Win the turnover margin, win the game

9 out of the top 11 teams in turnover margin are either undefeated or have lost just one game.

Tomorrow night's game between Arizona State and Oregon (10:15pm on ESPN) is a match-up of the fast paced Ducks offense and opportunistic Sun Devil defense.  Arizona State's defense has forced an impressive 17 turnovers in their last 4 games.  Their 18 total turnovers are currently leading the Pac 12, and have already surpassed last season's total of 17. Nationally their +1.33 turnover margin ranks 11th.

The Sun Devils, currently 5-1, were 3-3 at this point last season. That's the power of winning the turnover battle. 

Oregon is currently slightly negative in turnover margin. 

It will be interesting to see who best protects the ball in this game...and if the team that wins the turnover battle also wins this game. 



2001: Mike Riley learned of his firing on the ESPN ticker

In 2001 Mike Riley was in his third season as head coach of the San Diego Chargers. Three long seasons in which he cumulative record wound up being 14-34.

The night before the final game of the season, Riley says, "I'm sitting in the hotel room...and on the ticker it says, 'Chargers to fire Mike Riley after the game.' Now that's a weird feeling." Awkward. 

Riley speaks about dealing with that challenge and a few worse situations (including hearing first hand that his father was about to be fired) in a well written article by Paul Buker of The Oregonian

Friday TV

Anybody been itching to see Hawaii play? Well, tonight's your night.

All times Eastern.




Hawaii at San Jose State - 9pm - ESPN

High School:

Hopewell (PA) at Central Valley (PA) - 6pm - ESPNU 

Tweet of the night

San Diego State is putting Air Force away right now.  Still a few minutes to go; but SDSU is currently winning 41-27.  Update: SDSU won 41-27.

Here's something you don't see often. Beginning when San Diego State punted to Air Force with about 10 minutes to play in the second quarter, SDSU didn't run another offensive play for approximately one hour and five minutes (over 15 minutes of game time).

SDSU punted to Air Force with about 10 minutes to play in the 2nd quarter. Air Force drove 8 plays and scored a touchdown. 

San Diego State then ran the kickoff back for a touchdown.

Air Force started their next possession at the 20. Air Force then reeled off 14 plays including a field goal as time expired in the half.

Air Force received the ball to begin the 3rd quarter. 13 more plays, ending with a field goal.

SDSU finally got the ball back with just over 9 minutes left to play in the 3rd. 

Air Force's SID put the word out about the 1 hour 5 minutes between SDSU offensive plays. 

Tonight: Kiffin vs. Tedford

Midnight Update> Student has beaten the teacher (USC wins 30-9). Not surprisingly (see below), Cal ended the game with 16 more yards on offense than USC. The difference was that Cal turned it over 5 times. For what it's worth (and in this game it wasn't worth much), Cal averaged 21 yards on it's two punt returns. 

Original Article:

Tonight USC takes on Cal (ESPN 9pm EST) up in San Fran (AT&T Park). Lane Kiffin versus his mentor Jeff Tedford.

While offensive coordinator at Fresno State in the early 90's, Jeff Tedford had put together one of the best offenses in the country in back to back seasons. Kiffin, a high school quarterback, wanted to learn from the best and chose to play for Tedford. The story goes that Kiffin realized fairly quickly that his best shot at the NFL was as a coach rather than a QB and he gave up playing and became a student assistant under Tedford. 

Interested to see how the two compare this season on paper, our staff took a look at the statistics for both teams, and the similarities are amazing. Offensively, USC averages 454.4 yards of total offense per game, Cal averages 458.0 yards (a difference of only 3.6 yards per game).  Also worth noting, USC is averaging 317.8 yards per game through the air while Cal averages 300.4.

Even though neither is considered a defensive coach, the similarities on that side of the ball are surprising as well.  Cal is allowing 26.4 points per game, while USC is allowing 28.  Pass efficiency is surprisingly close as well. Cal is allowing a 135.94 pass efficiency rating while USC allows 137.6.

The biggest difference that we found between the two was that USC is averaging just over 9 yards per punt return, while Cal averages just over 1.5 yards per return.

In noticing Cal's 1.5 yards per return, we also noticed that both Nevada and Wyoming currently show negative return yards on the season. We know it's not this easy; but catch the ball and run up the field. For better tips, call either Ole Miss, Marshall or UAB all of whom are averaging over 20 yards per return (Ole Miss is averaging nearly 32 yards per return!?). 

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