NCAAFB podcast with Michelle Richardson: It was the Pitts for Pitt upended by Clemson; Ohio’s offensive unit does the trick in laying out Northwestern; plus more

photo from Yahoo! Sports: Washington Huskies head coach Chris Peterson hoists the Pac-12 Championship Trophy after defeating the Utah Utes at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara on Friday night.

On the NCAAFB podcast with Michelle:

#1 Clemson (13-0) got a huge win over Pitt (7-6) Saturday 42-10 to their fourth straight ACC title. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence went 12-24 for 118 yards and Pitt’s quarterback Kenny Pickett struggled, throwing 4-14 for for just 14 yards.

#2 The Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1) finished off Northwestern (8-5) 45-24. The Buckeyes dominated, thanks to fine offensive quarterbacking of Dwayne Haskins throwing for 499 yards, was picked off just once and had five passing touchdowns but the amazing thing was he got one touchdown on a shot gun and his offense did the rest of the work.

#3 The Washington Huskies (10-3) hoisted the Pac-12 Championship trophy on Friday night at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara with a 10-3 win over the Utah Utes (9-4). Huskies quarterback Jake Browning threw for 187 yards and a touchdown as that was enough to get past the Utes in defensive game. Plus Michelle’s final thoughts.

Michelle Richardson does the NCAA football podcasts each Sunday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Cal’s come a long way: Defense shines in surprising 12-10 upset win over No. 15 Washington

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, Calif. — Jake Browning passed for nearly 400 yards and six touchdowns on his previous trip to Memorial Stadium. With his pair of fleet receivers repeatedly making big plays, an overmatched Cal defense was completely taken apart, allowing 66 points for only the second time in school history.

Flash forward two years, and Browning’s field of dreams morphed into a house of horrors, as the senior quarterback was intercepted, and benched briefly in Cal’s jaw-dropping, 12-10 upset win.

One touchdown allowed as opposed to nine? Browning on top of the world, then benched in the return engagement? Clearly, Cal’s defense has come a long way in a short period, just ask Coach Petersen and the Huskies.

“Obviously, they had good players and I just think we just did not execute in a lot of stuff,” said UW’s Drew Sample. “We missed some blocks from a tight end perspective. We just, as a whole, were not in good positions so you know it showed. We couldn’t sustain drives. We couldn’t get in rhythm and we had shots at the end. We couldn’t execute.”

Still, Washington led at the half, 7-6, in part due to Cal’s Greg Thomas missing a 41-yard field goal attempt on the final play before halftime. But when Petersen saw his offense sputter on two possessions in the second half, the one-point lead mattered little. Browning, the senior leader with 90 career touchdown passes, was briefly benched.

“That had more to do with me trying to do something to help this offense way more than it did with Jake,” said Petersen. “Jake is a competitor. Jake does everything we ask. But, you know, we got to try help this offense out somehow, someway.”

Instead redshirt freshman Jake Haener helped Cal’s defense. On his second pass attempt, Haener overthrew his man and was picked by Cal’s Evan Weaver. Weaver deftly worked his way to the end zone, reaching for the corner pylon.

Cal assumed the lead, 12-7, add stubbornly held on even as their offense managed just 245 yards the entire game. And that’s after Browning missed just two series before Petersen relented, and put his senior quarterback back in the game.

Cal’s defense never snapped, erased the issues stopping the run they experienced against UCLA, and did it from the start. The Huskies–again without top runner Myles Gaskin–scored just seven points in the opening, their fewest this season. The Bears allowed three points in the second half, the fewest they’ve surrendered after halftime this year.

“It’s a great environment in the locker room as you would expect but I also don’t think anybody’s surprised,” coach Justin Wilcox said. “We weren’t perfect but found a way to win.”

Cal embarks on a brief, two-game road trip starting with a Saturday, November 3 matchup against No. 10 Washington State at 7:45 pm PT on ESPN.

Stanford Cardinal Podcast with Matt Harrington: Taking a look at how Reid Travis is faring during current Cardinal win streak

Photo credit: GoStanford.com

On the Stanford Cardinal Podcast with Matt Harrington:

With the Stanford Cardinal (10-8), who won their fourth straight game over Washington (13-5) 73-64 in Alaskan Airlines Arena tonight, the Cardinal’s leading scorer Reid Travis 16 points on Saturday night has held up even in the some of Stanford’s tougher moments earlier this season. Regardless of the circumstances that faced the Cardinal earlier this season Travis has come in prepared to throw down or throw up his game as he leads with 30.1 points per game.

Travis is one of two players who started all 27 games in his junior year in the Pac-12 that finished in the top six in scoring, rebounding, and field goal percentage. Travis has led Stanford in nine separate categories (470, 17.4 ppg), rebounding (239, 8.9), offensive rebounding (93, 3.4 orpg, defensive rebounding (146, 5.4 drgp), field goals made (176), field goal attempted (304), field goal percentage (.579), free throws made (118), free throws attempted (181).

Matt Harrington does the Stanford Cardinal podcasts each Saturday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Sports Headlines with London Marq: Stanford goes for four straight at Washington tonight

Photo credit: GoStanford.com

Sports Headlines with London Marq:

1 Stanford’s Dorian Pickens had a night on Thursday against the Washington State Cougars with 78 points and a winning three-pointer with 76 seconds left in the Cardinal’s 79-70 win

2 The Cardin have turned things around with three straight wins beating UCLA, USC, and WSU. They have improved their record to 9-8 and are over .500

3 Pickens three points are a big help for Stanford going 10-35 from three-point range and seven of 10 for three-pointers

4 Stanford got fired up when WSU’s Kwinton Husso hit Stanford’s Reid Travis with a hard foul both players had to be separated and Stanford got fired uo and went on a 21 point run over a 9:57 period

5 Stanford faces Washington at Alaskan Airlines Arena tonight at 5 pm London gives us his take on this upcoming game from Seattle

London Marq does the Sports Headlines and covers the Stanford Cardinal each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

 

 

Washington wins the Pac-12 title, CFP spot likely assured while Colorado hopes for Rose Bowl bid

wooching-whoop

By Morris Phillips

SANTA CLARA–On the occasion of winning the Pac-12 Championship Game, the Washington Huskies conducted themselves as if they’d won a CFP quarterfinal matchup.

Coach Chris Petersen while happy to be a winner, bemoaned his pass offense in the 41-10 pasting the Huskies put on Colorado at Santa Clara, CA Friday night, saying “our pass game was awkward, for lack of a better word.  I don’t know.  Just it wasn’t what we hoped it to be.”

While Petersen nitpicked, star running back Myles Gaskin didn’t have much particular to say, and freshman safety Taylor Rapp whose two, big interceptions in the third quarter helped turn the game into a rout, didn’t have much rap making him the least verbal Pac-12 Championship Game MVP in the event’s short history.

Make no mistake, Petersen, Gaskin and Rapp were elated, just not overly so.  For one, the Huskies had been here before: in a 12-1 season-to-date, on Friday night, Washington won by at least 30 points for the sixth time, and by at least 24 points for the ninth time.   And since blowing good teams out is nothing new, beating No. 8 Colorado—the highest rated team Washington has won against this season–wasn’t particularly special either.

And besides, Petersen or his players can’t control what happens next.  The nation’s No. 4 team coming in is expecting to remain at least No. 4 and be tabbed for the College Football Playoff, but that’s not something that’s decided after the first game of a college football weekend.  Gaskin knows that all too well, which well, contributed to his non-committal answers.

“That’s up to a whole bunch of people I don’t even know, and they’re going to do all their voting and a whole bunch of stuff like that, but I don’t really care personally,” Gaskin said.  “We’re just going to play whoever we have next.”

“That’s the way it is.”

Beating Colorado, should mean the Huskies get top-rated Alabama next—in one of two CFP semifinals.  But that’s just Friday night speculation as opposed to Sunday’s mandate.  Here’s what we know now: according to Petersen, the wind at Levi’s Stadium Friday was a non-factor, and no excuse for poor, passing numbers, Rapp’s two, game-changing interceptions were just pure reaction, and Gaskin can’t get enough of taking the field, competing with his teammates, and enjoying the process.

“Coach P preaches to us that hard work is going to get you where you want to be,” Gaskin reiterated.  “You have to sacrifice for what you want to do and where you want to be at.  We really bought into what he had to say, and this is where we are right now.”

And right now, the Huskies are conference champions for the first time since 2000. In the 16 seasons since that Pac-12 title, the Huskies won as many as nine games (9-4 in 2013) once before winning 12 this year.  Petersen, a landmark hire for UW when he finally agreed to leave all his successes at Boise State, did it all in just three seasons.  The Huskies are past Colorado, and not anticipating Alabama, not yet.  That’s straightforward, just as the Pac-12 champs would prefer.

NOTES: Among the surprises Friday: how easily Washington got past Colorado, and how poor Heisman candidate Jake Browning’s numbers were.  The Huskies led by 7 at the half, but Rapp’s two picks broke the game open—the first going for a 35-yard touchdown return—and Washington cruised by 31 points.

Browning threw two touchdowns, and the second one appeared to be the poorest decision any quarterback could make—while struggling to regain his balance, Browning cut loose a pass to the boundary that hung up and appeared to give Colorado corner Chidobe Awuzie a chance to intercept and return.  But UW receiver John Ross—at 5’8” a towering presence for Washington– went up and snatched the ball then eluded the surprised Awuzie for a 19-yard score.

Browning would go on to misfire on 15 of his 24 pass attempts, finishing with 118 yards passing, hardly the norm in a season in which he’s thrown 42 touchdowns, tying Marcus Mariota and trailing only Jared Goff on the Pac-12 list for single season touchdown passes.  But what Browning didn’t do, the Huskies’ run game did, rushing for 148 yards before halftime, and finishing with 265 yards on 54 attempts.

Gaskin and Lavon Coleman both eclipsed 100 yards rushing, becoming the first set of teammates to both rush for 100 yards in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

Washington eclipsed 40 points in a game for the 10th time in 13 games this season.  The rank third nationally with 44.8 points per game.

Colorado’s Sefo Liufau injured his ankle when tackled five minutes into the game by UW’s Psalm Wooching.  He briefly left the game, and the field, but returned only to struggle.  Liufau finished 3 for 13 with three picks, including Rapp’s pick six.  Steven Montez, Liufau’s replacement, didn’t have much impact, finishing 5 of 12 for 60 yards.

The Buffaloes finished with just 163 yards in total offense.  It marked the second time UW has held an opponent to fewer than 200 yards in offense this season.

BYU’s rough night at AT&T Park a microcosm of the challenges facing the school as a big-time independent

BYU-UW

By Morris Phillips

A step slow, a play short: it was a pattern that played out to BYU’s detriment throughout the Fight Hunger Bowl Friday night.   While the Cougars acquitted themselves well, riding the spirit and running of quarterback Taysom Hill, when it came time to make a critical play, the Cougars didn’t while Washington did.

In the first half alone, the Cougars amassed 297 yards in offense, but never led.  Four offensive trips inside the UW 30-yard line produced three field goals and one touchdown on the initial push.  In the second half, a big interception had BYU poised to get back in it, but an incomplete pass and a sack preceded Justin Sorenson’s 44-yard missed field goal.

ESPN commentator Dave Pasch called BYU’s offense in the first half that enjoyed huge advantage in plays and yardage “dominant.”  In truth, the Hill-led attack was relevant, but ultimately ineffective.

“That to me was two even matched teams,” an upbeat BYU coach Bronco Mendehall recounted.  “I thought we had time of possession.  I thought we had ball control, et cetera.  We weren’t able to put it into the end zone, maybe on a couple of occasions.”

“When we get down there, we have to execute at a really high level, and we didn’t do that.  We had a couple of penalties that really killed us.”

And special teams were clearly no help.  After the Cougars drove 88 yards in 12 plays—including a gutsy fourth down run and conversion out of punt formation at their own 20—to tie it, 7-7, Washington got a 100-yard kickoff return from ultra speedy John Ross that put BYU behind once again.  After the Cougars narrowed the gap to 14-13, Jessie Callier’s 47-yard kickoff return set up the Huskies for another touchdown.

The BYU offense that moved the ball so effectively in the first half, bogged down after halftime.  Hill’s favored slant route to receivers Cody Hoffman and Skyler Ridley was effectively taken away by the Huskies crowding the box.  While Hill continued to find running holes—he would amass a career-high 31 rush attempts—UW dared the athletic quarterback to throw, and more often than not, Hill couldn’t connect.

The Cougars offense that amassed all the yardage in the first half went without a major push into Washington territory after halftime.  Washington’s touchdown on the initial drive of the half effectively put the game away.

Even more humbling for BYU were the marquee individual matchups that left many of BYU stars humbled.  All-American linebacker Kyle Van Noy played well in his final game as a Cougar, but when UW back Bishop Sankey was in his sights at the 11-yard line in the second quarter, Van Noy was left grasping for air as Sankey sidestepped the Cougar and then raced into the end zone for a 21-13 Washington lead.

In the third quarter stand out linebacker Uani Unga was matched up with UW’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins near the goal line, but the massive 6’6”, 280-pound tight end had the clear size and reach advantage when quarterback Keith Price whizzed a pass to Seferian-Jenkins in the end zone that put UW up 28-16 and left Unga an arm’s length short.

Hoffman, an NFL prospect at wide receiver, made plays in the middle of field, hauling in 12 catches for 167 yards, but his turn as passer didn’t fare well.  Hoffman received a pitch and threw a short out to Hill, but Hoffman took a shot to the ribs as he threw and was limited for the entire second half.

In all, a tough night for the Cougars, but also a reminder of what challenges life as a big-time independent will entail.  BYU left the Mountain West conference after 2012 for greater television exposure and the opportunity to play a national schedule and better pursue an opportunity at an elusive national championship.

But while a hand-picked schedule may garner exposure, the Cougars will have to recruit the best players to compete at such a lofty level.  On Friday night, the best athletes on the field wore purple and gold. A humbling loss to a middle-of-the-pack Pac-12 team in Washington could not provide a better illustration of the Cougars’ conundrum: the Cougars need to win big to gain national acclaim, but those wins will clearly be more difficult to grasp outside the Mountain West and squarely on top of the national stage.

Morris Phillips on the NCAA: Former Raider Tuiasosopo to coach Hunger Bowl for Washington

by Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–The Kraft Hunger Bowl is back and kick off is scheduled for Sat December 28th at AT&T Park between BYU and Washington University. Friday night I was in downtown S.F. and ran into the BYU advance crew. The Cougars don’t arrive in the City until Sunday. The Cougars former head coach Lavelle Edwards was in town on Friday night.

There’s a lot of excitment downtown it’s BYU’s first appearance in the Kraft Bowl and it’s Washington’s also. It should be a great football game. BYU is having a great season. The Cougars lost games during the regular season to Wisconsin and Notre Dame. BYU is a good football team and they run the football.

Washington runs the football just as well with their running back Bishop Sankey and the Huskies are 8-12 for the regular season in the Pac 12. Then there was the coaching change for Washington as Steve Sarkisian who left for USC is replaced by Chris Peterson. Sarkisian will not be involved in this game.

Peterson left Boise State to coach the Huskies and with the Hunger Bowl in the last couple years there have been coaching changes for this game. It will not affect the product on the field it should be an exciting game. Former Raider quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo the Huskies interim coach knows the system going into this bowl game. It’s all hands on deck with Sarkisian gone and the team has to rally around the new coach for this game.

The players have to be more attentive and the assistants have to assume the responsibilty it’s not going to affect them on the field. They’ve got plenty of time to prepare and they might be able to do well without Sarkisian for this game. What happened two years ago with Illinois they came into the bowl to play UCLA with their new coach and last year a coaching change happened when Boston College came town and they also had a new coach.

That’s just the kind of timing they have in football and particuarily with this bowl game coaches are taking new jobs at this time of the year and obviously athletic directors are not interested in having somebody around whose accepted a new job who can not even coach the last few games. They get the guy out and he doesn’t coach the final bowl games and they just move on.

It shouldn’t effect Washington at all with this change and again Peterson will take over at the beginning of next season and coach the Huskies 2014 season. Peterson maybe attending this game as an observer. He might be there as a consultant but Peterson left Boise State and it’s great for Washington he was an excellent coach while he was with the Buffaloes and made a couple of BCS appearences.

Morris Phillips is filling in for Michelle Richardson this week for NCAA commentary

Morris Phillips on the NCAA

by Morris Phillips

BERKELEY–The Cal Bears are getting confidence with these non conference games wins like the one Saturday against the Fresno State Bull Dogs 67-56 in an 11 point victory and it’s an opportunity to gain confidence with a young basketball team which is great. The Bears have got new players that haven’t had expereince at the division one level and that’s why home games or pre conference games are so critical so that will help them.

The Bears didn’t see anybody of size this week and obviously when the conference games start they will be seeing bigger teams and taller players and the Bears will have to contend with those teams. At that point Cal will be the smaller team of the group. Especially they played Nevada and Fresno State on Saturday at Haas Pavilion and they saw a pair of undersize teams and that won’t be the case in the Pac 12.

The one thing that’s going on right now for the first time since 2006 the number one team in the country is from the Pac 12 Arizona who won against Michigan to secure that number one spot and the Pac 12 looks to be as balanced and competitive as it has been in years top to bottom and their already getting raves for being one of the strong leagues in the country.

Once again Cal is not in a conference schedule there is nothing compared to what they will see once the conference season starts. Just to run through the team, Arizona is number one, Oregon is ranked, Washington State looks to be much improved, Washington as like Cal a younger team trying to find it’s way.

Stanford is kind of interesting they just lost their point guard Aaron Bright for the season the Pac 12 is going to be a bear and every week it’s going to be tough ball games that are going to be very closely contested. Cal is going to be right there in the mix. They are younger and less experienced than some of the teams that they will face.

Morris Phillips covers Cal basketball and is filling in for Dr.Michelle Richardson this week for the NCAA commentary

49ers Report: Kaepernick could very well be as good as Montana someday

by David Zizmor

 SANTA CLARA–We were just talking about how bad the NFC East is and no team better exemplifies that than the Washington squad their really bad and they displayed that last Monday night against the 49ers. It’s kind of surprising to think they made the playoffs last year and were kind of the toast of the league and Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III displayed his skills as he injured his knee in that playoff game last year against Seattle and it’s been a tough road ever since.

Washington is just not a very good team this season and Griffin is having a lot of trouble on offense he really has had trouble passing he doesn’t look right in fact if you look in the past game comments from 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks “we respect Robert Griffin he’s a good player he’s a warrior he also shouldn’t be out there, it’s just not right there’s something wrong he’s not healthy and he should take a break before he gets back out there” but you know what the 49ers don’t care.

The 49ers had two tough games against Carolina and New Orleans and the way they lost those two games was pretty tough they lost by a total of four points by one point to Carolina and three points to New Orleans and in that New Orleans game if you don’t like that penalty for the personal foul called on Brooks for the clothesline hit on Drew Brees late in the game when he fumbled you would think the 49ers had the game stolen from them.

They lost their two games in a very tough manner and everybody was claiming the sky was falling “the Niners stink, their going to miss the playoffs, Colin Kaeppernick he’s not as good as we thought he was” the offense needs to pick up the pace for sure but the defense has been playing great football and the Niners still are 7-4 right now this isn’t a team that hasn’t completely fallen out of the playoffs race. They had a couple of tough games and they were right in  those games if a couple of breaks go their way they could have got the win and everybody would be happy and nobody would be complaining and moaning.

Fans and media would be saying that the Niners would need to be doing a couple more things and “hey their winning so who cares” this is a good team and Kaepernick has not been quite as dynamic as he was last year but lets’ remember this is a guy who started only 20 football games in his young career and after 20 games former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana was still struggling a little bit in fact if you look at Montana’s statistics for his first 20 games their almost identical to Kaepernick’s it’s almost scary how close they are in terms of their numbers.

 

Kaepernick and Montana were in different eras their not one to one comparable but Kaepernick still has a lot of room to grow and you won’t be surprised and you’ll see him grow and become a much better quarterback as time passes the offensive line has struggled a bit this season that’s played a part in Kaepernick’s struggles and we all know the problems of the 49ers with their wide receivers being unhealthy.

As the receivers get healthy and they get more weapons on offense back in the fold you see Kaepernick get better, also the coaching staff needs adjusting their realizing there are some things they need to help Kaepernick with so their doing their best to make things a little easier for him. The most important thing is the wide receivers. Mario Manningham is getting better each week you saw him in this week’s game against Washington catching several slant passes.

Which you might remember back in the 80s and 90s under former head coaches of the 49ers Bill Walsh and George Siefert those were the bread and butter of the 49ers offense with receivers like Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Freddie Solomon, Dwight Clark, and many others were catching slants left and right. You couldn’t stop them it’s a great play and if you catch it and you get tackled you get seven yards and if you catch and you break a tackle you could go for a long one.

David Zizmor covers the NFL for Sportstalk radio

Cal hopes for redemption at Colorado

By George Devine, Sr.

After a 62-28 loss to USC in this year’s last game at Berkeley, the Bears hope for their first Division I win of the season at Colorado, kicking off at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 16.

The Buffaloes lost their 14th straight Pac-12 game and are 0-6 in conference this year (3-6 overall), bringing up the rear in the South division as Cal (0-7, 1-9) is in the North division cellar.

The Colorado loss was to Washington, 59=70. Huskies are now 6-3/3-3 and bowl eligible. Leading the charge for the Buffs against Cal will be WR Paul Richardson and running backs Tony Jones and Christian Powell. On defense, ILB Addison Gillam will give the “Bear Raid” offense trouble, despite the chemistry achieved this year between Cal QB Jared Goff and wideout Kenny Lawler, a fellow freshman.

Following the game at Colorado, the Bears will go to Stanford for the annual Big Game, this year on Saturday, November 13 at a time TBD.