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Looking Back Before Moving Forward
by Scott Spreitzer - 11/28/2005
News and notes from this past weekend in college football.
Stampeding Longhorns: Texas failed to get the cover in its 40-29 win over feisty A&M. However, that was only the second time all season Mac Brown's troops failed to cover, as Texas is 11-0 SU, 9-2 ATS. But it wasn't a strong performance. QB Vince Young was sacked three times, fumbled twice (losing one) and had an interception. A&M was able to run the ball at will, averaging 5.4 yards per carry as quarterback Stephen McGee and freshman running back Jorvorskie Lane topped the 100-yard mark. A&M outrushed Texas 277 yards to 174 and outgained the Longhorns overall, 395-336. Think USC's Reggie Bush was watching? And licking his chops?
USC/UCLA Interesting matchup Saturday as the 9-1 Bruins go up against the top-ranked, 11-0 Trojans. USC has won six straight over UCLA, quite a difference from the 1990s when UCLA had a long win streak of its own against rival USC. The Trojans have two weeks to prepare after a thrilling 50-42 comeback win over Fresno State, trailing 42-41 in the fourth. A defeat would have thrown the BCS title game into chaos. Fresno torched USC for 110 rushing yards and 317 passing! After allowing only one team to top 100 yards in the first five games, the Trojans have allowed 5 of the last 6 teams 141 rush yards or more.
UCLA has had three weeks to prepare, and coach Karl Dorrell admitted he has his own coaching challenge in keeping his team in rhythm during what will be a three-week break by the time it takes the field at the Coliseum on December 3. UCLA last played Nov. 12 against Arizona State. A win over the Trojans would create a three-way tie for first in the Pacific 10 Conference for the Bruins with USC and Oregon.
UCLA senior linebacker Justin London (ankle) and senior center Mike McCloskey (shoulder) sat out UCLA's last two games because of injuries, and both are expected to be ready Dec. 3. The Bruins also will get back linebackers Aaron Whittington and Fred Holmes, who have been sidelined because of leg injuries.
But UCLA will still be without several injured starters: offensive tackle Chris Joseph (knee), WR Junior Taylor (knee) and defensive linemen Kevin Brown (ankle) and Nikola Dragovic (knee). The Bruins like their matchup against USC's defense, which gave up 427 yards and 42 points to Fresno State. UCLA ranks 17th nationally in total offense, gaining 444.4 yards a game, and sixth in the country in scoring at 40 points a game. "We can take defenses apart no matter what coverages they run," boasted junior RB Maurice Drew. But the Bruins defense is awful, allowing 34 points and 241 rushing yards (5.7 ypc) in Pac 10 play!
USC/UCLA History: The underdog is 24-10-2 against the spread the last 36 years in this heated rivalry.
Big Red Resurgence: Nebraska is off a stunning 30-3 win at Colorado, dominating play against a Buffalo team that needed to win. By the end, the only folks making noise in Colorado's stadium were a rowdy group in the corner shouting "Go Big Red!" Zac Taylor threw for 392 yards and two scores, Cory Ross accounted for 142 yards and a touchdown. â€œIt's dumbfounding," Buffs coach Gary Barnett said. "I don't know what happened." You got beat, Gary, that's what!
Bayou Bengals: LSU didn't impress in a clinching win over Arkansas, but they did squeeze out a 19-17 victory as a 17-point favorite. Actually, the LSU defense impressed, stopping Arkansas on their final three series when all they needed was to drive within field goal range. The Tigers held Arkansas standout freshman Darren McFadden to 57 yards on 24 carries. LSU had to have the victory to clinch the SEC West and will face No. 13 Georgia in the conference championship game.
Nobody Wants to Face Texas? It appears no one in the Big 12 wants to play Texas. Colorado folded in a 30-3 loss to Nebraska, then watched Saturday as Iowa State blew its chance to face the Longhorns. The Cyclones wasted an 11-point lead and missed a field goal in overtime, then watched Scott Webb kick a 34-yarder to give the Jayhawks a 24-21 victory Saturday that makes them bowl eligible and sends Colorado to Houston to meet No. 2 Texas for the Big 12 championship. Colorado met Texas back on October 15, losing 42-17 while giving up 482 yards! And you wonder why no one wanted to advance to the Big 12 title game?
Gator Bait: I expected a defensive duel when Florida met Florida State Sunday, giving out the under. Both teams defenses have been far better than the offenses all season. There were 6 turnovers in all, and the Florida defense created four turnovers in their 34-7 win.
A Bush Landslide? ESPN ran a poll asking voters from each state who should win the Heisman, and the results looked a lot like 1984. No, not Doug Flutie winning again, but it was similar to a Reagan landslide over Walter Mondale that year as Reggie Bush won 49 of 50 states over Vince Young. It's not yet known if Bush's running mate will be Jack Kemp, the former Cal quarterback who has experience behind center and as a VP candidate! It would be one potent backfield ticket.
Quote of the Week: "Texas A&M has a great defense," said QB Vince Young. They do? Where has it been all season?
Quote of the Week, Part II: Asked if he would like to coach to age 78 like Joe Paterno, Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said, â€œI'll be lucky to live to 78.â€쳌