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.
Anybody been itching to see Hawaii play? Well, tonight's your night.
All times Eastern.
Hawaii at San Jose State - 9pm - ESPN
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.
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!?).
Illinois getting it done on both sides of the ball
The fighting Zookers are 6-0 and have a big one Saturday at home against Ohio State (3:30 on ABC / ESPN).
The Illini are getting it done on both sides of the ball right now. They are 17th in scoring defense (9th in rushing def.); 32nd in scoring offense (13th in rushing offense).
A couple of stats that caught our eye in particular...
Receiver A.J. Jenkins has 450 combined receiving yards over the past two games...the most in Big Ten history.
Illinois has forced at least one turnover in 21 straight games, the longest streak in the nation.
And finally, over the last 23 seasons, only Michigan has beaten Ohio State more times that Illinois has.
Great opportunity for Zook and his staff to get to 7-0; but we're equally confident that Fickell and crew will have the Buckeyes ready for battle.
The grass isn't always greener
In 1999 Mark Mangino was the offensive line coach at Oklahoma. In 2000, Bob Stoops promoted Mangino to offensive coordinator, a position he would hold for two seasons before being named head coach at Kansas before the 2002 season.
In the four seasons leading up to his hiring, Kansas had averaged 4 wins per year. Going back further, in the 70s the Jayhawks averaged just over 4 wins per year, in the 80s, just over 4 wins per year, in the 90s they raised the average to nearly 6 wins thanks in large part to some good seasons early in the decade. So, over 30 years or so, this was a program that averaged 4 or 5 wins per season.
Mangino took over in 2002 and it took him a while to rebuild the program. As a matter of fact, in his first 3 seasons they averaged 4 wins. But then they started clicking...From 2005-2008 they averaged over 8 wins per season and had that great run in 2007 where they wound up 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl.
In 2009 they started 5-0; but then things fell apart. Lots of things happened. Once the season ended, the administration decided to make a change and Mangino was no longer with the program. The Jayhawks have struggled since and it won't get any easier this weekend...
Stoops, who remains close with Mangino, is bringing his squad to Lawrence this weekend. Earlier this week, Stoops had this to say, "In general, I think some people believe the grass is always greener somewhere else. You find out it's not always that way."
Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman wrote a very good article about Stoops comments (and there's a lot more that what we wrote above).
Tramel notes that Stoops said that while he was the defensive coordinator at Florida, he was offered some head coaching jobs that he felt were dead-end jobs. "I'm not that good a coach...some places there's reasons they have the history they do."
Stoops wound up picking the right job and he's done fairly well at Oklahoma. He went 7-5 in his first season; but since then...his teams have won 10 games in 9 of 11 seasons (they won 8 in the other two seasons) 12 bowl appearances with 6 bowl victories and 1 National Championship.
This coach has called over 20,000 plays
Actually, by our calculations, Norm Chow has called over 21,000 plays.
Chow says that he has called every play everywhere he has coached since 1982 (30 seasons).
We figure an average of 11 games per season, 65 plays per game (current national average is 70), 30 seasons...just over 21,000 play calls. Can you even imagine that?
A couple of the quarterbacks that Chow has tutored include Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer, Ty Detmer and Matt Leinart (those last three won the Heisman).
On the subject of calling that many plays, Chow laughingly said, "I don't know if that is something to brag about or complain about."