Rocky’s V: Upsets, motivation and finishing

11/23/2012

I. Stanford “D” is the real deal

Stanford upset Oregon last weekend and it wasn’t by orchestrating some complex game plan. The blueprint has always been known: run the ball, control the clock and play smash mouth defense. Stanford, however, is the only team to successfully implement that plan against the Ducks this year. The Cardinal defensive front seven pushed around Oregon’s offensive line and shot gaps all night. The key stat? Stanford held Oregon to 198 yards rushing, which doesn’t sound that impressive until you realize Oregon was averaging 325 per game coming in.

II. UCLA: What’s my motivation here?

UCLA plays the red-hot Stanford Cardinal this weekend, but if we are being honest with ourselves, do the Bruins even try to win this one? It plays out like this: if UCLA wins they get rewarded most likely by playing a very angry Oregon team for the PAC-12 championship, assuming the Ducks clobber Oregon State on Saturday. But if the Bruins lose to Stanford, they play the Cardinal again six days later in a rematch for the PAC-12 title. No one wants to try and lose a game, but it begs the question for UCLA fans: do you want to play Stanford, who averages 27 points per game, or Oregon, who has the potential to score 60?

III. Boo-hoo, Jimbo Fisher

Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher ranted in a press conference last week about how it “stinks” that a one-loss FSU team gets disrespected with a #10 national ranking. Hey Jimbo, I’ll tell you what stinks, it’s when you open your season with FCS schools Savannah State and Murray State and bash them by an average of 62 points. It also stinks when you lose to the lowly NC State Wolfpack. As we sit today, college football rankings are decided by voters and computers, neither of which are impressed when you schedule and subsequently pound two FCS schools. If you want respect in the polls, shoot for strength of schedule and ultimately don’t complain when you know that is how the present ranking system works.

IV. Lane Kiffin on a short leash

I know USC athletic director Pat Hayden came out this week and said that head coach Lane Kiffin’s job was safe but if he has another season next year similar to this one, there is no way Kiffin keeps his job after 2013. As this season began, USC was ranked #1 and all the discussion was about how the Trojans would stack up against the SEC. Well, forget the SEC. The Trojans can’t even get out of their own conference. With four loses this year, only an upset of Notre Dame this weekend would provide a lone bright spot on this disastrous 2012 season. Another season like this will be Kiffin’s last.

V. Notre Dame’s dream season on the line… but don’t count USC out

Who would have thought? After last weekend’s improbable upsets of Oregon and Kansas State, the stage is set for Notre Dame. The last hurdle to the BCS Championship game is a road game versus USC, which will be without its star quarterback Matt Barkley because of a shoulder injury. Instead, the Trojans will have freshman Max Wittek at the helm. I am a firm believer that a young player with nothing to lose is a threat because he is not “supposed” to win this game. The pressure is off. If he throws caution to the wind and plays like a renegade out there, there is still the chance of an upset this weekend.

— Rocky Boiman

Rocky Boiman is an analyst for Westwood One’s coverage of NCAA Football. Each week in “Rocky’s V,” the former Notre Dame captain and Super Bowl champion writes about five topics that have captured his interest from around college football. You can also follow Rocky on Twitter.

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