Arizona is busting out the red on red look with red helmets this weekend against Arizona State, and fans are loving these red helmets.
The red on red look has been rumored for a few weeks now, and finding a way to add some extra excitement to an in state rivalry game is never a bad idea.
Take a look and judge for yourselves. What do you think?
UCLA (6-2, 3-2) has got some new threads for their homecoming game this weekend against Arizona (5-3, 2-3).
The uniforms were first unveiled via UCLA's Instagram account.
From everything that we're hearing, the new uni's are well liked by the Bruin fan base, and look like a nice change up from their usual powder blue look. The exact color of the uniform is referred to as "L.A. Night" by adidas.
Saturday's kickoff is scheduled for 10:30pm ET on the Pac 12 Network.
Another full slate of college football action is now just a mere hours away. What matchups stand out to us on the final college football Saturday of October? Here's nine games that we'll be keeping our eyes on throughout the day.
Florida vs. Georgia (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS): Florida has won 18 of the last 22 in this series, and win No. 19 will lock in a trip to Atlanta in December for Will Muschamp's team. Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease will test Georgia's 72nd-ranked run defense early and often; the Gators have run the ball 319 teams this season and thrown it just 134 times. Georgia will look to turn around an unimpressive three-game stretch that includes a 35-7 loss to South Carolina and two wins by a total of 12 points over Tennessee and Kentucky (combined SEC record: 0-9).
Texas Tech at Kansas State (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX): It's pretty safe to say not many people saw this as a battle for Big 12 supremacy this preseason. The teams that combined to knock West Virginia out of any title conversations square off with first place on the line. Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville's reputation as a giant killer preceeds him, according to blogger Matt Hinton, Tubberville is 7-4 versus top 5 opponents since 2000. Texas Tech, which boasts the Big 12's top defense statistically, meets the conference's most diverse attack: quarterback Collin Klein is the second-most efficient passer in the nation while also rushing for 14 scores, and tailback John Hubert has four 100-yard games on the year. Meanwhile, Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege meets the Big 12's leading pass efficiency defense fresh off a whitewashing of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith (season-low 143 passing yards, two interceptions).
Duke at Florida State (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU): Saturday's Duke-Florida State game featues a team in control of its own destiny to win the ACC championship, and Florida State. Yes, it is Duke that is alone in first place of the ACC's Coastal Divison, while Florida State needs to win out and a Clemson loss to win the ACC's Atlantic Division. The Blue Devils clinched their first bowl appearance since 1994 with last week's 33-30 win over North Carolina, but to achieve more than that David Cutcliffe's team will need to find a way to slow down the ACC's most statistically-sound team. Jimbo Fisher's squad leads the ACC in nine categories including total offense, scoring offense, total defense and scoring defense.
USC at Arizona (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2): Pac-12 South leading USC travels to Tucson to face 4-3 (1-3 Pac-12) Arizona in what figures to be an easy Trojans win, right? Not exactly. Behind Rich Rodriguez's fifth-ranked total offense, Arizona is the 13th best team in college football according to Football Outsiders' F/+ rankings, six spots ahead of USC. The Wildcats have played better than their record indicates, after close losses to Stanford and Oregon State, Arizona is fresh off a 52-17 pounding of Washington. After losing its conference opener at Stanford, Lane Kiffin's team has feasted on the lower rungs of the Pac-12 standings with wins over California, Utah, Washington and Colorado (combined Pac-12 record: 4-13).
TCU at Oklahoma State (3:30 p.m. ET, FSN): Perhaps Mike Gundy and Gary Patterson can console each other on the hard luck each staff has been dealt at the quarterback position. After redshirt freshman quarterback J.W. Walsh ably stepped in for opening-day starter Wes Lunt, accounting for 461 yards of total offense in a win over Iowa State last week, before he was lost for the season with a knee injury. Oklahoma State will either turn back to Lunt, a true freshman, or to third-string quarterback Clint Chelf. On the opposite sideline, redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin continues to improve as TCU's newly-minted starting quarterback. Boykin threw for 332 yards and four touchdowns in his third start on Saturday versus Texas Tech. Like the majority of games pitting the Big 12's middle class, expect a down-to-the-wire outcome with both teams reaching the mid-30's.
Ohio State at Penn State (5:30 p.m., ESPN): Technically, this is the most meaningless game on the Big Ten schedule in 2012. Or, depending on what you read, it could be the most meaningful college football game played this year. This game could wind up deciding the Big Ten Coach of the Year, as both first year coaches' fingerprints are evident through the improvements each quarterback has shown from 2011. Bill O'Brien's has completely transformed Nittany Lions quarterback Matt McGloin, improving the senior's 2011 totals (1,571 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions) through just seven games. McGloin leads the Big Ten with 1,788 passing yards while tossing 14 scores against just two picks. His counterpart, Ohio State sophomore Braxton Miller, places second in the conference with 2,349 yards of total offense and ranks second among all FBS quarterbacks with 959 rushing yards.
Notre Dame at Oklahoma (8 p.m. ET, ABC): Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly stated earlier this week he wants his program to emulate the success that Oklahoma has enjoyed under Bob Stoops. His team can start with a win in Norman on Saturday night. The closer and more low-scoring this game plays the more it will benefit Notre Dame. Oklahoma teams tend to pounce early on any displays of weakness but can fold in a 60 minute boxing match. After going a solid half-decade without losing in Norman, Oklahoma has lost two of its last six home games. Both losses contained a minus-2 turnover margin for the Sooners, good news for Notre Dame and it's plus-9 turnover balance. Notre Dame needs to improve on its 43 percent third-down conversion rate to keep Oklahoma's explosive offense on the sideline.
Michigan at Nebraska (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2): The Big Ten's most-explosive offense hosts the league's most sneaky-good defense in a game that could ultimately decide the Big Ten's Legends Division title. Nebraska leads the Big Ten and ranks among college football's top dozen offenses in yards gained (512.4 per game, 6.9 per play) and scoring (41.6 points per game) faces a Michigan team that arrives in Lincoln quiety riding a three-game winning streak. Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison's unit has held its last five opponents to 13 points or less and checks in at No. 10 nationally in total defense (277.1 yards per game, 4.4 yards per play).
Mississippi State at Alabama (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): Both of these teams have benefitted from back-loaded schedules to arrive at this game with a 7-0 record. Only one of these teams has something to prove, however, and it's not the Crimson Tide. Mississippi State hasn't beaten Alabama since Nick Saban's first season and has scored 10 combined points through the first three quarters of the past four meetings. Fortunately for Dan Mullen, his team excells at the best ingredient to creating an upset - Mississippi State leads the nation in turnover margin. But unforunately for Mullen, Alabama checks in just two spots behind Mississippi State in the national rankings.
Every college head coach has their own way of dealing with commitments from recruits. Some coaches allow recruits (who have already committed to them) to still go on their other official visits, while many other programs have a no visit policy in effect after a commitment is made.
A recent Rivals.com article explored the different approaches from three different programs around the country, specifically USC, Oregon, and Arizona.
Lane Kiffin is one of the coaches who still allow commits to visit other schools.
"I don't discourage it at all. I have a rare stance on it. I just think some of these kids never have an opportunity like that. To fly around the country and visit different places and meet new people whether it's other recruits or other coaches." Kiffin explained.
"I let our kids go visit all over the place, our commits. I know that's rare nowadays. I don't think it's my job, I don't think I'm in a position to be limiting kids' abilities to take free trips around the country and see different parts of the country and meet new people."
Chip Kelly on the other hand, views a commitment in a very different light.
"We talk to our guys about what a commitment is. We're going to make a commitment to you it's the same thing as us not pulling a scholarship when you make a commitment to us" Kelly said. "There's got to be a two-way street. I think our players understand what being committed means here."
Although their views are polar opposites, both coaches and their staffs manage to bring in some of the top talent in the country on a consistent basis. There's no doubt it helps to have a clear and consistent message from top to bottom.
For Rich Rodriguez, recognizing the difference between interest and commitment is something that him and his staff have recently zeroed in on.
"When a guy wants to commit to us we make sure that he understands what that means. If you have a guy who's committed to you but he's making a bunch of visits to other places you wonder if he's truly committed or just interested. That's the key for us."
"If a guy is taking it to have fun and he tells you that up front that's one thing but if they're taking the visit they must have some kind of interest in another school and that puts you in a tough situation because you may have dropped some other guys or moved off some other guys and then all of a sudden you lose this guy in the end."
At Arizona, the staff understands that if a recruit is going to continue to take his visits, don't be surprised if he de-commits. It all goes back to recognizing that difference between interest and commitment.
"If a guy is committed to you and he's visiting other places and all of a sudden he changes his commitment or something like that, I don't know why a coach would be surprised because he's visiting other schools so there aren't as many surprises as you'd think."
We understand that every level of college recruiting is very different. But each of those coaches (Lane Kiffin, Chip Kelly, and Rich Rodriguez) have helped sign a top ten recruiting class at some point in the coaching careers, and have all done it with very different approaches. The lesson is to find something specific to your level of football, and making it something that you all can buy into as a staff. At the end of the day you'll start to see the results of a consistent message.
This weekend Zach Barnett and I traveled to Arizona to see how football is played in the great state of Arizona.
We arrived early in the day Thursday. After a quick lunch on Mill Ave. (more on this area later) we went to Oregon's team hotel to meet with their coaches. Two key takeaways from that meeting - first, it's a long day of waiting before heading to the stadium for a 6 p.m. ESPN game; and second, Oregon's coaches have a lot of confidence in this year's team. A third note that only Opps guys will appreciate - when I asked what one of the coaches what time they were going to step on the field, he pulled out a laminated business card size sheet that showed his group on the field at 3:59. Not 4 p.m., 3:59. Hawk doesn't mess around.
We headed back to campus to check out the pre-game festivities. The pre-game scene outside of the stadium was a little lighter than anticipated, but given that this was a 6pm game on a "school day"...
The vibe on the field before the game was awesome. Todd Graham and his staff have several huge speakers set up on the field blaring music certain to get their players excited. Every player was bouncing around, big smiles and clearly ready to roll.
Down on the Oregon side I witnessed something that I thought was pretty cool. As the players finished up pre-game action on the field and headed to the locker room with Chip Kelly, all of the assistants got together to shake hands, encourage each other to have a great game and to just take a minute to enjoy the moment. This is what these guys work for. Enjoy it, remember it, embrace it, because too soon the season will be behind you.
Five minutes before the game I looked up and the stadium was still less than half full...five minutes into the game the place was packed and loud (unfortunately those arriving five minutes late had missed the first 17 touchdowns). The student section was loud. Question for the Pac-12: Why are so many student sections located behind the home team's bench? Crazy.
On the field, injuries slowed Arizona State after losing their best defensive player on the first play of the game. Slow and Oregon don't mix well. Oregon is fast and when their quarterback is making good decisions on the read they are tough to stop. Chip Kelly, Mark Helfrich, Nick Aliotti and the rest of the staff have their guys playing at a high level.
After the game we stopped by Mill Ave. once again to enjoy post-game ASU style. Did. Not. Disappoint.
Friday we went in to see the Arizona State coaches. We spoke separately with AD Steve Patterson and Todd Graham who both said about the same thing, "Didn't play our best but the program is getting better. Need to continue to add depth and talent, but we're still in this battle for the south." Todd Graham left me with this nugget, "I sure hope we get another crack at them in 5 weeks."
ASU's team room has a fresh design
Friday afternoon Mike from Overtime Software and I headed down to Tucson. Upon entering the football offices we were promptly greeted by Rich Rod. Rich is one of the head coaches I most enjoy visiting with. When he speaks with you he's completely engaged with you. He remembers every time you have met and is truly interested in you. He's the exact same way with his staff and his players. This group is bought in to what Rich is doing.
LSU and Texas A&M kicked off at 9am local time, which at first seemed so odd but then seemed so wonderful. West coast life ain't so bad. Mike and I were fairly engaged with the game at the hotel's pool bar (yes, that's Pac-12 living) and from time to time might have raised our voices at the TV. Pretty sure most of the others at the pool thought we were crazy; one even said, you guys must be from the South. Yes, yes we are.
We arrived on "The Mall" at Arizona around 2pm and found a delightful atmosphere. A nicely defined and orchestrated tailgate scene was enjoyed for several hours. I had the pleasure of meeting countless high school coaches from the area and enjoyed talking ball with them. Each had very positive feedback regarding the direction that both Arizona and Arizona State's programs are headed. Overall, we encountered nothing hospitality and saw a vibrant scene.
We joined the Arizona staff on their sideline for the game. I took turns standing by Jeff Casteel (and David Lockwood) as they called the defense and watching Rich Rod and his guys call the offense. Most of this staff has been together for quite some time and this is truly a sideline that is all on the same page. They move fast and make changes on the fly but I rarely saw any sort of communication issues between the staff or the players. I like how these guys work as a staff.
After the game I had the pleasure of meeting several of the coaches families on the field. Arizona is very much a family atmosphere both within the program and university wide.
University Blvd./Main Gate Square was enjoyable after the game with fans from several Pac-12 programs in attendance. We liked the crowd upstairs at Gentle Ben's.
Both Arizona and ASU appear headed to have their programs headed in the right direction. When Rich Rod was hired I immediately thought it was a great hire by Greg Byrne and my visits there since have reinforced that belief. Upon hearing of Todd Graham's hiring at ASU I didn't honestly know how that would work out but after this visit and spending time with he and his staff and the AD I feel very confident that this program is in good hands and is headed in a good direction. It's going to be a lot of fun to watch these two teams play football for a long time. Football in this state is on the rise. One thing to watch for...if either (or both) of these teams can improve their ability to pull the right recruits from Texas and/or Southern California look out. I like the future of football in the Pac-12.
Last note, I cracked a smile when late in the game I turned around and noticed where Arizona had UW's band. Take a look at this picture...way, way up top in far, far right corner. Nice.
With another full slate of games ahead of us tomorrow, here's what we'll be keeping an extra close eye on throughout the day.
LSU at Texas A&M (12 p.m. ET, ESPN): This is an opportunity for a statement game for Texas A&M. Kevin Sumlin and Kliff Kingsbury's explosive offense (tied for sixth nationally in total offense, 7.09 yards per play) faces John Chavis' second-ranked LSU defense. If Texas A&M pulls out the win, it will be because quarterback Johnny Manziel (24 touchdowns through six games) found a way to solve an LSU defense that has surrendered just 13 scores this season. These programs have met 50 times previously, although Saturday will be the first meeting in College Station since 1995. Texas A&M wants to re-kindle this rivalry, but the only way to to do that is with a win.
Rutgers at Temple (12 p.m. ET, Big East Network): Raise your hand if you knew this was a battle for the top spot in the Big East standings. Steve Addazio has led Temple to a 2-0 start in the Owls' return to the Big East despite ranking last in the league in total offense and total defense. Addazio's team relies heavily on the run (2.1:1 rush-pass ratio), while Rutgers ranks second nationally in rush defense at 60.8 yards per game and 2.25 yards per carry allowed. Both of these teams' success lies in forcing turnovers (Rutgers leads in the nation in turnover margin, Temple is No. 12), so whoever can carve out an advantage in that area will likely win the game.
Iowa State at Oklahoma State (12 p.m. ET, FX): A year removed from winning the Big 12 championship, Mike Gundy's team is still trying to sort out exactly what it is. The Cowboys lead the country in total offense by a wide margin, nearly 34 yards per game over No. 2 Baylor. But their most impressive win to date is over Louisiana - Lafayette, and they come into Saturday off a 20-14 win over 1-5 Kansas in which the Jayhawks outgained OSU 398-371. Paul Rhoads' team will try to make this game close and low-scoring. Iowa State is 19-1 in Rhoads' tenure when holding teams under 24 points, and 3-21 when giving up 24 points or more. Iowa State is also 10-6 under Rhoads in games decided by a touchdown or less.
South Carolina at Florida (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS): Mark Richt and co. will be rooting hard for the Gators, as a Florida win essentially sets up a winner-take-all matchup for the control of the SEC East at the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party next week. Meanwhile, a South Carolina win means Steve Spurrier's team will just have to get by Tennessee and Arkansas to clinch a trip to Atlanta for the second time in three years. The Gamecocks have won two straight in this series while limiting the Gators to just 26 combined points.
BYU at Notre Dame (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC): This game will likely play out like seemingly every Notre Dame game this season - gritty, close and low scoring. Both of these squads rank among the nation's top seven nationally in scoring defense, allowing just over 22 points per game combined. Bronco Mendenhall has an opportunity to put a peacock-sized feather in his team's cap as a win would put the Cougars in a great position to finish 2012 at 9-3 and a top 25 ranking. On the other sideline, all that's on the line for Notre Dame is keeping intact its first 7-0 start since 2002 with a primetime showdown at Oklahoma on the immediate horizon.
Nebraska at Northwestern (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2): Bo Pelini's struggling defense faces perhaps the most diverse attack in the Big Ten. Any hopes either team has of playing for the Big Ten title likely dies with a loss on Saturday. Expect Nebraska and its Big Ten-leading scoring offense to try to outscore Northwestern, while the Wildcats will attempt to exploit the Cornhuskers' penchant for turning over the football (No. 104 nationally in turnover margin. Oh, and there's this:
Kansas State at West Virginia (7 p.m. ET, FOX): Bill Snyder's tough-as-nails bunch travels to face West Virginia in the friendly confines of Milan Puskar Stadium. The last time Dana Holgorsen's team played at home it lit up Baylor for 10 touchdowns. A Kansas State victory puts the Wildcats firmly ahead of the pack in the Big 12, while a loss for West Virginia ends the conference and national title aspirations that seemed so promising just one week ago. West Virginia's highly publicized offense is more productive of the two but Kansas State's is actually more efficienct, churning out 0.65 points per play to WVU's 0.58 points per play.
Florida State at Miami (8 p.m. ET, ABC): Consider this a referendum for two young coaching tenures. Both teams need wins to stay in the hunt for the ACC Championship but, most importantly, both teams need a win over each other. Al Golden is looking for his first victory over FSU, while a loss by the Seminoles means nothing short toppling Florida can make this season a success. Jimbo Fisher's team dominates the ACC statistically, leading the conference in total offense, total defense, scoring offense, scoring defense, pass efficiency, pass efficiency defense and rushing defense. They also place second in the ACC in rushing offense behind Georgia Tech, but possess the conference's best yards per carry average (6.28).
Baylor at Texas (8 p.m. ET, ABC): Texas returns home reeling after consecutive losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma. Mack Brown's teams traditionally play their best football following Oklahoma, going 13-1 immediately after the Red River Rivalry. Baylor carries in a two-game losing streak of its own, surrendering a total of 17 touchdowns in losses to West Virginia and TCU. Baylor leads the nation in passing offense with nearly 400 yards per game faces a Texas defense that has allowed Big 12 quarterbacks to go 65-of-101 for 903 yards with eight touchdowns against two interceptions. The numbers aren't much better for Texas' rush defense as opposing Big 12 offenses have carried 133 times for 810 yards (6.1 ypc) for 10 scores. Solace for Texas comes in the fact that Baylor brings in a defense ranked among the bottom four nationally in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense. Expect an old-fashion Big 12 shootout that lasts deep into the night.
Washington at Arizona (10 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks): After a 3-0 start Rich Rodriguez is still searching for his first Pac-12 win. Washington is also looking for its first victory since the upset of Stanford on Sept. 27. Scott from our staff will be on hand in Tucson. Follow him on Twitter @FootballScoop for his observations of the game.
A few months back we embarked on a Pac-12 Tour (sponsored by our good friends at Overtime Software). Off-season tour was excellent; but the coaches told us we needed to come back for a few games. Thus, this weekend we're hitting 4 Pac-12 teams...Thursday night we'll be field-level for Oregon at Arizona State and then Saturday night we'll join the fine folks at Arizona as they host Washington. No confirmed appearances scheduled yet on the worldwide leader but you never know what might happen...stay tuned.
To get you mind right for Thursday night's matchup, take a look at a couple of stats that we found interesting...
-Strength vs. Strength: Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelley and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota currently rank 1-2 in the Pac-12 in passing efficiency. Each will face his stiffest test yet as Arizona State (89.4) and Oregon (107.3) also lead the conference in pass efficiency defense.
-Strength vs. Strength, Part deux: Oregon is second in the Pac-12 with 541.7 yards of total offense per game. ASU leads the league in total defense, surrendering just 272.7 yards per game.
-An area where Arizona State will try to take advantage: If Arizona State is able to pull the upset it will be because the Sun Devils consistently put Oregon in bad down-and-distance situations. Arizona State ranks No. 2 nationally by forcing 9.83 TFL per game, while Oregon is No. 102 in the country with 6.83 TFL allowed per game. Of course, when you're as explosive on offense as the Ducks are 2nd and 12 can just mean De'Anthony Thomas' latest touchdown run goes 62 yards instead of just 60.
-Score First, Score Last: Todd Graham's team is 5-0 when scoring first this season, and carries a 62-10 first quarter advantage into Thursday night. Arizona State also enjoys a 64-7 scoring margin in the fourth quarter in 2012. Meanwhile, Chip Kelly's squad has outscored the opposition 112-19 in its six games and holds a 109-28 advantage in the second half over their last four games.
-26-0: Under Chip Kelly, Oregon has never lost in 26 games played between Week 2 and Week 8 in his four seasons as head coach.
- Streaking Ducks: Oregon has the longest road winning streak in FBS (11), and has scored 30 or more points in 19 straight games - also the longest streak in FBS. Oregon is 38-2 when scoring 30 or more under Kelly.
- Stingy in the Red Zone: Oregon has allowed Pac-12 opponents only four touchdowns in 16 trips inside the red zone in 2012.
Suggestions for post-game wind-down in Tempe and Tucson are welcomed below, via email or on Twitter.