest and most historic inter-sectional rivalry in all of college football and this is the season that they think they can win? Assuming that this isn’t a lowered expectations issue, or a positive thinking exercise, what makes this the year?

Because USC has a true-freshman QB at the helm? Because Jimmy Clausen looks a hundred times better than he did last year? Because ND is winning games that it should?

Well, on the one hand, it is possible: after all this is a rivalry game.

Notre Dame’s wins this season have come against some sub-par talent. Yes, ND fans have already tried to point out that SC hasn’t played lights out in with their schedule, but for a true-freshman to go on the road to Columbus at the Horseshoe and come out with the win, no matter how ugly some people though it was is impressive. And there have been some signs of improvement with the tactics used at Cal.

So the question remains is this Charlie Weis’ year?

USC is the best defense that Notre Dame will see so far this season. Jimmy Clausen is going to see some pressure and so we will see just how well he handles it, and how well the hot Notre Dame WRs do against the SC secondary. After all, Cal WRs were getting open, but Riley wasn’t getting passes anywhere near them. 

Matt Barkley, on the other hand, will see a good but not great Notre Dame defense. Barkley needs to be mindful of the ND secondary as they are the strongest unit on the defense. This is probably not the week to attempt a passing-led offense.

To me, this could be Weis’ Waterloo. On the plus side, he’s got a team that’s coming together and the linebacking Prussian pros aren’t around to prevent a first down before the end of the third quarter. If he wins he saves his job. If Notre Dame loses, you have to wonder if Weis is as good as gone at the end of the season. The Notre Dame fanbase doesn’t seem like they would tolerate another loss to USC, not with all the talent that Weis has recruited and with all the bluster and swagger he brought with him when he arrived.

I think he is going to have a tough time pulling it off… it’s going to fun to watch!



Crystal Ball

Crystalball130A look at how prognosticators from around the country view this week’s games.

Tim Sullivan, New York Post: Texas keeps plodding along. Oklahoma is 0-2 in its only true tests. Yes, Sam Bradford is back, but that’s not enough for the Sooners. Take the Longhorns and give the points in the Red River Rivalry.

Jon Wilner, San Jose Mercury News: Idaho can become bowl eligible with a victory against Hawaii. Don’t worry about the points because the Vandals are going to cover with ease. In the Pacific 10, watch out for those Washington Huskies at Arizona State.

Mike Hlas, Cedar Rapids Gazette: Hlastradamus loves friendly Pete Carroll more than surly Charlie Weis, but business is business. Take Notre Dame and the points against USC.

Double D, Boston Herald: The conservative playcalling of Jim Tressel is to blame for Terrelle Pryor falling way short of expectations. Nonethless, Ohio State is overdue for an offensive explosion. Take the Buckeyes and lay the points at Purdue.

John Werner, Waco Tribune-Herald: Baylor’s offense is still trying to find itself without Robert Griffin. Playing Iowa State should help. The Bears win, 27-24.

Chuck Carlton, Dallas Morning News: Texas Tech quarterback Steven Sheffield is mobile, just maybe not enough to avoid Ndamukong Suh. Nebraska wins, 41-36.

Phil Steele: The top 25 forecast calls for Virginia Tech to defeat Georgia Tech, 34-27. In Madison, look for Wisconsin to edge Iowa, 24-23.

College Injury Report: A look at who is hurt and who is healthy.

Get the latest college numbers from Doc’s Sports. Also check Doc’s for the latest NFL numbers.

For complete TV listings, check Matt Sarzyniak’s Sports.

Visit the Wiz’s Resources page for all your reference needs.



Who’s going to win? Week 2 Pac-10 picks



Posted by ESPN.com’s Ted Miller

Went 7-1 last week — any idea which game I missed?

Things get a little more interesting this week with three marquee nonconference road games and a must-win for Washington State.

USC 27, Ohio State 20: The Buckeyes will show a lot of pride at home, but the Trojans just have too many horses on both sides of the ball.

Tennessee 28, UCLA 17: The difference is the home field — Neyland Stadium is a heck of a place for a redshirt freshman quarterback and a young offensive line to try to figure things out.

Stanford 30, Wake Forest 27: Win or lose, Stanford looks good enough to earn bowl eligibility this year. But win this game, and the Cardinal might be on to something special.

Oregon 38, Purdue 20: Ducks show up, roll — welcome back Jeremiah Masoli! — wish they could get a do-over at Boise State. In more ways than one.

Oregon State 35, UNLV 27: The Rebels receivers will challenge the Beavers’ secondary, but there will be too many Rodgerses on the field in Vegas.

Washington 40, Idaho 17: Huskies win! Huskies win! They end their embarrassing 15-game losing streak.

Washington State 31, Hawaii 28: Another step forward for the Cougars, who put up a nice fight against Stanford.

California 50, Eastern Washington 10: The Bears get an easy win a week before heading across the country to Minnesota.

Arizona 38, Northern Arizona 3: The key here for the Wildcats is gaining some confidence on offense, particularly for quarterback Matt Scott — and maybe Nick Foles, too. Iowa awaits the next weekend as a true test.

What to watch in the Pac-10



Posted by ESPN.com’s Ted Miller

I apologize I forgot to tell you last week to watch the post-game at Boise State. I talked to more than a few folks who clicked their TVs off either late in the fourth or at the final bell and missed all the, er, fun.

As for this week, we’ve got three marquee nonconference road games, Oregon trying to bounce back and Washington trying to end a 15-game losing streak, among others.

  1. Barkley on a big stage: USC’s freshman quarterback passed his first test against San Jose State, but things will be much tougher for Matt Barkley at Ohio State. It’s hard to imagine he won’t struggle, but if he shines and leads the Trojans into the national title chase, buckle up for the hype that will commence.
  2. Prince of Rocky Top: Speaking of young quarterbacks, UCLA’s redshirt freshman Kevin Prince is not as young as Barkley but his supporting casts is much younger, and Neyland Stadium at Tennessee is just as tough as the Horseshoe, even if the Volunteers are a step or two behind the Buckeyes. How will Prince and the Bruins O-line perform on the road, where UCLA traditionally struggles?
  3. Take three on young QBs: Not to establish a theme or anything, but redshirt freshman Andrew Luck leads Stanford across the country for an early PDT kickoff at Wake Forest with a chance for the Cardinal to announce to the college football world that they are again a contender not to be trifled with.
  4. Ducks Blounted: Oregon needs to beat Purdue to salvage its season. That sounds extreme, but the Ducks are back at home and they are a vastly superior team. If they don’t prevail, it won’t be because the better team won. It will be because the Ducks suffered a Boise State hangover that could well last the entire season. If Oregon wins, they likely will be able to look at the schedule ahead and know they have a lot to play for. Shoot, a victory over Utah on Sept. 19 should get them back into the top-25.
  5. Secondary test for Beavers: The first order of business is can Oregon State’s rebuilt secondary thwart a strong UNLV receiving corps — Ryan Wolfe and Phillip Payne are a Pac-10-worthy combination. The second is can the Beavers win an early-season nonconference game on the road? Their recent track record — LSU, Boise State, Louisville, Cincinnati, Penn State, Utah — isn’t good. If Oregon State does prevail, it will be 2-0 and a long way toward not repeating a 2-3 start for the fourth consecutive year.
  6. Huskies winning streak: It might not last long — USC comes to town on Sept. 19 — but Washington should be on a one-game winning streak by Saturday afternoon with Idaho coming to town. That winning streak, obviously, will end a 15-game losing streak. It will be interesting to see if the Huskies pounce with a relentless hunger to win or if they are flat after the emotional effort vs. LSU.
  7. Cougars offense steps up: Hawaii needed a fourth-quarter comeback to beat Central-Arkansas, an FCS program. The Warriors only have two starters back on defense. They are projected to finish in the bottom half of the WAC. This is a prime time for the Cougars to get a win. It would be a particularly good time for the offense, which showed some life against Stanford, to put up some numbers — and points, which might mean either Kevin Lopina or Marshall Lobbestael would establish himself as the starter.
  8. Best 200 before the half?: Cal didn’t need Jahvid Best in the second half of its blowout win over Maryland. But if his Heisman Trophy candidacy is going to pick up steam, he might want to post some fancy numbers against FCS team Eastern Washington. Or maybe coach Jeff Tedford wants to rest him before the Bears head to Minnesota.
  9. Passing Wildcats: Arizona is going to beat Northern Arizona, but the Wildcats night won’t be a success unless they walk into the post-game locker room feeling good about their quarterback situation before heading to Iowa. That means a quality, confidence-building outing for Matt Scott and some good reps for backup Nick Foles.
  10. Nonconference tests: When the smoke clears Saturday, how will the Pac-10 stand up to against a tough nonconference schedule? There are six games here that are “losable.” If USC goes down, the conference won’t have much say in the national championship race, unless Cal surges. If UCLA gets whipped at Tennessee, the SEC folks will howl with delight. If Stanford goes down at Wake Forest, it will be played as “the Pac-10 lacks depth.” If Oregon loses to Purdue, the Chip Kelly doubters will be out in force. If the Huskies lose to Idaho, all the goodwill from the LSU game will go splat. If Oregon Sate loses at UNLV, the Mountain West will start crowing again. If the Cougars lose to Hawaii, the specter of a winless season will appear. There’s lots at stake this weekend.

Move to ESPN puts barbarians at the gates of the Rose Bowl


One thing about the Rose Bowl: It’s never been for the little guy. Even since the Granddaddy relinquished its death grip on the Big Ten and Pac-10 champions to join the BCS, only five teams have won their way into Pasadena without a conference championship, and only one of those (No. 13 Illinois in 2007) came into the game ranked lower than No. 6. The Fiesta or Sugar bowls might be willing to descend to some mid-major upstart, but never the Rose. It’s just not done, you see.

More accurately, it wasn’t done, says Tony Barnhart today on his Atlanta Journal-Constitution blog, until ESPN got its hands on the contract (emphasis added):

Utah, Boise State to the Rose Bowl? It could happen soon: Over the course of the week I found out that there is an interesting little nugget in the new BCS contract with ESPN, which will begin after the 2010 regular season.

In past contracts if the Rose Bowl lost one of its traditional partners, the Big Ten or Pac-10 champ, to the BCS championship game, it could simply fill with another Big Ten or Pac-10 team that qualified. That’s how a 9-3 Illinois team got to Pasadena two years ago.

But in the new contract, I’m told, there is an interesting clause: The first time in the deal that the Rose loses one of its champions to the BCS title game, that opening will be automatically filled by a Coalition (non-BCS conference) team if one has qualified.

Of course, the Worldwide Leader isn’t throwing its weight around for the sake of the little guy: Barnhart suggests opening another avenue to a Mountain West or WAC upstart would be an effective counter to the "monopoly" charge if the Series gets hauled back in front of Congress. Personally, I think it’s just as likely a barrier against another Illinois: The ratings for Illini’s slaughter in 2007 were the lowest for a Rose Bowl in the BCS era. If the "BCS Buster" card makes people think of Utah and Boise State’s triumphs over traditional behemoths — and not, say, Hawaii’s utter collapse against Georgia — the underdog’s pilgrimage to holy ground should be worth a few million more eyeballs than just another "Big Six" also-ran.

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Hat tip: Blutarsky.

The folly of the ‘pre-preseason’ top 25

Let’s face it, an obsession with listmaking — otherwise known as glazomania — is ingrained into probably 90 percent of the human race. For college football pundits, this is probably just as well, since listing and ranking everything from teams, players, and coaches to the wieners at various stadiums’ concession stands probably makes up two-thirds of their weekly workload. These days, though, CFB opinionmakers aren’t even waiting for the field to get cold from the national-championship game before popping out their absurdly early projections for the following season.

Of the “pre-preseason” top 25s that have been issued in the past couple months, there seems to be a consensus that the Florida Gators, who lose Percy Harvin going into ’09 but retain nearly everyone else of note, will once again be the team to beat; Texas and Oklahoma are also expected to return as powerhouses. Below that, though, the selections range from the brave to the downright silly. Among the most inexplicable:

•Tony Barnhart (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) was the first out of the gate, throwing up a top 25 literally the same night as the BCS National Championship Game, and it shows. Barnhart has Alabama in the top five despite the fact that they lose their starting QB (and were less than a week removed from getting punked by Utah), Oklahoma State at #7, Florida State at #12, and Vanderbilt at #25. I realize you’re an SEC guy, but jeez, Tony. He also provided an object lesson in the dangers of sticking your neck out too early by putting Pittsburgh at #10 based on “running back LeSean McCoy and seven starters on defense coming back”; McCoy declared for the NFL draft less than a week later.

•Dennis Dodd (CBS Sports) shared Barnhart’s optimism for Alabama (#4) and pumped Kansas at #14, saying “any team with quarterback Todd Reesing is capable of anything.” Anything except for winning the Big 12 North, evidently.

•Matt Hayes (The Sporting News) will see your Notre Dame optimism and raise you: He’s got the Irish at #11 based on “the confidence QB Jimmy Clausen gained from his play at Hawaii.” Yes, there’s nothing like beating up on the nation’s 88th-ranked pass-efficiency defense in a bowl game to mold a player into a leader. Hayes also has Ole Miss at #5 and Auburn at #24, which would make him one of exactly four people in the country who think Auburn will be better with Gene Chizik than they were with Tommy Tuberville (and the other three are Gene Chizik, Jay Jacobs, and Jay Gogue).

•Stewart Mandel (SI.com), like Hayes, has Ole Miss at #5, and like Barnhart he gets burned by early personnel assumptions gone wrong: He puts Oklahoma State at #6, explaining that “nearly every key player is back” on the Cowboy offense, but three of OSU’s top four receivers left the program for one reason or another within a month of Mandel posting his list. He’s also got Florida State at #18.

•Jon Wilner (San Jose Mercury News) says he updated his list on January 21, which makes one wonder what his original rankings looked like. He’s got Florida State at #7 and Oklahoma State at #6, saying he actually dropped the Cowboys because he’s “now counting [the Oklahoma game] as a loss for OSU.” The Sooners, last seen piling 61 points on the Cowboys, are grateful for your generosity, sir. Wilner also thinks Pitt and West Virginia will be better without LeSean McCoy and Pat White, respectively — he’s got both in his top 25 despite the fact that neither team cracked the final coaches’ poll of 2008.

•College Football News is buying into the ACC big-time in ’09: They’ve got North Carolina at #9, Georgia Tech at #11, and Clemson at #15. And based on their color-coding system, CFN thinks Miami “should be worse” than they were last year, yet they’ve still got the Hurricanes, 7-6 and unranked at the end of 2008, at #19 on their list. Strangely, the one ACC team to get downgraded relative to last season is the defending conference champions — Virginia Tech winds up just one slot ahead of the ‘Canes.

•Mark Schlabach (ESPN.com) has also revised an earlier list, but he’s still got Alabama at #4 despite openly conceding what huge losses John Parker Wilson and Andre Smith will be; he’s also got Notre Dame at #22.

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Doug Gillet is the proprietor of Hey Jenny Slater and a regular contributor to Dr. Saturday.