Week 7 in the NFL was nothing short of a great week. Tons of comebacks, big performances and that one guy, Peyton Manning, passed some guy named Brett Favre, in career passing touchdowns. You might have heard of these guys, right?! Moving on from my facetiousness though, Manning passed for 4 touchdowns and now has a running total of 510 touchdowns to Favre’s career 508, after Denver’s route of San Francisco on Sunday night, 42-17. That moved the Broncos’ record to 5-1 and now a half game in front of 5-2, San Diego, who lost to Kansas City Sunday afternoon.
The Chargers and Broncos play on Thursday Night in a huge AFC West showdown, in what could be the game of the week! Though the Cardinals and Eagles might have a claim to that statement. The last time these two teams played was in the postseason, as the Chargers went into Mile High and lost to the Broncos in the divisional round of the playoffs. Prior to that though, last regular season, San Diego did deliver the only home field loss of the season to the Broncos. In a 27-20 victory, the Chargers took the lead in the last minute of the second quarter and never looked back. Controlling the clocks for close to 40 minutes, 38:49 to be exact, and keeping the touchdown king, yardage king, everything king, Peyton Manning off the field. Seems like a great gameplan, right?! However, this is a pretty high powered offense of the Chargers, when it comes to the throwing game, averaging close to 280 yards a game. The running game is not quite what it once was though, and especially not like it was in mid December of last year. The Chargers had 177 total rushing yards, and Ryan Mathews carried that load for 127 of that 177. Thing is, Mathews is banged up and the San Diego rushing offense is averaging under 100 yards a game at 90, and only 69 yards in Sunday’s loss at home versus the Chiefs. On the other side of it, Manning and the Broncos are as sharp as ever.
Thursday nights game versus San Diego is the last home game, before Denver heads on the road for three straight, including the overplayed quarterback match-up, but relevant game against the Patriots. But it’s not all just about the Broncos. Granted, Peyton Manning did accomplish an incredible feat Sunday evening. But, I think it would be boring to turn this into a “Peyton Manning love fest”, other people can do that for you. I know how great Manning is. You all know how great Manning is. So there you go! Enough said! I don’t want to undersell it, but I kind of just did. Let’s focus on Manning’s career, when Manning is retired and can have his career looked at with finality. We know this much; Manning is a sure fire, first ballet, Hall of Famer!!
How about this in Week 7… Dallas continues to show they are here for the long haul. Or one would think. 6-1, after beating rival, New York. The Giants and Cowboys are always a close meeting, splitting their last 8 meetings, going into Sunday afternoons game, but separating themselves late in this game and relying on DeMarco Murray, who is proving to be such a weapon for Dallas. Stop Murray. And you change Dallas’ offense. Thing is… no team has done it in seven straight games, as Murray has run 100 yards in each game to start the season. Now an NFL record. The Cowboys can’t be overshadowing the whole division though, as the Eagles, who were on a bye week, are 5-1 and will next be in action against the powerhouse, Cardinals.
The Patriots have had all their troubles so far in seven weeks, but when it’s all said and done, New England is still right where they need to be. First place in the AFC East, at 5-2. Though the Bills are right there, a game behind New England.
Baltimore has the best defense, in terms of least points given up, but right behind them, are the Lions, giving up only one more total point so far this season. Both teams of which are 5-2, leading their North divisions in the AFC and NFC, respectively. Both the Lions and Ravens won their game today, Baltimore in a runaway and the Lions in a come from behind win.
The Colts won their fifth straight over the weekend, crushing the Bengals, 27-0. Moving Indy’s record to 5-2, and could have a two game lead in the AFC South, depending on Houston’s Monday Night Football match-up versus Pittsburgh. Andrew Luck continues to play like he is on a mission. Luck has thrown for over 300 yards, in six of his seven games, and nearly has a 3 to 1, in the touchdowns to interceptions ratio, 19-7.
The NFC South has little to be desired right now. The leader in the division is Carolina, at 3-3-1. The Panthers were run off the field by the 5-2 Packers, 38-17 on Sunday afternoon, and have only one win in their last 5 tries. But, because the Saints and Falcons are struggling, at 2-4 and 2-5, respectively, the Panthers are still in a good spot. The defending champion Seattle Seahawks come rolling into Carolina, not on the best of terms either, losing to St. Louis, their second consecutive loss of the season. The Seahawks haven’t been quite the same on the road, going 1-2, while a return home for the Panthers seems like just what the doctor ordered, as Carolina is 2-1, with their last home victory, 31-24, against the Bears.
And in the NFC West, it’s the Arizona Cardinals proving that a stingy defense, good rushing offensively and an experienced quarterback, like Carson Palmer, is the perfect formula for being division leaders at 5-1, a game and a half up on San Francisco and Seattle. The lone loss for the Cardinals, was on the road, in week 5, at the hands of the Broncos, 41-20. The Cardinals have only had one division game thus far, though it was a home win against the 49er’s, so a good start so far. Big tests for Arizona are coming up in the next two weeks, with 5-1 Philly coming into Arizona, followed by a road contest in Dallas, before a divisional matchup with St. Louis.
PROVO—The BYU Cougars fell at home to the Nevada Wolfpack on Saturday by a score of 42-35. The Cougars held as high as a 14-point lead, but surrendered 22 points in the 4th quarter.
BYU quarterback Christian Stewart completed 39 out of 63 attempts for 408 yards and 4 touchdowns in his second start, but the Cougars lost 3 fumbles at key moments, with two lost by Stewart.
With BYU leading 28-20, Terenn Houk lost a fumble at the Nevada 33-yard line. The Wolfpack capitalized with a Cody Fajardo touchdown pass, followed by a 2-point conversion to tie the game.
With 7:28 left in the 4th quarter and the Wolfpack up by 7, Stewart was sacked on the first play of the BYU drive and gave up a fumble. Nevada scored again 3 plays later to go up 42-28.
The Cougars responded by driving down the field, scoring a touchdown as Stewart delivered an 8-yard pass under pressure to Keanu Nelson.
BYU followed the drive with an onside kick attempt, which bounced out of bounds, giving Nevada possession. The Cougars held Nevada to four plays and a punt, leaving the Cougars on their 10 yard line with a chance to tie the game with 89 seconds left.
The Cougars converted 4 first downs on the drive on 5 plays, covering 46 yards before Stewart scrambled for 5 yards and lost the football for the final time. Nevada then took a knee to end the game.
BYU wide receiver Mitch Mathews finished the game with 16 receptions for 182 yards and 2 touchdowns.
BYU running back Nate Carter saw his first significant time of the season, and posted 87 yards on 7 rushes. Paul Lasike added 46 rushing yards with a touchdown, as well as 69 receiving yards with another touchdown.
BYU falls to 4-3 (2-2 home) on the season, while Nevada improved to 4-3 (2-1 away, 1-2 MWC). BYU will head on the road to Boise State next Friday.
Here are postgame interviews with head coach Bronco Mendenhall, Mitch Mathews, Nate Carter, linebacker Bronson Kaufusi, and Christian Stewart:
A big measuring stick game for the Utes Thursday night here in Oregon. We are always talking about who Utah compares best with in the Pac 12 Conference. They are in the same overall league yet as the upper echelon programs like: Oregon, Stanford, USC or UCLA, but they appear to be gaining ground. Utah is comparable to programs like Arizona, Arizona State, Washington and tonight’s opponent Oregon State. For Utah to continue to progress and make in-roads in the Pac 12, beating a team like Oregon State is a must.
Mike Riley’s team is solid but not quite spectacular. An excellent Quarterback, Sean Mannion, and some nice complimentary pieces around him. A good but not great defense, which is relying more on scheme than athletes to get it done this season.
Utah has only won once in Corvallis over the years, they are 1-5-1 all time. Thursday night marks the first time these teams have met when the Utes have been ranked in the Top 25.
Here are my Three Keys to Utah winning back to back road games for the first time as members of the Pac 12 Conference…
1. Feed the Beast-Devontae Booker is Utah’s best offensive football player, period! The Utah Offensive Line appears to be a better run blocking unit right now. Booker ranks 5th in the Pac 12 in rushing and is coming off back to back 100 yard rushing games. He is the Quarterbacks’ best friend. 30+ carries for Booker bodes well for Utah.
2. Nate must be Great-Last year the Utah defense didn’t come close to Sean Mannion. As a result he passed for 443 yards and 5 TD’s. This year the Utah Front Four must find a way to get pressure on Mannion. That unit, which leads the NCAA in sacks, with 28, and Orchard who’s 2nd in sacks with 8.5 must find a way to get past the maximum protection of the Beavers and sack Mannion. If not it could be another long night.
3. Catch the Damn Ball-Utah has a very talented WR Corps. However, they’ve had a tendency to drop the football this season. Seven drops in Pasadena nearly cost Utah that big win. Don’t be surprised if there are a few new faces on the field tonight in the Utah WR group, perhaps to send a message.
I think we’ll see a tight game tonight at Reser Stadium. Special Teams will play a big role in field position tonight. Hackett and Clay potentially big for the Utes.
Utah 27 Oregon St. 24
The Utes, and much of their fan base, are justifiably excited to see disarray in the Pac-12 conference. After all, beating UCLA on the road helped to create the head-scratching scenario of mid-season power rankings. Being an underdog team in a powerhouse conference is great when you are winning, and this season has seen a lot of underdog wins at the half way point. Cal’s resurgence, Arizona’s brief spot in the sun as the Pac-12′s only undefeated team, even Colorado being more competitive, all fun, inspiring storylines to this point in the season. It’s been cute. But now it needs to stop. No more underdog winning in the Pac-12! with the exception of the Utes of course.
Because a conference that we all watch every week and see loaded with talent even in the bottom end, is not necessarily perceived the same way nationally. That East-Coast bias comes into play right around 8:30 Mountain Time, when the writers in Bristol and DC and Boston are turning away from their TV’s and heading to a late night drink or a movie or other such things that people with lives do on a weekend rather than watching kickoff in the Pac-12 night game. When they check out the scores on Sunday morning, it’s better for the reputation of the Pac-12 to see a USC win over AZ. It’s better to see that Stanford beat up Wazzou. Continual upsets by “lesser” programs over the traditional powers will lead national writers (and dare I say, playoff voters?) to believe that the conference is weaker at the top. It’s already happening.
UCLA went from a top 10 team 2 weeks ago to unranked. Brett Hundley can kiss any of his longshot Heisman trophy hopes goodbye now that the Bruins are a two-loss team. preseason championship buzz and playoff talk are now embarrassing whispers in Pasadena.
So while it’s great to see the Utes roaring up the rankings, we can’t hope for the traditional big boys of the conference to be absent. From now on Utah fans, cheer for your Utes to win, but pull for Stanford, Oregon, USC, and even UCLA too. Because it’s better for the U to claim a place among giants than to be a growing fish in a diminishing pond. It isn’t good for the program to be one of many upstarts in the conference.
What you don’t want, as a Ute fan, is this.
“Wow! Another big win for Utah, this time over USC”
“sure, but USC isn’t the Trojan team we are used to.”
“The Utes upset the DUCKS!!”
“Okay, but Oregon has had their struggles this year, and nobody really thinks they are a real contender.”
I believe that I underestimated this Utah team, and their is at least one more big upset on the schedule for Kyle Whittingham and crew, so what I hope for now, is that the powerhouse teams find their way, and that the argument that the top of the conference is playing down to the lower level rather than vice-versa is invalid.
Let Arizona, Cal, and even Colorado hang back a little while so that Utah can rise alone.
One week removed from seeing #2 Oregon falling to Arizona in Eugene, #14 Stanford losing to #9 Notre Dame, Arizona State throwing a last second hail mary to defeat #16 USC in Southern California, Cal winning a shootout 60-59 over Washington State and Utah beating #8 UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Many thought that week 7 in College Football couldn’t get any more crazy. Well, it probably wasn’t as crazy but this week was another week that shows the country that their isn’t a team to beat in the Pac-12. Fans saw #25 Stanford beat Washington State 34-17 on Friday night which wasn’t a surprise. But some might think that #18 UCLA would bounce back from their upset lost to the University of Utah and beat #12 Oregon in the Rose Bowl. That wasn’t the case. The Bruins are now out of the AP Top 25 poll after falling to the Ducks 42-30. Oregon showed that they should be the team to beat in the Pac-12 after bouncing back in dominating fashion against UCLA. I thought it would be a more interesting game between the 4-1 teams in Washington and Cal but Washington showed who the better team was and put Cal off of the Pac-12 Contender map after many think they were on cloud 9 starting the season 4-1 when they were voted to finish last in the Pac-12 in the preaseason poll. Washington improves to 5-1 with a 31-7 win over Cal.
But the game of the week in the Pac-12 was #10 Arizona hosting USC. Arizona came in at 5-0 and ranked #10 in the nation after not even cracking the Top 25 until they beat Oregon in Eugene. The Redshirt Freshman Anu Solomon tried to carry his team to another signature win in the Pac-12 by throwing the ball 72 times completing 43 of those passes for 395 yards with 1 Touchdown. But Cody Kessler didn’t want any part of it as he threw 20 of 30 passing for 185 yards with 1 Touchdown and 1 Interception. Arizona just about won the game when they converted a touchdown but didn’t get the two point conversion they trailed 28-26 with 1:07 left. The Wildcats kicked an onside kick and recovered the ball and made a couple of plays down field. Once they went to attempt the Field Goal for the win, USC Head Coach Steve Sarkisian called a timeout before the ball was snapped even though the Arizona kicker made the attempt. On the second attempt from 36 yards, U of A Kicker Casey Skowron missed his third Field Goal of the night giving the Wildcats their first loss of the season 28-26 to USC.
The latest AP poll was released today and the University of Utah moved from #24 to #20 during their second and final bye week. Here is the latest AP Poll rankings within the Pac-12:
Oregon (5-1) was #12, now #9.
Arizona (5-1) was #10, now #16.
Arizona State (4-1) was #20, now #17.
Utah (4-1) was #24, now #20.
USC (4-2) was NR, now #22.
Stanford (4-2) was #25, now #23.
UCLA (4-2) was #18, now NR.
Another interesting note is that every single Pac-12 team has lost at least one game. The matchups in the Pac-12 this week:
Saturday – UCLA (4-2) (1-2 in Pac-12) at Cal (4-2) (2-2 in Pac-12)
Colorado (2-4) (0-3 in Pac-12) at #22 USC (4-2) (3-1 in Pac-12)
Washington (5-1) (1-1 in Pac-12) at #9 Oregon (5-1) (2-1 in Pac-12)
The game of the week – #23 Stanford (4-2) (2-1 in Pac-12) at #17 Arizona State (4-1) (2-1 in Pac-12)
And of course on Thursday night it’s the University of Utah (4-1) (1-1 in Pac-12) heading to Corvallis to take on Oregon State (4-1) (1-1 in Pac-12). Pregame Coverage begins at 4pm with Sean O’Connell and John Pease and Kickoff at 8pm on your home of the University of Utah, ESPN 700.
By: Trevor Allen
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