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Will “Championship Week” live up to the name?

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 26: LaMichael James  of the Oregon Ducks celebrates a touchdown run against the Arizona Wildcats on November 26, 2010 at the Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

One of my favorite writers, Andy Staples, made a very good point on Friday: Unless there are major upsets today, it will go down as a day that none of us remember. Sure, Oregon fans will likely remember the day the Ducks beat Oregon State to get into the national title game. And Auburn fans probably will remember when they won the SEC title. But other than that, most of us will look back at this day like, “meh.”

Now, if Oregon State or South Carolina do the unthinkable, things might change.

We might forget, at least for a weekend, that Miami has hired and fired and hired and accepted the resignation — all according to Twitter — of Jon Gruden.

The fact that Cam Newton’s dad solicited funds for his son without his son knowing might slip our minds, at least for a day.

Everyone might stop making fun of Rich Rodriguez for blaring Josh Groban at the Michigan football banquet at the end of an emotional plea for his job that is making most Michigan fans cringe.

Some upsets today would make us forget a lot of that. So what I’m saying is the only person rooting harder for those upsets than the people in Fort Worth, Texas is Rich Rodriguez. Seriously, dude. Josh Groban is even dogging you for liking his song. Read the rest of this entry »

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National title picture could change today … Or stay exactly the same

Boise State Broncos quarterback Kellen Moore (11) (R) fakes a handoff in their NCAA football game against the Virginia Tech Hokies in Landover, Maryland, September 6, 2010.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

By the end of the day today, we could have a whole new look at the national title picture. Then again, you could say that any week in college football.

This time, however, there’s actually a chance that things could get jumbled up. The top team in the country, Alabama, is facing by far its stiffest test of the season as it travels to Fayetteville to take on Ryan Mallett and Arkansas. No. 3 Boise State will play in its second — and probably last — “showcase” game of the year when it plays host to Oregon State.

We know that if Boise State loses, a lot of the debate about who deserves what will go away, at least until we have to sort through a handful of one-loss teams at the end of the season (but we’ll save that for later). If the Tide lose and the Broncos win, is Boise all of the sudden in the driver’s seat for a spot in the title game? Probably not, actually.

It’s a big slate today, so find a spot on the couch by the mid-afternoon games and settle in for some good football. Read the rest of this entry »

Kelly, Oregon come a long way to get to Pasadena

One could only imagine what went through first-year head coach Chip Kelly’s mind after he saw his thought-to-be high-powered offense rack up just 152 total yards in an embarrassing 19-8 loss to Boise State in Oregon’s opener this season. What went through his mind after he saw his star running back sock an opposing player in the face, shove his teammates when they tried to intervene, and then had to be restrained by police officers from going into the stands to fight fans is pretty easy to figure out:

What the hell have I gotten myself into?

But Kelly and the Ducks have come a long way from that loss and LeGarrette Blount’s psychotic episode. On Thursday night, Oregon edged out in-state rival Oregon State 37-33 in route to winning the Pac-10 and earning their first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1994. Freshman tailback LaMichael James paved the way by gaining 166 yards on 25 carries and three scores, while quarterback Jeremiah Masoli completed 14-of-21 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown pass. He also rushed 10 times for 40 yards and picked up a big fourth down late in the fourth quarter by running over an overmatched Oregon State defender.

Blount, who missed most of the season after Kelly suspended him for his conduct after the Boise game, even chipped in 51 rushing yards on nine carries and also scored a third quarter touchdown. He ran like a kid trying to make up for lost time.

After things went so horribly wrong for his team in the opening week, Kelly could have succumbed to the pressure that most head coaches face in their first seasons. Instead, he dealt with the Blount situation by forcing the troubled running back to become a better student athlete and by not giving up on him. He then held his team together and led his team to an impressive 10-2 record.

For all his efforts, Kelly will have the opportunity to showcase what Oregon can do in the Rose Bowl in early January. He and the Ducks are one of the better stories of the 2009 college football season.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

2009 college football spring predictions: Florida No. 1

As spring practices wrap up across the country, Andy Staples of SI.com ranked the top 25 college football teams entering the 2009 season. You can see Staples’ rankings by clicking the link above.

I’m intrigued by a couple of teams on his top 25, most notably Ole’ Miss (No. 7), Ohio State (No. 9) and TCU (No. 11).

Ole’ Miss is going to give a lot of SEC teams trouble this year with 16 total starters (8 on offense, 8 on defense) returning from last year, including quarterback Jevan Snead, who enters his second full season as a starter after throwing 26 touchdowns last season. They lost key components in offensive tackle Michael Oher and defensive tackle Peria Jerry, but they essentially return the same team that beat Florida, LSU and stomped Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl last year. (Not to mention also gave Alabama a game in Tuscaloosa.)

Out of the teams Staples ranks in his top 10, Ohio State has the fewest returning starters at nine. But quarterback Terrelle Pryor will only continue to improve with more playing time and running back Dan “Boom” Herron will ease the loss of Beanie Wells to the NFL. The Buckeyes should also have one of the best defensive fronts in the Big Ten, with end Lawrence Wilson and tackle Cameron Heyward set to return.

TCU turned a lot of heads last year after compiling an 11-2 record, including impressive wins over BYU and Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl. They had one of the fastest defenses in the nation last year and they held opponents to a staggering 11.3 points per game. But they lost seven starters on the defensive side of the ball, which was obviously their strength, so it’ll be interesting to see how they’ll stack up with Utah again in the Mountain West.

Another team to keep an eye on is Oregon State, who returns two explosive playmakers in running back Jacquizz Rodgers and wide receiver James Rodgers. But as Staples writes in his top 25 rankings, quarterback Lyle Moevano is coming off offseason shoulder surgery and will battle senior Sean Canfield in preseason practice.

Pete Carroll, you cocky S.O.B.

Behind quarterback Mark Sanchez’s four touchdown passes, the USC Trojans crushed the Penn State Nittany Lions 38-24 in Thursday’s Rose Bowl game.

Following the win, USC head coach Pete Carroll had this to say:

Pete Carroll“With all due respect, those are two great programs, I don’t think anybody can beat the Trojans,” USC coach Pete Carroll said. “I just think we can beat anyone we played. That’s happened a lot to us late in the season. This is a terrific finishing program. There are so many things we can do. We’re just hard to beat right now.

“I just wish we could keep playing. Unfortunately, we don’t get to. Maybe someday there will be a chance, but not now.”

You didn’t get the chance because you lost to an unranked Oregon State team, Pete. And while I agree with your hinted suggestion that their should be a playoff format, with the way the current system is set up, the Rose Bowl is exactly the game USC should have been playing in – not the national championship.

While the title would suggest otherwise, I actually don’t think Carroll’s, “I don’t think anybody can beat the Trojans,” comments were that bad, although I still don’t think he should have made them. Tell your team that nobody can beat them – not the national media. The politicking for this year is over, Pete.

As for the game, it essentially played out like I thought it would. USC’s defense was too fast for the PSU, although I thought the Lions would keep the game close after the first quarter. The key was Sanchez not turning the ball over. Several times throughout the course of the year, Sanchez killed scoring drives for the Trojans with costly interceptions. But he kept the ball moving last night and easily played his best game of the year.

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