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Article:Week 1 Postgame: West Coast Rising

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You don't have to watch Sports Center every day or spend 12 hours in front of the television every Saturday, if you want to keep up with college football. Let me do that for you and then check out my weekly postgame report all fall.

The postgame report is simple. We'll take an overview of the weekend in college football. Then, we'll have a 3-up, 3-down (for the sake of football we'll have Three Down Conversions and Three and Outs) teams on the rise and teams on the decline based on the weekend's performances. Finally, we'll preview the week ahead and what implications lie in the upcoming weekend. I'll close with a rundown of my 1-25 rankings.

  • Of note, all rankings are Associated Press as of the previous week, unless listed as "new, latest, current," etc. or "Coaches' Poll, Harris Poll," etc. During the upcoming week's "Gameplan" rankings are current.*

Play-by-Play: The Rise of the West Coast

For year's now the SEC, Big 12, even the Big 10, have been widely considered better than any West Coast team not named the Trojans.

This past weekend, the West took a big step back into the national limelight:

-A No. 3 Oklahoma loss (14-13 to BYU) took down a big buck for No. 4 USC (56-3 win over San Jose State) in its hunt for the National Championship. With a road game at current No. 8 Ohio State this weekend, the Trojans can vault right into the discussion with Florida and Texas.

-The Mountain West's No. 20 BYU, as already mentioned, did themselves a huge favor in busting the BCS by defeating Oklahoma and jumped up to the No. 9 ranking. The Cougars have a challenging schedule, but home-field advantage is in their favor from now on. The four most difficult opponents remaining (Florida State, current #16 TCU, Air Force, and current #17 Utah) will all have to travel to Provo to face BYU.

-Perennial BCS wrecker, No. 14 Boise State, quieted the quack of No. 16 Oregon (and LeGarrette Blount, who we'll discuss later) 19-8. The Broncos have an easy road ahead, and the win will serve as the biggest print on their BCS resume come December. More over, Boise State's defense proved it can stop one of the more prolific offenses in country.

-No. 12 Cal absolutely destroyed the ACC's Maryland in a 52-13 blow out, and showed that for once, it can be a contender, instead of a pretender.

-Coming off the most embarrassing season in the school's history (a winless 0-12 campaign), unranked Washington stuck with No. 11 LSU for four quarters before falling 31-23 to the 2007 National Champion.

Three Down Conversions

Small-conference BCS busters - As mentioned, both current No. 9 BYU and current No. 12 Boise State put together impressive wins against ranked teams to put themselves in BCS discussions. BYU has put themselves in a position where if they run the table, they'll most assuredly be given a BCS Bowl berth. In fact, BYU's schedule is such that it could even suffer a loss and remain in the talk. Boise State's objective is simple: it must win every game it plays; a BYU loss certainly wouldn't do BSU any harm either, as BYU is currently in front of the Broncos for a coveted BCS bid.

Pete Carroll's Football Factory - Not only did Carroll's true freshman, Matt Barkley (15/19, 233 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT), look like a total stud in his first start, but up north UW Head Coach, Steve Sarkisian, and UW Defensive Coordinator, Nick Holt, have changed the mind set of Husky team that went winless last year. Sark and Holt were both part of Carroll's staff before moving to Seattle this past spring. Also of note, former Trojan and 2009 #5 overall pick, Mark Sanchez, will start his first pro game this coming weekend for the New York Jets.

Alabama - The Crimson Tide ran the regular season table last year, but were never really a part of the SEC Championship game in a 31-20 loss to Florida and were then shown up in the Sugar Bowl against a fiesty Utah team. No. 5 Alabama controlled the tempo in a 34-24 win over No. 7 Virginia Tech. I'm not sold Va Tech ever deserved to be a Top 10 team, but I am sold that Alabama has moved on from last season's fall in the postseason.


Sam Bradford's Sooners - Coming into the season, the Oklahoma defense was supposed to lead the team despite the offense being led by the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner (Sam Bradford). When Bradford went down in the first half against BYU with an injured shoulder, it was really up to the defense to carry the torch. To its credit , it only gave up 14 points, unfortunately, the Oklahoma offense crumbled without its leader and the Sooners title hopes were kicked out the door like a puppy that peed on the floor.

LeGarrette Blount's Quack - No. 16 Oregon's starting running back, LeGarrette Blount, had guaranteed Boise State "an ass whippin'," and after he didn't deliver it during the game, he took the liberty to deliver it after, punching Broncos DE Byron Hout (who had taunted him) in the face, and later needed to be restrained from going after BSU fans in the tunnel, as he left the field. Blount has been suspended for the season, so he's done, but what will this mean for the Ducks?

Blount's punch was the only attack from an otherwise punch-less offense (if you can excuse the pun). Oregon's offense averaged nearly 42 points last season, but was held to just 8 in Boise. Chip Kelly's transition from Offensive Coordinator to Head Coach has looked anything but smooth. The good news is the loss was out of conference, but this team doesn't look like the BCS team I said they could be a week ago.

Ohio State's Preparation - Critics questioned the choice for No. 6 Ohio State to schedule Navy in Week 1 before the Week 2 matchup with current No. 3 USC. Navy runs a triple-option offense based solely on the run. USC runs a pro-style offense that often uses three wide receivers and just one running back. The questions turned into an interrogation after the game, as the Buckeyes just barely snuck past the Midshipmen, 31-27. Thus, not only does Ohio State have to completely shift gears for USC, they certainly aren't riding any momentum after struggling to beat the Naval Academy in the Horseshoe.

Extra Point

Miami's 38-34 win over No. 18 Florida State was an instant classic (as illustrated by ESPN replaying it on ESPN Classic on Tuesday night). The teams exchanged leads right until the very end, and FSU finished 2 yards from winning the game. It was great to see these two teams put on a show on national TV, just like old times. However, only time will tell if this was a showdown between two powerhouses rising back to prominence, or if it was just an evenly matched game between two borderline Top 25 teams. I think it falls somewhere in between.

This Week's Game Plan

  1. 3 USC at #8 Ohio State, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Everyone has been talking about this matchup for months. In fact, in Ohio, they've had this game circled since last September. Last season when these two met, the build up was the same for what turned into a 35-3 rout by the Trojans. This year, the Buckeyes have more things working in their favor: they're at home as opposed to in LA, Terrelle Pryor is the unquestioned leader of the offense, and USC true freshman QB, Barkley, will make his first ever road start.

As was the case last season, I'll be fortunate enough to take in this game in person. It should be a different game from last season, but, at the end of the day, the winner will be the same. Ohio State raised too many red flags against Navy, while Barkley looked as comfortable as the living room couch against SJSU.

USC 28, Ohio State 17

  1. 18 Notre Dame at Michigan, 3:30 ET, ABC

The Fighting Irish have been fighting for credibility and took a big step in drubbing a not-too-shabby Nevada team 35-0 last week, but now they'll have to go on the road against a prominent program similarly fighting to gain credibility that beat Western Michigan 31-7 last week.

Last year, this matchup was the fulcrum on which the teams' respective seasons tilted. After a 3-9 campaign in 2007, Notre Dame leveraged the 35-17 win to go 6-6 and win the Hawaii Bowl. Michigan, on the other hand, combusted and stumbled to a 3-9 campaign of their own.

This year, the game could again serve as a springboard for the winner and a wrecking ball for the loser. I think that's a little drastic on both accounts, and with their off the field issues behind them, Michigan proves Notre Dame still has another level to go before it deserves its Top 20 ranking.

Michigan 31, Notre Dame 28

Clemson at #15 Georgia Tech, Thurs 7:30 ET, ESPN

Clemson started last season ranked ninth in the country, but took a big hit to Alabama in Week 1 and slept walked to a 7-6 season that concluded with a loss to Nebraska in the Gator Bowl. That's a long way down for a team ranked with the preseason elite. The Tigers were supposed to be a team on the rise in 2008, instead they went heavily on the decline.

This season, it's Georgia Tech that's supposed to be on the rise, but a 37-17 win over Jacksonville State gives no measurement on how good this team might be; then again, neither is Clemson's 37-14 win over Middle Tennessee State.

What is certain is that in an ACC that lacks a true power house (Virginia Tech plumetted out of the Top 10 after a loss to Alabama), the winner of this game could make a big, early season move toward competing for the ACC title, while the loser will likely fade into oblivion and wash up in the Gator Bowl on New Year's.

The matchup is made more compelling by appearing on Thursday night. Both teams have had significantly less time to prepare for this game, and it should be a disadvantage to Clemson to have to go on the road in the middle of the week like this.

Georgia Tech 30, Clemson 18

My Top 25

1. Florida 2. USC 3. Texas 4. Alabama 5. Penn State 6. Oklahoma State 7. Cal 8. BYU 9. Boise State 10. Ole Miss 11. Ohio State 12. LSU 13. Oklahoma 14. TCU 15. Virginia Tech 16. Miami 17. Utah 18. Georgia Tech 19. Georgia 20. Cincinnati 21. UNC 22. Missouri 23. Florida State 24. Oregon 25. Michigan State

--Originally posted at --

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