The typical image associated with a huddle as fewer than 20 seconds remain on the clock includes a coach laying out the framework for the next few possessions on a dry-erase board.
In their series-extending 102-99 Game 5 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, it was assumed the Denver Nuggets took that idea and made it more modern by using an assistant’s laptop as they clung to a 99-96 lead with 19.9 seconds left.
The Lakers are upset with the Nuggets use of a laptop in the huddle, the Los Angeles Times reports. Nuggets coach George Karl said the team did not use a laptop in their Tuesday win. However, he did say his staff keeps a computer on hand.
“We have all of their end-of-game plays on a laptop,” Karl said. “Now, we didn’t use it last night. But you’re allowed to have a laptop, according to what our memo said. You’re allowed to bring scouting preparation information on a laptop.”
A Los Angeles Times report said the Nuggets could receive a fine up to $250,000 for the action.
This game goes down on the ESPN2 network and it features Auburn University Tigers taking on the University of Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Head coach Gene Chizik takes his Tigers to Mississippi with a perfect season on the line at 8-0 and 5-0 in the SEC. The Tigers are coming off a 24-17 win at home against LSU last weekend which junior quarterback Cameron Newton who is doing it all. Newton has passed for 1364 yards 13 touchdowns 5 INTs while completing 65.2 percent of his throws but his legs have done the most damage as he has rushed for 1077 yards 14 touchdowns at 6.9 yards per carry.
The Tigers offense goes as Newton goes but he does have the luxury of freshman running back Michael Dyer, 543 yards 3 touchdowns, and sophomore Onterio McCalebb, 458 yards 4 touchdowns, who are a dangerous tandem behind the gifted quarterback. When Newton looks to air the ball out he usually looks to junior Darvin Adams, 452 yards and 2 touchdowns, to move the chains but the home run ball goes to sophomore wide receiver Emory Blake, 201 yards 4 touchdowns.
Defensive tackle Nick Fairley is the real standout on defense as he has 39 tackles and leads the team in both tackles for loss with 17 and 7.5 sacks, he also has one interception and one fumble recovery.
Head coach Houston Nutt Rebels are reeling and a disappointment for alumni as they are 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the SEC. It hasn’t helped that Ole Miss is playing its third straight ranked opponent after losing at Alabama, 23-10, and Arkansas, 38-24, in the last two outings. The Rebels are lead by Oregon transfer senior Jeremiah Masoli, 1260 yards 10 touchdowns 6 INTs, at quarterback. Masoli, 400 yards 3 touchdowns, ranks second on the team in rushing and averages 5. 3 yards per carry.
Junior running back Brandon Bolden, 559 yards 5 touchdowns, is averaging a healthy 5.8 yards per carry. Bolden, 187 yards 2 touchdowns, is also one of Masoli’s top target in the passing game. Wideouts sophomore Melvin Harris, 248 yards 3 touchdowns and senior Markeith Summers, 359 yards 4 touchdowns, are strong complements on the outside.
Helping the cause is an offensive line that has yielded a mere 7 sacks on the season which leads the SEC and ranks 17th nationally.
Auburn leads the all-time series 25-9 including a perfect 13-0 against the Rebels when they come into the game ranked in the top-25.
PICK: Auburn University Tigers
This game goes down on the ESPN2 network and it features the University of Mississippi Rebels taking on the University of Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Head coach Houston Nutt has his Rebels at 3-2 overall this season and 1-1 in the SEC so far this season. Ole Miss was idle this past weekend giving the team extra time to prepare for Alabama. Ole Miss has had success on the offensive side of ball and with balance between the run and the pass, the Rebels make things difficult for opposing defenses. The team is generating 37 points per game and is averaging 232 yards rushing along with 191.4 passing.
Former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, 823 yards 6 touchdowns, has settled in under center in Oxford completing 60.6 percent of his throws. He also ranks second on the team in rushing with 52.4 yards per game along with another 3 touchdowns. Masoli has the luxury of having junior running back Brandon Bolden, 518 yards 5 touchdowns, while gaining 6.8 yards per carry.
Defensively the Rebels are giving up 32 points per game which has them at 103rd worst in the nation. Senior linebacker Jonathan Cornell has been the one bright spot of this unit with his 40 tackles, 8 tackles for loss and 3 sacks.
Head coach Nick Saban is coming off their first loss in nearly two years after losing to South Carolina. The Crimson Tide is now at 5-1 overall with a 2-1 record in the SEC. The offense is running has smooth as one would expect as they have found themselves playing from behind early. Alabama is though averaging 35 ppg and 445.2 yards of total offense. Balance is the key, with the team pushing out 197.5 yards rushing and 247.7 yards passing per outing.
It starts in the backfield with Heisman Trophy winner junior Mark Ingram, 396 yards 6 touchdowns, and sophomore sensation Trent Richardson, 442 yards 4 touchdowns. Both players are averaging 7.0 yards per carry. Senior quarterback Greg McElroy, 1298 yards 9 touchdowns, took the first loss of his career that goes back to junior high school this past weekend is doing his part by completing 72.3 percent of his throws. The possibility that Alabama will be without junior Julio Jones, 440 yards 3 touchdowns, is highly likely having surgery on his hand even though he did had limited practice.
The Alabama defense is inexperienced for the most part and finally showed some chinks in the armor against the Gamecocks last week, giving up big plays both on the ground and through the air. Teams though are only averaging 13 points per game which has them 6th in the nation.
Alabama holds a huge advantage in the all-time series, which now stands at 43-9-2. The Crimson Tide have won 17 in a row in Tuscaloosa.
PICK: University of Alabama Crimson Tide
This game goes down on the ESPN2 network and it features the University of Mississippi Rebels taking on Tulane University Green Wave at the Louisiana Superdome.
The Ole Miss Rebels will try to rebound from a stunning season opening loss,49-48, loss to Jacksonville State in double overtime. Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt will have a tough decision on which quarterback he will go with as if to continue with Nathan Stanley or transfer Jeremiah Masoli. Stanley was 6-10 for 133 yards 3 touchdowns while Masoli was 7-10 for 109 yards 1 INT while running for 29 yards. Both junior running backs did a great job running the ball with Brandon Bolden leading the way with 104 yards and a touchdown but Enrique Davis finished with 61 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Defensively the Rebels didn’t have any real bright spots as they gave up 49 points at home to a Division 2 school. Incredibly 36 of those points were scored after the fourth quarter began and the the Gamecocks managed to reach the end zone on all four of their red-zone trips which was definitely worthy of being an Mama Margies Major Meltdown honorable mention. Junior safety Damien Jackson lead the Rebels with 11 tackles.
Tulane had a wild 27-21 win over Southeastern Louisiana last Thursday night in its opener. It marked the first time since 2002 that Tulane won its inaugural game. Tulane freshman running back Orleans Darkwa made a stellar debut against SE Louisiana, rushing for 75 yards and 3 touchdowns. Head coach Bob Toledo will have to shore up the protection around fresham quarterback Ryan Griffin who was sacked 4 times, lost a fumble and also threw an INT.
Tulane sophomore middle linebacker Trent Mackey was named Conference USA’s Defensive Player of the Week for his role in last Saturday’s victory. Mackey had a game high and career-best 13 tackles, including 2 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Overall the defense came away with four takeaways for the game.
Ole Miss leads the all-time series with Tulane, 41-28.
PICK: University of Mississippi Rebels
This game goes down on the ESPN2 network and it features the University of Oregon Ducks taking on the University of Tennessee Volunteers, who will be facing off for their first ever meeting and it comes in Knoxville.
Tough to fathom that some hosts on SGE forget the the Ducks and Chip Kelly trout out ALL-SGE-NCAA Team member running LaMichael James (1,546 yards and 14 touchdowns as a freshman) and will return this week after a one game suspension. Kelly’s Ducks won the Pac-10 a year ago and carried that momentum over into this year, as they completely destroyed the New Mexico Lobos 72-0. The 72 points tied the school’s modern scoring record, against Nevada in 1999, and was the most points scored overall since a 97-0 shutout in 1916.
The Ducks without last years ALL-SGE-NCAA Team member and Jeremiah Masoli now playing at Ole Miss didn’t miss a beat as they rolled up 720 yards of total offense with the help of sophomore running back Kenjon Barner, 147 yards 4 touchdowns and one receiving touchdown, Replacing Masoli under center was handled by sophomore quarterback Darron Thomas,13-23 for 220 yards one touchdown. The story of all the offensive output had to be that the Ducks offensive line definitely didn’t allow a sack and paved the way for 6.4 yards per carry.
The Ducks defensive held the Lobos to a shutout which says pretty much it all. The defensive held the run of the Lobos to 25 yards and 82 yards on the pass. Oregon recorded 5 takeaways and 8 tackles for loss and was lead by senior defensive tackle Brandon Bair, 4 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and senior linebacker Bryson Littlejohn 2 fumble recoveries.
While not as prolific as Oregon’s offensive outburst, Tennessee’s start to the season wasn’t far off the mark, with the Volunteers racking up 50 points and 537 yards of total offense in head coach Derek Dooley’s debut. Junior quarterback Matt Simms, 14-24 for 181 yards one touchdown, saw most of his time utilizing the three-headed monster in the backfield. The Volunteers where lead by junior Tauren Poole,110 yards 2 touchdowns, freshman Rajion Neal,79 yards, sophomore David Oku,77 yards one touchdown, which makes no shortage of ball carries for Tennessee.
The Volunteer defense only gave up 142 yards of total offense, with 56 yards coming on the ground and 86 through the air. Sophomore safety Prentiss Waggner had 6 tackles but a 54-yard interception return to the end zone. Linebackers LeMarcus Thompson, 5 tackles one tackle for loss, and Austin Johnson, 5 tackles one INT, came up big while even adding a safety. Sophomore defensive tackle Montori Hughes, 4 tackles 2.5 tackles for loss one sack, was solid up front.
PICK: University of Oregon Ducks
This past Friday the NCAA granted Ole Miss transfer Jeremiah Masoli the right to the quarterback to play immediately in the 2010 home opener against Jacksonville State University. Then karma struck on Saturday and the Rebels lost, 49-48, to the Gamecocks in double overtime down in Oxford.
That hasn’t stopped Mississippi State fans from continuing to poke fun of their instate rivals. The Bulldogs fans have stepped up and created the Masoli for Heistman campaign. Masoli kicked the campaign off by completing 7 of 10 passes for 109 yards and with one interception.
Masoli for Heistman.
The kitchen must be getting to hot up in Eugene,Oregon as athletic director and former football head coach of the University of Oregon Ducks Mike Bellotti is leaving, for ESPN.
His tenure as the Ducks athletic director lasted less than one year and will now be an announcer and discuss college football with ESPN. Bellotti is stepping away from the kitchen just as things where starting to heat up. Just last week the Ducks second team all Pac-10 quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and ALL-SGE-NCAA Team running back LaMichael James were both suspended after respectively resolving burglary and domestic violence charges.
Bellotti who compiled 116-55 record in 14 seasons before giving way to Chip Kelly last spring, will debut with the network next month.
“I am really excited to join the best team in college football broadcasting,” Bellotti said in a statement. “Working as an analyst for ESPN is a dream come true and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I will bring the insight, experience and expertise I have gathered from 36 years of coaching college football to the studio and telecast booth.”
No doubt Bellotti is excited to be getting away from the firestorm in Eugene, imagine what is going to be said next year if the Ducks fail to produce a comparable season to last when they reached the Rose Bowl.
If you would like for a informative rundown on the Ducks off the field issues that have surrounded the football program since the Rose Bowl game just click (here). It’s a great read.
Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who helped lead the Ducks to the Pac-10 title and a Rose Bowl berth last season, faces a burglary charge in connection with a theft at a campus fraternity house in late January.
The Lane Country district attorney’s office says Masoli and former Oregon receiver Garrett Embry were each charged with one count of burglary in the second degree. Masoli and Embry are scheduled to be arraigned in Lane County Circuit Court later this afternoon.
A fraternity member reported that Masoli and Embry stole two computers and a guitar from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house on Jan. 25. The Ducks announced in early February that Embry had been dismissed from the team a month before for violating team rules unrelated to the alleged theft.
Masoli, who came to the Ducks as a junior college transfer out of Daly City, Calif., threw for 2,147 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. He also rushed for 668 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Chip Kelly has made the announcement that Masoli will be suspended for the entire 2010 season after the second-team All-Pac-10 quarterback plead guilty to burglary in the second degree, and was sentenced to 12 months of probation.
You can read about the fall of the Ducks football program in such a short time here.
What the hell is going on in Eugene Oregon? If you haven’t been following the off season of the University of Oregon Ducks this all might be new to you. Since the Ducks appeared in the Rose Bowl against Ohio State a lot has happened making the Oregon program look out of control.
The Ducks star quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and little-used wideout Garrett Embry have been implicated in a laptop theft. Embry has since been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules. Masoli and Embry are being investigated by police for stealing two laptops and a guitar from a fraternity house.
Then head coach Chip Kelly’s placekicker Rob Beard was hospitalized in critical condition after he took a beating on the streets of Eugene. At one point, Beard stepped in to help his friend, Mike Bowlin, a fellow placekicker involved in the fight. Beard wound up on the ground, getting kicked by several people until he was unconscious. Beard has now been charged with assaulting a 19-year-old woman during the fight the Eugene police announced. Bowlin has since left the football team and withdrew from the university.
Sophomore defensive end Matt Simms took it upon himself days later to stand up for his teammates. Simms was arrested and cited with a misdemeanor assault charge for allegedly retaliating against a man he thought had been involved in Beard’s beating. Simms then was dismissed from the team after the arrested.
But that’s not the end to Kelly problems as his team continues to spiral out of control with the arrest of ALL-SGE-NCAA Team member LaMichael James. He was arrested and charged with menacing, assault, and strangulation of his girlfriend. Police said during the altercation James strangled and assaulted Ducks cheerleader Courtney Eckhart.
Just a day later Ducks linebacker Kiko Alonso was cited for DUI. Alonso, had 15 tackles in 11 games playing primarily backup to starter Casey Matthews. The very next night, senior wide receiver Jamere Holland had something to say to all his Facebook friends.
Holland wrote “how the fuck you kick kinko off the team,,,on some weak shit, niggas always faded he slipped up but iveslipn up, and I’m still here, that shit weak buff cuh could have done damage for the ducks, that shit is weak, weak ass fuck, quote me” been
Holland later on updated his status on Facebook and wrote “I wish I could block whites as friends and only have blacks LOL, cause apparently I’m misunderstood.”
Kelly now has dismissed Holland from the football team for a violation of team rules and apparently changeling Kelly with his first expletive post. Holland seemed to believe Alonso had been kicked off the team but that has not happened as of yet.
So if your counting at home that four arrests for the Ducks football team in just a months time. Three players have been kicked off the team and a fourth leaving on his own. Two players futures still to be determined and the star quarterback under investigation for theft.
What the hell is going on with the Oregon Ducks football team? Does coach Kelly have control of this team?
- 19-year-old linebacker Josh Kaddu, was issued a citation for minor in possession of alcohol after he attempted to open the door of a car that did not belong to him.
- Sophomore kicker Rob Beard pleaded guilty to a charge of physical harassment.
- Sophomore linebacker Kiko Alonso was suspended for the entire 2010 football season after he pleaded not guilty for his DUII charge.
- LaMichael James has been sentence to 10 days in jail and a 24 month probation. He was suspended for the Ducks 2010 season opener.
- Jeremiah Masoli will be suspended for the entire 2010 season after the second-team All-Pac-10 quarterback pleaded guilty to burglary in the second degree, and was sentenced to 12 months of probation.
“The Granddaddy of Them All” adds its 96th edition this New Year’s Day, as Ohio State Buckeyes from the Big Ten face the Pac-10 Oregon Ducks in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The Rose Bowl is the oldest bowl game, beginning in 1902 and played continuously since 1916. This year’s combatants both come in with stellar 10-2 records.
Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes captured the Big Ten title for the fifth straight season, distancing themselves down the stretch with five straight victories to close out the regular season. OSU’s bowl resume consists of an 18-22 postseason record. The team will be participating in its fifth straight BCS bowl game and is making its first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1997. The Buckeyes are 6-7 all-time in 13 previous Rose Bowl appearances.
The Buckeyes have relied heavily on the run this season and the results are a gaudy 198.9 yards per game, on 4.7 yards per carry. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor leads the team in rushing with 707 yards and 7 scores. Tailbacks Brandon Saine has 694 yards, 4 touchdowns and Dan Herron has 558 yards, 7 touchdowns. The passing attack has taken a backseat in Columbus this season as Pryor has completed 55.8 percent of his passes this season for only 1,828 yards with 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Sophomore DeVier Posey is the top target with 52 receptions for 727 yards and 7 touchdowns.
The Buckeyes ranked fifth among the nation in total defense at 262.5 ypg. The Buckeyes were lead by linebackers Ross Homan 96 tackles and 2 sacks and Brian Rolle 91 tackles. Kurt Coleman amassed 64 tackles and 5 interceptions in the secondary. The ends where maned by Cameron Heyward 5.5 sacks and Thaddeus Gibson 4 sacks.
Chip Kelly has pushed all the right buttons in his first season at the helm at Oregon. The Ducks opened the year with a deflating loss at Boise State, but regrouped to win seven straight after that to regain their swagger. A shootout loss at Stanford put the Pac-10 title in jeopardy, but Oregon responded with three straight wins and clinched the conference title with a 37-33 win over rival Oregon State in the regular-season finale. Oregon is making its first appearance in the Rose Bowl since 1995 and will be making its fifth trip to the event all-time, with a 1-3 record thus far.
The Ducks uses one of the nation’s most prolific ground games to wear the opposition down and it has worked to near perfection. Oregon ranks sixth nationally rushing the football, averaging 236.1 yards per game on an impressive 5.5 yards per carry.
The team lost starting tailback LaGarrette Blount for most of the season after Blount was suspended after one hittin quittin a Boise State player. It was OK for the Ducks as red shirt freshman and ALL-SGE-NCAA Football member LaMichael James took over the slack and rushed for 1,476 yards and 14 touchdowns, on 6.9 yards per carry after the third game of the season. The other devastating weapon on offense for Oregon is dual-threat quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. The junior signal-caller rushed for 659 yards and 12 touchdowns while throwing 2,066 yards and another 15 scores. Wideout Jeff Maehl had 686 yards and 6 touchdowns, but tight end Ed Dixon did a lot of damage with his yards after catch and blocking while finishing with 42 receptions for 551 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Oregon is giving up just 329.4 yards of total offense per game, while limiting opponets to 23 ppg with 32 sacks and 24 takeaways on the year. Freshman safety John Boyett has made an immediate impression on this team with 78 tackles and 2 interceptions. Safety Javes Lewis has 77 tackles, 2 interceptions while corner Talmadge Jackson has 4 interceptions. Linebacker Casey Matthews has 72 tackles, 2.5 sacks, Spencer Paysinger 72 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and Eddie Pleasant 50 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks while defensive end Kenny Rowe has 8.5 sacks with 11 tackles for loss.
The series between these two teams has been dominated by Ohio State, which has won all seven prior matchups. However, these two schools have met just twice in the last 41 years (1983 and 1987). The first-ever meeting took place in the 1958 Rose Bowl.
PICK: University of Oregon Ducks
In a bitter and long-standing rivalry known as the “Civil War”, the Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers will battle for the Pac-10 Conference title and a berth in the Rose Bowl.
Last year the Beavers 65-38 loss snapped a six-game overall winning streak and an eight-game streak at Reser Stadium but utlimatley their shot at a Rose Bowl berth. It was the most points Oregon State had ever allowed an opponent.
The Beavers seemed lost without freshman running back Jacquizz Rodgers, the Pac-10′s leading rusher who was out with a shoulder injury. The team also missed older brother James Rodgers, who had perfected his role in Oregon State’s trademark fly sweep. The Ducks were led by Jeremiah Masoli, who threw for 274 yards and 3 touchdowns. They rolled up 694 yards in total offense.
Oregon went on to beat Oklahoma State in the Holiday Bowl 42-31, and the Beavers went on to defeat Pittsburgh 3-0 in the Sun Bowl.
Oregon leads the overall series with Oregon State by a 56-46-10 margin. This season is the first “winner takes all” Civil War in the history of the longstanding rivalry game, where both teams have the opportunity to go to the Rose Bowl with a victory. The winner will also claim the Pac-10 title, breaking the hold that the Trojans have had on it for the past seven years.
Oregon (9-2, 7-1) lost its opener against Boise State and its lone conference game on the road at Stanford. Oregon State’s (8-3, 6-2) losses this season were to Cincinnati, Arizona and USC.
Few college football fans know anything about Sean Canfield, but the Oregon State quarterback certainly deserves credit for his outstanding play this season. Canfield has completed 70.3 percent of his passes for 2,797 yards with 19 touchdowns against 6 interceptions. Jacquizz Rogers leads the team in rushing with 1,313 yards and 19 touchdowns while placing second on the team with 67 catches. James Rodgers is tops in receiving with 77 catches for 865 yards and 8 scores while also ranking second in rushing.
Oregon State is scoring 32. ppg this season to go along with 422.2 total ypg. The Beavers are have only turned the ball over eight times in 11 outings, perhaps the most impressive stat of all.
Defensively, Mike Riley’s Beavers have been rather mediocre this season, as the team is allowing 22. ppg and 340.5 total ypg. Oregon State has done its best work against the run, limiting the opposition to 98.5 ypg at a clip of 3.5 yards per carry. Pass defense has been it’s downfall. Keaton Kristick is certainly a player worth watching, as he has recorded 80 total tackles to lead the Beavers along with seven tackles for loss and 2 interceptions.
The strength of the Oregon offense is its ground attack, which has accounted for a staggering total of 32 touchdowns. The Ducks have registered a total of 47 offensive touchdowns and are scoring 37 ppg while generating 418.8 ypg. LaMichael James is a dynamic tailback who has posted 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 6.9 yards per rushing attempt. As for Masoli he has thrown 14 touchdowns against only 4 interceptions, while rushing for 619 yards and 12 scores.
Chip Kelly’s Ducks doesn’t possess any star caliber defensive players on the roster, but there are a number of individuals who have made positive contributions this season. Javes Lewis leads the Ducks with 72 total tackles, and he has forced three fumbles. Oregon is allowing 22 ppg and 324 total ypg this season. The team has permitted 14 passing touchdowns and 14 rushing scores.
Oregon has made four appearances in the Rose Bowl, most recently following the 1994 season. The Ducks would have played in the 2002 game but went to the Fiesta Bowl because of the Rose Bowl’s tie with the national championship game that season. Oregon State has not earned a trip to the New Year’s game in Pasadena since the 1964 season.
PICK: Oregon State University Beavers
In position to win its first conference title since 2001, Oregon is doing its best to avoid any outside distractions. That became a bit more difficult this week with the reinstatement of running back LeGarrette Blount from a suspension.
With Blount eligible to play for the first time since the season opener, the Ducks will try to focus on the task at hand Saturday night and beat a struggling Arizona State team at home so they can maintain their slim lead atop the Pac-10.
After rushing for 1,002 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, Blount was expected to be one of the top playmakers for Oregon (7-2, 5-1) before being suspended for the season for punching Boise State defensive end Byron Hout following a season-opening loss.
Although suspended, Blount remained on scholarship and was allowed to practice with the team. On Sunday, coach Chip Kelly recommended that Blount be allowed to rejoin the team and the Pac-10 approved his reinstatement the following day.
With Blount sidelined, redshirt freshman LeMichael James has flourished as the Ducks’ top running back. He will remain the starter against Arizona State (4-5, 2-4). James has run for 1,043 yards and eight touchdowns, becoming the first Oregon freshman to surpass 1,000 yards rushing.
One week after making a statement with a 47-20 victory over USC, Oregon suffered a stunning 51-42 loss at Stanford last Saturday that reduced its conference lead to one-half game over Arizona. The defeat also cost the Ducks any shot at a berth in the Bowl Championship Series title game, but wins in their final three contests against Arizona State, Arizona and Oregon State will send them to the Rose Bowl. Oregon scored two late touchdowns to cut a 20-point deficit to six, but Stanford held on to end the Ducks’ seven-game win streak.
Jeremiah Masoli threw for a career-high 334 yards and three touchdowns while James added 125 yards rushing – his fourth straight game with at least 100.
James could have a difficult time extending that streak against the Sun Devils, who lead the Pac-10 and rank sixth nationally in rushing defense (87.4).
Another area of concern for the Ducks is their own run defense, which allowed Stanford’s Toby Gerhart to pile up 223 yards on 38 carries last week. He became the first Pac-10 runner to gain more than 200 yards against Oregon since Washington’s Corey Dillon on Oct. 26, 1996.
Arizona State has plenty of issues of its own, having lost three straight and ranking near the bottom of the conference in scoring (24.1) and total yards per game (353.8).
In the third quarter of last Saturday’s 14-9 loss to USC, coach Dennis Erickson replaced struggling quarterback Danny Sullivan with 6-foot-8 freshman Brock Osweiler, who finished 11 of 27 for 153 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Osweiler will make his first career start Saturday because of Sullivan’s right biceps injury. Osweiler is the first true freshman to state for the Sun Devils since Jake Plummer in 1993.
Last week’s defeat dropped the Sun Devils to 3-28 against ranked teams since 2000 – and 1-7 under Erickson.
Oregon has dominated Arizona State lately, winning the past four meetings by a combined 168-73 score. The Sun Devils haven’t won at Oregon since Oct. 2, 2004.
PICK: University of Oregon Ducks
The Trojans look to stay in the hunt for an eighth consecutive league title and shore up some defensive breakdowns when they visit the Ducks and their prolific offense. In less than two months, Oregon (6-1, 4-0) has made a season that could have become defined by an embarrassing loss at Boise State and LeGarrette Blount’s infamous punch into one with a chance to win its first Pac-10 title since 2001.
Riding a six-game winning streak, the Ducks, off to their best conference start since opening the 2000 season with seven straight league wins, stand alone atop the Pac-10.
USC (6-1, 3-1) and Arizona are tied for second, and either team could take the conference crown by winning out.
USC coach Pete Carroll Trojans have owned at least a share of the Pac-10 title each season since Oregon last won it, but they’ll likely be out of the running should they lose this weekend. To avoid that fate, USC’s defense will likely need to improve upon its performance from last Saturday’s 42-36 win over Oregon State. The Trojans allowed the Beavers to roll up 482 yards of total offense, the most yielded by USC since giving up 556 yards to Texas in a 41-38 Rose Bowl loss following the 2005 season.
It was also the second straight shaky defensive effort for USC, which gave up 367 total yards in a 34-27 defeat at then-No. 25 Notre Dame on Oct. 17. The Trojans allowed an average of 8.6 points and 238.6 yards in their first five games.
Proving it for 60 minutes against a high-powered Oregon offense led by a healthy quarterback Jeremiah Masoli should be quite a challenge. Masoli missed the Ducks’ 24-10 win over UCLA on Oct. 10 with a knee injury, and the offense never got in sync. He returned to the lineup last Saturday and didn’t seem to miss a beat, passing for 157 yards and a touchdown and running for 54 yards and two scores in a 43-19 victory over Washington. The versatile quarterback is the key to Oregon’s offense, with the team averaging 45.7 points and 484.7 yards in the last three games he has played.
LaMichael James, Oregon’s workhorse since Blount’s suspension, has rushed for 657 yards and six touchdowns in his last five games. The redshirt freshman running back totaled 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Huskies, and has had at least one run of at least 26 yards in each of his last six games. While Masoli and James lead the offense, the Ducks’ defense has been just as impressive.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly Ducks limited Washington to three points through three quarters last week, and has held three of its last four opponents to 211 yards or fewer. The Ducks’ 19 takeaways are tied for the Pac-10 lead – posing a tough challenge for mistake-prone Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley.
The freshman has thrown at least one interception in each of his last three games, including two last week. Barkley has thrown for 1,540 yards with seven TDs and five interceptions in six games this season.
USC may need its steady ground attack featuring Joe McKnight and Allen Bradford to take the pressure off Barkley. McKnight was limited last week because of sore hands and finished with 65 rushing yards on 11 carries, but Bradford ran for a career-high 147 yards and two scores.
The Trojans defeated Oregon 44-10 last season but lost 24-17 loss to the then-No. 5 Ducks in their last trip to Autzen Stadium in 2007. That was USC’s only defeat in the last five meetings.
PICK: University of Oregon Ducks
The University of Oregon Ducks fast-paced offense over the past two seasons, there’s little reason to believe the Ducks will have a drop-off as Chip Kelly makes the transition from coordinator to head coach. Sixteenth-ranked Oregon begins the Kelly era on the imposing blue turf of Bronco Stadium, where No. 14 Boise State University Broncos will look to win its 50th regular-season game in a row. The Broncos stunned the Ducks in Eugene, Oregon a year ago.
The Ducks were expected to rebuild in the last season of Mike Bellotti’s but instead were one of the nation’s most dangerous offenses in Kelly’s second year as offensive coordinator. Oregon finished seventh in the country in scoring offense (41.9 points per game) behind the running tandem of LeGarrette Blount, which led the nation’s second-ranked rushing offense (280.1 yards per game). The Ducks found out late last season that they have a reliable quarterback in. Junior Jeremiah Masoli who threw for 830 yards and six touchdowns and ran for seven more. Oregon averaged 54.0 points in winning its final three games, including a 42-31 victory over No. 13 Oklahoma State in the Holiday Bowl to secure a No. 10 finish.
Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, meanwhile went on to throw for 3,486 yards and 25 touchdowns in leading the Broncos to a 12-0 regular season in 2008 and a No. 9 ranking heading into a Poinsettia Bowl meeting with 11th-ranked TCU. He failed to throw for a touchdown in that game, and TCU ran for 275 yards and limiting Boise State to 28, in a 17-16 win. The Broncos return 12 starters, six on each side of the ball and that’s enough for them to win their seventh WAC title in eight years.
Boise State was third in the nation in scoring defense (12.6 points per game) last season, and corner-back Kyle Wilson was the WAC’s defensive player of the year after leading the team with five interceptions last year. He also returned three punts for touchdowns. The Broncos hasn’t lost a regular-season game in Bronco Stadium since a 41-20 loss to Washington State on Sept. 8, 2001.
PICK: Boise State University Broncos