NCF Nation: Portland State Vikings

Huskies roll Portland State

September, 15, 2012
If there was a hangover for the Washington Huskies following last week’s ill-fated journey to Baton Rouge, where they were roughed up by LSU, it didn’t show. The Huskies were almost -- dare we say? -- Oregon-esque, jumping out to a 45-0 lead at halftime. The Ducks have been pounding inferior competition with first-half barrages so far this season and the Huskies did the same Saturday.

In the end, Washington (2-1) blasted FCS Portland State 52-13, extending the lead to 52-0 before Portland State (1-2) finally got on the board midway through the third quarter.

Keith Price threw three touchdowns to three different receivers on 14 of 19 passing for 181 yards. Bishop Sankey rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Austin Seferian-Jenkins (5 catches, 78 yards) Kasen Williams (6-69) and DiAndre Campbell (2-28) all caught touchdowns for Washington.

For the Huskies, this was more of a tune-up game as they head into a bye week and then kick off a brutal stretch that includes four consecutive games against teams ranked in the AP top 25 heading into Week 3.

First, Washington will take on Stanford on Sept. 27, followed by Oregon on Oct. 6, USC on Oct. 13 and Arizona on Oct. 20.

The Huskies also picked up a special teams touchdown when Tre Watson returned a blocked field goal 79 yards and a defensive touchdown on Marcus Peters’ 21-yard pick-six.

Still there were a few issues for the Huskies, who were flagged nine times for 80 yards in penalties and converted only 5 of 12 third downs. Overall, Washington outgained Portland State 429-261 in total yards.

Pac-12 predictions: Week 3

September, 13, 2012
Welcome to Week 3. Ted and Kevin both went 7-5 in Week 2. Double yuck. The problem was all picks were identical, and neither picked an upset. Silly Pac-12 bloggers.

For the season, Ted is 16-7 and Kevin is 15-8.


Kevin: Washington State 35, UNLV 17: Time for the Cougars to get a win over an FBS team. Should happen this week against a UNLV squad that is 0-2 and fell to FCS school Northern Arizona. (Remember them, Arizona State?) If all goes according to plan, the starting offensive linemen should be crushing the buffet at the Rio by the third quarter.

Ted: Washington State 40, UNLV 20: While quarterback Jeff Tuel is decidedly questionable; backup Connor Halliday is experienced and capable. The guess here is things go a little more smoothly on both sides of the ball as new systems start to sink in.


Kevin: Ohio State 28, Cal 10: The defense, which was supposed to be the strength of this team, hasn't shown up yet. Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo rushed for 97 yards -- most of it on zone reads the Bears couldn't stop. What's Braxton Miller going to do?

Ted: Ohio State 30, California 17: During the summer, I believed this was prime upset material. Then Cal played twice.

Kevin: Oregon 49, Tennessee Tech 14: It was De'Anthony Thomas in Week 1 and Kenjon Barner in Week 2. Who is the Duck du jour in what should be the latest Oregon pasting? Fortunately, Oregon's schedule allows for growth with younger players, and it needs that because of all the injuries of late.

Ted: Oregon 50, Tennessee Tech 10: Yawn. The good news is Oregon might have an interesting game the next week when Arizona comes to town. I bet Ducks fans are hungry for a game that at least raises an eyebrow.

Kevin: Washington 31, Portland State 7: Not a lot of time for the Huskies to get right after their ill-fated journey to Baton Rouge, La., with Stanford, USC and Oregon looming in the next three weeks. This might be their last opportunity for a win until late October/early November. They'd better take advantage of it.

Ted: Washington 30, Portland State 20: Will the Huskies be flat after falling flat at LSU? I suspect so. Not flat enough to lose but perhaps flat enough to further frustrate Huskies fans.

Kevin: USC 38, Stanford 24: David Shaw knows how to plan a scheme against USC's defense, so I'd expect the Cardinal to put up some points. But when push comes to shove, Stanford's defense won't get the number of stops needed to slow down the Trojans' passing attack.

Ted: USC 35, Stanford 20: I think it will be close at halftime, but the Trojans will pull away early in the fourth quarter. Eventually, Matt Barkley & Co. will gash the Cardinal secondary, and then Stanford won't be able to answer.

Kevin: Fresno State 31, Colorado 17: The Bulldogs showed a little bite against the Ducks -- enough to suggest they can certainly hang with, and beat, a lower-tier Pac-12 team.

Ted: Colorado 28, Fresno State 27: Why? Because I suspect we're going to see some pride from the Buffs.

Kevin: BYU 35, Utah 27: I think Utah will play inspired football given this week's turn of events. But last week we saw that the offensive line concerns are graver than we all initially thought. Bronco Mendenhall saw it too.

Ted: BYU 28, Utah 24: There's a lot going on at Utah, most notably injury issues. And it's not just quarterback Jordan Wynn. Running back John White and safety Eric Rowe are questionable. But the biggest issue, as Kevin noted, is the disappointing play of the offensive line.

Kevin: Arizona 49, South Carolina State 10: The offense has come together quickly. I'd expect Arizona to use this game to clean some things up before heading to Autzen for a game that suddenly looks very interesting.

Ted: Arizona 42, South Carolina State 20: I suspect that some fumes from the post-Oklahoma State victory celebration will cause the Wildcats to be a bit flat. They are fortunate the opponent will be forgiving.

Kevin: UCLA 48, Houston 21: Houston can't stop the run. UCLA isn't going to abandon the run. Another huge game for Johnathan Franklin and another win for the Bruins.

Ted: UCLA 44, Houston 24: Another possible flat performance, but the Bruins should recall the loss at Houston from 2011 to provide some motivation. Agree with Kevin: Franklin gets another 200, and his Heisman candidacy inches up another notch.

Kevin: Arizona State 38, Missouri 31: OK, ASU. I'll bite. The Sun Devils are second in the nation with six interceptions, and Missouri likes to throw a lot. Vegas likes the Tigers by a touchdown, but I'll throw my confidence behind Todd Graham & Co.

Ted: Missouri 35, Arizona State 27: The Sun Devils have whipped two inferior foes at home. The Tigers are pretty good and are playing at home. The Sun Devils have been impressive, but they are still young. And Missouri quarterback James Franklin is a load.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Oregon State coach Mike Riley is universally considered one of the nice guys in coaching, but he's going to face a potentially cold-blooded decision at some point during the coming weeks.

And he knows it.

Quarterback Lyle Moevao lost his starting job due to injury -- plain and simple. The odds are he would be starting Saturday against Portland State instead of Sean Canfield if he didn't hurt his shoulder late last season and have offseason surgery that knocked him out of spring and preseason practices.

It's long been a sports conundrum: Does an athlete lose his starting job because of an injury?

Sure, ask Wally Pipp.

Moevao isn't ready to play. Yet. Said Riley: "[Moevao has] everything but the final stage, which is the zip on the ball."

While Moevao has been out, Canfield has been impressive. He played great during spring practices and that carried over into the fall. He also grew as a leader, which was a previous shortcoming in the three-season comparison with Moevao.

So, when Moevao gets healthy -- perhaps by the start of the Pac-10 schedule on Sept. 26 -- where does he stand? Does he automatically get some playing time, even if Canfield is playing well?

"That is a great question," Riley said.

But Riley says that a lot to inquiring reporters -- remember: he's a nice guy -- even when the question is far closer to mediocre.

Riley has negotiated this delicate situation well so far, doing everything he can to include Moevao in his commentary about the team.

But, eventually, he's going to have to make the cold-blooded call.

Both are seniors, so we're talking about a major issue in their lives that also could affect their futures.

"I really don't want to think about it right at this time because it won't be easy," Riley said. "We're looking at a guy [Moevao] who had a tremendous year for us last year and is a heck of a quarterback and we're looking at a guy [Canfield] who I think has grown tremendously as a quarterback and has had an outstanding camp and has earned our No. 1 job right now."

There are a handful of options available to Riley based on how Canfield plays while Moevao is sidelined.

If Canfield is lights out, he should remain the full-time starter. Period. If the Beavers are 3-0 when Arizona comes to town, a major change could potentially hurt the team by shaking up its rhythm.

Even before issues of fairness with individual players, the team must come first.

If Canfield struggles, or reverts to the interception machine of 2007 when he hurled 15 picks vs. nine touchdowns as the starter ahead of Moevao, then Moevao deserves a shot and will get it.

But few think that will happen.

Then there's the gray area, when Canfield's performances end up ranging from good to OK, and Moevao looks like his old self in practice.

The guess here is Moevao sees some action in that scenario.

And then, of course, you could end up with the dreaded "quarterback controversy." Beavers fans will head over the Building the Dam en masse and debate the issue like it's health care legislation.

There also is the sneaky, roll-the-dice option: Sit Moevao out, say his shoulder isn't ready and petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility.

With Moevao coming back in 2010, the Beavers prospects would be bright. Very bright.

It will be interesting to watch how things play out over the coming weeks.

What would be ideal -- unless you're, say, an Oregon fan -- would be for all the parties to get enough of what they want to be satisfied.

And, of course, for the parties to gleefully combine for what matters most: Lots of victories.

Posted by's Ted Miller

This is a ranking of the Pac-10 nonconference schedules from toughest to easiest.

Got to be honest, though: After switching these around for 30 minutes or so, I just threw them into the air.

Because just about every conference team plays at least one traditionally challenging foe, it's hard to differentiate.

Is it more difficult to play two mid-level BCS teams -- say Maryland and Minnesota (California) -- or one against a nationally ranked foe, say Georgia (Arizona State) or Iowa (Arizona)?

And what about the home-road variable? For example: Would you rather play at Ohio State (USC) or have LSU (Washington) come to town?

Anyway... away we go.

1. Oregon (at Boise State, Purdue, Utah): Boise State and Utah will be ranked in the preseason. Boise State never loses at home on the Smurf Turf. Purdue is a BCS foe. And there's the added element of Boise State and Utah being non-BCS, which puts further pressure on the Ducks.

2. USC (San Jose State, at Ohio State, at Notre Dame): Two road games against BCS foes, including the Buckeyes, likely a preseason top-10 team.

3. Washington (LSU, Idaho, at Notre Dame): It was really stupid for Huskies administrators to invite LSU to town, but... oh well. The upside is the nation's longest losing streak (14 games, then 15 after the Tigers pack up for Baton Rouge) ends against Idaho.

4. UCLA (San Diego State, at Tennessee, Kansas State): Tennessee and Kansas State are breaking in new coaches (or new-old, in K-State's case), but they are still legit BCS foes. And it's never easy to play in front of 110,000 orange-clad crazies.

5. Stanford (at Wake Forest, San Jose State, Notre Dame): This slate nips California's because San Jose State is FBS team. That visit to Wake should be particularly interesting -- it might define the Cardinal's season.

6. California (Maryland, Eastern Washington, at Minnesota): None of these teams figures to earn a preseason ranking, but Maryland and Minnesota will be good test for a Bears team with big goals. The Terrapins embarrassed Cal last year, while the Golden Gophers are breaking in a fancy new stadium.

7. Arizona (Central Michigan, Northern Arizona, at Iowa): While most will look at the visit to Iowa as a measuring stick game for the Wildcats -- and, perhaps, the Pac-10 -- I'd advise the Wildcats not to overlook a good Central Michigan team.

8. Arizona State (Idaho State, Louisiana-Monroe, at Georgia): The Sun Devils scheduled themselves a 2-0 start with at least a puncher's shot Between the Hedges.

9. Oregon State (Portland State, at UNLV, Cincinnati): Hardly easy. There's a road game and Cincinnati is the defending Big East champion. Still, the Beavers should get a rare fast start vs. this slate. 

10. Washington State (Hawaii in Seattle, SMU, Notre Dame in San Antonio): This is a solid schedule for the Cougars, who could win two of these games.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Happy Friday! The Pac-10 will be undefeated today -- guaranteed.

Posted by's Ted Miller

How does the Pac-10 bounce back after Black Saturday?

1. Georgia is a road warrior: Everyone is now aware that Georgia hasn't been to the West Coast since 1960 or even west of the Mississippi for a regular-season nonconference game since 1967. But the Bulldogs don't figure to be blown away by their trip to Arizona State. In coach Mark Richt's eight seasons at Georgia, the Bulldogs are a 26-4 on the road and are 9-2 against ranked teams. Of course, the Bulldogs are 1-5-1 in games west of the Mississippi since they started playing football in 1892.

2. Autzen Stadium is no place to start your first road game: Boise State, 0-12 vs. BCS teams on the road and 0-7 in Pac-10 stadiums, will try to take down Oregon on Saturday with a redshirt freshman quarterback, Kellen Moore, and four new starters on the offensive line. The Broncos offense has mostly been its regular proficient self thus far, scoring 69 points and averaging 461 yards in two victories. But Oregon isn't Idaho State and Bowling Green and Autzen is different than a home game. Moore and his green line won't be able to communicate. That's a problem when the Ducks high-pressure defense is trying to force a QB to make quick decisions against one of the nation's best secondaries.

3. Rudy isn't afraid of the blitz: Richt must be on the research team's e-mail list, too. He noted repeatedly this week that pressuring ASU QB Rudy Carpenter with extra rushers hasn't been the best defensive tactic. Carpenter actually seems to play better when he has less time to think about where he wants to go. His totals in two games against FBS opponents:

Comp pct57.589.5
Yds per att9.211.5

4. We'll find out who the real UCLA is against Arizona: The Bruins likely will be down five starters from their preseason depth chart Saturday, and, no, that doesn't include QBs Ben Olson and Patrick Cowan. One word: ouch. This isn't a terribly deep team in the first place. Of course, that's only two more injured starters than the shocking Tennessee victory, when three went down, so maybe there's more smoke-and-mirrors with Rick Neuheisel and his crack coaching staff. If the Bruins do beat the Wildcats to open Pac-10 play after going down 59-zip at BYU, it will establish them as a peculiarly dangerous team and -- egad! -- a crew that might scrap out of the bottom third of the conference.

5. We'll find out who the real Arizona is against UCLA: This title should have been "The return of TE Rob Gronkowski will give Arizona a big boost", but we wanted symmetry with our UCLA entry. Gronkowski will provide a huge lift for the Wildcats offense, particularly QB Willie Tuitama, who threw two interception and fumbled twice against New Mexico. Arizona is mostly healthy, which is good, and completely desperate, which is could be good or bad. A loss puts coach Mike Stoops' job in serious jeopardy, while a victory puts him back on track for a breakthrough season. An overstatement? Perhaps. But that's life in a "What have you done for me lately?" business, and Stoops knows that.

6. Tavita Pritchard needs to step up to remain Stanford's QB: Stanford ranks 116th in the nation in total offense (242.3 yards per game) and 112th in passing offense (111 ypg). Not many ways you can dress that up and make it look good, and when an offense is sagging, the QB takes most of the blame. That's why word out of The Farm is true freshman Andrew Luck has been getting more reps with the first-team in practices and may doff his redshirt against San Jose State. If the Cardinal musters any passing threat, that will help a good offensive line create cracks for RB Toby Gerhart, the offense's best weapon. This could be Pritchard's last stand.

7. Expect some fancypants from Boise State and Oregon: Boise State's Chris Petersen and Oregon's Mike Bellotti are two of the best offensive-minded head coaches in the nation. And they like to get cute every once and a while. Everyone saw what the Broncos did to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, so it's not like they're afraid to take risks in big games. Meanwhile, even though Bellotti is down two QBs and is splitting the ball between first-year players Jeremiah Masoli and Chris Harper, he intimated strongly this week that he and offensive coordinator Chip Kelly may have some tricks up their sleeves, too. Heck, The Oregonian wrote an entire story this week about trick plays.

8. Washington State will take a step forward vs. Portland State: Unless Portland State decided to reinvent itself this week and no longer use the pure run-and-shoot -- highly unlikely -
- then Washington State's beleaguered, nation's-worst run defense will get a break. The pass probably looks good for a team that gives up 330 rushing yards per game. And a FCS opponent also probably looks good to the Cougars, who are still trying to break in first-year coach Paul Wulff's no-huddle spread offense. On the other hand, there's a lot of pressure on them to win Saturday because a loss could suggest a winless season is possible. Don't count on that happening, though. There's too much pride in Pullman for a complete flop.

9. Erickson is a streak buster: Georgia has won 10 games in a row, dating back to last season, the second-longest active streak among FBS schools (BYU, 13). That's the Bulldogs longest streak since winning 11 straight with Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker in 1982. But a 10-game win streak shouldn't intimidate Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson. While head coach at Miami, his teams stopped a 14-game streak by Florida State(1990), a 16-game streak by Florida State (1991) and a 23-game streak by Notre Dame (1989).

10. Can the Pac-10 redeem itself? There are only five games this weekend involving Pac-10 teams, and only Arizona State is an underdog. What if the conference wins all five -- it has to win one with UCLA and Arizona playing! -- beating quality opponents like Boise State and Georgia? Will that restore the conference's luster in the college football nation's eyes? We're not even going to ask about another weekend of egg laying.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Went 7-3 last week -- the reverse of the Pac-10 -- and my overall record thus far is 18-6. But things tend to get harder to figure in conference play, so it's not like I'm cranking up Queen anthems in my office.

Georgia 30, Arizona State 20: Sure, the Bulldogs are making their longest regular-season road trip since 1960. But they are 26-4 on the road under coach Mark Richt and 9-2 when visiting ranked teams. The Sun Devils will challenge the nation's No. 3 team, but won't have the bodies up front on both lines to get it done.

Oregon 33, Boise State 20: Oregon figures to have some offensive ups and downs with first-year players Jeremiah Masoli and Chris Harper stepping in at QB, but the defense should mostly be in control of a rebuilt Broncos offense. Redshirt freshman QB Kellen Moore and four new starters on the offensive line likely won't find Autzen Stadium terribly hospitable.

Arizona 28, UCLA 24: These are two desperate teams after debacles last week. Wildcats coach Mike Stoops is fighting for his job after losing to New Mexico for a second consecutive year, and the Bruins are fighting for pride at home after being humiliated 59-zip at BYU. Arizona has vastly superior firepower on offense, and that will be the difference.

Stanford 24, San Jose State 20: This one will be closer than last year's 37-0 Stanford blowout, but the big question is whether Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh will wave in freshman QB Andrew Luck to help his sagging offense. The Cardinal should be able to move the ball at home against the Spartans, and the defense also should win the day.

Washington State 38, Portland State 28: An FCS opponent that doesn't run the football -- that's exactly what the struggling Cougars and their nation's-worst run defense need. Back home with the more athletic QB Kevin Lopina running the offense, fans might even see signs of life from the Cougars no-huddle spread attack.