Thoughts from around college football

October, 9, 2013
10/09/13
1:30
PM PT
They’re only college football opinions, but at least they’re all mine:

• It makes sense for USC to keep Marqise Lee on the sidelines and healing this week, hoping he’ll be ready for interim coach Ed Orgeron’s first big one at Notre Dame on Oct. 19.

So it turns out the Trojans’ defense isn’t as good as it looked early, but I still don’t think it’s as bad as it appeared against Arizona State.

• Speaking of Arizona State, the Sun Devils didn’t do much for the overall image of the Pac-12, allowing themselves to get outmuscled by a good, but hardly great, Notre Dame team.

• Take away Ty Montgomery’s two big kickoff returns, and Stanford’s offense generated only 17 points against Washington’s much-improved defense. That’s not a good sign for the Cardinal.

David Shaw has done a great job maintaining the level of Stanford’s program after Jim Harbaugh’s departure, but his conservative coaching approach late in games hurt him against Arizona State and almost cost him dearly vs. Washington.

I went into the season thinking Stanford was talented enough to beat Oregon for a second straight time, but now I’m not so sure.

• I am sure, however, that Steve Sarkisian’s Washington team is the real deal, although it’s unfortunate that coming off that emotionally draining, close loss at Stanford, the Huskies now have to take on Oregon’s point-a-minute Ducks.

In coaching parlance, Washington tailback Bishop Sankey is “a load.” The kid is one of the better between-the-tackle runners in the country.

• After five weeks of cupcake opponents, Oregon must play Washington, UCLA and Stanford in three of its next four games. We’ll know a lot more about Mark Helfrich’s group then.

• Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan completed only 12 passes against Washington. I don’t think you can beat any of the nation’s top teams that way.

• Even in defeat, Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald demonstrated he has one of the great, young coaching minds in the country. Ohio State’s talent is far superior, but Fitz’s kids hung in that game right to the end.

And yes, Fitzgerald’s name should be high on Pat Haden’s list of potential USC coaching candidates.

• Ohio State didn’t look like the best team in the nation in that game, but there really is no one on the rest of the Buckeyes’ schedule that should pose a serious threat.

• There is no reason for UCLA to be wary of its game with Cal this weekend. The Bears weren’t competitive against good teams even before their siege of injuries this past Saturday. Take the Bruins in a rout.

• South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney acts like he’s too good for college football. It’s sad when a kid that young already thinks he’s bigger than the game.

• It figures to get ugly for Mack Brown and Texas against Oklahoma on Saturday. Another Sooners’ blowout, and Brown could be headed for the same early exit as Lane Kiffin.

• Whoever came up with the “Famous Jameis” tag for Florida State’s Jameis Winston should get an immediate bonus. That nickname alone will guarantee this immensely talented freshman quarterback a ton of notoriety.

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