‘The Bull On’: College Pigskin– HOT POTATO: Week 1 Recapcsudhbulletin November 11, 2020 0 COMMENTS
Wide Receiver (15) Drake London goes up for a game-winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Photo courtesy of John McGillen, USC Athletics.
By Daniel Tom, Staff Reporter
We’re through the first week of Pac-12 football and 10 weeks of the college football season. This past weekend was full of twists and turns, and some surprises along the way. The playoff picture is still undecided, with only four weeks left of play. Here’s a recap of this past weekend.
Game of the Week: Trojans win a thriller over Arizona State
On an early Saturday morning, two conference heavyweights entered the LA Coliseum looking to make an impression to a national television audience in week one of a shortened season and by the end of it, some of us are still wondering what transpired.
For the first 57 minutes of the game, it looked like Herm Edwards’ Sun Devils squad was about to shut the door on the Trojans. This was in part to capitalizing off of forced turnovers and making big plays.
The Trojans turned the ball over four times, while also being stopped in ASU territory twice on fourth down. However, a football game is won after all four quarters are played and USC showed up to the party better late than never.
At the last possible moment down two scores, USC mounted a comeback you had to see to believe. With no timeouts left and less than three minutes left in the game, second year quarterback Kedon Slovis engineered two key offensive drives, completing 40 of his 55 passes on the day, while tossing for 381 yards and two touchdowns including the game winner to Drake London with 1:27 left sealing the 28-27 victory for the Trojans.
After that back and forth battle, you give a lot of credit to Arizona State for how they battled the majority of the game. Besides letting a two score lead slip away, their explosive offense made plays early that made it look like USC was ready to throw in the towel, and the defense was all over the field keeping the Trojans silent. Both teams look to take things from this week one thriller into their second games of the season.
UCLA: Bruins fall to Colorado in season opener.
Quarterback (1) Dorian-Thompson Robinson hands off to (10) Demetric Felton as Bruins fall in Boulder. Photo courtesy of UCLA Athletics.
Despite being a touchdown favorite, UCLA was simply outplayed and was playing from behind for most of the game. Minus a comeback effort in the second half, the Bruins ultimately fell short 48-42 Saturday night in Boulder. Colorado got on the scoreboard first and struck often getting out to a 35-7 lead in the second quarter.
Coming out of halftime, UCLA did what they could to make the game look respectable, narrowing it’s deficit to as little as one score in the third and fourth quarters respectively, it just wasn’t enough on this night.
Despite the shortened schedule, the Bruins were struggling from all facets. They turned the ball over four times in the first half, three of those turnovers coming via the fumble. The defense had a hard time keeping Colorado’s offense off the field. The Buffs, playing under former UCLA head coach Karl Dorrell & a converted safety to quarterback Sam Noyer, only punted the ball three times all night.
On the brighter side, veteran quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson looked composed under center completing 20 of his 40 passes for 303 yards, tossing four touchdowns and only being picked off once. Additionally, he led the team in rushing with 109 yards on the ground and ran one score in.
All in all, this is a game UCLA should have won handily considering the weapons they have on both sides of the football. Instead, they were exposed for their weaknesses against an inexperienced, rebuilding Colorado team. If not for spurts from the offense, this game could’ve been uglier. With little games to show for, the Bruins have no margin for error here on out and look to get into the win column.
San Diego State: Turnovers late doom Aztecs in home defeat
SJSU Quarterback Nick Nash (16) is chased down by two defenders in Friday’s loss. Photo courtesy of San Diego State Athletics.
The common theme of the week? Turnovers. It is a football hallmark. From watching games both in-person and on television, I’ve never seen a clean football game where a team hasn’t turned the ball over. This is the scene that led to what Saturday ultimately was.
San Diego State, who was expected to go toe-to-toe with San Jose State throughout the game, turned the ball over three times in the fourth quarter, each one more costly as the Spartans marched into Carson and upset the Aztecs 28-17 on Friday.
One of the things I touched on in my game preview were the balanced offenses both teams had. San Jose’s pass rush against San Diego’s shutdown defense had all the makings of a dogfight, except this game was the complete opposite.
Spartans quarterback Nick Starkel exited the game during the team’s first drive in the first quarter after taking a hard hit on the fourth play from scrimmage. It made you question if they were going to adjust their game plan without their key offensive performer. In the end, it didn’t seem like much of a problem.
Backup quarterback Nick Nash sparked his offense with two touchdown passes and running in one to give the Spartans more than enough cushion. Along with forcing the Aztecs to turn the ball over, San Jose State held SDSU to only 56 rushing yards in the first half, which is impressive considering the majority of the Aztec’s offensive production comes from the run game.
Some highlights for the Aztecs included running back Greg Bell rushing for 109 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown, becoming the first player in the history of the program to record three straight 100-yard performances to begin his SDSU career.
Quarterback Carson Baker passed for a career high 261 yards on 21 of 30 attempts on the night.
The Aztecs look to quickly rebound for another game at home this weekend.
After watching the other Power Five conferences give football a try over the last three months, I was optimistic to see how the west coast programs would respond. While there were signs of rust and things that can be improved in practice during the week, it was nice to see some local competition back in the national spotlight.
Notre Dame fans rush the field after defeating No. 1 Clemson. Photo courtesy of Twitter.
Speaking of the national spotlight, Notre Dame had all the lights on them this past weekend taking on the nation’s top-ranked team Clemson. The Irish went toe-to-toe with the favored national championship contenders for 60 minutes and then some, pulling out a 47-40 victory in overtime as fans rushed the field.
Clemson was without 11 defensive players and their star quarterback due to injuries and COVID protocol. But, this may not be the last time we talk about this matchup. If games fall how they should, these two shall meet again in the conference championship game in December where the game has more meaning.
Stay tuned for more coming this week!