11.Jun.2012 Key Games This Fall
I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees.
Asked the Lord above for mercy, "Save me if you please." –Robert Johnson
There's been a lot of "gallow's humor" surrounding Riley's Bad News Beavs. Even the old guard is getting balky (or is that their knees from having to stand up at games?). With each passing year of bowl ineligibility, a potential buyout becomes that much easier. While next season likely isn't make or break for Joe Paterno, West Coast edition, it could be with another Civil War loss.
These are the games I find most interesting:
Nicholls State: I hear they run an effective spread, and are well aware of Sacramento State's upset. Why the game is interesting: Mark Banker's job is on the line, and the Beavers need redemption after last year's opener that made National news for all the wrong reasons.
Wisconsin: Assuming the Beavs take care of Nicholls State (big assumption), they get a depleted Badger team at home. If they can win the Rodent Bowl Redux, Riley is probably safe no matter what happens the rest of the way. Fans will misinterpret the win as massive improvement. Any time Riley's criticized thereafter, the Pollyannas will boast that Riley beat a Big 10 school, so he must be on the right track. A loss is expected, so it won't hurt Riley et al.
@UCLA: Bold prediction for next year: The Beavs will play in the Rose Bowl! Oh wait…
Mora Jr. is young and cocky, a trend in this league. It'll be interesting to see how ol' Riley stands up against him. The new Pac-12–no country for old men?
@Arizona: Mark Banker's job will be on the line once again. Can he stop two spread offenses? A better question is: why would we think he could?
Washington State: Mike Leach, the guy Beaver fans said would never coach at OSU, now coaches for OSU's doppelganger. Even without his own recruits, I think Leach will win this game and possibly big. Beavs simply have not shown they can stop an efficient short passing game. This is probably the most interesting game on the schedule. Beav fans are going to be left wondering "what if" as they soak in the loss.
@BYU: Again, the coaching discrepancy is what makes this game interesting. Bronco will have his boys fired up and taking what's given. Master game planning and a mobile QB should dissect the Beavs and expose their coaches.
@Oregon: Chip Kelly, who I believe is the best coach in college football, will steamroll Riley and Banker once again. That much is a given. Riley will never beat Chip. This is not news or a bold prediction. What makes this game interesting is the post-game. Will five straight Civil War defeats finally be enough for the old Pollyannas?
Predicted victories: Nicholls State, Utah, Stanford, California. Swing games: UCLA, Washington, Arizona State.
Predictions subject to change following fall camp, but this spring wasn't promising. Keep an eye on Chris Brown; he could be a season changer.