Utah State is in firm control in San Jose Friday evening, leading the Spartans by a score of 23-6. Chuckie Keeton has completed 16 of 24 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns and the defense has kept San Jose State quarterback David Fales from doing too much damage, holding Fales to 168 yards and an interception.
If the game follows this theme in the second half, Utah State should cruise to a Mountain West Conference victory. Because San Jose State does not appear to be much of a threat tonight, I took it upon myself to start looking ahead on Utah State’s schedule and reminded myself just how big the next two games will be for the Aggies.
Next week Utah State gets BYU, who has managed to reach halftime with a lead in their home game against Middle Tennessee State at the half in Provo. The week after that? Boise State.
Talk about a chance to make a statement for Utah State. This program had their early opportunities to make some noise on the road but ultimately came up on the wrong side of the scoreboard at Utah and at USC. Those losses pretty much eliminate Utah State from any BCS Busting possibilities, but the next two weeks will offer a chance for some in-state bragging rights against BYU and to take a lead in the Mountain West Mountain Division against Boise State. Have I mentioned yet Utah State gets these two crucial games at home? They do.
Playing in a state that has Utah in the Pac 12 and BYU enjoying life as an independent, scoring a season split is a pretty big deal for a Utah State program that has grown so much in a relatively short period of time. Winning both games would have been better of course, but a split should be another positive step for the program.
An even bigger step could come when Utah State hosts Boise State, the program all BCS Buster programs aspire to be. The Broncos could be ripe for a loss as well. This year’s Boise State team has played well on offense outside of the week one loss at Washington, but Boise State has already taken a hit on the road (last week at Fresno State) and Utah State looks to have the ingredients needed to give a good challenge to Boise State – a talented quarterback and a solid defense.
Of course, now that I have tempted the college football gods, I may have just jinxed Utah State and rendered all of the above commentary pointless.
What has long been rumored became fact Friday, as Wisconsin announced a 10-year agreement with Under Armour.
“I am absolutely thrilled about our new partnership with Under Armour,” AD Barry Alvarez said in a statement. “Kevin Plank and his team have established a brand that fits perfectly with the Wisconsin athletics story and culture. Our primary focus at Wisconsin is, of course, our student-athletes, and Under Armour’s passion and commitment to high quality and innovation will benefit our student-athletes for years to come. Our entire department is looking forward to a long and mutually productive relationship with the Under Armour team.”
The new deal will pay the Badgers a total of $7 million in cash and product in 2015-16 and is valued at $96 million over the life of the contract, good for second in the Big Ten, trailing only Nike’s new contract with Michigan.
Hidden within the contract are two nuggets that UA offered to sway the Badgers away from Adidas, from the Portland Business Journal:
Wisconsin will get as much as $500,000 from Under Armour to “rebrand” athletic facilities. It’ll get $150,000 to build out an Under Armour retail space in a campus gift shop called Bucky’s Locker Room. It also gets two summer internships for students at Under Armour’s Baltimore headquarters.
“The University of Wisconsin is an institution built on the highest values of academic excellence, and we are extremely proud to be teaming up with one of the most vibrant, distinctive and successful athletic programs in the country to help elevate the performance of all Badgers with innovative footwear and apparel,” added Plank.
Wisconsin’s departure continues to weaken the stronghold Adidas had built in the Midwest after losing Michigan to Nike and Notre Dame to Under Armour in recent years (the company still owns apparel rights for Indiana and Nebraska). The Badgers are now the 41st Division I athletics department and 17th FBS program to join UA.
In the minds of some in the media and even more in the fan base, Ohio State in general and Cardale Jones specifically have been underwhelming through the first five games of the 2015 season.
Jones, in particular, has been a rather large target of much of the angst. Coming off a Cinderella-like three-game postseason run that helped OSU to a national championship, the perception is that Jones has been underwhelming and underperforming; even head coach Urban Meyer appeared to be leaning in that direction as he considered making the switch to J.T. Barrett prior to the Western Michigan win before reaffirming his commitment to the redshirt junior.
Is that perception valid? Statistically, he’s not that far off from where he was in the 2014 postseason, at least in a couple of categories.
He’s completing 61.3 percent of his passes this season compared to 59.4 percent in the games against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon. It was 9.9 yards per attempt in that three-game stretch last season, 8.2 in five games this season. When it comes to scoring and turning the ball over, however, that’s another matter entirely.
He threw a touchdown pass every 15 pass attempts in the 2014 postseason; this season, it’s one every 21 attempts. Even more glaring, he’s currently throwing an interception every 21 attempts as well. During the run that made him a household name, it was one pick every 37.5 throws.
So, fewer touchdowns plus more turnovers equals validation of the angst, right? Not so fast, at least as far as the college arm of Pro Football Focus goes.