Blanket Coverage: Why Isn't Oregon Ranked Higher?
Can some AP or coaches poll voter, any of you, please explain how Oregon is not ranked higher than fifth in either poll after Saturday's games? Oregon is No. 5 in the AP poll and No. 6 in the USA Today/Coaches poll despite having outscored its opponents by an average margin of 63-4.3 through three games.
Granted, the Ducks have played two over-matched opponents in their first three games, but then so have No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Ohio State and No. 5 TCU (USA Today poll). The difference is that, with one-fourth of the season complete, Oregon is No. 1 in the nation in scoring offense and total offense as well as No. 1 the nation in scoring defense (4.3 points per game allowed) and total defense.
Those are the four most telling statistical categories in football.
And, unless you consider Duke a major foe, Oregon is the only one among that foursome to go on the road to play an opponent from an AQ conference. Two Saturdays ago, the Ducks waddled in to an SEC cathedral and torched an average Tennessee squad by five touchdowns. This weekend, back home, Oregon overwhelmed FCS opponent Portland State 69-0 in Eugene.
Was it really only a year and two weeks ago that head coach Chip Kelly made as inauspicious a head coaching debut as one might imagine? That night in Boise, his Ducks failed to record a first down in the first half of their 19-8 loss. How times have changed and quickly.
And, by the way, the Ducks are doing all of this without the man who started at quarterback a year ago.
Stanford at Oregon on Oct. 2 is shaping up as the game of the year in the Pac-10. Until then, Phil Knight should replace the "O" on Oregon helmets with a photo of Rodney Dangerfield.
"Well, We're Comin' to Your Boi-say!"
ESPN will take the most popular Saturday morning show since "Scooby Doo" on its maiden voyage to Boise this Saturday. The reason? The host school's potentially final tilt vs. a ranked opponent, Oregon State, before a likely BCS bowl berth.
"About time," said Bronco coach Chris Petersen, who might have added that his program has a 104-15 record since joining the WAC in 2001. Here's a vote for longtime Boise resident Heather Cox to nab the sideline reporting duties for the prime-time battle on the blue turf. Cox not only does a terrific job, she's been on the sidelines for the entirety of the program's climb, from Friday night blowouts of Hawaii to sub-freezing, inhumanitarian workplace conditions at the Humanitarian Bowl.
The Fine Line Between Taunting and Exuberance? The Goal Line
Speaking of Boise State, the Broncos went the final three quarters of their 51-6 victory at Wyoming minus their top receiver, Austin Pettis. The junior, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass in Boise State's season-opening win against Virginia Tech, was not injured.
Rather, Pettis was benched by Petersen after drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. His sin: somersaulting into the end zone at the end of a 58-yard touchdown reception that put Boise State up 17-0 with 5:42 to play in the first quarter.
"There's a right way to do it and a wrong way," Petersen told reporters afterward. "We'll live and learn. Message sent."
I hate to pile on (after all, that's also unsportsmanlike conduct), but this is all Reggie Bush's fault. It was the dynamic USC running back who made unnecessary leaps into the end zone de rigeur, a practice that has spawned countless imitators.
The question is, who's being harmed? Petersen's punitive action is understandable since next year such displays as Pettis' will result in a 15-yard penalty from the spot of the foul. Translation: no touchdown. Purdue quarterback Robert Marve did the same thing after scoring on a 23-yard keeper against Notre Dame earlier this season.
Still, in a world in which Icelandic soccer goal demonstrations become YouTube sensations, is a little leap really that offensive? It might be better if opposing defenses, rather than officiating crews, were at the forefront of ending such displays.
Speaking of Taunting ...
Two years ago, safety Blake Gideon's muff of an easy interception at Texas Tech helped cost the Longhorns a shot at the national championship. Gideon was only a true freshman, though, and after all it was not he who allowed Michael Crabtree to score on the next play with :01 remaining.
Gideon had an interception on Saturday as the Longhorns returned to Lubbock for the first time since that 2008 epic. This time it was a Red Raiders defensive back, cornerback Will Ford, who made a late mistake that may have BCS title game implications.
Ford committed two personal fouls, one a taunting penalty after the Longhorns tossed an incomplete pass on third-and-13, on their game-clinching touchdown drive in the fourth quarter of the 24-14 victory.
"Two personal fouls on the same drive inside the 50, that's something you can't do," Tech defensive coordinator James Willis told Lubbock Online. "We can't allow one individual to tear the team down, and that was one instance where one guy really hurt us right there."
Lights Go Up on Broadway
After Houston quarterback Case Keenum was forced out of his second consecutive game in the same fashion -- injuring himself while attempting to make a tackle after tossing an interception -- Cougars coach Kevin Sumlin opted to burn the redshirt of heralded freshman Terence Broadway.
The freshman was a respectable five of eight for 84 yards in the 31-13 loss to UCLA, but for the Cougars, who led the nation in scoring after two weeks, the season is suddenly in limbo. Keenum was on pace to become the NCAA's all-time passing yardage leader (he currently ranks fifth with 13,586 yards), but after suffering a concussion the previous week and laying limp on the Rose Bowl turf for two minutes on Saturday evening, the status of his return is in doubt. Sumlin would only say that Keenum, who left the field on a golf cart, suffered a leg injury.
Oaks Christian Update
You may remember Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian, the prep alma mater of Jimmy Clausen and current USC tailback Marc Tyler. On Friday evening, the Oaks trailed 19-0 against Ventura St. Bonaventure when a quarterback switch was made. Backup quarterback Richie Harrington, a senior, led the Oaks to a 33-32 overtime win.
The starter whom Harrington replaced? Trevor Gretzky. Yes, that Gretzky.
North Texas coach Todd Dodge is beginning to resemble a 21st-century Gerry Faust. Dodge was 79-1 in his last five seasons as head coach at Southlake (Texas) Carroll High School from 2002-06, so if any high school coach deserved a shot at the big time, he was a worthy candidate.
In three seasons with the Mean Green, Dodge is 5-34 after Saturday's 24-0 loss at Army. It was the Cadets' first shutout win since 2005. Worse for Dodge, he lost his quarterback, Derek Thompson, to a broken leg. Thompson was only starting because Nathan Tune dislocated his hip in the previous week's loss to Rice. Dodge and the 0-3 Lean Green are now down to their third-string quarterback, a wide receiver named Riley Dodge. Yes, that's Todd's son.
Between the Quote Marks
"We always approach every game the same way: Just come in, wanting to dominate the opponent, make them never want to play us ever again." -- Alabama running back Mark Ingram (pictured right).
"I told Ryan if he messed up, head west. I probably wasn't going to see him again and I'd probably have to go with him." -- Texas coach Mack Brown on his advice to upback Ryan Roberson before the Longhorns attempted a fourth-quarter fake punt from their own 29-yard line while nursing a three-point lead. Roberson converted.
'Oooo-wee! What Up With Stats?'
Oregon's LaMichael James averaged 16.2 yards on 14 carries (227 yards) against FCS opponent Portland State, while Alabama's Mark Ingram averaged 16.8 yards on nine carries (151 yards) against Duke.
Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor connected on 16 straight passes (a Buckeyes record) to start the game in Ohio State's 43-7 win over Ohio, TCU's Andy Dalton hit his first 11 pass attempts in TCU's 45-10 demolition of Baylor and West Virginia's Geno Smith opened with 10 consecutive completions in West Virginia's 31-17 win over Maryland.
Jake Locker finished four-for-20 with two interceptions in Washington's 56-21 home loss to Nebraska. And ESPN's Todd McShay wants him to be my latex salesman? McShay, as you may recall, has for months touted Locker as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Certainly this is not Locker's fault, but McShay does the Husky quarterback no favors, especially when Arizona leads the nation in passing yardage and Stanford's Andrew Luck leads the country in passing efficiency.
Notre Dame is now 1-6 since a Halloween night win over Washington State last season. Average margin of defeat in the six losses, none of which was decided until the final minute of regulation (or, in two cases, overtime), is four points.