Closing the Book on Cal

Just a few final notes on Saturdays win over Cal...

It is amazing what winning does for the attitude...and the press.

Here is an interesting quote from Dan Greenspan over at College Football News...

- Joe McKnight is the Pac-10’s most viable Heisman contender
The junior from Louisiana has finally become the back USC coaches thought he would be, rushing for 119 yards and two touchdowns against Cal. He showed style on a first quarter score, diving into the end zone on a fine Reggie Bush impersonation, but is also becoming a tough and patient runner between the tackles.

As the Trojans’ first featured rusher since the days of Bush and LenDale White, McKnight has already rushed for 473 yards and six touchdowns. With a big showing at Notre Dame, combined with his heroics at Ohio State, he could become the West Coast candidate.

Really?

HP has McKnight at #9 in weekly Heisman Watch, right behind....wait for it...Jahvid Best.

Well, he is the expert so I will leave it at that...

- - -

Regardless of what we all think about this weekends big win it probably won't amount to hill of beans in the bigger picture that is the BCS...

5. USC’s still not major player in BCS
Cal won’t be ranked in the top 25 after this weekend, Washington is out for good and so is Oregon State, unless it beats USC at the Coliseum. Oregon is still relevant, although the Ducks still have not been completely forgiven for the loss to Boise State in the season opener. And the same might be true for USC and Washington.

If they should run the table from here on, the Trojans will have beaten Ohio State, Cal, Notre Dame and Oregon on the road. But with each passing week, those victories mean less. Notre Dame is a fringe top-25 team, leaving Ohio State as USC’s Great BCS Hope. The Trojans absolutely need the Buckeyes to finish with just one loss to have any real shot of finishing ahead of a one-loss SEC or Big 12 team in the final rankings. Even then I don’t see it happening, simply because those teams play conference title games — the winner would be finishing its season with a more notable victory than any USC will have had.

There’s an uneven playing field in college football that unfairly favors whichever conferences are deemed the two best. This is why the Pac-10 has had two teams in a BCS game in the same season just twice in 11 years, while the SEC and Big 12 have been able to make that claim nearly every season.

That is pretty spot on.

The Cal win was great for SC, as it gets the bad taste of the UW out of our mouths. But in the national sense it really didn't matter especially when Cal got clobbered the week before by Oregon.

You can say that SC and the Pac-10 as a whole is held to different standard when it comes to the BCS...I am still waiting to see what Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott is doing to remedy this.

- - -

Taylor Mays and Damian Williams Named Pac-10 Players of the Week

All-American safety Taylor Mays was named defensive player of the week and receiver Damian Williams was honored as the special teams player of the week for their performances in the seventh-ranked Trojans'  dismantling of the Golden Bears.

Mays made the game-changing play when he intercepted a pass in the back of the end zone to end a Cal threat on the first possession.

As I wrote in a feature story about Mays before the season, the senior works tirelessly to improve his catching ability. It paid off against Cal on a night when Mays also made a team-best 10 tackles.

If the interception was Mays' top play, his chasing down Cal tailback Jahvid Best on a third-and-one play in the second quarter was almost as impressive. Best took a pitch, ran to his right and tried to turn the corner, but Mays came across the field and forced him out of bounds.

"I was hoping they would pitch it and I was kind of calling it on the sideline," Coach Pete Carroll said. "That was a cool one because we knew it was coming.

"It was about as classic a head-to-head, mano-a-mano situation as you could get."

That was a great rundown by Mays to stop Best!

- - -

The Players talk Cal...

Interviews from after the game.

- - -

 A snails pace

Some interesting comments from Matt Barkley...

Although it might be outlandish to say Barkley's playing as good in his fourth game as other quarterback were in their fifth year, there is at least one tangible difference that occurred against California. The speed of the college game is no longer faster in Barkley's eyes.

"It's slowed down a lot," Barkley said. "Maybe not drastically, but since the San Jose State game, I realized how cool it can be."

There is no question that Barkley has matured in a short amount of time but I want to see how he does in South Bend and Eugene before I am totally convinced.

- - -

Best Intentions

We all heard Pete Carroll tell Stafon Johnson that they were coming to the hospital to celebrate the win...he was true to his word.

"Giving this gift to him tonight did immeasurable amounts to help him," Coach Carroll said in the locker room after the game. "It's been a great outpouring -- let's keep it going."

And the Trojans did just that when they returned to Los Angeles late Saturday night. Instead of busing straight back to campus, they made a detour to try and see Johnson at his hospital. The plan got adjusted since it was so late and Johnson was asleep, but it was the thought that counted.

It was just one of the countless thoughts going out to Johnson on this day.

Yeap, he will be missed and this team will do everything to honor Stafon!

- - -

Finally...

Did you know that Oakland A's GM Billy Beane is a big USC fan?

Bleszinski:  I've got to ask you a painful question.  What happened to your beloved USC earlier this year?

Beane:  Oh man.  They got through the tough one in Ohio State but they got spanked up in Washington.  It just shows the power of the Pac-10.  But seriously, they've been crushed with injuries.  USC had a terrible accident with their running back yesterday.  They're very young. You've got a true freshman starting as a quarterback so their best days are ahead of them. 

Bleszinski:  Are they overrated?

Beane:  I'm certainly not an expert, I'm just a fan.  But when you lose your speediest wide receiver, you lose a defensive lineman, you lose one of your best running backs, they're having to do some patchwork very early on with a young team.  They've got a tough schedule too.  I still have faith in them, though I do root for Cal too.  Remember with USC the expectation level is so absurdly high that I think Carroll has finished in the top five seven years in a row.  In a business where you are rarely allowed to lose one game, that is remarkable.  They sit there at 3-1 right now with a young team and have beaten Ohio State on the road.  They have created such a high level of expectations that unless they run the table and no one scores on them, someone is going to be disappointed which is really a credit to the program.

Yeap...He gets it...

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