NCF Nation: Allen Bradford

Inactives for the Buccaneers

October, 3, 2011
10/03/11
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TAMPA, Fla. – We just got the inactives for the Buccaneers for their game with the Indianapolis Colts.

No major surprises. Receiver Sammie Stroughter, running back Allen Bradford, cornerback Anthony Gaitor, tackle Derek Hardman, tackle James Lee, tight end Zach Pianalto and defensive tackle Frank Okam are inactive.

Final Pac-12 NFL draft tally

May, 1, 2011
5/01/11
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The Pac-12 provided 37 players to the NFL draft over the weekend, one fewer than the SEC, which led all conferences.

If the six combined picks from Colorado and Utah are taken away from the conference, the old Pac-10 provided NFL teams 3.1 draft picks per team, also just behind the SEC at 3.17.

Here's where the Pac-12 players went:

First round
No. 8 Jake Locker, QB, Washington: Tennessee
No. 9 Tyron Smith., OT, USC: Dallas
No. 17 Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: New England
No. 24 Cameron Jordan, DE, California: New Orleans
No. 27 Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: Baltimore

Second round
7. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA: Tennessee
10. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona: Houston
13. Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA: Denver
21. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State: Chicago
24. Shane Vereen, RB, California: New England

Third round
13. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC: Tennessee
20. Mason Foster, LB, Washington: Tampa Bay
25. Shareece Wright, CB, USC: San Diego
29. Christopher Conte, S, California: Chicago
33. Sione Fua, DT, Stanford: Carolina

Fourth round
5. Jordan Cameron, TE, USC: Cleveland
19. Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon: Philadelphia
21. Jalil Brown, CB, Colorado: Kansas City
27. Owen Marecic, FB, Stanford: Cleveland

Fifth round
8. Brandon Burton, CB, Utah: Minnesota
9. Gabe Miller, DE, Oregon State: Kansas City
14. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State: Atlanta
23. Richard Sherman, CB, Stanford: Seattle

Sixth round
2. Ryan Whalen, WR, Stanford: Cincinnati
14. Caleb Schlauderaff, OG, Utah: Green Bay
17. Ronald Johnson, WR, USC: San Francisco
19. David Carter, DT, UCLA: Arizona
22. Allen Bradford, RB, USC: Tampa Bay
24. Mike Mohamed, LB, California: Denver
32. Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona: Green Bay
38. Zach Williams, C, Washington State: Carolina

Seventh round
12. D'Aundre Reed, DE, Arizona: Minnesota
24. Scotty McKnight, WR, Colorado: New York Jets
30. Lawrence Guy, DT, Arizona State: Green Bay
37. Stanley Havili, FB, USC: Philadelphia
38. David Ausberry, WR, USC: Oakland
39. Malcolm Smith, LB, USC: Seattle

By Pac-12 school:
Arizona (3)
Arizona State (1)
California (4)
Colorado (4)
Oregon (1)
Oregon State (3)
Stanford (4)
UCLA (3)
USC (9)
Utah (2)
Washington (2)
Washington State (1)

The final tally by automatic qualifying conferences:
SEC... 38
Pac-12... 37
Big Ten... 36
ACC... 35
Big East 22
Big 12...19

Nebraska was a big swing to the Big Ten from the Big 12 with seven picks. With Colorado and Nebraska, the Big 12 provided 30 selections.

This was the tally through three rounds:
SEC: 20
ACC: 19
Pac-12: 15
Big Ten: 13
Big 12: 9
Big East: 4

Pac-10 helmet stickers

December, 5, 2010
12/05/10
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Who deserves a sticker on his helmet for a job well done?

Allen Bradford: The USC running back, who spent time on the bench this year because of ball security issues, rushed for 212 yards and a touchdown and turned a screen pass into a 47-yard TD in the Trojans' 28-14 win over UCLA.

Kenjon Barner: The Oregon running back -- LaMichael James' backup -- rushed for 133 yards on just 15 carries -- 8.9 yards per rush -- with a 23-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that iced the 37-20 Civil War win over Oregon State.

Thomas Weber: Arizona State beat rival Arizona on Thursday because it had a better kicker. While the Wildcats missed two PATs, Weber was 5-for-5 on field goals with a long of 52 yards and made his one extra point.

Chris Polk: Polk rushed for 284 yards on 26 carries with two TDs in the Huskies' 35-28 win over Washington State. It was the second-best single-game rushing total in program history.

Final: USC 28, UCLA 14

December, 5, 2010
12/05/10
2:15
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Maybe USC running back Allen Bradford should have gotten more touches this season.

Bradford, who disappeared over the second half of the season -- ball security was the issue -- rushed for 212 yards and a touchdown and turned a screen pass into a 47-yard TD in the Trojans 28-14 win over UCLA.

The Trojans only led 14-7 after three quarters, but they dominated the fourth quarter, which hasn't been the case this season.

USC finishes 8-5, UCLA 4-8. Neither can play in a bowl game, but USC sustained its dominance in the rivalry game.

The game itself wasn't the only brawl. A fight broke out before the game, which involved 40 people, and two men were stabbed, according to a statement from Pasadena police. Both were treated at a local hospital and are in fair condition.

video

Pac-10 helmet stickers: Week 5

October, 3, 2010
10/03/10
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Who deserves a sticker on his helmet for a job well done?

LaMichael James: The Oregon running back is officially a Heisman Trophy candidate. He rushed for 257 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries in Oregon's 52-31 win over No. 9 Stanford. He never lost a yard.

Darron Thomas: Thomas completed 20 of 29 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for a career-high 117 yards and score in the Ducks win over Stanford.

Jake Locker: Washington's QB certainly came back strong after struggling against Nebraska in the worst performance of his career. He passed for 310 yards and rushed for 111 in Washington's comeback 32-31 win at USC. He led a clutch final drive, which included a conversion on fourth-and-11, that set up the game-winning field goal.

UCLA's running game: When a team rushes for 437 yards, as the Bruins did in a 42-28 win over Washington State, you can't just hand it to a running back. The Bruins O-line continues to impress, and running backs Johnathan Franklin (216 yards) and Derrick Coleman (185 yards, 3 TDs) took advantage.

Jacquizz Rodgers: With his brother James out with a concussion, Rodgers gained 145 yards on 24 carries with two TDs -- including one for 74 yards -- in Oregon State's 31-28 win over Arizona State.

Ryan Katz: In his best performance of the season, Katz completed 19-of-29 for 260 yards with two TDs and no interceptions in the win over Arizona State. He has seven TD passes and no picks this year.

Allen Bradford: Bradford had 223 yards on 21 carries with two TDs in a losing effort against Washington.

Pac-10 stock report

September, 22, 2010
9/22/10
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Who's running with a bull market? Who's battling the bears (not the Golden ones)?

Stock up

Arizona: The Wildcats, the national team of the week, are 3-0 and ranked 14th after beating No. 9 Iowa, their first victory over a ranked nonconference foe at home since 1989. They are playing well on both sides of the ball and look like a legitimate threat in the Pac-10.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils lost 20-19 at Wisconsin, but they sure didn't look like the team projected to finish ninth in the Pac-10 this fall. Particularly intriguing is a transformation on offense, as QB Steven Threet seems adept at running Noel Mazzone's spread attack.

UCLA's running game: Last year, UCLA ranked 97th in the nation and ninth in the Pac-10 with 114.6 yards rushing per game. This year, despite playing three quality opponents, the Bruins rank 31st in the nation and fourth in the Pac-10 with 203.7 yards per game.

The return game: Three conference teams already have returned kickoffs for TDs. Oregon has returned three punts for TDs. USC one. Six conference punt returners rank among the top 21 in the nation. Four kick returners rank among the top 17.

Shane Vereen: Vereen ran for a career-high 198 yards and three touchdowns in California's 52-31 loss at Nevada. He is now second in the Pac-10 and 21st in the nation with 108 yards per game.

Andrew Luck: As Stanford's fortunes rise, so does Luck's Heisman Trophy candidacy. The nation's third-rated passer has 10 TD passes and has not thrown an interception. He also has a 52-yard TD run.

Allen Bradford: A non-factor in USC's first two games, he rolled up 131 yards on just 12 carries with a TD in a 32-21 win at Minnesota.

Justin Washington: Guess who leads the Pac-10 in sacks with four? An Arizona redshirt freshman defensive tackle named Justin Washington, that's who.

Brandon Bair: Is Bair the most underrated player in the Pac-10? Maybe. The Oregon DT leads the conference with 6.5 tackles for a loss after a monster game vs. Portland State.

Stock down

California: The national ranking went poof amid a flurry of Nevada points last Friday.

Washington: Little went right as Nebraska pounded the Huskies in front of a supremely disappointed home stadium. Rumors of the program's return to national relevancy appear to have been greatly exaggerated.

USC's defense: The Trojans rank sixth in the conference in scoring defense (23.7 ppg), seventh in total defense (411.7 yards per game) and last in passing defense(291.0 ypg). And those numbers came against mediocre-to-bad teams.

Washington State's offensive line: The Cougars have surrendered 10 sacks -- three more than any other conference team -- and rank last in the conference in rushing (96.7 ypg).

UCLA's ball security: UCLA ranks last in the conference and 112th in the nation in turnover margin. The Bruins are minus-five on the year, with their 10 giveaways being twice as many as any other conference team.

Oregon State's pass rush: The Beavers only have two sacks in two games, which might be a big reason opponents are completing 60 percent of their passes, which is the second-worst completion rate in the conference. Up next: Boise State's Kellen Moore.

Jake Locker: You might have heard that Locker turned in the worst performance of his career vs. Nebraska. It's hard to become a Heisman Trophy candidate -- and justify a high NFL draft grade -- when your QB rating ranks ninth in the Pac-10 and 65th in the nation.

Pac-10 helmet stickers: Week 3

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
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Who deserves a sticker on his helmet for a job well done?

Arizona: The Wildcats posted the signature win of the weekend, beating No. 9 Iowa 34-27. Nick Foles passed for 303 yards and two TDs, while the defense shut down the Iowa running game and recorded six sacks and a pick-six. The special teams also were pretty special with a blocked PAT and 100-yard kick return for a TD.

Shane Vereen: Vereen, mostly quiet in the first two games, ran for a career-high 198 yards and three touchdowns in California's 52-31 loss at Nevada.

Allen Bradford: The forgotten man in the USC backfield had 131 yards on just 12 carries with a TD in a 32-21 win at Minnesota.

Andrew Luck: Stanford's QB threw four TD passes and ran 52 yards for another score in the Cardinal's 68-24 win over Wake Forest.

Arizona State's offense: The Sun Devils looked like a completely different team while gaining 380 yards in a 20-19 loss at Wisconsin. Credit to quarterback Steven Threet, the O-line that paved the way for a legitimate running game and coordinator Noel Mazzone, who brought in a spread scheme that worked well.

Jacquizz Rodgers: He ended a three-game slump with 132 yards on 24 carries with two TDs in a 35-28 win over Louisville. He also caught five passes for 27 yards.

UCLA: Everyone wrote off the Bruins after they started 0-2, including a 35-0 home loss to Stanford. But they bounced back with a 31-13 win over No. 23 Houston. The defense forced three turnovers and the offense rushed for 266 yards.

USC's Kiffin now measured by results

September, 2, 2010
9/02/10
12:13
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There have been two narrative threads for Lane Kiffin over the past year or so. The first includes indignant forehead slaps and raised voices. The second isn't exactly laudatory. It's just more measured.

[+] EnlargeLane Kiffin
Chris Williams/Icon SMIIt's been an interesting year for Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin.
The first amounts to this: He's a good-for-nothing, spoiled brat who's never done anything. He's a loudmouth who plays free-and-easy with the rules and bailed on his fans and players at Tennessee after just one year.

The second: Well, his early career certainly has been interesting. But let's wait and see if he can actually coach.

You've, of course, read this before. Many times.

One of these narrative threads, however, will gain substantive traction over the coming weeks -- starting tonight at Hawaii -- as Kiffin begins what by any standard will be a difficult coaching assignment: Leading USC through severe NCAA sanctions that include a two-year postseason ban and a reduction of 30 scholarships over three years.

Other than a taking a shot at UCLA on national signing day last February -- which came off as a clumsy case of sour grapes -- Kiffin has mostly been focused and businesslike. And honest. When reporters ask him questions, he seems to say exactly what he thinks.

For example: Coach, what's your team going to look like against Hawaii?

"There are a lot of questions in everyone's mind, including mine as a head coach," he said. "How good are we going to be? We haven't played together or coached together with this team. With the limited contact and practices, it will be interesting."

He's not been afraid to discipline players. He's been quick to stop lackadaisical practices and demand a better effort. There's a sense that the circus that was USC has left town with the departure of Pete Carroll.

But the biggest changes are on the depth chart. Middle linebacker Chris Galippo, a returning starter, was beaten out by Devon Kennard. Allen Bradford had a firm grip on the starting job at tailback until he didn't: Marc Tyler emerged from whatever-happened-to-him? status to earn the nod. A group of veterans are looking up at true freshman receiver Robert Woods on the depth chart. Same at one cornerback spot, where true freshman Nickell Robey separated himself from Torin Harris.

"I tell our players all the time: if they don't like where they are on the depth chart, play better," Kiffin said. "We're not going to be stubborn and try to prove ourselves right because we name the guy a starter. We're going to evaluate that every week."

Early in the Carroll Era, USC was celebrated for its culture of competition. Seniority didn't matter. If a true freshman was better, he was going to play. That seemed to fade late in the Carroll Era, the most obvious example being the seemingly privileged status given to running back Joe McKnight, who rarely looked like the Trojans' best running back in large part because he spent many practices chilling on a golf cart because of some minor injury.

But Kiffin's attitude about some of the depth-chart surprises is notable: He doesn't strike a self-serving, "There's a new sheriff in town" pose.

"It's not done on purpose," he said. "If the same guys who ended last year [as starters] were the best guys at this point, they would still be at the top. We have always said we're going to play the best players regardless of age, regardless of recruiting rankings, regardless of where they are from. What was done before we got here doesn't mean anything to us. We've judged our guys only from the first day we've gotten here."

Which is the right message. That used to be the "USC way" and it was a big reason hot shot recruits wanted to go to USC: The opportunity to play immediately if they were good enough.

Yet this is a transitional USC. The Trojans are going to trot out a starting 22 tonight that could play with just about anybody. But the depth isn't there, and scholarship sanctions are going to make depth a bigger issue over the next four or five seasons.

Kiffin's immediate challenge is keeping his team motivated. One approach is obvious: It's us against the world. Still, Kiffin said that won't be the central theme of his locker room speeches.

"I get the sense they have that on their own," he said. "I've not pushed that. They've been through a long off-season. As I said before, the wrong people are being penalized. These players weren't even here when all that [Reggie Bush] stuff happened. They can only worry about what they can control. And that's going out and playing the best that they can each and every week."

And at this jumping-off point, Kiffin's reputation can start to re-write itself in ink instead of pencil.

A good example of new wait-and-see approach? Kiffin only fielded a couple of questions on the Pac-10 coaches teleconference on Tuesday. Then crickets. A shocked moderator told him no one had anything else to ask of him.

Said Kiffin, "That's a first."

The looking back is done. The present is ready to be measured.

Big moves on USC's depth chart

August, 24, 2010
8/24/10
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Lane Kiffin isn't afraid to shake things up. Just consider what appears to be happening on USC's depth chart.

It appears that sophomore Devon Kennard has beaten out junior Chris Galippo, a returning starter, at middle linebacker. It was one of the hottest competitions of spring practices and fall camp after Kennard was moved from outside linebacker to challenge Galippo, who started strongly in 2009 but faded late.

And that's not all.

Junior Marc Tyler, a hyped recruit in 2006 whose career has been riddled by injuries, is running as the first-team tailback. Further, two freshmen -- receiver Robert Woods and cornerback Nickell Robey -- also appear to have won starting jobs.

The official depth chart in advance of the opener at Hawaii on Sept. 2 won't be released until Saturday.

Tyler's ascension is due in part to senior Allen Bradford, No. 1 at tailback after spring practices, missing action with a bruised knee. Bradford has returned to practice, so the situation may be a 1A and 1B at this point.

Woods, widely regarded as the nation's top high school receiver last year, will start opposite senior Ronald Johnson. He's eclipsed sophomore Brice Butler for the starting nod.

Robey has beaten out redshirt freshman Torin Harris.
Another year, another strong collection of running backs, even with the departures of Toby Gerhart and Jahvid Best.

While Pac-10 quarterbacks will grab most of the preseason headlines -- that's what happens when the two best NFL prospects at the position play in the same conference -- the class of running backs is nearly as strong.

Three 1,00o-yard rushers are back, and that doesn't include California's Shane Vereen, who piled up 952 yards as a backup, nor does it including Arizona's Nic Grigsby, who rushed for 1,153 yards in 2008. Six of the top-nine running backs will return this fall, and more than a few teams are decidedly deep at the position.

By the way, you might note there is more mention of incoming freshman at this position than others. Two reasons: 1. The Pac-1o had a strong haul of RBs in recruiting; and, 2. RB is often the easiest place for a young player to break into the lineup.

Great shape

  • Oregon: While the Pac-10 blog rates Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers ahead of LaMichael James as an individual player, the Ducks have a decided edge in depth, and not only because James' backup, Kenjon Barner, is one of the conference's most explosive players. The incoming recruiting class also features Lache Seastrunk and Dontae Williams, the No. 6 and No. 13 prep running backs in the nation in 2009.
  • [+] EnlargeJacquizz Rodgers
    Rick Scuteri/US PresswireJacquizz Rodgers may be the most talented individual running back in the Pac-10 this year, but Oregon has the best group.
  • Oregon State: Jacquizz Rodgers is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate as the most complete back in the conference. Depth behind him is a little iffy, though Ryan McCants turned in some of his best work during spring practices.
  • Washington: Washington fans often note that Chris Polk gained most of his 1,113 yards last year after contact because he was running behind a young offensive line. That line, with four starters back, should be better in 2010. Good depth with Johri Fogerson and freshmen Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier, who both participated in spring drills.
  • California: As noted above, Vereen put up impressive numbers as a backup and then starter over the final four games after Best got hurt. 12 TDs on 183 carries shows he has a nose for the endzone. Depth behind him is uncertain. Trajuan Briggs, Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, Isi Sofele and Dasarte Yarnway are competing for backup touches.
  • USC: Allen Bradford, a neglected talent under Pete Carroll, who was oddly in love with the mercurial Joe McKnight, could end up being a first-team All-Pac-10 back. C.J. Gable also will have a chance to emerge from Carroll's doghouse. True freshman Dillon Baxter was the star of spring practices, while Curtis McNeal and Marc Tyler are major talents who just need to stay healthy.
  • Arizona: The Wildcats welcome back their top three running backs: Grigsby, Keola Antolin and Greg Nwoko. But Grigsby, who averaged 7.2 yards per carry last year when he wasn't hurt, needs to find a way to stay healthy.
Good shape
We'll see

  • Stanford: The Cardinal doesn't have one guy who can replace Gerhart. But who does? The good news for a backfield-by-committee approach with Jeremy Stewart, Tyler Gaffney, Stepfan Taylor and freshman Usua Amanam in the mix is the offensive line in front of them should be outstanding.
  • Arizona State: The Sun Devils must replace leading rusher Dimitri Nance, who didn't exactly scare opposing defenses in 2009. Cameron Marshall is the leading returning rusher with 280 yards. James Morrison and Jamal Miles will provide depth, though an incoming freshman might get into the mix. As has been the case for a while with the Sun Devils, the first order is improving the offensive line.
  • Washington State: Leading 2009 rusher Dwight Tardy is gone. If James Montgomery is healthy -- and stays that way -- he gives the Cougars a quality runner. He was clearly the best guy last preseason before he got hurt. Logwone Mitz, Chantz Staden, Carl Winston and Marcus Richmond will compete for touches during fall camp. Whatever the pecking order, the offensive line is the biggest issue.

Fear the three-headed monsters

July, 8, 2010
7/08/10
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A month ago Rivals looked at the nation's top offensive triplets -- elite combinations of quarterback, running back and receiver.

Two Pac-10 teams -- Arizona and Washington -- made the list.

Hey, we're never afraid to copy a good idea. So let's rate the top five offensive troikas in the conference (tomorrow morning we'll look at the top-five on defense).

The challenge here is priority and value. What if a team is outstanding at running back and receiver but inexperienced at quarterback? How does that measure up with a team that is merely good but also experienced at all three positions?

Tough distinctions but "Tough Distinctions" is our middle name. Er, names.

5. Stanford: QB Andrew Luck, RB Tyler Gaffney, WR Ryan Whalen

The skinny: Stanford nips Oregon for the final spot mostly because of experience and elite talent at quarterback and better numbers at receiver. Luck led the conference in passing efficiency as a redshirt freshman. Gaffney seems like he'll be first among the candidates to replace Toby Gerhart. Whalen ranked fifth in the conference in receiving yards per game. (And, yes, the presence of speedy Chris Owusu on the opposite side flashed through our minds.)

4. USC: QB Matt Barkley, RB Allen Bradford, WR Ronald Johnson

The skinny: Barkley is a major talent who ranked third in the conference in passing efficiency in 2009 as a true freshman. The bruising Bradford rushed for 668 yards and eight touchdowns with a 5.8 yards per carry average. Johnson was hurt much of last year but he's caught 12 career TD passes and is one of the conference's most dangerous deep threats.

3. Oregon State: QB Ryan Katz, RB Jacquizz Rodgers, WR James Rodgers

The skinny: Sure, Katz has yet to throw a meaningful college pass, but he's an impressive talent with a great arm and running ability. Still, the Beavers rank third here for one reason: The Rodgers brothers are the best players at their positions in the conference. Both are proven All-America candidates.

2. Arizona: QB Nick Foles, RB Nic Grigsby, WR Juron Criner

The skinny: After becoming the starter following the third game of 2009, Foles passed for 2,486 yards and 19 TDs. Grigsby was in and out of the lineup with injuries, but he averaged 7.2 yards per carry when he got the ball (and it doesn't hurt that his backup, Keola Antolin, has been productive over the past two seasons). The 6-foot-4 Criner tied for the conference lead with nine TD receptions.

1. Washington: QB Jake Locker, RB Chris Polk, WR Jermaine Kearse

The skinny: Rivals tapped this threesome No. 1 in the nation. Locker ranked No. 2 on our list of the conference's top 25 players and he may go No. 1 in the 2011 NFL draft. Polk ranked fourth in the conference with 1,113 yards rushing in 2009. Kearse earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors after hauling in eight TD passes and leading the conference with a 17.3 yards per reception average.
Everybody wants to talk about the ending of USC's 28-7 win over UCLA. In fact, 2,000 words of Pete Carroll's news conference Tuesday were about the Trojans' late 48-yard touchdown pass and the general nuances of sportsmanship.

Carroll yielded little under questioning. He believes in two things: 1. competition; 2. fun. He doesn't believe you can ever have too much of either, even if others wonder about when a compounding of them might push a team past the boundaries of decorum.

[+] EnlargePete Carroll
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesA win against Arizona likely gives Pete Carroll's team the inside track to the Holiday Bowl.
"We talked about it yesterday in the meetings about what can happen by showing the excitement," Carroll said. "I'll remind you that last year in the Rose Bowl the officials told us at halftime that if we continue to celebrate as much on the sidelines they were going to call a 15-yard penalty on us. I blew it because I wanted to make them call that penalty. I wish we would have done it so they would have called the penalty on us, so we could have gotten penalized for having too much fun. Because I don't understand that."

Oh, by the way, USC plays host to Arizona on Saturday in a game that will play a big role in deciding the Pac-10's bowl pecking order. The winner likely has the inside track to the Holiday Bowl.

Both teams had bigger goals a few weeks ago, but both are coming off of hard-fought victories in rivalry games, so the glass feels half-full, particularly for Arizona (7-4, 5-3).

"I think we seemed like we were in a better place last night [at practice] than we were a week ago," said Arizona coach Mike Stoops, whose team two weeks ago was knocked out of the Rose Bowl race when it lost a double-overtime thriller to Oregon.

USC (8-3, 5-3) didn't look particularly good while beating the Bruins. While the defense played fairly well against one of the Pac-10's worst offenses, the offense was mostly stagnant.

At least until the end, and we're not talking about Matt Barkley's bomb to Damian Williams that nearly ignited a riot.

The best moments for USC came before that. After the Bruins cut the margin to 14-7 in the fourth quarter, Barkley and company drove 73 yards in nine plays for a touchdown. It was the evening's best drive. Barkley completed 4 of 5 passes for 43 yards, and Allen Bradford ran four times for 30 yards.

Then the defense forced a four-and-out, which appeared to end the game's drama until emotions ran high at the end.

[+] EnlargeNick Foles
Chris Morrison/US PresswireQuarterback Nick Foles will try to play Saturday with a broken hand.
Still, Stoops found himself in the unusual position of seeming to have to build up the Trojans as an opponent.

"They look like USC to me when I watch them play," he said. "I think they're starting to get comfortable and get their confidence and their swagger back, so they present some huge problems defensively with their personnel."

Stoops' high-powered offense hit the skids in the second half at Arizona State. Injuries, as they have been all season, are an issue. Starting tailback Nic Grigsby won't play again Saturday because of a lingering shoulder injury, while quarterback Nick Foles is trying to play with a broken non-throwing hand.

USC knows all about injury woes, but it's as healthy as it has been all season. Williams and tight end Anthony McCoy, whose absences substantially hurt the passing game, figure to be closer to 100 percent this week than they were against UCLA, and preseason All-American center Kristofer O'Dowd will be back in the starting lineup after he lost his job for much of the year due to a lingering knee problem.

Still, Arizona typically gives the Trojans problems. USC has won the past two games by a touchdown and it hasn't scored more than 20 points against the Wildcats' defense since 2005.

"We've always struggled with these guys," Carroll said. "They've been a very difficult scheme against us, and we know it's going to be very hard again."

The stakes are still substantial, in large part because the winner continues to feel good in a season when that wasn't always the case.

As Carroll vaguely alluded, "Kind of feeling good feeling about getting back on track after the two weeks, you know, prior."
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

It surely passed through most USC observers minds while watching Allen Bradford (finally) have his breakout game against Oregon State last weekend. As Bradford and his 235 pounds ran over and around the Beavers defense for 147 yards on 15 carries, the potential metaphor and then comparison was obvious.

He's thunder to speedy Joe McKnight's lightning.

 
  Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
 USC running back Allen Bradford finally had a breakout game last Saturday against Oregon State.
He's LenDale White to McKnight's Reggie Bush.

Bradford, a redshirt junior, has waited a long time for that many touches in a game. And it's been a frustrating wait. So maybe it's understandable that he's not eager to embrace a metaphor or a comparison. He'd just -- please and thanks -- like to keep getting opportunities to do his thing.

"Me and Joe will never be Reggie and LenDale," Bradford said. "All we can be is Joe and Allen, so that's what we're going to be."

Oregon coach Chip Kelly is fairly impressed with Joe and Allen. His Ducks are playing well on defense, but the Trojans will bring a lot of weapons to their trick-or-treat road trip to Autzen Stadium on Saturday night (8 p.m. EST, ABC).

Thunder and lightning?

"With their stable of running backs, they've got thunder and lightning and hurricane, typhoon -- you name any storm, they've got it," Kelly said.

It's a good line -- Kelly has at least one of those a week -- but it's not completely true. At least not presently. After all the talk the previous few years about the Trojans embarrassment of riches at tailback, a recession has hit Heritage Hall.

Stafon Johnson suffered a season-ending throat injury in a weight room accident. Marc Tyler is out for the season with a toe injury. Curtis McNeal has been riddled with injuries. C.J. Gable, who started 11 games last year, has been nicked up and in the doghouse for unexplained reasons. Fullback Stanley Havili is questionable for Saturday with a shoulder injury.

McKnight always seems to be nursing some woe, too. He severely cut his hand against Oregon State.

Still, no matter why Bradford got his opportunity, he's glad he got it. And, yes, it was an inspired performance.

"(Receiver) Damian Williams just looked at me in my eyes (before the game) and said, 'Are you ready! Let's ball out!'" Bradford said, describing the pregame scene. "He saw the look on my face. He knew something was going to happen. Then we see Stafon -- we have this handshake we do before every game -- and it made me think about how blessed I am and how unfortunate it is for Stafon to go through that."

The 147 yards was a career-high for Bradford, as were the 15 carries, which are more carries than he's had during any of his previous two seasons. He appeared poised to make his mark in 2008, but a hip injury ended that possibility after two games and he took a redshirt year.

What Bradford has mostly done throughout his career is look impressive in his uniform -- he's built like a crate of bricks -- and impressive in practice. The reporters who regularly cover USC spend plenty of their downtime debating the relative merits of USC's running backs, and Bradford's remarkable runs during practices often earned him high marks.

But reporters don't make the depth chart.

"He's always had bright spots but he's really showed great consistency the last few weeks," coach Pete Carroll said.

Now that he's (finally) getting the ball, it might not be surprising that Bradford is disinclined to complain. He's not real clear on how often he asked the coaches why he wasn't getting playing time, though word is it happened on a regular basis. Early in his career, there was talk of him moving to fullback or even linebacker.

And, yes, Bradford, a Parade Magazine and USA Today first-team prep All-American in 2005, admits his eye did wander.

"Yeah, I thought about transferring plenty of times," he said.

But a number of current and former teammates, such as linebacker Thomas Williams and safety Kevin Ellison, talked him out of it.

And Bradford knew there were some areas where he fell short. Top of the list: blocking. A running back who can't stay in the game to block on a passing play is a liability -- it's a tell for an opposing defensive coordinator.

It might seem strange that a physically imposing player would struggle with blocking -- the 205-pound Gable, for example, is better at it than Bradford -- but it's actually not about muscle. Or even want-to. To make the right block, a running back has to be able to read the defense, sniff out a blitz and then used the proper technique to meet the on-coming charge.

"There's a lot of technical aspects to it," Carroll said. "It's not just being big and tough. It's much more than that."

Bradford's blocking is still a work in progress. But it's better.

He seems comfortable with the new attention. And carries. Another big performance inside raucous Autzen Stadium in a game that features Rose Bowl and potential national championship implications might become more than a breakout.

It could thunder an arrival.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel
  1. That West Virginia’s schedule is ranked the 17th toughest in the nation this week is a triumph of statistics over reality. The Mountaineers haven’t lost to a ranked team, true. They haven’t beaten one, either. Seven games in, the 17th toughest schedule in the nation hasn’t included a single ranked opponent at the time they played. Nor are any of their opponents to date currently ranked. The six FBS opponents have all lost at least three games. That’s No. 17?
  2. Every position coach in the nation should pull those impatient guys a couple of rungs down the depth chart aside and tell them about USC tailback Allen Bradford. For three-plus seasons, through injury and heartache, Bradford waited his turn. On Saturday against Oregon State, Braford got a chance. He rushed 15 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns. He is the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week. He was ready when the Trojan coaches (finally) called his number.
  3. It has been a long road to respectability for Oklahoma State. The progress has been steady under coach Mike Gundy. But it won’t be complete until the Cowboys win a game the magnitude of Saturday’s home game against No. 3 Texas. Oklahoma State beat No. 13 Georgia, true. Good teams beat more than one ranked team per season. Oklahoma State hasn’t done that in 25 years.

Pac-10 helmet stickers: Week 8

October, 25, 2009
10/25/09
11:16
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Who stood out in Week 8?

Jeremiah Masoli, QB, Oregon: Masoli, playing for the first time since he hurt his knee on Oct. 3, accounted for three touchdowns in the Ducks' 43-19 win at Washington. He completed 14 of 22 passes for 157 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. He also ran 11 times for 54 yards and two scores.

Stanford's defense: After surrendering more than 1,000 yards in its previous two Pac-10 games combined -- both losses -- Stanford's defense held Arizona State to just 290 yards in a 33-14 victory.

Allen Bradford, RB, USC: Bradford rushed for a career-high 147 yards and two touchdowns in the Trojans' 42-36 win over Oregon State.

Oregon State's offense: It's hard to single out one person as the Beavers piled up 482 yards at USC. Quarterback Sean Canfield may have made himself into an NFL draft pick by completing 30 of 43 passes for 329 yards with three TDs. Then there's the Rodgers brothers, Jacquizz (113 rushing yards) and James (194 all-purpose yards). And what about tight end Joe Halahuni (127 yards on nine catches)?

Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State: Want hope, Coug fans? Tuel, a true freshman, completed 28 of 42 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns in Washington State's 49-17 loss at California.

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