Monday, January 08, 2007

The Monday Morning Wash

BCS Championship Game

Tonight Ohio State, and Florida play for all the marbles in the BCS Championship game in the first year of the four plus one concept which added an additional game so the bowls played a week before could go with more traditional matchups.

This year Phoenix gets the extra game in the series and it should provide quite a few occupied hotel rooms in that area after the third bowl game the area has hosted over the past few weeks. While Phoenix is a Pac Ten city, and has been since the 1970's, the Pac Ten still does not have a presence in the area.

Picking Ohio State, and Florida has provided little controversy this year as USC, and Michigan eliminated themselves the last week of the season. Boise State may say they deserve to be here too, but I truly believe we have the right two teams playing for the title.

Both Ohio State's and Florida's rosters are chock-full of premier athletes, and senior quarterbacks who have experience in big games. Ohio State has the advantage in this matchup because its running game is much better than Florida's. Antonio Pittman has gained 1,171 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. The Buckeyes' backs will attempt to take some of the pressure off quarterback Troy Smith. That may be easier said than done; Florida boasts the nation's sixth-best rushing defense, holding opponents to less than 75 yards per game on average. Smith's mobility will help against Florida's pass-rush, which has been good all year. Smith should also look to put the ball in the air against Florida's weak secondary. Defensively, Ohio State has not faced the type of spread offense that Florida runs. The Buckeyes will have to work hard in space and cover the Gators' speedy receivers. Ohio State's defense has been stout all season and the offense continually steps up in big games.

A couple of things to look for

Ohio State shocked the Michigan defense by aligning in a no-back, five-wide receiver empty set. It was in this formation 24 snaps in the game on Nov. 18 in Columbus. The Buckeyes ended up having 503 total yards of offense on 70 plays. Florida will not be surprised by the five-wide receiver set as Michigan was, but how the Gators defend it will be a key in the national championship game.

Urban Meyer always has done a great job setting up reverse-action plays and gimmicks particularly against fast, aggressive defenses such as Ohio State's. Florida always will have a game-plan with a couple of "deceptives," or special plays, off of its most frequently run offensive plays. For example, the Gators always have run a lot of speed or down the line option so the reverse off of the option often has been a weapon.

Weekend Recruiting Update

The Huskies changed things up over the holidays opting to bring 9-10 players this week, and 8-9 next week rather than doing it all in one weekend. Folk, and Johnson previously committed, and most say that with Yarber leaving that Johnson needed some maintenance. UW always puts on great trips, and Ty is a guy who impresses the players, and their parents so I think his commitment is safe with all the playing time available.

Owuzu, and Tomzyk are the guys from the Hun School in New Jersey. Neither are locks to attend UW, but Ty got their attention when he went back to visit Sylvester. Tapping the East Coast Prep school is something Ty picked up when he was at Notre Dame. Both had a good time on their visit but will continue to check out other schools before they make a decision. Petrino leaving Louisville to coach the Atlanta Falcons may open the door to us signing these two players.

Darrion Weems is a big target for the offensive line and made his visit a week earlier than expected. By all accounts he had a good trip, and Washington will be one of his finalists. Weems would be a very big get for the Huskies, but Oregon, and Florida are his other final two choices.

The 6'5 235 lb Knapp is a sleeper from Nevada who has some good offers. Not sure if he will be a TE, or DE. I would bet more on DE. He doesn't have an offer yet but had a great trip, and Washington is at the top of his list.

Horton is a kid who came up before Christmas who can play DB, and QB. Not sure on the status of whether ha has an offer or not.

Amajoyi is a kid who is down between UW, and Stanford. Stanford says he can play wherever he wants, and Washington likes him at LB. I am not sure how serious Washington is about this kid since they are pretty full at both LB, and RB. He is the kind of athlete though that you make room for, but I think he is headed to Stanford.

Texas DB Victor Aiyewa showed up for a suprise visit. The Huskies haven't offered him yet so he is probably a fall back guy at this point. Not much info coming out on this guy other than he visited.

The 6'7 235 lb Smith is a guy is a new guy on the Husky radar. He would be a nice bookend to his fellow Islander Aldrich. He might visit Oregon next week, but almost committed to UW over the weekend which was a surprise because he didn't have UW listed very high before his visit. Willingham will visit him at home on the 15th to seal the deal.

DE Owuzu.....................Hun School
OT Tomczyk.................Hun School
DB Aiyewa.....................Texas
TE Knapp......................Nevada
S Horton........................California
DE Smith.......................Hawaii
OT Weems....................California
RB Amajoyi...................California
RB Johnson (Verbal)...California
K Folk (Verbal)............California

There was a rumor that Nevada OL Pou Palelei was going to commit over the weekend during the Army Alll Star game but those rumors turned out to be false. He will decide between UW, and ASU. He hasn't made any visits yet as he continues to get his academics in order. CB Eddie Wide is still on the board and will decide between UW, and Utah. Nobody committed this weekend, but a few of these guys are close and could pull the trigger in the coming week.

Pac Ten Weekend Basketball Roundup

Oregon vs UCLA

Oregon narrowly defeated UCLA to give them their first loss of the season on Saturday.
In 1974, Ernie Kent played for an Oregon team that upset No. 1 UCLA. Thirty-three years later, Kent sobbed when his Ducks again knocked off the top-ranked Bruins. "This is a together basketball team," the Oregon coach said after the 16th-ranked Ducks handed UCLA its first loss of the season, 68-66 on Saturday. "Their spirit is unbelievable." Aaron Brooks scored 25 points, including the game-winning jumper with 13 seconds left for Oregon (14-1, 2-1 Pac-10). That was the Ducks' only field goal over the final 7 minutes.

USC vs Oregon St

USC just took apart Oregon State, this one wasn't pretty. The Trojans are a tourney team. Lodrick Stewart had a career-high 28 points including 20 in the first half to lead Southern California to a 91-46 Pacific-10 Conference win Saturday over Oregon State.
Taj Gibson added 20 points and five rebounds for the Trojans (13-4, 3-1 Pac-10), who completed a Beaver State sweep that started with an 84-82 victory at No. 16 Oregon on Thursday. Angelo Tsagarakis had 10 points to lead Oregon State (8-8, 0-3), which opened the conference schedule with three straight home games.

UW vs Arizona St

UW snuck by Arizona St moving to 1-3 on the young season in a lethargic showing against ASU. UW still hasn't solved any problems despite getting by the lowly the lowly Devils. We have a recap in a previous post this weekend. Appleby was the hero in this one as everyone in the conference is now sagging in around Hawes.

WSU vs Arizona

WSU is one of the more interesting teams in the conference because there style of play gives them a chance to beat anyone on any given night. Daven Harmeling scored a career high 28 points to help Washington State beat No. 7 Arizona 77-73 in overtime on Saturday. Arizona (12-2, 3-1 Pac-10) tied the score at 67 to force overtime, but was outscored 10-6 in the extra period to see its 12-game winning streak snapped. Washington State (14-2, 3-1) had not beaten such a highly ranked opponent at home since topping No. 6 UCLA in 1983. The Cougars have now topped 13 wins for the first time since 1995-96. Harmeling sank 9-of-15 shots, including 7-of-11 3-pointers. Kyle Weaver added 15 and Robbie Cowgill 13 for the Cougars. Mustafa Shakur scored 19 points and Marcus Williams added 18 for Arizona, which came in averaging 87 points per game.

Stanford Vs Virginia

Lawrence Hill made a driving floater with nine-tenths of a second to play Sunday night, producing the 14th lead change in a game that was close throughout and giving Stanford a 76-75 victory against Virginia. The Cardinal (9-4) trailed 75-74 after Virginia's J.R. Reynolds made one of two free throws with 9.4 seconds left. But they inbounded the ball, got it to Hill in the corner and he drove, making a short jumper that sat on the front of the rim and fell.

Pac Ten Basketball Power Ratings

These are our first basketball power ratings of the year and it is obviously pretty inconclusive at this point after the upsets this week. The Pac Ten is very tight this year and whoever wins the conference will be battle scarred by the end of the season. You have eight teams that could make the dance, but six will likely be picked when it is all said, and done.

1. Oregon..................Playing their best ball in years.
2. UCLA....................Bruin's fall to Duck's
3. Arizona.................Probably the best team in the league, but they fell in Pullman.
4. USC.......................This team is on the rise playing good ball.
5. Washington St.....This years sleeper got a big win this weekend.
6. Washington..........This is a team just getting by looking for an identity.
7. Stanford................Nice win over Virginia
8. California..............The Bear's are on the fringe.
9. Oregon St.............Going nowhere after blowout loss to USC.
10. Arizona St..........Gave UW a game.

Saban takes Alabama job

Nick Saban, lured to Tuscaloosa by an eight-year package worth a guaranteed $32 million (plus an additional $700,000 to $800,000 annually in bowl-game bonuses), said "my heart was to go back to college" but felt he left the Miami Dolphins in better shape than he found them two years ago despite a 15-17 record. "What I realized in the last two years is that we love college coaching because of the ability that it gives you to affect people, young people," he said, with wife Terry and daughter Kristen looking on. "If I knew that my heart was someplace else in what I wanted to do, I don't think it would be fair to the organization if I stayed." The well-traveled Saban said his next stop would not be another school but retirement to Lake Burton in north Georgia, where he has a home.

Petrino Leaves Louisville for the Atlanta Falcons

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino has accepted a five-year, $24 million offer from the Atlanta Falcons to become their new coach. Petrino met with his Louisville players Sunday night to let them know he was going to Atlanta. Before the season, Petrino signed a 10-year, $25 million contract. Petrino had previously interviewed with Auburn, LSU, Notre Dame and the Oakland Raiders for other jobs, but announced in August that he would be at Louisville for the long haul.

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