Sunday, 1 September 2013

The Roundup: September 1 Part Three

Washington 38, Boise State 6. Safe to say I did not see this one coming. Boise State as it turns out is not a better team than UW and is actually significantly worse. UW dominated this guy from start to finish but was unable to create much distance at halftime. Despite holding a major edge in yardage, Washington lead only 10-6 following the first position of the second half and I certainly felt like we were in for the same old Boise script. The one where Boise gets outplayed for most of the game, finds a way to keep it close and then steals it at the end. However, that is hardly what happened as the Huskies reeled off 28 unanswered points and completely shut down Boise's offense. The Huskies dominated the line of scrimmage on defense as they allowed no room to run the ball and generated a constant pass rush.

New Huskies stadium was loud and appeared overwhelming to Boise's O-line and veteran QB Joe Southwick, the revamped up-tempo offense moved the ball with ease, Keith Price returned to 2011 form and Bishop Sankey was every bit as good as last year. Even the offensive line, Steve Sarkisian's favorite crutch played well. This was a dominant performance in every faze of the game as the Huskies dismantled a great team.

This was an awesome performance obviously but it's important not to get too carried away. Just like we all shouldn't convince ourselves that Oregon State's defense will be a sieve all season just because it had one dreadful game, we can't go around thinking UW is suddenly a national title contender just because they were world-beaters for one night. I don't know if even that performance will be enough to hang with Stanford or Oregon but I will concede they certainly showed they are capable of beating anyone last night. I'm willing to back track on my 6-6 prediction but I'm still not feeling nine or 10 wins. At least for one night though, Washington's gorgeous and palatial new stadium got the opening it deserved. For at least one night, UW finally looked like it's back but now it needs to be "back" for more than one night.

UCLA 58, Nevada 20. The Bruins needed a little time to really get going as they lead by just four points at halftime but when they did get it going, they were breathtaking. Brett Hundley looks better than ever, Jordan James looks perfectly capable of replacing Jonathan Franklin and the defense somehow managed to get even better. One guy who really stood out to me was true Freshman Deon Hollins. Hollins won the starting outside linebacker job opposite All-American Anthony Barr and he looked electrifying. Hollins chased down plays with ease and seemingly got to the quarterback every time he was sent on a blitz. The schedule could still ultimately be UCLA's downfall but last night they gave every indication that they can not only survive but flourish against the stiffest competition.

Nevada is a good team and the ease with which the Bruins took them apart on both sides of the ball in the 2nd half was noteworthy to say the least. The Bruins have to be feeling very confident heading into an early bye week. After watching UCLA rip apart a competent team, I'm feeling even better about the Bruins next game, the big one bright and early at Nebraska in two weeks.

Northwestern 44, Cal 30. It's a new day in Berkeley and boy were the Bears ever fun to watch. Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs were catching passes all over the field, the defense was disruptive at times and QB Jared Goff looked wise well beyond that of most true freshmen. We knew the "Bear Raid" would involve a lot of throws and a lot of tempo. I was not ready for this offense to be a heck of a lot more than short throws though. Goff demonstrated a really nice arm and threw a number of deep balls including a long touchdown to Chris Harper who looked like the breakout player I told you he would be. The Bears were in control of the second half and seemed on their way to a signature win until they were done it by turnovers.

Cal was up 24-20 in the 3rd and was driving with the ball to go up two scores. But, a screen pass went horribly wrong as the ball was batted up in the air and straight to Northwestern's Chris Ellis who took the ball and ran 56 yards for a touchdown. In the 4th quarter, Cal was down 30-27 with the ball and a chance to retake control of the game. But, Cal WR Darius Powe Jr. dropped an easy catch straight to Ellis who once again took the ball back for a pick-six to put Northwestern up 10. Cal cut the lead to seven on the ensuing drive and then scored a huge turnover to give the Bears a chance to force overtime. However, on the first play following the turnover Goff finally made the freshmen mistake we all knew was coming as he went deep and forced the ball into double coverage for an interception. Northwestern turned the pick into a back breaking touchdown to go up 14 with under two minutes to go.

Despite the loss, the Sonny Dykes era seems to be off and running in Berkeley. The Bears are absurdly young with only six seniors in the entire two deep but the Bears have a lot of talent and seem to have bought into Dykes' new culture. The Bears have a lot to learn and clean up but boy will they ever be fun to watch this year. Despite the youth and issues that come with that, Cal is going to get this thing figured out soon. I don't know when it's going to happen, but this team is going to spring a big upset on someone this season.

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