NCAA

Stanford-Oregon promises a shootout

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Stanford-Oregon promises a shootout

So, how good are the Stanford Cardinal? We will probably find out this weekend but a quick glimpse gives me a one-word answer: Very.

Reading one draft gurus early first-round selections Thursday morning showed no less than four members of the Stanford Cardinal projected as first-round picks. Four! Thats more than No. 1 LSU and No. 4 Alabama. And thats really good for any football team.

Looking ahead to Saturdays game against Oregon, what might not be so good is the fact that all four projected first-rounders play on the offensive side of the football. And, going into this game, the Stanford defense is the unit that needs to step up.

Thats what makes Saturdays game so compelling.

RELATED: Stanford's unsung hero

Both Stanford and Oregon can score -- thats a given. So the bottom line in this game comes down to who can stop the other guy from scoring.

Another interesting aspect to Saturday is that this is the game that could put a headlock on the Heisman Trophy for Andrew Luck. If he comes up big, puts up big numbers and keeps the ball out of the hands of the other guys, hes a shoo-in for the sports most coveted trophy.

But, this game doesnt play to that scenario and nobody would share that thought more than the quarterback. If Stanford is going to win this game against Oregon it has to run the football and limit the Ducks' offensive possessions.

I do believe this game is going to be a shootout, but it needs to be a controlled shootout for the Cardinal to win. Meaning, take time off the clock, move the football, have long drives, limit turnovers and get the best of field position. I know that sounds like coach-speak but if it turns into a track meet, the Cardinal lose.

RELATED: Oregon-Stanford -- what you need to know

Honestly, I dont think this version of the Oregon Ducks is quite up to the team that went to the national championship game last year -- at least on the defensive side of the ball. Stanfords offense just wears people out. They pound an opponent until all thats left is some sort of gelatinous glob with a number on it, and by games end the Cardinal can pretty much do what it wants. But, Oregon presents a different sort of problem.

The Ducks are able to set tempo because they simply run more plays than anyone else. They play quick, they score quick, and they knock opponents back on their heels to the point that theyre trying to beat Oregon at the Oregons own game.

So let me get to the bottom line and go quietly off into the sunset to watch what should be a great game.

KILLION: Shaw succeeding in the shadows

Stanford has to have sustained drives. It has to set the tone of how fast the game is played. It must limit what coaches call Explosion plays, and it has been vulnerable to them this season. Defensively, Stanford has to be disciplined and make the right reads or Oregon will eat their lunch.

Id feel a lot better about this game if Shayne Skov hadnt gone down with a season-ending injury, but do I think the Cardinal can win. Yes.

Its the rhinoceros of Stanford against the rabbits of Oregon, and we all know how mean and strong a rhinoceros can be -- if he can find you.

And thats the hard part.
Barry Tompkins is a regular contributor to Chronicle Live and CSNBayArea.com.

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.