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Entries in USC (27)


OGS Spotlight Game Of The Week: Oregon At USC

Picture Of LaMichael James

One Great Season

Remove Oregon from the list of unbeaten teams in jeopardy of suffering an upset loss in Week 9.

That's the storyline in college football, that six of the sport's seven perfect squads are on the road this weekend.

For two weeks I've looked toward Oct. 30 as a possible night of redemption for USC, out to avenge last year's blowout loss at Oregon. But the more I read up on this game, the less I think the Trojans, even on their home field, will pull it off.

Nothing against coach Lane Kiffin and his star sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley. And it's

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College Football Notebook: OSU, Miami Shine In Tune-Ups

College Football Notebook

One Great Season

The first night of college football games is in the books, and here are my thoughts:

+ Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor helped his Heisman bid with a splendid performance in a blowout win over Marshall. But his passing mechanics still looked a tad gimpy on a couple of plays, and I'll be surprised if he enjoys similar success next week against Miami if he doesn't adjust. He threw one of his three touchdown passes from his back foot and heaved up some unusual third-and-long prayer that was nearly picked. Overall, though, he was close to excellent and it was nice to see Jim Tressel open things up slightly and call 25 passing plays for Pryor in barely more than three quarters' work. If it's true that players and teams make their largest improvements between Week 1 and Week 2, then Pryor and the Buckeyes should look pretty solid against Miami on Sept. 11.

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PAC 10 Preview: Oregon Wins Wild Race

Picture Of Chip Kelly

One Great Season

Of all the tight races expected in college football this year, and there will be many, the PAC 10 looks to be the most wide open.

Depending on injuries, luck and a bounce or two here or there, any one of seven teams could conceivably win the conference in 2010. Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Arizona, California, Stanford and even a depleted USC team will contend for the league's BCS bowl bid.

Four of these teams will be led by star quarterbacks. Washington's Jake Locker has been touted as a potential No. 1 NFL draft pick for two years now. Stanford's Andrew Luck, only a sophomore, is a legitimate Heisman candidate and many think he'll continue to flourish under popular coach Jim Harbaugh despite the loss of Toby Gerhart.

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No. 13: USC Trojans

Matt Barkley

The One Great Season College Football Countdown continues Wednesday. We'll be counting down the preseason Top 25 teams in 2010. Today's No. 13 is USC.

One Great Season

In a hectic college football offseason packed with coaching changes, recruiting investigations and suspensions, USC's was perhaps the most dramatic.

A two-year bowl ban and scholarship reductions, among other penalties, have left the Trojans vowing to achieve one simple goal in 2010: to win all 13 of their games.

And while a perfect regular season is unlikely, USC remains one of the few programs that can intimidate with just its name, colors and presence.

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Tennessee Fans Will Watch For Kiffin Comeuppance

Lane Kiffin

Special To One Great Season

KNOXVILLE -- As the Lane Kiffin news leaked out on the ESPN wire around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Tennessee campus quickly escalated into riot mode, and campus police, many of whom are Vols fans, had seemingly no intention of stopping it.

About 1,000 students gathered outside the football complex, burning one of Kiffin's promotional "It’s Time" T-shirts in the street, setting a mattress ablaze and blocking the exit of the Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex. Kiffin eventually needed a police escort out of the complex, leaving his luxury car parked in the staff lot outside the building.

During the impromptu circus, a group of UT players lashed out against their former coach, proclaiming the familiar refrain, "It’s great ... to be ... a Tennessee Vol," as well as, "We are Tennessee. We don't need Lane Kiffin."

The players were understandably angry, in shock and looking for answers. Most of all they were defiant. Tennessee is a proud program, one steeped in tradition, and they scoffed at the notion that Kiffin was the key to its revival. Defensive end Ben Martin started chants of "Bring back Phil (expletive)," in reference to former coach Phillip Fulmer, who Wednesday was contacted by the school about a potential return to the sideline.
The biggest shock, though, came from USC's end. Many wondered why a program that just experienced one of the greatest decades in college football would hire a man with a combined 12-20 record over the last three years with Tennessee and the NFL's Oakland Raiders. The interest on Kiffin's end was understandable. After all, he's a west-coast guy with a west-coast wife, but why, they wondered, would USC go that direction when many more proven candidates are out there?

In the end, the answer is likely the same as when UT hired him: bloodlines. By hiring Kiffin, USC also gets his dad, defensive guru Monte Kiffin, as well as recruiting ace Ed Orgeron. And it's expected that Norm Chow -- the architect of many of Pete Carroll's great USC offenses -- will return as offensive coordinator.

That's the type of package deal that will get an under-qualified coach a job.

In the end, Tennessee fans see Kiffin as a liar and a one-man wrecking-ball. With NCAA sanctions looming at USC, the orange-sweatered loyals await the last laugh, ready to watch from afar as Kiffin meets his comeuppance. At the very least, they can enjoy the mark they've left on the Kiffin family. As Kiffin slithers his way toward the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, he's doing so with a 1-year-old son named Knox.

Merritt is the sports editor for the University of Tennessee's student newspaper, the Daily Beacon.


USC Will Stay In Fast Lane With Kiffin Hire

Lane Kiffin

One Great Season

I love that USC hired Lane Kiffin away from Tennessee. I liked the Vols when I was younger, but I saw USC three times on the OGS tour last fall and couldn't help but fall for that team. The Trojans definitely have a presence about them that you don't only notice, but you fear it, too.

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Remember when Frank Abagnale told Frank Abagnale Jr. that "the other teams can't stop staring at those damn pinstripes" when explaining why the Yankees were so successful? No team more than USC has that air in college football.

VIDEO: Kiffin's Painfully Brief Farewell Press Conference

And we all thought that would disappear with the departure of Pete Carroll. But I think with Kiffin bringing his dad, Monty Kiffin, along as defensive coordinator, Norm Chow as offensive coordinator and the popular Ed Orgeron, I think the Trojans will continue the school's proud football tradition. I know USC has some NCAA penalties likely coming up, but the team is in good hands for a while.

And for those left with your jaws on the ground in Knoxville, I don't blame you for wanting to lash out. Be disappointed -- pissed, maybe -- but you can't blame a man for leaving one job for another. Certainly some transitions are handled poorly (paging Brian Kelly), but once the shock wears off, the bottom line is that the USC opportunity is a better one.


+ ANALYSIS: What Will Happen To Poor Matt Barkley?
+ REVIEW: Carroll Leaves USC; Who's Saying What?
+ LOOKING AHEAD: Alabama Consensus Preseason No. 1
+ POLL: Final OGS Top 25

Of course, college football fans were all over the story on Twitter Tuesday night. Here's a sampling: 

+ @ACCSports: "Soo, if you're Southern Cal and both your main programs are in trouble with the NCAA, your next big hire is ... Lane Kiffin?"

+ @Ballew_esq: "So Lane Kiffin is trying to win as many friends as possible. Be careful about burning bridges. You may need one someday."

+ @DJLitten: "Which is bigger news in L.A.: Kiffin to USC or Conan's impersonation of Gen. George Custer?"

+ @danshanoff: "Forget Lane Kiffin. Bringing back Norm Chow is best hire USC could make. Btwn him and Monte, best OC/DC combo in CFB."

+ @VeryFakeAlDavis: "THAT'S WHAT YOU THINK. RT @LATimesfarmer: Well, that checks Lane Kiffin off the Raiders' list."

+ @LAMase: "Just talked w/Matt Barkley RE Kiffin: 'I like that he knows how to live & breathe the Trojan way. Can't wait to start working with him.'"

+ @TomahawkNation: "WR Kyle Prater texted and said he loves the USC hire of Kiffin and that he will be enrolling at USC on Monday."

+ @slmandel: "I can't believe Tennessee let Kiffin hold a farewell press conference. Even he kept mentioning the '14 months' fact."

+ @GatorBenPBP: "Urban Meyer literally sprinted out of the gym at halftime to avoid reporters."

+ @USCSportsNews: "Did USC just replace Pete Carroll with the best coaching staff in college football?"


Carroll Leaves USC; Who's Saying What?

Pete Carroll

One Great Season

Because nobody has ever left one job for another before, the critics were all over Pete Carroll on Twitter tonight.

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The guy who merely restored the great tradition of Troy, put USC football back on the map and made the Trojans the team of the decade turned in his resignation Sunday night, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Carroll is expected to accept a $7 million-a-year salary to become both coach and president of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.


+ ARTICLE: What Will Happen To Poor Matt Barkley?
+ OPINION: USC Is The Team Of The Decade
+ SURVEY: The Top 10 Coaches Of College Football

Below is a sampling of who's saying what about Carroll, who compiled a 97-19 record and won two national championships in nine seasons at USC:

+ @FearlessP: "Pete Carroll to SEA makes a lot of sense: free-spending owner, lower expectations, and his players can drive Range Rovers scrutiny-free."

+ @BetweenTheLions: "Score one for newspapers with the LA Daily News getting the Pete Carroll resignation story first. How ESPN LA didn't get that is puzzling."

+ @ArashMarkazi: "So USC players and coaches are finding out about Carroll's departure via text. I'm sure we'll get a confirmation via Twitter."

+ @brian_mcintyre: "'I Saw A Lot of Positive Things Out There: The Pete Carroll Story,' starring Ashton Kutcher."

+ @MrRisto: "USC should go after Coach Chris Peterson if Pete Carroll leaves for NFL."

+ @TailgatingIdeas: "Now that Pete Carroll has officially resigned from USC, expect the school to get slapped w/NCAA violalations."

@bhindepmo: "Pete Carroll will be out of the NFL by 2013. Just predicting."

+ @PujolsMolinaFan: "Why is 'Pete Carroll turns in resignation' Breaking News on ESPNews? Don't you normally do that when you take another job?"

+ @graddieBP: "Pete Carroll out at SC, Pats eliminated. I guess it really is basketball season now."

+ @kirkdiedrich: "Pete Carroll leaving USC to coach in the NFL. Because that worked so well the first time."

+ @Blahthethird: "While I think Mora got a bad deal, I wouldn't want to coach in Holmgren's shadow, though I do believe that Pete Carroll will do a good job."

+ @TheVermonster: "I just hope Carroll's deal in Seattle stipulates a change in team colors and uniforms."

+ @gregoe86: "Actually kinda bummed about the Pete Carroll thing. Wanted to see (Brian) Kelly beat that SOB for ND before the poodle left with tail 'tween legs."

+ @meechigantabs: "This makes me smile! Hoping Rich Rod can score one of those decommits. Long shot and all, but any given Saturday!"

+ @corprebel: "I'm unhappy with PC leaving but hope Garrett gets his butt fired soon."


What Will Happen To Poor Matt Barkley?

Matt Barkley

One Great Season

Didn't it seem like Matt Barkley was on top of the world last summer? If it did, that's because he was.

The Golden Boy was a folk hero before taking his first collegiate snap. Highly heralded coming out of high school, he was named the USC starting quarterback early in fall camp. And in just his second start, the handsome freshman played through pain and engineered a late touchdown drive that gave his Trojans a huge road win at Ohio State.

And although the Trojans suffered through a very un-USC-like season, Barkley did lead his squad to other meaningful road triumps at Notre Dame and California, as well as a bowl win and a 9-4 record. The future looked bright for Barkley and his coach, Pete Carroll.

But then the dominoes started falling and Barkley is suddenly in a tough spot.

Joe McKnight

His top running backs at the beginning of the season, Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson, won't be returning next season. McKnight announced Friday that he'll skip his senior season and Johnson has no eligibility left.

McKnight is the latest USC athlete to find himself embroiled in controversy. After saying around Thanksgiving that he expected to return for his senior season, news hit that McKnight was spotted rolling a Land Rover registered to his girlfriend's boss, a possible NCAA violation.

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Of course McKnight insists the ongoing investigation had nothing to do with his decision, but considering the Reggie Bush probe is still open five years later and a dark cloud hangs over the men's basketball program, one can't help but think McKnight is just getting out before the NCAA lowers the boom.

Pete Carroll

Which is what Carroll is trying to do, it appears. As of mid-morning Saturday, the coach who can't seem to stay away from the NFL appeared poised to accept a $7-million-a-year offer to become both coach and president of the Seattle Seahawks. If Carroll does bolt, it's expected that he'd take Barkley's quarterbacks coach, Jeremy Bates, with him to Seattle.

Star wideout and punt returner Damian Williams also announced Friday that he'll skip his senior year, but that's less of a surprise than McKnight's decision. Williams, a transfer from Arkansas who already has earned his degree from USC, was named the team MVP in just his second season as a Trojan.

There was also some talk last month that disgruntled back C.J. Gable, a frequent visitor to Carroll's doghouse, was considering turning pro, but if Carroll leaves, perhaps Gable will return. He and Allen Bradford, and lesser-known Marc Tyler, would be the front-runners to man the often-crowded USC backfield in 2010.

Even Barkley's backup, Aaron Corp, is leaving. But hold your laughter; he's not going to the NFL early. Corp is headed to the University of Richmond, where he won't be required to sit for a year -- he already did that this season -- because the Spiders compete at the Division I-AA level.

If you're tired of hearing about USC quarterbacks, then don't watch today's NFL playoff game between the Bengals and Jets (NBC, 4:30 pm ET). Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer won the 2002 Heisman Trophy as a Trojan and Jets' rookie QB Mark Sanchez led USC to a 12-1 record and a Rose Bowl win last season.

If Carroll leaves, it's logical to think USC will bring in an offensive-minded coach to mentor the franchise Barkley. Carroll is a masterful recruiter, so losing him will certainly loosen the stranglehold he's had on area blue-chippers, a development that wouldn't bother UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel one bit.

But on name alone, USC is still the top brand in talent-rich Los Angeles, and it seems reasonable to assume the Trojans will remain solid in the near-term, but they certainly won't enjoy the new decade the way they owned the 2000s. I expect Barkley to continue his maturation and development regardless of who his coach is.

This will become more of a life lesson than a football lesson for the young star, and Barkley will keep doing what he does best, throwing the football and positioning himself to be an NFL quarterback.


USC Is The College Football Team Of The Decade

Pete Carroll

One Great Season

BROOKLYN -- If Texas wins the national championship, are the Longhorns the team of the decade?

My answer is no.

A win in Pasadena will give UT two national championships this decade, a Fiesta Bowl and a Rose Bowl win for a perfect 4-0 mark in BCS games. The Longhorns won two Big 12 championships and regardless of the outcome of the title game, they'll finish the decade with eight Top 10 finishes.

With two great quarterbacks and loads of other NFL-caliber talent, Texas has won 110 games and is 7-2 in bowl games, including five straight wins. Certainly Texas has enjoyed a great run.


+ OPINION: Rose Bowl A No-Win Situation For Ohio State
+ OPINION: Heisman Is Cool, But Stanley Cup Is Still The Best Trophy
+ IMAGES: Gameday Gallery -- Army vs. Navy
+ VIDEO: Did Brian Kelly Know His UC Days Were Over In Pittsburgh?
+ HUMOR: Jilted Cincinnati Fans, Consider This Holiday Gift For Brian Kelly
+ ARTICLE: Does Daunte Culpepper Hate Hot White Women?
+ GALLERY: The Hot Girls Of College Football

As the Tim Tebow era comes to a close in Gainesville, the Gators can boast a pretty strong resume as well. If the category was "The Team Of The Second Half Of The Decade," by all means, the Gators would get it.

Urban Meyer

Florida has won 99 games in the 2000s, two national championships and three SEC championships, all while playing in what has become in the last five years the sport's toughest conference. Florida is 3-0 in BCS games this decade, but 4-5 overall in bowl games.

The Gators have two 13-win seasons under their belt, and are a very impressive 47-7 in the last four years under coach Urban Meyer. Unlike Texas, Florida does have a Heisman Trophy winner in Tebow.

My team of the decade is USC. The Trojans won a national championship, shared one with LSU and almost won a third. They are difficult to beat in January, as evidenced by their 6-1 record in BCS bowl games this decade. Those six wins have come by an average margin of 22 points.

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USC has won 101 games and is 14-4 vs. Top 10 teams. The Trojans won at least a share of seven consecutive PAC 10 championships, a streak that ended this season in what is a considered a terrible year in which they only won eight games.

With three Heisman Trophy winners just this decade, USC finished in the Top 10 seven times, and with Pete Carroll at the helm and Matt Barkley returning for his sophomore season, look for the Trojans to be a national title contender again next year.


USC at Oregon: The Day In Pictures

Oregon fan in costume

One Great Season

EUGENE, Oregon -- Last week was a pretty interesting one for me. I had credential requests in at both Oregon and Oklahoma State, but hadn't heard back from either, so I just rolled the dice and booked a surprisingly cheap one-way flight last Sunday for Eugene on Monday.

And just as I pulled my rental car up to the fine folks at Enterprise, hustling into the airport to make my cross-country trek, the Blackberry beeped and it was Oregon University telling me they had no room on the sideline for me for Saturday's game at Autzen Stadium against USC.

And then a day or two later, I checked my Junk e-mail folder and found that my credential request for Texas-Oklahoma State had been approved.

But I stayed in Eugene and hit a practice one day, and took in the town for a few more, and was invited by a nice bartender to buy his extra ticket at face value. So my dude Tim and I hit the game yesterday, and I was lucky to learn first-hand what all the fuss is about at Autzen Stadium. It really was the zoo I heard it was going to be, and add to that the fact that many were rockin' some unusual Halloween looks.

So if you want some USC-Oregon visuals, here are some pictures from the game -- most from 38 rows up -- and more images of UO fans sporting their holiday finest. And of course, check back Monday for an updated Hot Girls of College Football gallery.


Ducks Embarrass Trojans, 47-20

Jeremiah Masoli

One Great Season

EUGENE, Oregon -- Jeremiah Masoli is no doctor, but he seemed to dress up as one on national TV in Oregon's Halloween blowout of visiting USC at Autzen Stadium last night.

With surgical precision, the Ducks quarterback (pictured, right, scoring a first-quarter touchdown) carved up the Trojans defense for 386 total yards and a pair of touchdowns as the home team took control of the PAC 10 race and handed USC its biggest loss of the Pete Carroll era, 47-20.

Masoli passed for 222 yards and a score and ran for 164 more yards and another touchdown as Oregon outscored Southern Cal 23-3 in the second half and improved to 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the conference. The Ducks piled up 613 yards of total offense, including 391 rushing yards.

Redshirt freshman LaMichael James, who took over at running back for LeGarrette Blount after the Boise debacle, picked up 183 yards and a touchdown against a USC defense that was ranked fifth best against the run, allowing only 80 yards a game.

Masoli and James have been leading an offense that's probably playing better than anyone in the country, and Oregon's defense has been no slouch either. The Ducks Saturday night played aggressively and held the high-flying USC offense to 327 total yards.

"It was a real mess for us tonight," Pete Carroll told reporters after the game. "Oregon did everything that they wanted to do."

The Trojans fell to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the PAC 10, beginning the month of November in fourth place in the conference they've ruled for so long.

On Wednesday, the Ducks concluded practice by running their two-minute offense. On just their second play during the drill, Masoli hit one of his receivers on a 60-yard catch-and-run play that resulted in a go-ahead touchdown. A few minutes later when Masoli spoke to reporters, he seemed more calm and confident than any player I've seen this year, answering questions thoroughly and sincerely and even sprinkled in a smile or two. It showed on Saturday night during a nationally televised game at Oregon's notoriously raucous stadium, on Halloween, against the seven-time defending PAC 10 champions.

"I was as relaxed as I've ever been in my career," Masoli told the Associated Press after the game. "Even me and LaMike (broke) a couple jokes every so often. It feels great."

The Ducks did seem to benefit from that two-minute workout, not because they they were at any point in a hurry and in desperate need of a late-game score, but because coach Chip Kelly and his offensive assistants dialed up a perfect quick-strike game plan that produced six scoring drives requiring no more than 3:02 for each.

Many felt prior to the game that a USC win would have given the one-loss Trojans much-needed BCS cred in a year when an unbeaten Texas appears headed to a championship-game clash with the winner of the SEC.

Those same observers probably weren't thinking the Ducks, ranked 10th in last week's BCS standings, were capable of dominating one of the sport's elite teams this decade. Oregon has won its share of big games in recent years, but hasn't been able to keep its foot on the gas and finish the season with sustained success. Or in the case of 2007, when quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Dennis Dixon led the Ducks to a defeat of USC but later went down with a season-ending injury.

But now that Oregon seems to be playing lights-out and is focused, healthy, well-coached and recovered from the season-opening fiasco at Boise State, the Ducks should without question be in that title-game conversation. If I had a vote, I'd have no problem at all ranking them ahead of the Broncos, and I'd say confidently that if the teams met again today Oregon would handle Boise State.


Friday Notebook: Wet Footballs, Dez Bryant & Top Coaches

Matt Barkley

One Great Season

EUGENE, Oregon -- After deleting some vulgar comments left below the video I posted of Oregon coach Chip Kelly welcoming USC quarterback Matt Barkley to Autzen Stadium, I noticed a couple of funny comments that did not need to be deleted:

666TheScarecro666 said, "Barkley's gonna piss his pants on Saturday."

MJaxsun25 said, "Barkley has been running his mouth and showing his ignorance. Everyone in College Football knows that Autzen Stadium is the loudest stadium in the Country. It set the record. 127.2 decibels. Bring it Barkley."

Jeremiah Masoli

Other notes for a Friday:

+ I can't remember a weather forecast having the kind of an impact on a game that Saturday's probably will here in Eugene. Most reports I've heard indicate rain during the morning and early afternoon, but the wet weather should move on by kickoff at 5 p.m. PT. And while one would think a wet game would slow down USC's athletes, I think it would actually do more harm to Oregon, whose smaller quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, could have trouble gripping and throwing a damp football. So if the rain passes, the Ducks' chances are improved.

+ I hope Virginia Tech's coaching staff can restore running back Ryan Williams' confidence. The talented freshman has surpassed all expectations filling in as the No. 1 back for the Hokies this year, but his late fumble last night led to North Carolina's game-winning field goal as time expired. Williams has a bright future ahead, and I hope he runs for 200 yards on Nov. 5 at East Carolina.

Dez Bryant

+ Dez Bryant did not violate any rules with his association with Deion Sanders, but because the NCAA has so many rules, Bryant thought he broke one of them, so he lied to cover a up a dinner he had at the former football star's home. Can you blame him?

IMAGES: Dez Bryant Gallery

By all means, punish him, but the NCAA got this wrong like it so often does. If part of its mission is to help its student-athletes, suspend him for two or three games, but not for one full year. It continues to amaze me how out of touch the rich, old, white men in suits are when it comes to doling out discipline. Bryant will get the last laugh, however, when he gets drafted among the top 12 picks in next spring's draft. All the NCAA ensured was that it lost some star power for about eight games this season, including Saturday's huge, nationally televised game against Texas in Stillwater.

+ I've reached out to some friends, fellow writers and athletic department people, asking them to rank their top 10 coaches. I'll have a full story on this next week, but you might be surprised to learn that Les Miles and Jim Tressel aren't getting a whole lot of love.

+ Another story I'll push out next week is a Q&A I had on the phone yesterday with Florida strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti. He said it's not Brandon Spikes who rules the weight room in Gainesville. I'll tell you who does in a few days.


Do You Believe Chip Kelly?

One Great Season

EUGENE, Oregon -- Chip Kelly says what all coaches say, except unlike most, you actually believe some of the words that come out of his mouth.

Heading into this weekend's heavyweight Halloween tilt with No. 4 USC, Kelly says his 10th-ranked Oregon Ducks are preparing for just another Saturday at the office. But in this case, the office is raucous Autzen Stadium, on Halloween, with ESPN GameDay starting the day and a national television audience concluding it, where the winner will have the inside track to a PAC 10 crown and some serious BCS cred.

"We don't put any more stock into this game as we did the Washington game," said Kelly.

Just once I'd love to hear a coach give reporters what they want, something like, "Oh yeah, this game is huge. We better win this m*****f*****." They never reveal their hands, but we pencilnecks still ask the questions, knowing exactly what the responses will be.


Chip Kelly Welcomes Matt Barkley To Oregon

Columbia River

One Great Season

EUGENE, Oregon -- College football observers outside of Southern California grew sick of Matt Barkley before he took his first collegiate snap.

There was so much preseason talk about whether he'd steal away the starting quarterback job after Aaron Corp went down with a knee injury in August. Pete Carroll fell ga-ga and ESPN followed suit, giving USC's next Golden Boy plenty of air time that irked many.

Barkley then gave Trojan haters even more reason to leave anonymous comments in the blogosphere by demonstrating more than confidence after USC thrashed San Jose State in the season opener.

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When asked by a Los Angeles Times reporter if there was anything difficult about his first college game, a 56-3 cakewalk, he smiled and said, "The run up the tunnel at halftime. That was brutal."

The training wheels came off between that game and USC's next one seven days later, a visit to Columbus to play perennial power Ohio State in front of its 105,000 scarlet-sweatered loyals.


+ GALLERY: The Hot Girls Of College Football
+ DISCUSSION: Who Cares More, Pro Or College Athletes?
+ ARTICLE: Kelly's Early Cincy Years Similar To Huggins'
+ VIDEO: FOX19 Morning Show Appearance
+ VIDEO: VaTech Fan Gets Belligerent On GaTech Fan
+ ARTICLE: Is My Boy Jeff An A-Hole?
+ VIDEO: Tailgate Recipes -- My Mom's Chili
+ QUIZ: Who Are The 30 Thousand Helpers?

Sports By Brooks wrote prior to that game that "the atmosphere will be nuts. I probably don't even know how it will be. But that won't faze him."

Barkley also once said his team could win "in Alaska in the snow. That's how confident I am in this offense. There can be 500,000 rooting against me."

And this week he's already wondered about the crowd at notoriously raucous Autzen Stadium, where No. 10 Oregon will entertain USC in a heavyweight Halloween showdown that will give the winner the inside track to the PAC 10 championship and a bowlful of BCS cred.

"The energy is going to be awesome and it's going to be a cool atmosphere, especially on Halloween night," Barkley said. "Who knows what their uniforms will be? Probably something crazy as usual."

Barkley then shoved his youthful curiosity aside, and got back to being, well, Barkley.

"I feed off that energy, I feed off that noise," he said. "I love it."

And of course, that's what I asked Oregon coach Chip Kelly about today, and here was his brief reply:


Tuesday Notebook: Eugene, BCS and Sam Bradford

Columbia River

One Great Season

EUGENE, Oregon -- I made it.

After waking up Monday in Cincinnati, driving to Dayton, flying to Washington, D.C., flying to Phoenix, flying to Portland and crashing at a hotel there late last night, I drove down picturesque Interstate 5 this afternoon and arrived at my hotel at about 5 p.m. Pacific time.

I can tell the Canon 50D is going to be busier this week than my liver was last week. Great to see old friends in the Queen City, sure, but equally certain is how badly I need a break from all that fun, and signs point to such relief here in this sleepy pocket of the very scenic Pacific Northwest where I know exactly nobody.

Efforts to secure a credential for Saturday's USC at Oregon game have been shut down, but the investigation into a reasonably priced single ticket is pending. Not only will this game likely decide the PAC 10 champion, but it's Halloween and the fans at Autzen Stadium are notorious party people, so keep your eyes open for some good imagery this weekend.

Until then, it looks like I'll get some post-practice interviews Wednesday, but before I get that far, here are some other tidbits to consider this week:

Columbia River

+ Many are talking about how a USC win makes it a serious BCS National Championship game contender, but you know what? I'll say the same about the Trojans' opponent Saturday. Oregon is No. 10 in the BCS rankings, and beating Pete Carroll's highly ranked USC gang would shoot those Ducks squarely into the mix, and very deservedly so.

+ Wouldn't it be funny to see Oregon leapfrog ahead of Boise State in the BCS standings?

+ Iowa, Cincinnati, Boise State and TCU are the second-tier contenders for a spot in the BCS title game. Those entirely in control of their destiny include Florida, Alabama, Texas and most likely LSU and possibly USC. I think Florida or Alabama might actually need to lose twice for one of those second-tier squads to jump ahead. That means that heading into the last month of the season, no fewer than seven and maybe as many as nine losses are needed among the elite names currently among the Top 10 for, say, Iowa or Cincinnati to earn a trip to Pasadena. Such a feat would be just as dramatic than what happened down the stretch in 2007. But don't expect that scenario to materialize. I still think it's going to be Florida and Texas, though I'd prefer to watch Florida and USC.

Columbia River

+ Please stop with the second-guessing of Sam Bradford. Too often we hear the TV pretties talk about the importance of staying in school to get that education, if not to at least enjoy the college experience. Bradford did exactly that, and now Todd McShay, who I typically like, leads the pack of those repeatedly broadcasting the disappointing truths about millions of dollars lost. Tyler Hansbrough came back twice when experts thought he was ready for the next level, and the only reason people don't rip him is because he didn't get hurt. Don't go hindsight and blast a kid barely out of his teens for wanting more school. Bradford knows his decision to stay will cost him in the long run, but he'll still be a good NFL quarterback.