Designated Read: I will turn this one around
• USC 30, Cal 9: Not as bad as 48-14, but still not good for Jeff Tedford. His offense is so out of whack that for one magical night, it made the much-maligned USC defense look capable. Monte Kiffin's unit will be credited with five turnovers on the evening.
On offense, the Trojans are still displaying the same holes at running back (leading rusher Curtis McNeal managed only 86 yards; the next closest back had 30), and though Matt Barkley was never sacked, the offensive line was wobbly in giving both him and the tailbacks room to operate. Barkley's output and completion percentage were low, actually worse than Zach Maynard's. He was outgained by almost a hundred yards. But he stayed on his feet where Maynard did not (USC recorded three sacks), and threw two touchdowns to Maynard's three interceptions. And Cal's ground game was even more woeful, with Isi Sofele held to just 44 yards rushing.
It was the second quarter that decided things, with USC scoring 17 points and shutting out the Bears, whose four drives ended in a punt, an interception, a turnover on downs and another interception. But this botched fake field goal on the Trojans' first drive was what really set the tone for the entire contest.
On fourth-and-goal from the 8, the Trojans lined up in an off formation and snapped the ball diagonally to Rhett Ellison, who dropped it for a turnover. Kiffin tried the trick play instead of opting for the easy field goal.
“That’s no fun,” Kiffin said. “You’re on ESPN. You have to do something fun.”
Were I playing a video game -- which is as close as I'll ever come to actually coaching -- I would have precisely the same philosophy, so really, it's hard to fault the guy.
• San Diego State 41, Air Force 27: Ryan Lindley and Ronnie Hillman owe that sad-sack Air Force defense some sort of fruit basket for snapping them out of their 2011 slumps con gusto. Air Force actually outgained SDSU by eight yards, but timed its three turnovers at the most inopportune moments. Lindley's completion rate was his highest of the season by far, and Hillman gained172 yards on 27 carries, with two touchdowns. Tied 17-17 at the half, the Aztecs blew the game open late in the third quarter with the first of four consecutive scores in around nine minutes, abetted by two Falcons turnovers in rapid succession.
• Isn't life just kind of a day-to-day experience, man? Rick Neuheisel is questionable to return for 2012 with a sprained coaching future.
• Tremendous courtroom upside, underrated finish: The UNC scandal is very quietly getting very entertaining again.
• Quote of the day, I: "At least for a couple minutes, I would watch a 2011 Cal offensive mixtape with a Bright Eyes soundtrack." -- Dan Rubenstein
• Quote of the day, III: "We have been beating some teams who are not going to win a lot of games probably." -- Steve Spurrier, via Josh Kendall
• Quote of the day, IV: "One thing I'm going to do when I get better, I'm going to go back out to the Giants' field. Where I got hurt, I'm going to lay down. I'm going to get up and run back off the field, right back to the sideline. So I can be like, 'I walked off the field.'" -- Eric LeGrand
• Giveth, taketh: Last night's win was a costly one for USC in terms of injuries, with Marqise Lee, Marc Tyler and Anthony Brown all hurt in some capacity. Virginia Tech has lost starting linebacker Jeron Gouviea-Winslow for the remainder of the season to a foot sprain.
• Roster blotter: Four Ole Miss offensive players are suspended for Saturday's game with Alabama, which shouldn't really present much of a dropoff for the Rebels, so meager are their prospects against that Crimson Tide D. Jacoby Brissett is your likely Gators starter against Auburn. Oregon could use some of Cliff Harris' locking-[BLEEP]-down prowess. And Ohio State's Dominic Clarke tops the Entertaining October Arrests leaderboard "after being charged for disorderly conduct for allegedly shooting a BB gun from the overhang of a dormitory restaurant Sunday night." • Friday whimsy: The Longhorn Network? You cain't get there from here, pardner. Starkville teams up with Facebook. Denard Robinson: Not a fan of the cold tub. The NCAA would like y'all to do less with less, if that's not too much trouble, sports. Parsing Texas A&M's complaints that life just moves too dang fast. Bill Byrne is still talking about the bus thing. And from my limited experience in South Bend, this is something Jack Swarbrick might want to take up with his ushers and down-in-front alumni base.