John Clay’s Hair Tribute Secret to Wisconsin’s Success

Trips to Hawaii are so old. Handing out Rolex’s are played out. You want to give your offensive linemen a real gift? The new way to go is shaving their numbers into your hair.

That’s what Wisconsin running back John Clay did prior to the team’s game against Ohio State two weeks ago and his team attitude has paid off. Clay, who was considered a Heisman Trophy candidate prior to the season, has 13 touchdowns on the year. He scored two in an upset win over Ohio State and two more in another upset win over Iowa on the road. Both big games have been achieved since Clay made the tress tribute to his teammates:

Attention quarterbacks and running backs looking to give love to their lineman: the stakes have been raised. Any wonder why Wisconsin has won both of these huge Big Ten games? It has to be the hair.

Photo Credit: Wisconsin State Journal

USC Coaching Poll Penalty Will Not Hurt Oregon in BCS Standings

Oregon is 7-0, leading the Pac-10, and ranked first in the AP and USA Today Coaches’ Poll. With a game Saturday evening at the Coliseum in Los Angeles, they’re set for their toughest test of the year since facing Stanford at home. Because the BCS computers already are ranking the Ducks lowly, my uncle brought up a good question leading up to this game: will USC’s penalty of being unranked all season by the Coaches’ Poll hurt Oregon should the Ducks win? The answer is no.

The only team whose BCS standing is hurt by USC being unranked by the Coaches’ Poll is USC. That doesn’t matter since USC is ineligible for the postseason anyway. The BCS computers actually are ranking USC as if it weren’t on probation, that way Oregon — and any other team who plays them — gets the proper credit for the win. In fact, playing and beating USC actually will be more helpful than any win the Ducks have had since taking out Stanford, which is currently 13th in the BCS.

The computers are actually fairly high on the Trojans, ranking them 27th on average. Jeff Sagarin has them ranked 20th, Anderson & Hester has them 26th, Richard Billinsgley and Peter Wolfe rank USC 27th, the Colley Matrix has them 28th, and Kenneth Massey has them 29th.

Looking back over Oregon’s schedule, though they’ve looked impressive in their wins, the reality is their schedule has been weak and that’s why they’ve been ranked lower in the BCS than the polls. A win over USC will do wonders for its BCS ranking. The only remaining obstacle is winning the game. Now that will be the tough part.

BCS Computers Do Not Like Oregon Much

Oregon was the overwhelming number one team in the country this week in both polls. The Ducks received 44 of the available 60 first-place votes in the AP Poll. Likewise, they received 50 of 59 first-place votes in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. If the human polls had Oregon as the runaway top team in the country, why were they second in the BCS standings behind Auburn? The answer is easy: the computers are down on the Ducks.

There are six BCS computers and the high and low ranking (the outliers) are thrown out. Then, an average is taken of the remaining four rankings to give a team its computer ranking. The ultimate BCS ranking is calculated using 1/3 of the Harris Poll, 1/3 of the USA Today poll, and 1/3 of the computer average. Considering Oregon was number one in both the Harris and USA Today polls, they had to be ranked pretty lowly by the computers and that was the case.

One computer has Oregon ranked 11th in the country, behind one-loss teams Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and LSU. Strangely, though the PW computer is high on one-loss teams, it has Alabama (possibly the best one-loss team in the country), ranked 15th.

Another computer has Oregon ranked 10th behind Oklahoma, LSU, and Ohio State. A third computer has Oregon ranked 8th while three of them have Oregon ranked 6th, giving them a computer average of 8.

I understand that the computers have systems weighing different factors that allows them to arrive at their rankings and I respect all the effort put into the calibration of the computers. However, something is definitely wrong if the Ducks are only ranked 8th by the computers. They are easily a Top 10 team no matter how you look at it, and I would favor them to win against almost every team in the country on a neutral field. Being ranked 8th by the computers is inexcusable.

USC May Go to the Spread Offense

The best coaches are able to take what they have and make the most of it. That means putting players in position to have the best chance of succeeding, which means adjusting to the talents on the roster. It sounds like USC coach Lane Kiffin recognizes that reality and is prepared to make some adjustments in the future when USC’s recruiting is affected by the loss of scholarships. With his team off this week, Kiffin and his staff was out recruiting and he suggested to reporters that the team might change to the spread next year:

“Look at what we have,” Kiffin said. “We have a bunch of really good receivers and tight ends and backs. We don’t have a fullback that’s on our roster two months from now. We’ll have to make the best of whatever we’re dealt with.”

As long as they have Matt Barkley at quarterback, they won’t have an offense where the QB is a running threat (unlike UCLA which has no business doing so with their personnel). But with the way Barkley has looked this year, he may leave for the NFL draft after next season meaning USC could become a full-blown spread team in two years.

We’ve been used to seeing the Trojans run a pro set offense under Pete Carroll so a change would be strange. Still, the best coaches adjust the talent in the program and it looks like USC is prepared to do just that.

Cam Newton Touchdown Run Against LSU Was Signature Heisman Play (Video)

Three weeks ago I asked if Denard Robinson, Taylor Martinez, or Cam Newton was the best running quarterback in America. While Newton’s numbers were not as impressive as the others’, he still belonged in the discussion and showed us why on Saturday.

Newton ran for 216 yards on 28 carries as Auburn handed LSU its first loss of the year winning 24-17. The junior quarterback ran for a one-yard touchdown to give his team a 7-0 lead but the signature play came early in the third quarter. Check out this Cam Newton 49-yard touchdown run video against LSU that helped solidify Newton’s claim for the Heisman Trophy:

I was listening to the game on the radio when this play happened and I could tell the announcers were getting excited. Unfortunately their description did not do the play justice. Newton made three LSU defenders miss and dragged Patrick Patterson into the end zone. Now that is freaking impressive. I’m guessing Auburn will be 11-0 before they suffer a loss in the Iron Bowl to Alabama who will move on to the SEC Championship game. Hopefully Tigers fans will relish this high because the Tide will ensure it ends in disappointment.

Fake Punt Helps Michigan State Avoid the Northwestern Upset

Michigan State entered Saturday’s game at Northwestern ranked 7th in the BCS Standings and first in the Big Ten with a 7-0 record. They had beaten Notre Dame on a crazy fake, taken down Wisconsin at home, and they pummeled Michigan on the road. With a big challenge at Iowa looming, Saturday at Evanston seemed like a trap game for the Spartans.

It certainly turned out that way, yet Michigan State prevailed with an impressive comeback.

The Spartans came back from down 17-0 in the second quarter to win 35-27. They caught a nice break early in the game when Northwestern lost a fumble at the Michigan State one-yard line on its third possession. Kirk Cousins threw a touchdown pass before halftime to get them on the board and they went into the half down 17-7. In the second half, Michigan State’s offense really came alive.

Bennie Fowler
scored on a reverse to pull the Spartans within three, but then they allowed another touchdown going down by 10. Michigan State reached into its bag of tricks again and ran a fake punt to convert a 4th down in Northwestern territory and they scored a touchdown right after that. Yet again, a fake on a special teams play gave them a huge lift. From there, Michigan State’s defense got stops (including a pick to seal the game), and the offense scored two more touchdowns to win it.

Michigan State isn’t blowing teams away and reminds me a lot of Iowa last year in terms of the way they’ve won games. It hasn’t always been pretty, but they keep coming out on top. Now they can turn their full attention to the Hawkeyes.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Where UCLA Bruins Go From Here Will Determine Rick Neuheisel’s Future

Much like going to Austin, when UCLA was set to play at Eugene for a huge road game this year, I was expecting a bad loss. Because of the shocking win at Texas, I was holding out a small piece of hope somewhere inside me that UCLA could pull off another stunner. What we ended up seeing was a 60-13 loss in which the school couldn’t have possibly been more embarrassed.

Oregon went 90 yards on eight plays for a touchdown in their opening drive and went the rest of the game mowing through UCLA with little resistance. The Ducks rolled up 582 yards of offense and were so dominant it felt like they could have named the score against the Bruins. While UCLA was hoping to get first downs and maybe get into field goal range, it was a disappointment if Oregon’s drives didn’t end in touchdowns (only 3 of 11 didn’t). UCLA’s defense was an oxymoron; we didn’t even see the Ducks’ punter until the 4th quarter.

I know I speak for all Bruins fans when I say that I’m sick of these embarrassing losses. 35-0 to Stanford, 35-7 to Cal, and now 60-13 against Oregon, where the touchdown wasn’t scored until two minutes were left in the game. On no possible level is this acceptable. If we’re good enough to beat Houston and Texas, we should be good enough to compete with the rest of the teams in our conference.

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