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Pac-12 Notes – USC Week

September 29th

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Hearing set on Oregon State/Washington State lawsuit

From ESPN … A hearing has been set for Nov. 14 in Oregon State and Washington State’s legal fight with the Pac-12 and its departing members to gain control of the conference and its assets.

The preliminary injunction hearing will be held in Washington Superior Court in Whitman County in front of the same judge who granted a temporary restraining order to the two schools earlier this month.

Judge Gary Libey’s ruling blocked a board of directors meeting with conference commissioner George Kliavkoff and university leaders from schools that have announced plans to leave the Pac-12 next year.

The latest filing in the case was dated Wednesday.

Still to be determined is exactly who should be allowed to make up the conference’s board and vote on business matters that could impact the future of the league.

Oregon State and Washington State contend that eight schools — Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Stanford and California — forfeited their right to be on the board when they announced their intentions to join other conferences next year.

Oregon State and Washington State leaders have said they would like to rebuild the Pac-12, take control of its assets — and liabilities — along with its intellectual property. The schools fear the departing members could stand in the way of keeping the Pac-12 alive, possibly even voting to dissolve the conference.

September 28th

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ESPN: Can USC’s defense be exploited?

From ESPNHow concerned should we be with USC’s defense?

Dinich: USC is No. 71 in the country in defensive efficiency, but here’s what should be concerning: 34 total missed tackles. The Trojans are trending toward last year’s problem, when they ranked No. 114 in the country with 157 missed tackles. As long as quarterback Caleb Williams continues to do his thing, and USC keeps winning, it won’t necessarily keep them out of the playoff. It’s a mirror image of Lincoln Riley’s 2018 Oklahoma team, which had one of the nation’s best offenses, but the worst defense in CFP history — by far. They’ll have a hard time winning a playoff game without defense (Alabama won that 2018 semifinal game, 45-34). The committee could absolutely choose a more complete team with the same record.

Rittenberg: Missed tackles and big plays allowed are still concerns for USC, but some context is important. USC has been an objectively better defense when games are still in doubt, as many of the unit’s bad moments have occurred with backups on the field and the Trojans holding a comfortable lead. “We’ve given up 21 points in fourth quarters when we’ve averaged a winning margin of 40 points at that point, we’ve given up 150 yards at the tail end of the game against San Jose State,” defensive coordinator Alex Grinch told me. “We can’t attach meaning to that. It’s inappropriate. One hundred and thirty yards at the tail end of a 50-point ballgame against Stanford with backups in the game. That’s not an indictment against USC’s defense. In all cases, you don’t ignore it and you coach the behavior on those individual acts, but I look at it as mature as I possibly can.”

Dinich: Here’s the good news for Grinch: USC is third in the FBS with 16 sacks. That’s bad news for Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders, who has been sacked seven times in a game twice this season and 22 times overall — the most taken by a Power 5 quarterback through the first four games in 20 seasons.

Rittenberg: Pressure and overall production certainly have been encouraging for USC, which has eight players with at least one sack and 11 with multiple tackles for loss. We all remember USC’s knack for takeaways last season — the Trojans tied for fifth nationally with 29 — but, as Grinch noted, “A year ago, the identity was, trying to hang in there, get some takeaways, get some stops and let Caleb [Williams] win the ballgame.” Grinch now sees a defense with more layers and strengths to it. He likened the Trojans to a pitcher in baseball. “The strikeouts are good, the walks are low, you’re not having big innings, and then you look up at the end and your ERA’s still 5,” Grinch said. “You’re like, ‘How could that be?’ Some of that is giving up some home runs. That’s something we’ve got to get corrected.” He’s also aware of how talented Sanders can be in attacking downfield, and the need to keep the heat on.

Continue reading story here

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September 27th

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Arizona State joins CBS Sports Bottom 25

From CBS Sports … The first warning that Baylor could be destined for a Bottom 25 appearance in 2023 came in a stunning Week 1 outcome as the Bears fell 42-31 against a Texas State team playing its first game under first-year coach G.J. Kinne. Baylor put the finishing touches on its descent into our weekly ranking of college football futility in a 38-6 loss to visiting Texas on Saturday as it surrendered 503 yards and failed to score a touchdown.

Getting Texas at home for the final time as a Big 12 foe was supposed to elicit the best from the Bears, who were playing in front of a sell-out crowd in a prime-time slot on a national network. Instead, it served as a grand stage for the program’s increasingly obvious shortcomings under fourth-year coach Dave Aranda.

Baylor’s lone win in a 1-3 start came against FCS foe Long Island University, and even that 30-7 victory looked uninspired. But at least the Bears’ misery has some company this week, thanks to Boston College and Arizona State. The Eagles and Sun Devils share similar resumes as Baylor. All three teams are 1-3 with losses to Group of Five schools, ugly wins over FCS teams and an 0-2 mark against Power Five opponents.

With those three schools all in the mix, Virginia has plenty of Power Five company in this week’s Bottom 25 rankings.

From the Power Five conferences …

No. 25 Boston College – (1-3) … If you thought Boston College’s near-upset over Florida State in Week 3 signaled good things ahead, you thought wrong. The Eagles responded by allowing 42 points in the first half at Louisville in a 56-28 loss. BC’s only win is a 3-point victory against Holy Cross. A 2-10 or 3-9 season is on the table. (Last week: NR)

No. 23 Arizona State – (1-3) … Arizona State played USC close on Saturday, but the Sun Devils are banged up and off to a 1-3 start. The lone win was a 3-point victory against Southern Utah, and the ledger also includes a 29-0 home loss against Fresno State. This team is at risk of becoming a Pac-12 punching bag in Year 1 under Kenny Dillingham. (NR)

No. 21 Baylor – (1-3) … The idea of Baylor making an appearance in the Bottom 25 would have been inconceivable just over a year ago as the Bears entered the 2022 season off a 12-2 campaign and Sugar Bowl victory. Since then, Baylor is 7-10. Fourth-year coach Dave Aranda is just 21-19 overall and 9-19 outside of the 2021 season. (NR)

No. 10 Virginia (0-4) … It’s brutally unfair that Virginia, which saw its 2022 season cut short by tragedy, has lost two of its first four games in the final minute. On the bright side, the Cavaliers have become an entertaining watch because of freshman quarterback Anthony Colandrea’s fearless and risky style of play. (10)

Read full story here

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September 26th

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With the “Pac-2 Bowl” in the books, where do Washington State and Oregon State go from here?

From ESPN … Earlier this month, a judge in Washington granted a temporary restraining order sought by OSU and WSU to prevent the Pac-12 from holding a board meeting. There was concern from the two remaining schools that the exiting members could attempt to dissolve the conference to force an equal split of the conference’s remaining assets.

OSU and WSU successfully argued that when UCLA and USC were barred from the conference board after announcing their departures for the Big Ten in 2022, it set a precedent that they did not have board or voting rights. The same approach was applied when Colorado announced it was headed to the Big 12 earlier this summer.

When Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff scheduled a board meeting for earlier this month that included all 12 schools — 10 of which will no longer be in the conference next year — OSU and WSU initiated legal action.

“The meaning of the bylaws hasn’t changed just because more members have decided to leave,” lawyer Eric MacMichael argued for OSU and WSU in court.

A preliminary injunction hearing is expected to be held in October to determine who will have voting rights on the Pac-12 board.

In the meantime, OSU and WSU have been trying to assess the value of the conference’s remaining assets and compare them with existing liabilities. It has been a slower than expected process that will ultimately determine how the schools proceed.

“We understand some of the assets that the Pac-12 has — certainly the media payments, the NCAA tournament credits, CFP — some things we understand pretty well,” Oregon State president Jayathi Murthy said. “Some things we don’t understand — even about the assets in terms of who the payments go to, who controls them, etcetera. And then there are liabilities. There are the public legal cases that are going on, so we’re trying to figure out how those are going to shape our view. There’s lots and lots of fine print and lots of other contractual obligations that the conference has. The balance of these will tell us what net assets actually exist in the conference and we’ve got to understand that before we can chart out the path forward.”

The schools expect to have some sort of clarity in the next month. In the end, the decision figures to be somewhat simple: If the assets outweigh the liabilities, the schools will likely attempt to maintain control and attempt some kind of rebuild. If the liabilities are determined to be too great, then they would likely be forced to walk away.

With either scenario, the most likely result is a future intertwined with schools from the Mountain West Conference. Whether that’s a reverse merger with the Mountain West schools moving to the Pac-12 as a block to benefit from the brand value or WSU and OSU going the opposite direction remains to be seen. For fans, any difference would be mostly semantics.

The current Mountain West media rights deal pays its member schools roughly $6 million annually; however, there figures to be an increase should OSU and WSU factor in.

It’s still theoretically possible, too, that OSU and WSU could operate the Pac-12 as a two-team conference the next two years — essentially acting as independents — but that option is viewed as a last resort, sources told ESPN. (The NCAA gives conferences a two-year grace period to reach designated minimums for member schools should they fall below the required thresholds.)

“The fact that we are waiting for some additional information does not mean that we haven’t been focused every day on what that scheduling scenario might look like and engaged in the proper conversations to make sure that when we do have that information we’re pressing go,” Barnes said.

At WSU, one of the most confounding parts of the conference realignment game has been the criteria for evaluation. If everything is being driven by TV media value, why is WSU being penalized for the size of Pullman when the Cougars have consistently been one of the biggest TV draws in the Pac-12 for several years?

“Depending on the metric you look at, we’re either in the top fourth, top third or top half [of the Pac-12] consistently over five, 10 years,” Chun said.

In an era where nearly all games are either broadcast on national TV or streamed, individual market size does not translate to larger audiences in the way it did when football was broadcast regionally. Where is the logic in the idea a school is more valuable from a TV standpoint because it’s located in a larger media market if there are years of evidence showing that school doesn’t translate to TV viewers? Rutgers, for example, is in the largest media market in the country, yet the Scarlet Knights were among the least-watched Power 5 programs in the country last season.

These are questions WSU has been left unable to sufficiently answer.

Continue reading story here

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September 24th

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Pac-12 lines: Colorado is a 23.0-point underdog to No. 8 USC 

From Draft Kings

Friday, September 29th 

  • No. 10 Utah at No. 19 Oregon State … 7:00 p.m., MT, FS1 … Oregon State is a 1.5-point favorite

Saturday, September 30th

  • No. 8 USC at Colorado … 10:00 a.m., MT, Fox … USC is a 23.0-point road favorite
  • Arizona State at Cal … 1:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks … Cal is a 12.5-point favorite
  • No. 9 Oregon at Stanford … 4:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks … Oregon is a 26.5-point road favorite
  • No. 7 Washington at Arizona … 8:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks … Washington is an 18.5-point road favorite
  • Idle … No. 16 Washington State and UCLA …

USC stumbles in the desert in its first road test, finally puts Arizona State away, 42-28

From ESPN … Southern California stumbled through its first road test, laboring long enough to allow a beleaguered and battered underdog to hang around.

The Trojans’ defense stepped up first. Then Caleb Williams closed the door.

Williams threw for 322 yards and accounted for five touchdowns, Marshawn Lloyd ran for 154 yards and No. 5 Southern California outlasted Arizona State’s upset bid with a 42-28 win on Saturday night.

“I thought we stepped up in a tough environment there at the very end and played out best ball in the fourth quarter, which that’s what you’ve got to do,” USC coach Lincoln Riley said. “It certainly wasn’t our cleanest performance.”

Nearly five-touchdown favorites, the high-scoring Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) were off-kilter offensively for long stretches, plagued by ill-timed penalties and an early fumble in their own end.

USC had a touchdown negated by a penalty, lost a fumble to set up an Arizona State score and turned it over deep in the Sun Devils’ end in the third quarter.

The Trojans’ defense tightened while the offense stagnated, coming up with three big sacks — one that led to a fumble by Arizona State quarterback Drew Pyne near midfield. USC kept up the defensive pressure, finishing with seven of its eight sacks in the second half.

“We knew we had to step up and that’s what we did,” USC edge rusher Jamil Muhammad said.

USC’s defense opened the door for the offense.

Following the sack, Williams darted and danced through Arizona State’s defense, hitting Brenden Rice for a 29-yard touchdown and a 35-21 lead.

Arizona State pulled within a touchdown on Cam Skattebo’s balancing-act 52-yard touchdown, but Williams found Tahj Washington on a 45-yard TD pass to make it 42-28. Williams also hit Rice on a 25-yard TD in the first half and scored on a pair of 1-yard runs.

“It really hard to stop what they do when you combine the talent with good scheme,” Arizona State coach Kenny Dillingham said. “There’s things our guys can do better.”

Continue reading story here

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8 Replies to “Pac-12 Notes – USC Week”

  1. I hope WSU and OSU get as much money as they can out of the the PAC 12. Everyone else ran off and abandoned them for mo money. It sure aint a game anymore….more like wall street corporate raiding

    1. you might find some joy in this, ep. There’s a story percolating that IF wazzu and the beav can stay together, they could corner $300+mill from ESPN over the next two years. The playoff and championship revenue is designated for the conferences, not the teams. The conferences then divvy it up. To change that model, the CFP board needs unanimous vote. Wazzu’s pres is on the board.

      That would be plenty o jack to keep their ships afloat, while they work out how to evolve into the next Pac whatever.

      You can watch this video here where they talk about it in a bit more detail: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbdnsB9pvFE

      How’s that for poking the angry bear?

      Go Buffs

      1. Of course their are a number of other issues going forward with this scenario, is ESPN going to pay that money to the conference if there are only two schools? That would certainly go to court with ESPN arguing that the “conference” has changed so materially that the contract is null and void, and they would have a significant “good faith” argument. Lots of issues still to be worked out, and normally with this kind of money involved it comes down to a settlement as neither side wants to lose big.

        1. Yeah, queue the lawyers. They’re already working on all that. But, per the conference bylaws, the Pac 2 IS still a conference, and they have two years to get back to 8 members. So, ESPN doesn’t really have a legal leg to stand on, in that regard.

          And, since we know the eyeballs are most of the story (not all, but most) there’s a lot of data out there that Wazzu actually gets way more viewers than most of the Big 12 members. OSU? Less so.

          With that, it’s certainly possible that part of the settlement includes adding them to the Big 12 makes sense, and ESPN just ponies up their full share, like they did for the other new members, in the first place. I think had all this shook out last year, OSU and Wazzu were probably much better additions than Cinci, USF, and possibly BYU and Houston.

          Always interesting. Good thing Saturday games are still fun though. That’s unlikely to ever change.

          Go Buffs

  2. I know CU nation is down after the throttling at Oregon. CU will be a huge underdog again w/ 23+ point spread. I am keeping the faith. Prime gave a great press conference after OU. @Ore is a tough place to play and ORE made few mistakes, Nix was hotter than hot, and CU could not put together anything. Defense on the field around 50 plays in the 1st half.

    This is CU’s last shot to beat USC, and that will not be lost on any player or coach on this team. If CU finds the emotion and rides that emotion via our crazy fans having/creating a few breaks along the way, and once again play above themselves (weeks 1-2, 4Q v. CSU) CU still has a chance. No guarantee that Williams will play a flawless Bo Nix game on Saturday–every QB no matter how good is not immune to the “stinker on the road.” IMO, CU will be different this game than OU on the road. Oregon made it happen with little or no mistakes, and converted every key play. Remember, CU is still undefeated on Fox.

    IMO CU best shot to beat USC was in 2000. In 2000, CU won three games. Although they did not suffer a blow-out losses to anyone except KState, #11 SC won the game 17-14 in SoCal on a last minute drive and field goal. Zac Colvin was the qb. Marcus Houston had a heck of game until the knee injury (basically, a career ending/changing injury). The defense was in rebuilding mode. SC was led by Carson Palmer. After CU, SC went to #10, and did not finish the season well.

    SC is good/great, but they are not #3 OU of 2007 where CU pulled off an impossible win. They were a 23 point dog at home. CU was coming off a two win season, with a home losses to ugh-Montana State, plus [barfing in mouth] a loss to to CSU. This team was very much a rebuild too. OU finished that regular season 11-2 losing to Coaching Legend Bob Stoops with Sam Bradford, Demarco Murray and others. CU was led by min-whit Hawklove and a ‘5’nothin, ‘100 and nothing’ QB (this is a quote from Rudy), but somehow came out with a huge upset. This was a game where CU made tons of mistakes, and were thoroughly outplayed for 3 quarters. However, OU’s QB made some mistakes and there were other mistakes where CU capitalized. Overall, it was a mistake prone game on both sides.

    This year, CU has a ton of player buy-in and pride–they will not roll over. Instead, I hope they come out with reckless abandon and the crowd plays a huge part. CU and every player and coach have a ton to play for. If you believe ASU and Stanford are the P-12’s bottom of the barrel, then SC has not played anyone. 3 home games, now back-to-back on the road–which is never easy. Bring you lucky shamrock/trinket to the game, have keys for the key plays, and be loud as hell for the SC defense.

    Finally, footballs are oblong and do weird things, so you always have a chance!

  3. Collective memory is a short one… last September, Oregon got DESTROYED by Georgia, losing 49-3. Bo Nix was the Duck’s quarterback and their roster was just as loaded as it was this Saturday… they just got exposed by a better team.

    Point is, the Buffs will learn from this loss and move on. Everyone is aware of the Buffs shortcomings, but they’re still amazingly 3-1 and quite possibly will be bowl eligible at seasons end which is something the national media (and Vegas) never thought possible.

    Go Buffs +++

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