Good guys don't always finish last. Sometimes they finish 2nd or 3rd in the North Division.
Welcome to the latest edition of Football Friday on a Thursday. On the menu this week... Beaver. Yup, we are heading to Corvallis to take on the resurgent Beavs of Oregon State. No sooner had Beaver coach Mike Riley finished toweling off after taking a quick dip in the Sutras Hot Tub, then he was all wet again from the cannonball splash Jeff Tedford made. Riley has his team in the hunt for a Pac-North title and the Cougs come in to Corvallis looking to play spoiler. Who’d a thunk it? For Coug fans making the trip, Corvallis is a magical place full of wonder and intrigue... and it also has some hotels and places to eat. Last time we visited Corvallis we just happened to have one of the most cathartic victories in Cougar history. Can lightning strike twice? See what the resident blognosticators think after the jump...
Longball and Trucoug89 at the UNLV game. Amieable caught the very moment we both found out about the in-stadium beer sales.
I'm not sure if it is the location (Reser being the site of our late 2010 stunner over the Beavs), or the promising play in the first half against the Ducks, but there is a feeling of optimism entering this game that is probably misplaced given the way these two teams have performed this year. Halladay has been given the reigns despite a healthy Jeff Tuel and that means that the Beavs are going to be tested deep, and often. We have been getting to opposing QBs lately, and Mannion won’t bring nearly the same escapability that we saw from Mariota last week. Still, this Beaver team is just doing what you have to do in order to win games week in and week out and we haven’t done what you have to do to win games EVEN ONCE THIS YEAR. Hope Springs eternal and all, but at the end of the day we are the lesser team and we’re on the road.
Beavs 38, Cougs 28
USC 31, Utah 17 - Before the season started I had drawn a lot of circles around this game. As it turns out, Utah is a shadow of the team we thought they’d be and USC has already taken a hit in the loss column. This is no longer THE marquee matchup in the South Division. But don’t sleep on those Utes. They can do crazy things in the comfy confines of Rice Eccles. Unfortunately for them, USC has already received their wake up call.
Arizona 28, Stanford 24 - Stanford takes another tumble from the incredible heights of beating USC as the Cats circle the wagons like the Buffalo Bills and get back on track with a huge conference road win.
UCLA 41, Cal 33 - Sutra’s hot tub begins to boil for Jeff Tedford as UCLA wins the battle of teams with the same fight songs.
Oregon 44, Washington 28 - I gotta admit, I have a funny feeling about this one. After showing us that they can play some D last week, the Dawgs have a whole new bite to go with their (loud and obnoxious) bark. Still, they can’t keep their QB upright to save their lives. Ducks won’t win this as comfortably as they probably think they will.
Happy Thursday Cougar fans. First of all, I've got to apologize for my lack of appearances in these parts the last month or two, it's amazing how much life throws at you (and I don't even have a wife/kids yet, wow!). Even my work behind the scenes @WazzuFBBlog has been lacking and I miss you guys.
Anyways, a quick recap on the Pick Em League Standings, before we jump into my take on this week's action. Our very own SeanHawk remains in 1st Place across both leagues, with a steady lead, and 156 points. IAMWINNERS comes in second at 151 points, and we have a three way tie for third with LongBall, DawgKiller1 and davey crema lives all coming in with 147 points. Keep up the good work gents (or gals?).
As for me, I couldn't have been more incorrect on that UW/Stanford game last week. I thought for sure if the Cardinal held UW under 21 points, there was no way they would lose that game. It always amazes me how Vegas is so darned good with those lines. Anyways...
USC 31 - Utah 20: I'm not gonna lie, if you had told me 31 days ago the Utes would be behind Colorado, UCLA, and ASU in the Pac 12 South standings, as the calendar turned to October, I would have bet you a large sum of money to the contrary. USC lost their only conference road game so far this season, but I just don't think Utah has the firepower on offense to outscore the Trojans. FYI, this game is not part of our Pick Em League, as Yahoo! always excludes Thursday night contests.
Stanford 24 - Arizona 20: Stanford returns home, where they're 4-0 on the season, after a surprising loss last week at the CLink. Arizona has seriously faltered the past few weeks after looking like an early surprise in the Pac 12. I think the Cardinal defense is just good enough here to eek this one out, but if Scott gets rolling, it could be another ugly week for the nerds.
UCLA 38 - California 24: This game has the potential to set us up for two 0-3 teams squaring off next weekend in Pullman (gametime for that has been set at 7:30, the Pullman PD and LCB are already trembling in their boots for this one). Tedford's feet hit the deck of Sutra's Hot Tub after this one, and Justin Wilcox's agent is already hearing from Cal's AD.
Oregon 49 - UW 21: Last weekend was the first time I was able to witness the Chip Kelly offense in-person, and I left CLink on Saturday night without my voice and really impressed with the Ducks. Hi-Def just doesn't do the thing justice! The Ducks have won something like 7 or 8 in a row in this series, by an average margin of 17 and I have a really hard time imagining the Huskies hang any closer in this one. In-fact, I've Oregon covering 25.5 in my office pool. Here's an interesting stat, that caught me off-guard. The UW defense is giving up less than 20 PPG so far through four contests on the year. Wilcox lead defenses have faced Oregon twice since Kelly took over in Eugene; in 2010, his Volunteers surrendered 48 points, and in 2009, Boise State yielded 19 points in the first game of the Kelly Era. How do they do this weekend?
Oregon State 41 - Washington State 35: The Cougs head southwest into the Willamette Valley this weekend, where they've been winners in two of the last three contests in Corvallis. Last weekend, we saw a lot of really positive things from our team. I think that's tough to see and say, when your team lost by three touchdowns, but truly, it was probably our most complete game of the season. Unfortunately, we're yet to play four solid quarters in one week. I really like the Air Raid this week, considering OSU is 118th in the country against the pass. Unfortunately, our secondary, which plays more like a fourthdary (see what I did there?), is 119th against the pass. I could see 1000 yards of offense hitting the board this weekend, and I will be there to witness it, first hand.
Soze is Still Drunk From Vegas, Sadly, & That Was Three Weeks Ago:
I missed last week (and I'm blaming it on that god awful Vegas trip WEEKS ago), but this week? This week, I'm coming back with a vengance!
USC 42 - Utah 10 For a second, I thought I would take the Thursday Night Upset Special here (my memory is TERRIBLE, but I feel Thursday Night Football on the Worldwide Leader breeds upsets)... but that seriously only lasted a second. I just don't see how Utah is going to stay close to USC here. SC, big.
Stanford 30 - Arizona 17 I wasn't a believer in Arizona at the beginning on the season and I'm not a believer now. In the immortal -- and overused -- words of Denny Green: "they are who we thought they are." I think Stanford bounces back this week against an ideal opponent... QB Matt Scott keeps it close, but I think Stanford goes back to the smashmouth football that got them where they were before last Thursday's upset special (vomit) and pulls away late.
California 38 - UCLA 30 I'm not sold on Mora Jr just yet... granted, I haven't seen many UCLA games this year, but I did see many Seahawks games. I guess Neuheisel always got talent to Pasadena (top 25 recruiting classes based on stars!!), just never coached them up! I'm going to be relatively sober this Saturday, so I might put an eye or two on this game. But for now, give me the Bears in a mild upset. Besides, its not hot tub season yet.
Oregon 66 - UW -3: Did you guys see the tshirts that UW had printed up after their upset win of Stanford last week?! Goodness sakes, I hope they get the printers ready for this week's game after Oregon absolutely TRUCKS the Dawgs! Rumors have it that Ducks and Huskies hate each other, so I don't see Oregon letting off the gas pedal. You want to know how UW scores -3? Who cares... screw the Huskies!
Oregon State 40 - WSU 27: Which brings us to our beloved Cougs heading down to Corvallis to take on the Beavers of Oregon State. Who are ranked, by the way! Can you believe that? As a whole, I think the Pac-12 is extremely overrated right now and Oregon State might top the list. They are ripe for an upset here, right? Oh, who am I kidding. Even Hooty can't get me excited for this one
Happy Football Friday on Thursday Cougs. I don't know about you but I'm ready for some FOOTBALL! This week has been dragging, and I personally can't wait to see how the Cougs follow up last week's up-and-downer vs. Oregon against a pretty damn good Beaver team that has to be the suprirse in the conference this year?
I think this week it all boils down to two areas:
1) Is Connor Halliday going to keep evolving? So there were parts of the CU game, in fact just about the first half, where Halliday made things look easy. He was calm and cool and under control, and was awfully productive as the Cougs built a nice lead. He was hitting the underneath stuff, he was hitting the deep stuff, he was hitting pretty much everything. But in the second half, as the entire team seemed to go in the tank, so did Halliday's accuracy and consistency. It was like the whole team just let down, CU got up off the mat, and it just slipped away. And Halliday started to force the action, throwing deep and trying to make something happen when it just wasn't there.
But last week vs. Oregon there was the poor body language at times and all that stuff, but there were also some very good things he did out there. One thing that kind of escaped me is that he only threw one INT in 60 pass attempts?! Against a fast as hell defense in Oregon, probably the best defense outside of Stanford that the Cougs will see in 2012, Halliday had only 1 INT? That was pretty shocking if you ask me. His completion percentage was just over 50%, right where it's been in his young career thus far, but he only threw the one INT. Granted it was a BAD INT that was run back the other way for an easy 6 points, and at that point seemed to suck the life out of whatever the Cougs had going on. And there were moments where he still took too many sacks, including that huge swing at the end of the first half where he was dumped on three consecutive pass plays (THROW IT AWAY!!!). But to me, cutting down those INT's is a huge part of the evolution of Halliday's game. Leach had to be happy with the end result there, even though there were some bumps in the road along the way.
2) What will we see from the defense? It was weird last week. Oregon strolled down the field with very little resistence, building the 20-3 lead. But then something changed, and in the second quarter and in to halftime the D looked, well, different. They were getting excellent penetration up front, they were playing a style that looked fast and aggressive and with a little bit of - dare I say it - SWAGGER??!? They probably looked a hell of a lot like Mike Breske hoped they would look for the vast majority of 2012! But then as the wheels came off in the second half for the offense, so too did the defense start to fall down as the game wore on and Oregon just basically did what Oregon does, and that's put you away with a 2nd half flurry. I mean it went from 23-19 to 51-19 in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Will we see the defense that stepped up it's collective game in the 2nd quarter vs. Oregon? Or will we see the performance "come back to the pack" and settle back in to what we've been seeing all along this year? In other words, was that spurt in the 2nd quarter a turning point or just a blip on the screen and not really who they are??
All that said, I believe we WILL see an improving Connor Halliday this weekend. He will be faster and better with his reads, and I believe we will see him hitting the underneath stuff as he continues to evolve. But at the same time, Oregon State's D is going to be the biggest problem. They are fast, strong and very physical up front, and this will be the first true "hostile" environment the Coug O-line will have to deal with this year. It's been sort of a patchwork unit as it is, but add in a pretty good dose of crowd noise and attitude from the Beaver front seven and you start to get why I'm worried about what the offense will do this one!
I also believe the Coug D will have it's moments as well. As good as QB Sean Mannion has been this year - and he has been VERY good, with great poise and a tremendous arm - he doesn't move all that well. I think Travis Long and some of the "Hair Raid" defenders will make some plays early and we'll be encouraged by what we see. But I don't think it will last, not over four full quarters of football. And right now Oregon State just kinda has it going on, you know? They are clicking and the Cougs simply aren't there, at least not yet. So with that, I'll go Beavs 38, Cougs 24.
USC 34 - Utah 17: Trojans get back up and fight, still stinging over the Stanford loss. But Utah looks headed for a disappointing season, and are ripe for the picking. SC rolls.
Arizona 31 - Stanford 21: Arizona bounces back big-time after their late loss to Oregon State, while the word is out that Stanford has NOTHING going on at QB or with their skill guys. Sure they can run it, but that's about it. And as we know in this league, you have to be able to throw it to win!
UCLA 27 - California 20: Mora's Bruins responded well to their first loss of the season by crushing CU in Boulder (and man, watching some of that game just KILLED me all over again about how the Cougs lost to CU!). Cal looks in big trouble, and it won't get any easier this week. And as others have been saying, the calls for Tedford's head seem to get louder by the week? This game won't help his cause at all. It's funny but I saw an interview with Tedford this week, and I don't know, he just looks "tired", I guess? For the first time just watching him, it looked to me anyway that a change might be good for everyone, Tedford included!
Oregon 42 - UW 39: It's going to be a big-time atmosphere for this game, and for some reason I have a gut feeling UW is going to come out guns ablazin'. In fact, I believe UW will get up early on Oregon, maybe even build a decent lead in the first half and Autzen will be awfully quiet (for a change). But the Ducks will get it going in the second half with a fast-n-furious comeback, and will take a late lead and hang on to win a shootout. BUT BELIEVE ME WHEN I SAY THIS - better beat UW now folks. As much as it hurts to admit it in Cougville, UW is on the rise. Next year when they get into their renovated stadium and all these players you see now are returning in 2013? Yeesh.
All for now. GO COUGS!