Oregon Blowout Edition – 11/1/09

This weekend has not been a good one.  Not only are the evil and deplorable Yankees looking like they may take a 3-1 lead on the Phillies (whom I couldn’t care less about themselves), but the team I really care about and really love was demolished on Halloween night in Eugene, Oregon.  Even the biggest college football lover of all time has a hard time loving the whole deal when he sees a game like that, but nevertheless, I muse on.

Around the country first:

– Tim Tebow is three rushing touchdowns away from tying Herschel Walker’s rushing TD record – not two ahead! Herschel’s record does not include his five bowl game touchdowns; Tebow’s bowl TD’s do count (brilliant, eh?). He will get it, but can we please levelize the record books before the rest of the world finds out that the bureacracy in college football is run by mentally retarded people?

– I am talking to more and more SEC fans that are admitting how much better the Pac-10 is this year (from top to bottom). Personally, I liked it better before.

– Texas looked better from what I saw.  Bama’ was off.  Florida did as expected.  All things considered, I have only seen one team this year with an offense that I positive no one in the country would like to play: The Oregon Ducks.

– Looks like UCLA had a nice comeback (which came up short) up in Corvalis.  19-3 going in the fourth quarter, and lost 26-19; could have been worse.  UCLA has to win the rest of their games to have a winning season, and those games are Washington State (which they will win), Washington (which could go either way), Arizona State (which could go either way), and USC (which I suspect will not be pretty, but you just never know).  If they win all four games, they still end up 4-5 in conference play.  I think Rick is hoping for 2-2 from here.  I think the Bruin fans are excited for basketball.

– If you didn’t see what happened in that Iowa-Indiana game, you don’t understand how bizarre the final score was.  Indiana was FEET away from going up 28-7.  Instead, that play ended with a 21-14 score, and then they missed a field goal, and then before you knew it the score was 45-21 (Iowa).  Indiana would not have lost with a 28-7 lead.  Turnovers in the red zone are just miserable to watch.

– Is Cincinnati for real?  I need to do some homework here!

– Tennessee’s big win over South Carolina tells me what I need to know.  Spurrier may not be back, and no one in the conference wants to play the Vols any more.  They really could be a one-loss team right now in conference (and frankly, should be).  The UCLA loss and Auburn loss were just inexcusable, and the Alabama loss was really a moral victory when you consider what happened (in Tuscaloosa).  Their time is not yet, but I am watching that program, largely because of my respect for assistant Orgeron …  They could finish the last four games 4-0 too when you look at the schedule.

I don’t have much to say about the USC game and if I did I am not ready yet to say most of it. Later in the year, I will comment on the unrepeatable accomplishment that GOING NINE YEARS WITHOUT A BLOWOUT LOSS is. But right now, I don’t care about that. Oregon ran over USC Saturday night. Absolutely ran over them.

I think Barkley going into Ohio St., Cal, and Notre Dame and getting road wins was very, very, very impressive. And I think Barkley played fine Saturday night. But this defense has fallen apart at the seams. And I think they should be focused right now on stopping Arizona State, because there is not a single game left on the schedule that we are not capable of losing.

Oregon will not lose another game all year, including their bowl game, which if there was any sense in the world, would be a national championship game. I can promise you that if there was a playoff they would be there. Absolutely no question about it in my mind.

I was just plain wrong about the defense’s fall off from last year, but until the Notre Dame game, I looked right. They played the first half of the year like they were as good as last year’s, and it fooled more people than just me. But the defense was utterly humiliated Saturday night, and I am not sure that it will not happen again this year.

It is interesting to see the press reports today that the defensive struggles were primarily fundamental mess-ups in tackling and assignments. I just assumed that when a QB and a RB are able to run that freely, it must be some kind of scheming problem are match-up issue. I suspect that those who understand X’s and O’s are saying something like this today: what the heck? It was athletic superiority, and a classic case of a team running straight downhill on another team.

Joe McKnight looked good on offense. Blake Ayles dropped a touchdown pass and Matt overthrew a touchdown pass. Matt kept us in the game in the first half. But if our offense has to score every time we have the ball to win, ala 2005, we will not win. I am just stunned by how good I have had it as a football lover. USC’s defense has been the greatest example I can think of when considering what we talk about “taking something for granted.” No one has ever, ever, ever blown out USC since Carroll came because, even when our offense sputtered, the defense would not let the other team score. And USC’s has the most impressive winning percentage of the decade, seven conference championships in a row, and six BCS bowl wins, because of defense. “Offense sells tickets; defense wins championships.” McKay is as right today as he was then. Fix the defense, and we will win championships again. Only a fool would bet against Pete righting this ship

I will save my bigger evaluation for the team and the season until I can see how this plays out.  The reality is that we can win all of our remaining games, and then we go 11-2, which is what 99% of the teams in college football would kill for in a good year.  To have that be our version of a bad year, I have a hard time justifying complaining.  Eight of our starters from last year’s defense played in the NFL today, as did our starting quarterback.  It would be nice to win another Pac-10 title and keep this dynasty going, but the reality is that yesterday’s loss makes that essentially impossible.  So now, we have to just win out, go where we go, and accept it.  If a true freshman quarterback and a completely brand new defense winning on the road in Ohio State, on the road at Cal, on the road at Notre Dame, and (assuming they do it), going undefeated at home, is a “bad” season, I can tell you that every team in the history of college football would trade us for our version of a bad year.  For now, my hope is that the bandwagon fans who were nowhere to be found in the 90’s and 90’s (let alone 2000 or 2001) will use this loss to do what they do best: go run away.  Become a mortgage broker or something.  Just leave the rest of us alone.  As for the rest of the Trojan family, we are unmoved in our commitment to this team and its players, and completely resolved that USC’s program is the finest program the nation has to offer. 

Off to Tempe we go.  May we bounce back strong, and become better.

And no matter what happens with the rest of this season (which will end up with three home games in a row to offset the three home games and six road games we will have played), FIGHT ON.