Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, LSU and Stanford are your top five
in that order. No. 9 Notre Dame, No. 13 USC and No. 17 Oregon State
are other ranked opponents in the simulated
standings. Apparently, the computers love the Pac-12 this
year, and no team more than your Cardinal. The five computers that
have released numbers rank the Cardinal an average of third, good
for tops in the nation.
No. 2 to the computers: Notre Dame. No. 3: Oregon. Suffice it to
say that Stanford should stay sky-high in the computers if they
keep winning. Looking at how dominant Stanford’s opponents have
been, it’s easy to see why.
Duke (3-1, Sagarin predictor: 89)
Sean Renfree threw for 314 yards and four TDs as the Devils
downed winless Memphis (0-4), 38-14, in a game that wasn’t even
that close. With Wake Forest and Virginia on deck, a 5-1 start is
possible. Alas, an equally putrid finish is likely in order,
judging by the Devils’ computer rank and last four opponents:
Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Miami.
San Jose State (3-1, 59)
The Spartans turned heads last week in doubling up Mountain West
foe Colorado State, 40-20. This week, San Jose State continued to
punch above their weight class. The squad hails from the lesser
Western Athletic Conference, but yet again knocked out a decent
Mountain West foe. This time the victim was host San Diego State,
38-34, thanks to a last-minute touchdown.
Looking ahead, the Spartans are in a three-team race in the WAC.
Louisiana Tech, Utah State and the Spartans have Sagarin rankings
in the 50s, while New Mexico State, Texas State, Idaho and
Texas-San Antonio each have rankings north of 140. With those
creampuffs ahead, bowl eligibility is all but assured and a 9-3
finish doesn’t seem out of the question. Like Duke, SJSU should
represent another boost to Stanford’s ratings (or at worst, prove
neutral), despite being expected to be one of the weakest teams on
the 2012 schedule.
USC (3-1, 1-1, 15)
California (1-3, 0-1, 58)
The host Trojans downed the Bears last weekend, 27-9. It was a
grind-it-out game, with USC holding Cal to 250 total yards while
rushing for 296. Both teams threw two interceptions on the day,
but USC hung on thanks to Curtis McNeal and Silas Redd each
cracking the century mark, and Marqise Lee adding on 94 receiving
yards and two scores.
Arrow up on the USC rush attack, and transitively, Stanford’s
front seven; arrow down on Cal’s rush D. Conversely, arrow down on
Cal’s offense, arrow up on USC’s D, and maybe Stanford’s offensive
performance against the Trojans wasn’t as bad as we thought.
USC had to be happy with the Oregon State/UCLA result, as the
Trojans miss the Beavers this year, and no longer look vulnerable
in the Pac-12 South. They’ll play Utah and then Washington on the
road after a bye this week. Cal hosts Arizona State and UCLA and
visits Washington State, in that order, before the Oct. 20 Big
Game. The Bears have to finish 5-3 to reach six wins and bowl
eligibility, and with Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State still on
deck, that looks like a tall task.
Washington (2-1, 62) had a bye before their Thursday night
tilt with Stanford.
Oregon (4-0, 1-0, 2)
Arizona (3-1, 0-1, 37)
The Ducks’ defense led the way in Eugene, returning two
fourth-quarter interceptions for scores in a 49-0 win. It was just
13-0 at halftime of a sloppy game that featured eight turnovers.
But Oregon won the ground battle with 228 yards to Arizona’s 89,
and that would prove enough in an otherwise relatively close
contest. Oregon had 495 total yards versus 332 for Arizona, and
was 10-of-21 on third- and fourth-down conversions, versus 6-of-21
for Arizona, so certainly the Ducks should have won, but probably
by a third of the final margin.
The Ducks, who have scored at least 42 in each contest, visit
Wazzu before hosting Washington. With Arizona State and Colorado
to follow, the Ducks should be 8-0 heading into USC November 3.
Arizona hosts Oregon State this weekend and visits Stanford next
Saturday, so it’s a make-or-break stretch for them.
Notre Dame (4-0, 10)
Notre Dame: returning to glory since 1993. The Irish downed
Michigan, 13-6, to climb back into the top 10 in a misleading
game. First, this isn’t your daddy’s Michigan. The Big Ten stinks
and Michigan is still not back to what it used to be. Second,
Michigan threw interceptions on five consecutive passes - which
has to be an NCAA first - in a game that saw the Notre Dame
offense do nothing. The Irish finished with 239 yards and, despite
the turnovers, all of 26:41 in possession as the middle of their
offense line failed time and again to generate any push. The Irish
were so desperate that they benched starting freshman quarterback
Everett Gholson mid-game for Tommy Rees, last year’s starter who
played poorly enough to lose his job to a true freshman in the
first place. When you have two quarterbacks, you really have none,
the aphorism goes. The Irish compound that problem with little
running game (94 rush yards on 31 carries) to speak of.
Defensively, no one Notre Dame has played has had the quarterback
to exploit a vulnerable secondary. So teams have played to their
strength, the front seven.
The Cardinal's ability to exploit the Irish secondary remains to
be seen, but I think this is the high-water mark for Notre Dame.
Miami is on deck after a bye, and if they don’t end the fairy
tale, Stanford should in the next game. The Cardinal’s front seven
are going to have a USC-like game against the Irish. In the
meantime, these paper tigers should look great. An over-inflated
Notre Dame: all the better for Stanford.
Colorado (1-3, 1-0, 141)
Washington State (2-2, 0-1, 108)
Host Wazzu led 31-14 with just over seven minutes left before
“Couging” it. Nick Kasa’s 70-yard reception and Tony Jones’
84-yard run brought the Buffs to within 31-28. Washington State
added a field goal, but Colorado quarterback Jordan Webb converted
on a fourth-and-goal bootleg scramble in the final seconds to
complete the comeback, 35-34. Washington State probably assured
itself of a bowl-less December with the loss, as they’ll be
significant underdogs in their remaining games, starting with a
visit Saturday from Oregon. Colorado hosts UCLA and Arizona State
before a USC/Oregon/Stanford block.
Oregon State (2-0, 1-0, 31)
UCLA (3-1, 0-1, 29)
Oregon State won 27-20 in the Rose Bowl last weekend in a game
surprisingly reflective of the final score. The offenses were
average to good, Oregon State led narrowly throughout, and the
Beavers used 122 rushing yards to help offset their two turnovers.
UCLA’s Brett Hundley (27 of 42, 372 yards) and OSU’s Sean Mannion
(24 of 35, 379 yards) each had good days, but UCLA could run for
only 2.6 yards per carry and had just 25:24 of possession [Ed: and
Johnathan Franklin was a Heisman contender before this game,
If Oregon State can win in Tuscon this weekend, they could find
themselves 7-0, as Washington State, BYU and Utah follow. Four of
UCLA’s next six are on the road, meanwhile, starting with visits
to Colorado and Cal these next two weekends.
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