Troubled Times in LA, Lincoln, and Tallahassee; Where Have All the Complete Games Gon
We’ve only played three weeks of college football, but thousands of fans in Southern California have already written off the 2018 season.
That’s because the two storied Los Angeles programs—USC and UCLA—are a combined 1-5.
Where are Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen when you need them? Perhaps more importantly, where are Pete Carroll and Terry Donahue?
The vaunted Trojans, after being shut down, 17-3, by Stanford last week, suffered an embarrassing 37-14 pummeling by Texas on Saturday. The school once renowned for its unstoppable “student body right” ground attack had minus 5 yards rushing against Texas. That’s not a misprint. Sixteen carries for minus 5 yards.
Fact is, USC has few playmakers on offense. The typical stable of game-breaking running backs and deep receivers is missing. Freshman quarterback JT Daniels has promise, but often looks confused and overwhelmed. He’s thrown only one TD pass in three games.
Coach Clay Helton needs to re-tool his offense quickly, because the wolves are already starting to howl.
Things are even worse in Westwood. New coach Chip Kelly’s team has been humiliated three weeks in a row—by underdog Cincinnati (26-17) powerhouse Oklahoma (49-21), and that pesky blue collar bunch up the road, Fresno State (38-14).
This wasn’t what Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, a host of big Bruin donors and former quarterback Troy Aikman had in mind when they announced the hiring of Kelly as the second coming. So far, the Westwood boys have looked disorganized and undisciplined. They had 11 penalties against Fresno State and allowed unheralded quarterback Marcus McMaryion to rush for five touchdowns.
The bad news is that the Bruins may be underdogs in all of their remaining games. Looking at the schedule, it’s hard to see any guaranteed wins. So a 2-10 season is very realistic, and an 0-12 isn’t out of the question.
Remember This Name: I'd mentioned North Texas coach Seth Littrell as the type of up-and-coming coach UCLA should've looked to, rather than a re-tread like Chip Kelly. On Saturday, unbeaten North Texas stunned Arkansas 44-17. Littrell is a secret no more. He'll land a big job after this season.
Buffs Rising: Unsung Colorado may now be the favorite in the Pac-12 Southern Division. The Buffs beat rival Colorado State in their opener and upset Nebraska last week before cruising over New Hampshire. With UCLA, USC and Arizona faltering, Utah struggling on offense (21-7 loss to Washington) and ASU still a question mark under Herman Edwards, Coach Mike MacIntyre's club has a real shot.
Mt. West Muscles Up: Three Mt. West Conference teams scored upset wins over the Pac-12 last weekend. In addition to the aforementioned Fresno State triumph over moribund UCLA, San Diego State beat Arizona State and Nevada edged Oregon State 37-35. One of the college football gambling experts had listed Oregon State as the “lock of the week.” He’s got a few unhappy customers right now.
Taggart Tanking: First-year Florida State coach Willie Taggart, who bolted Oregon after one year when FSU coach Jimbo Fisher departed for greener pastures (as in $75 million) at Texas A&M, may be second-guessing his decision to leave Eugene. After absorbing an error-plagued 24-3 loss to Virginia Tech in the season opener, the Seminoles trailed until the final four minutes against Samford, a presumed cupcake. Then, last Saturday, Taggart's crew was crushed, 30-7, by Syracuse.
No surprise Taggart was named the most over-rated coach in college football by a CBS.com survey of major college coaches.
Early Frost: Another first year coach, Nebraska's Scott Frost, has suffered two straight upsets. After a surprising loss to Colorado, the Huskers were embarrassed by Troy, 24-19, on Saturday.
Frost was supposed to be the savior in Lincoln after Nebraska canned my old friend, Mike Riley. Not so fast.
Unbeaten Bay Area: While the Southern California teams struggle, the Bay Area schools are flourishing. Both Stanford and Cal sport 3-0 records.
Stanford’s fast start was anticipated. After dispatching a tougher-than-expected Davis team 30-10 (without Bryce Love), the Cardinal has climbed to No. 7 in the national rankings. Wins on the road over No. 20 Oregon and No. 8 Notre Dame the next two weeks would put David Shaw’s club into the College Football Playoff conversation.
Meanwhile, the Cal Bears are one of the best kept secrets in college football. Justin Wilcox's team is 3-0, after throttling Idaho State Saturday. They have started to get some respect after BYU—a team Cal beat 21-18 in Provo—upset No. 6 Wisconsin last week.
In addition to a very stout defense—a refreshing change in Berkeley after the sievelike Sonny Dykes era—Wilcox seems to have found a winning formula at quarterback. Last year's starter, Ross Bowers, is the odd man out, as Wilcox is going with two quarterbacks who can run, redshirt freshman Chase Garbers and soph Brandon McIlwain. They rushed for 71 yards and passed for 269 against Idaho State, with Garbers completing 20 of 25 passes, giving the Bears some much-needed life on offense.
Talkin’ Baseball: San Francisco Giants' pitcher Chris Stratton threw a complete game, two-hit shutout against the Rockies last Friday. It was the Giants' first complete game of the season, and it came in game No. 148.
Think about that, with 14 games left in the season, the Giants finally got a complete game.
Fifty years ago, Giants' ace Juan Marichal pitched 30 complete games during the 1968 season. He started 38 games and completed 30, posting a 26-9 record.
The big workload didn't seem to bother him. The following year Marichal started 37 games and completed 27. That season he had a 2.10 ERA, best of his career, and pitched 299 innings.
There were no pitch counts in those days. There was no "bullpenning."
And no Tommy John surgery, either.