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College FB Roundup: Utah Up, USC Down; Huskies Escape; Playoff Prediction; Chip Kelly's Bright Idea

It's becoming clear that USC under Lincoln Riley isn't much better than USC under Clay Helton.

And that Utah's Kyle Whittingham, as we've been saying for years, is the best coach in the Pac-12.

The Utes beat USC 34-32 Saturday night on a last second field goal. This was the third time since last season the Utes have defeated USC, all of them after Utah was tied or behind at halftime.

Strong second halves are one of the characteristics that have marked Whittingham's 19 seasons at Utah, along with toughness, resiliency and discipline. His teams have also been able to overcome injuries, like this year's loss of quarterback Cam Rising and tight end Brant Kuithe.

The same things that seem to be lacking in Lincoln Riley’s USC program.

The Trojans, now 6-2, still have to face Oregon, Washington and UCLA, so they could well be looking at a four or even a five-loss season. And returning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams (below) has no chance to repeat.

Other college football observations:

* Another thing lacking in USC's program is access to and respect for the media. USC did not make players available to the media after the Utah game. This just a few weeks after Riley "suspended" one of the beat writers covering the team.

* Athletic Director Jen Cohen needs to step in and end this nonsense.

* Washington had a lot of trouble with Arizona State, as Heisman frontrunner Michael Penix Jr. had his first bad game. Penix, who has been averaging 400 yards passing, completed 27 of 42 for 275, but threw two interceptions, lost a fumble, and didn't have a touchdown pass.

* For the second straight week the Huskies benefitted from bad decisions by opposing coaches to go for it on fourth down. Arizona State, a team with only one win, was up 7-6 and had the ball at the Washington 12 with 8:26 left in the game, when it faced a fourth-and-3.

ASU first-year coach Kenny Dillingham passed up the chip shot field goal that would've given his team a four-point margin over a team that had only managed two field goals over three-and-a-half quarters. Instead, he had quarterback Trenton Bourguet throw a pass in the flat. Washington’s Mishael Powell picked it off and went 89 yards for the go-ahead TD, and the unbeaten Huskies survived, 15-7.

* Don't look now but Oregon State is now ranked No. 11 nationally. The Beavers' only loss was a 38-35 shootout against WSU, but they've beaten both Utah and UCLA. Coach Jonathan Smith has done a marvelous job at his alma mater. Hard to believe they have no home for 2024.

* After watching the Penn State-Ohio State game it was painfully obvious to me that neither team has a quarterback that can win a national championship. Even though the Buckeyes' amazing wide receiver, Marvin Harrison, Jr. makes any QB look better.

* At this point my picks for this year's four playoff teams are: Michigan, Georgia, Washington and Florida State. * Dumbest play of the week goes to Michigan State, where the brilliant folks in East Lansing posted a giant photo of Adolf Hitler on the jumbotron with a trivia question asking where he was born.

Incomprehensible stupidity, bad timing and gross insensitivity. Of course, the Spartans blamed it on a "third party" vendor in charge of the scoreboard. *Like yours truly, neither Colorado Coach Deion Sanders nor UCLA's Chip Kelly are fans of night games.

“Who makes these 8 o’clock games?" Sanders asked last week. "That is the dumbest thing ever. It’s the stupidest thing ever in life. Who wants to stay up until 8 o’clock for a dern game? What about the East Coast? Do they even care about ratings or anybody watching it?”

“Thank God we’re not going to be in this conference." * Kelly, when asked what he'd change about college football, said: "No night games. College football should be played on Saturday afternoon on every campus in this country like the old days. The tradition and history. As (former Oregon defensive coordinator) Nick Aliotti used to say, ‘I want to get up, touch our toes and smash.’ I don’t want to wait around because that’s the time slot we have. Let’s get up and play ball.”

* Kelly also has some common sense ideas relative to conference realignment that he shared with John Canzano and Jon Wilner:

"The model that I think is the best model is that Notre Dame is independent in football, but they're in a conference (ACC) for everything else. I think we should all be independent in football. Our basketball team should play Arizona every year, and our women's softball team should be playing Arizona every year. They shouldn't be playing Rutgers because football got a better deal. It just doesn't make sense.

"If you took all 64 of those (Power Five) football teams and went to the TV networks, I guarantee we'd all get a better deal than we have right now. So instead of the Pac-12 has this deal, the Big Ten has this and the SEC has this, you'd go in as a whole thing. And then take all that money, share it with everybody. I guarantee each school would make at least $75 million and then that money goes back to the school to run the other sports."

The man makes a lot of sense.

NBA Is Here: And tomorrow night, the NBA season begins. Go Warriors!!


Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//

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