NCAA

Luck brings Montana-like assurance to his team

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Luck brings Montana-like assurance to his team

Is this the week? Is this the time that all of those withHeisman Trophy votes can put their Andrew Luck selection in ink?

Maybe. Maybe not.

I suppose it depends on yourcriteria, and yes, this is a big stage for Stanford and their quarterback. But I think the very best thing about Luck isthat hes only spectacular when he has to be.And, he hasnt had to be.

True enough, it depends on yourdefinition of spectacular. If itsbloated statistics then Luck would fall into the maybe category. If its how well you play the position andwhat impact do you have on your team its a no-brainer.

The Cardinal play at USC thisSaturday. Not an easy place to play fora visiting team. But one of the things Ireally like about this Stanford team is that they dont seem to care about thevenue. And it starts with thequarterback.

I remember talking to severalmembers of the San Francisco 49ers during the Bill Walsh hey-day and to thenumber they said, When you get in the huddle with Joe Montana you simply knowyoure going to win. Time remaining,score, down and distance, none of that matters. You just know youre going to win. Andrew Luck brings that same kind of assurance to his team.

Stanford will win the game onSaturday. And theyll likely do it inthe same way theyve disassembled everyone else theyve played this year. The first quarter will be close. In the second quarter the difference willbegin to show. In the third quarter theopponent is on the ropes and reeling, and in the final 15 minutes whats leftis a gelatinous mass. The Cardinal beatyou up. They pound on you with anendless array of big bodies, and they take no prisoners. There are no technical knockouts in collegefootball.

Its for that reason that AndrewLuck has not put up numbers that dazzle would be Heisman voters who are quickto judge a players ability on how many touchdown passes he can throw againstPanhandle A&M. The single mostimpressive thing to me about Luck is that he does all he does within thesystem.

With Luck its about nuance --like the difference between a good wine and a great wine. Pocket presence, when to run and when to holdit, check downs, when touch is required and when you really need to spin it,getting in and out of the huddle, knowing where everyone is. And when he really needs to make a play hemakes it.

Enjoy Andrew Luck while youcan. Hes probably not going to be inthe Bay Area after this year. And enjoyhis team. The Cardinal are not perfect. The Shayne Skov loss is a big one, and theywill on occasion give up the big play. USC is capable of the big play.The difference in this game is that they will need a lot of them.

Oregon could be another story but for this week there will still be a national championship to dream of.

Louisville has 'effectively fired' head coach Rick Pitino

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AP

Louisville has 'effectively fired' head coach Rick Pitino

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville has placed coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich on administrative leave amid a federal bribery investigation.

Jurich is on paid leave, while Pitino is on unpaid leave. The coach’s attorney, Steve Spence, told the Courier-Journal Wednesday that Louisville has “effectively fired” Pitino.

Pitino’s exit comes after the school acknowledged on Tuesday that the men’s program is part of a federal investigation into alleged bribery of recruits. The 65-year-old coach was not named in the indictment that resulted in the arrest of 10 people including four assistant coaches at other schools and an Adidas executive.

It is the latest black eye for the Cardinals program. Pitino and Louisville are in the middle of appealing NCAA sanctions following an embarrassing sex scandal.

Jurich has supported Pitino through his transgressions during the athletic director’s nearly 20-year tenure at the university.

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

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AP

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

BOX SCORE

BERKELEY -- Stephen Carr ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown two plays after Southern California's defense forced one of its six turnovers and the fifth-ranked Trojans won their 13th straight game, 30-20 over California on Saturday.

USC (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) has dominated the series with its in-state rival by winning 14 straight against the Golden Bears (3-1, 0-1), but this was one of the tightest matchups in years as the game was tied early in the fourth quarter.

Sam Darnold threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans but also had an interception and was under pressure for much of the day.

It was the defense that stepped up for USC, intercepting a pass from Ross Bowers in the first quarter to set up a field goal and then delivering the big play early in the fourth quarter after Chase McGrath gave the Trojans a 16-13 lead with his third field goal of the game.

Josh Fatu knocked the ball out of Bowers' hand and Uchenna Nwosu recovered the fumble at the 3. Carr ran it in two plays later from the 2 to make it 23-13.

Ykili Ross then intercepted Bowers' pass on the next possession, setting up Darnold's 4-yard TD pass to Deontay Burnett that put away the game.

Bowers finished 22 for 50 for 303 yards with one touchdown, four interceptions and two lost fumbles.

THE TAKEAWAY

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: The Trojans struggled for much of the game without starting RB Ronald Jones (ankle) and WR Steven Mitchell (groin) but managed to pull away late in their first road game of the season.

CALIFORNIA: The Bears used an improved defense to start 3-0 under first-year coach Justin Wilcox but this was supposed to be the test of how far they had come. Cal showed plenty by sticking with a national title contender for three quarters. A sequence on the opening drive of the second will haunt the Bears. Patrick Laird dropped a potential TD in the end zone and Matt Anderson then missed a 29-yard field goal that kept the game tied at 13.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

A win against an unranked team should do little to alter USC's poll position.

UP NEXT

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 18 Washington State on Friday.

CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 24 Oregon on Saturday.