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College Football Notes
by Scott Spreitzer - 12/08/2005
News and notes from this past weekend in college football.
Texas Cries â€œBring on USC!â€쳌 Texas made an emphatic statement Saturday with a 70-3 shellacking of Colorado in the Big 12 title game. It reminded old timers of the 1946 meeting when Texas beat Colorado 76-0, still the worst loss in Buffalo history. Saturday's blowout was more embarrassing as it was the Big 12 title game. Colorado came into the game with the No. 2 rushing defense in all of college football! Which shows how stats can sometimes be deceptive. Texas merely waltzed through the Buffaloes for 268 rush yards. Texas has a strong offensive line, and note that USC has allowed 141 rush yards or more four times this year (all in the second half of the season).
The Longhorns are going for their first undisputed national title since 1969, when Darrell Royal worked the sidelines. The blowout got ridiculous in the third quarter when Texas scored on its first possession, scored again off a blocked punt, then made it 63-3 on a run by RB Jamaal Charles after Colorado lost a fumble at its 26. The Longhorns have won their games by an average score of 51-14. They've topped 40 points 11 times, 50 seven times, 60 four times and hit 70 once! Either Texas or USC may be going down as one of the greatest teams ever come January.
UCLA/USC: If UCLA had any chance to duplicate last season's competitive 29-24 loss to USC, they blew it with terrible play-calling in the first quarter. Twice the Bruins had third-and-nine and completed four yard passes, and before you had a chance to settle into your sofa it was 24-3 Trojans. But let's face it, it was men against boys. USC could have won the game easily without Reggie Bush or Matt Leinart, their defense and offensive line was so dominant. Pete Carroll is now 11-0 straight up and 10-1 against the spread the last 11 times he's had two weeks or more to prepare his Trojans for battle. That streak will go on the line a month from now when USC faces Texas for the national title. USC has now won 34 games in a row and is within striking distance of Oklahoma's record 47 wins in a row in the mid-1950s, if they get by the Longhorns.
Jittery Trojan? What was going on with USC QB Matt Leinart Saturday? He had a terrible game and looked like he never faced a pass rush before. He was 8-of-20 for 68 yards in the first half. It had to have just been a bad game. Because if he's that jittery against a terrible UCLA defense, wait until he gets a look at the Texas front seven!
Neutered Bulldog! If you don't think emotion is a part of handicapping college football, make a note of what happened to Fresno State. The Bulldogs played the game of their lives in battling No. 1 USC toe to toe in a thrilling 50-42 defeat as a +23 dog back on November 19. However, that super-human effort appeared to take something out of Pat Hill's very good squad as they are 0-2 SU/ATS since, losing 38-35 to Nevada as a 16-point favorite and Friday's 40-28 collapse against La Tech as a 25-point favorite. Fresno lost the turnover battle by a total of 6 in those two defeats. Five turnovers and four personal fouls did them in Friday.
With a co-WAC title to be won, Fresno State stumbled in the 40-28 loss to Louisiana Tech as the home crowd booed! "I really don't quite have the words for it right now," Fresno State coach Pat Hill said. "It's baffling to me." After two straight collapses, the Bulldogs finished the regular season 8-4 overall, 6-2 in the WAC for a third-place tie with Tech in the final WAC standings. â€œThe falls here are very hard," Hill added. "You work so hard to reach a peak. When it doesn't come, it's very, very painful." Can they forget it in time to play hard in a bowl game? Or are they emotionally burnt out?
What a Good Coach Can Do: Navy's 42-23 win over Army won them the Commander in Chief's Trophy for the third straight year, the first time the Middies have accomplished that. It just shows how important stable, competent coaching is in football. I recall about a decade ago when Army and Navy were stumbling through terrible seasons, sports journalists wondered if it were possible for service academies to even be competitive in Division-1A football. The answer is obvious.
Navy coach Paul Johnson has provided the answer, running a solid, disciplined program focused on fundamentals and winning. Navy had the edge in rushing yards over Army 489-91 Saturday. A toast to both Army and Navy for all they've accomplished on and off the field this year!