The start of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC had a rough introduction leading up to the game itself, but once the ball was kicked it was a completely different story. USC’s offense showed some new wrinkles as Sarkisian started to leave a new stamp on the Trojans. It was only one game, but a preview of things to come certainly seems to suggest the Trojans are going to keep the pressure on with their offense.
As noted in John’s week one round-up, USC ran 104 plays in a victory over Fresno State. The total number of plays is a new Pac-12 record, which says something given Oregon is in the conference and up-tempo coaches like Rich Rodriguez and Todd Graham are picking up the pace on offense. USC will not be running 104 plays every week, but the trend could see the Trojans running more plays than usual. For the sake of comparison, USC ran an average of 68.4 plays per game in 2013 (67.5 plays per game in 2012, 70.6 plays per game in 2011).
It was only one game, naturally, but the Trojans were on fire on offense. USC converted 1 of 18 third-down attempts and racked up over 700 yards of offense. Cody Kessler had a great game, passing for 394 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. Javorious Allen led the way running the football for 133 yards. Eight different Trojans ran the football and 10 different players caught a pass as USC spread things around.
One other point to consider is USC’s offense looked far more promising than their city rivals from UCLA did in week one. Of course, UCLA flew across the country to play on the east coast at noon eastern. That is no easy task for any team from the west coast, college or pro, but the Bruins were sloppy on offense. UCLA’s offense was probably not as weak as it looked against Virginia, and USC’s offense may not be quite as explosive as it was in this match-up. Letting the schedule play out will provide more time to evaluate it all more fairly.
Sarkisian’s debut could not have gone much better.
The Valero Alamo Bowl will keep its current configuration through the 2025 season.
The Big 12 and Pac-12 each announced separate deals to remain with the San Antonio-based bowl game through the next decade. Technically, it’s a six-year extension that kicks begins in 2019.
“The Conference’s long-standing relationship with the Valero Alamo Bowl has produced some unforgettable games,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby in a statement. “The Valero Alamo Bowl and San Antonio have been terrific hosts for our member institutions and their fans, and we are excited to join the Pac-12 to continue our relationship through 2025.”
“The Valero Alamo Bowl has a well-deserved reputation for exciting games played in front of sellout crowds and top TV viewership,” added Pac-12 commish Larry Scott. “Our universities and their fans look forward to their trips to San Antonio and playing top ranked schools from the Big 12 Conference.”
As part of the deal, each team will continue sending its top teams that do not reach a New Year’s Six game.
The announcement came in conjunction with the Alamo Bowl’s annual Pigskin Preview.
The Big 12 has sent teams to the Alamo Bowl continuously since 1994, meaning the new agreement takes the bowl and the league into their third decade together. The league is 11-11 to date in the Alamo Bowl, but 8-3 since 2005 and 4-2 since the Pac-12 rejoined the game in 2010. The Pac-12 won each of the first two Alamo Bowls.
TCU won the most recent edition, rallying from a 31-0 halftime deficit to top Oregon 47-41 in triple overtime.
The 2016 game (the second one) will be played Thursday, Dec. 29 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).
On the eve of the season, it appears one Buckeye will miss it.
Ohio State safety Cam Burrows has suffered a foot injury and will likely miss the season, head coach Urban Meyer revealed Wednesday. The cause and nature of the injury was not disclosed.
“Cam Burrows hurt his foot again,” Meyer told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “He’s going to work in our strength room, and it looks like he won’t play football.”
Burrows was in line to gobble up snaps as the Buckeyes’ second-team safety behind Malik Hooker and Damon Webb, but will instead spend the season in the weight room, literally. He’ll work as a student assistant on Ohio State’s strength staff. With a degree already in hand, it appears this will likely be the end of Burrows’ career.
If it is, he closes with 31 tackles in 29 career appearances.
“It’s been a tough go for him,” Meyer said.
And then there were six. Or eight.
We know East Carolina is no longer in the running for the two or four new spots possibly coming to the Big 12, but the folks at The Media Guides believe they do. The site reported Wednesday the Big 12 has sent formal invitations to Cincinnati, Houston, Connecticut, South Florida, Central Florida, BYU and “two other AAC schools” to advance to the next round of the process, which is believed to be in-person interviews at the league’s suburban Dallas headquarters.
With ECU out, Navy showing no interest and five of the league’s 12 teams already reported in, that leaves a pool of five possible teams for the two additional spots: Memphis, SMU, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa.
Local reports have stated SMU, Temple and Tulane still involved in the process as recently as today and yesterday.
So, yeah, you do the math.
While the process publicly — and painfully — rambles on, Oct. 17 is the date to watch there. That’s the next scheduled gathering of the Big 12’s Board of Directors.
Well, here’s a story born straight out of SEO heaven.
New England Patriots quarterback — and, of course, former Wolverines signal caller — Tom Brady will serve as an honorary captain for Michigan during his Roger Goodell-mandated Deflategate suspension.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed the news on NFL Network’s Rich Eisen’s podcast. The Big House cameo will take place Sept. 17 as Michigan hosts Colorado.
Brady is free, of course, due to a wide-ranging controversy stemming from allegedly deflated footballs in the Patriots’ 45-7 trouncing of the Indianapolis Colts during the 2014 AFC Championship that led to him being suspended the first quarter of the 2016 season.
Brady played quarterback for the Wolverines from 1995-99 and has kept close ties with his alma mater since, but those have ramped up since Harbaugh’s late 2014 hiring. Most notably, Brady made an appearance at Harbaugh’s 2016 Signing Day extravaganza in February.