BYU v San Diego State

San Diego State’s Adam Muema slices and dices Buffalo for Potato Bowl win


San Diego State running back Adam Muema was  a one-man wrecking crew that even Buffalo’s Khalil Mack could not slow down. Muema rushed for  229 yards and three touchdowns to power the Aztecs over Buffalo for a 49-24 victory in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Muema scored on a short touchdown run early in the second quarter to give San Diego State a 14-0 lead on the blue turf in Boise. Before the game was over he would add touchdown runs of 8 and 30 yards as the Aztecs were in firm control of Buffalo. San Diego State piled up 461 yards of offense and the defense held the Bulls to 265 total offensive yards. San Diego State thrived on third down, converting half of their 14 attempts while the defense forced three turnovers by Buffalo’s offense.

Buffalo got as close as 14-10 in the second quarter but the Aztecs pulled away with a pair of touchdowns in the final couple of minutes of the first half. After capping a five-play touchdown drive with just over a minute in the half, San Diego State intercepted a pass from Buffalo quarterback Joe Licata to set up a drive from the 25-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage Dylan Denso hauled in a pass from Quinn Kaehler for a touchdown and a 28-10 lead at the half. San Diego State outscored the Bulls 21-14 in the second half.

Up 49-24 with the football and just 30 seconds to play in the game, head coach Rocky Long and San Diego State pulled a highly questionable deep pass down the left sideline out of nowhere. The pass fell incomplete, but the play was totally unnecessary and could have left some bitterness on the field. Fortunately San Diego State took a knee on the next play with Buffalo opting not to use any of their remaining timeouts.

San Diego State will have some challenges coming their way in 2014. The Aztecs will play road games at North Carolina and Oregon State in non-conference play. The conference schedule will also send San Diego State on the road to play Fresno State, Nevada and Boise State. The good news for the Aztecs is they will be playing a Fresno State team in roster transition and a Boise State program moving on from the Chris Petersen era. San Diego State loses 10 seniors who started this bowl game, but the Mountain West Conference could be up for grabs for any team that can find a way to get on track early on.

Buffalo will also have 10 seniors to replace in their starting line-up next season. The Bulls may have a bit more of a difficult time continuing the level of success they had this season in 2014, but the MAC can be anyone’s conference to win most years. Buffalo only has two non-conference games scheduled as of now, on the road at army and at home against Big 12 champion Baylor.

Buffalo’s search for the first bowl win in program history will have to wait at least one more year.

USC’s Max Tuerk already questionable for Notre Dame game

TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 11:  Center Max Tuerk #75 of the USC Trojans prepares to snap the football during the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on October 11, 2014 in Tucson, Arizona.  The Trojans defeatred the Wildcats 28-26.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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As if the questions about the head coach’s future aren’t enough, now USC could have a rather significant issue in the middle of its offensive line to deal with as well.

Early in the first quarter of what would turn out to be an embarrassing loss to Washington Thursday night, Max Tuerk sustained a sprained knee. Upon further examination, it was determined that the veteran center would be unable to return to the game.

Not only that, Tuerk, who was wearing a brace on his right knee following the loss, is already labeled as questionable for what it in every sense of the phrase a must-win game for Steve Sarkisian against Notre Dame eight days from now.

With Tuerk sidelined for the remainder of the game, he was replaced by Toa Lobendahn. It’s unclear which direction the Trojans would go if Tuerk is a no-go this weekend, although Khaliel Rodgers, who had been dealing with a personal issue, has been Tuerk’s backup.

Tuerk has started 38 games in his Trojan career — 18 at center, 14 at left guard, five at left tackle, one at right tackle. Lobendahn started all 13 games as a true freshman last season, the first eight at left guard and then five at right tackle.

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian

Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.