5 Thoughts - It's Oregon's World
Oregon QB Dennis Dixon
Is Dennis Dixon really having that much better a season than other quarterbacks? Why aren't other teams getting the same love Oregon is? The superstar to pay attention to, the team that's going to slip into the BCS, and a big call in the latest 5 Thoughts.
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And the Heisman goes to
Is this the most bizarre Heisman race ever? I was a guest on
a Sunday night radio show and was asked who my vote
would go to right now, and I froze. I actually had to
pause before firing out an, "Uhhh, I dunno."
Dennis Dixon is certainly having a tremendous year, but
is he a poor man's Vince Young, a great do-it-all player
who's carrying a team to a big season, or is he Brad
Banks (if you have to Google him, you get the point)
who's having a phenomenal year on an above-average team
that just keeps winning?
We're talking about the Heisman here. This turns players
into legends, and allows names like Eric Crouch and
Jason White to stay alive forever, while, well, Brad
Banks and other players who came close become footnotes.
Dixon is having a very nice year with 20 touchdown
passes and three interceptions to go along with 549
yards and eight rushing touchdowns. Good numbers, great
leadership. Heisman? Maybe. Troy Smith had similar
numbers through nine games last year, but his team is
unbeaten, while Dixon threw two of his three picks in
the loss to Cal.
Is Dixon having a better year than, say, Clemson's
Cullen Harper, who has thrown 24 touchdown passes with
four interceptions? How about Missouri's Chase Daniel,
who has thrown for 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions,
but has bombed away for 2,954 yards to Dixon's 2,074?
Daniel's loss came on the road at Oklahoma, who's ranked
No. 5 in the BCS. Dixon's loss came at home to a Cal
team that went into the tank. Todd Reesing of Kansas,
unlike Dixon, has his team unbeaten, and has thrown for
23 touchdowns and four interceptions with more yards
I'm not slamming Dixon and I'm not even saying he's not
a worthy front-runner; I'm just pointing out that he's
having a good year at the same time when plenty of other
quarterbacks are doing the same thing. And then there's
Florida's Tim Tebow, who's having the best year of any
quarterback, leading the nation in passing efficiency,
has thrown for one more touchdown than Dixon, one more
interception, 154 more passing yards, has rushed for
more yards (549) and has more rushing touchdowns (14)
all while playing through a banged up shoulder in the
To me, the Heisman goes to the signature player in a
given college football season, and goes to the player
who defined the year. And yeah, at the moment, that's
probably Dixon. Last week it was Matt Ryan. The week
before it was Tebow. The week before it was Andre
Woodson. The week before it was Mike Hart.
Welcome to the 2007 Heisman chase.
And because the Nike
clad nation isn't grouchy enough after that ...
Oregon fans, before getting all ticked off at me, I'm
not disrespecting your team or trying to be negative in
any way. I'm not ripping, hating, or firing. I'm trying
to put a puzzle together, your team happens to be the
key piece at the moment, and I can't make it fit.
Last week I
said that beating Arizona State would mean once and for
all that Oregon is the real deal, but even after the big
win, I’m still missing what all the hubbub is about with
these Ducks, and I honestly can’t figure out why.
was a fantastic team Oregon beat, and I still believe
it’ll end up going to the Rose Bowl, so shouldn’t the
35-23 victory have convinced me? Shouldn’t four
touchdown passes from Dennis Dixon all but seal the
Heisman? According to all the talking heads, yes, but I
can't shake the feeling that ASU would've won in Tempe.
I can't get the image of a banged up Rudy Carpenter
lighting up the Oregon secondary like a Christmas tree
for big second half yards. I feel like there’s a party
going on and I didn’t get an invitation.
I continue to see a defense that gives up yards in
chunks, and got two big breaks on turnovers that came
more because ASU screwed up than anything the Duck D
did. The defensive line, especially Nick Reed, generated
a ton of pressure all game long, but got pushed around
too much against the run.
Comparing apples to oranges, Ducks to Sooners, Jayhawks
to Tigers, Mountaineers to Buckeyes, I’m missing,
exactly, what about this Oregon team is so much better
than about ten other teams ranked behind it. I’m missing
why Missouri isn't in the national title hunt with its
loss coming at Oklahoma, one of the top five teams in
America, and Oregon is being hugged and kissed despite
losing at home to Cal. I’m missing why hanging 50 on
Fresno State, Stanford, Washington State and Washington
is more impressive than Kansas hanging 76 on Nebraska
and going to Kansas State, Colorado and Texas A&M and
winning. I'm missing why West Virginia, with a better
running game and better defense, but not as good a
passing game, is out after losing a tough battle against
South Florida on the road in a biggest-game-ever
atmosphere, and without Pat White for a stretch, but
Oregon got a free pass for its loss.
Why is Oregon getting the love? Exposure. For the first
time in years, a non-USC team from the Pac 10 has the
spotlight on it, and it's coming through big-time.
Everyone wanted to see what Michigan was going to do
after the loss to Appalachian State. Oregon 39, Michigan
7. Everyone wanted to see Cal at Autzen. It was a Duck
loss, but by inches on a late fumble. Everyone was
watching when USC lost in Autzen, and the national
spotlight was on when Arizona State came to town last
week. And you've watched Kansas and Missouri play how
many times? Do you even know what channel Fox Sports Net
is on your system?
Again, I'm not criticizing Oregon. I'm pointing out that
it's time to start looking at other teams as well, and
I'm trying to come around and jump on the Duck bandwagon
so I don't look like a total idiot late on January 7th
when Dixon is holding a crystal egg-looking thing over
You know, the team with
the guy who proposed to the cheerleader
Ever since the
early part of September, Hawaii has stood alone as that non-BCS program
hoping to crash the annual 10-team bowl parade of big hype and even
bigger payouts. Are the Warriors, however, about to get company from a
familiar face in this discussion? Ever so quietly, Boise State, last
year’s Cinderella on steroids, has climbed back into the picture with
seven consecutive wins since losing to Washington back on Sept. 8. The
Broncos are using a familiar formula for success, a balanced offense,
great blocking up front, and an underrated and undersized defense. Now,
with three games left, they’ve pulled all the way up to No. 20 spot in
the latest BCS rankings, or just four spots behind Hawaii and eight
spots removed from an automatic invitation to one of the five marquee
games. Both schools have the same problem, a lack of a quality win, so
they’re looking at each other for help. The Warriors need the Broncos
to keep winning. The Broncos need the Warriors to remain unbeaten. The
two meet on Nov. 23 with a chance to catapult up the charts at the
other’s expense. Can a one-loss team from the WAC earn a bid to a BCS
bowl game? If it’s Boise State, it just might because this is not your
garden variety mid-major. In the eyes of voters, the program earned the
benefit of the doubt by beating Oklahoma in last year’s Fiesta Bowl, one
of the great games in the history of the sport.
QB Taylor Tharp has gotten hot. RB Ian Johnson is getting healthy. And
Bronco fans are starting believe that they could be packing up and
heading south again after the holidays. It could happen. In this most
bizarre season, just about anything could and probably will happen.
The Sunday night star who'll soon by playing on Sunday
4. Due in large part to Conference USA’s decision to play any
night of the week, Sunday night you got the opportunity to watch the
most dynamic RB/WR duo in the nation. Wait, what? CUSA has the what?
Yes, that’s not a misprint – the “Quick Six and DA Show” has been making
appearances all over the nation and no team has slowed them down yet.
Quick Six is University of
Houston running back Anthony Alridge, who has rushed for 1,063 yards,
has 31 catches for 343 yards and accounted for 13 TDs on the season. DA
is wide receiver Donnie Avery, who has 56 catches for 981 yards (17.5
YPC) and five touchdowns.
Both have legit 4.3 speed
(rumored to be even faster) and can turn a three and a half hour game
into a track meet. The two were the first duo in history to have 300
yards receiving (Avery) and 200 yards rushing (Alridge) in the same game
(against Rice). But, they’re just CUSA guys, you say? How about the
fact that Alridge accounted for 344 total yards against the number three
team in the country Oregon? How about DA’s 26 yards per catch and a
touchdown against Alabama in Tuscaloosa?
Don’t believe me? Just ask Nick
Saban. He had this to say about #22 Alridge…
“I don’t care who 22 plays for; the
guy’s a good player. Probably as good as any we’ve seen this year.”
You’ll find it out, too.
The term is: Lack of forward progress
5. The play that decided the
LSU-Alabama classic was ruled correctly on the field...
...or was it?
There are two calls consistently made by officiating crews that I
(still) fail to understand in my 32nd year of life and the eighth
year of the 21st century. One is when a quarterback gets hit, the
ball squirts backward, and a forward pass is ruled because the QB's
arm was moving forward at the time of the throw. If the ball travels
backwards, how can a forward pass be ruled? Even with arm action,
the backward flight of the ball means that a lateral has been
thrown, albeit unintentionally. Someone please explain the logic
behind that rule. Can't officials override the "arm moving foward"
provision with a simple identification of a ball's backward flight?
The second call is what we saw on John Parker Wilson's (cough,
cough) "fumble" against LSU. Technically, Wilson's knees weren't
down, which led everyone to conclude that the fumble was legit. As
soon as I saw the replay, I knew the ruling would stand.
Here's the problem with that kind of play, however: simply
stated, Wilson was being thrown backwards (see, it all comes back to
backward movement in these two cases; one instance involves a
backward-flying ball, the other a backward-flying body). This means
that the quarterback's forward progress had been stopped. Such a
contention is airtight and beyond debate.
Whenever this play occurs, I have rarely if ever seen officials rule
that forward progress has been stopped. Sure, the lack of a whistle
might mean that the play is still live--which means that a fumble
ruling can be legally made by the officials--but upon further
review, one should be able to make a reasonable determination that
forward progress has been stopped.
The state of Alabama knows that I'm not exactly the leader of the
Nick Saban Fan Club, but fair is fair: the Crimson Tide deserved a
better, wiser, and more clear-headed ruling on a play that
is regularly misinterpreted by officials. The "forward progress"
provision is by far the least cited element of the entire college
football rulebook. No dimension of the sport's rules has more of an
impact on plays while being simultaneously ignored on so many
crucial occasions. If you watch 14 hours of football every Saturday,
you'd know how little the "forward progress" provision really means
when it comes to interpreting "fumble/dead ball" judgment calls.
Alabama fans discovered this reality in a painful way; better
judgment from officials would have sent Saturday's game into