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Everybody can have an off week

Chris Dufresne ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

September 07, 2008|Chris Dufresne

USC and UCLA had the weekend off, but it was all work and no play Saturday for the schools the Trojans and Bruins play next.

In Columbus, Ohio State got the Freddy Krueger treatment from The Ohio University of Athens before pulling out a 26-14 win that set off Dom Perignon corks at ABC headquarters, which very much did not want to televise next week a game featuring No. 1 USC versus a 1-1 team coming off a tough loss to a team nicknamed the Bobcats.

What should USC make of all this?

Keep reading.

In Seattle, Brigham Young, with no margin for error in trying to become this year's BCS buster, pulled out a 28-27 win over Washington that ended with a crash, boom, bam and another controversial call from a Pacific 10 Conference officiating crew.

Did the refs blow it again? Should there be an inquisition?

Should we "cc" a copy of the report to Oklahoma?

What should UCLA make of all this?

Keep reading.

In Columbus, the game Ohio State played without Beanie (Wells) almost turned into "Beany and Cecil."

Well, no wonder, you say, Ohio had Bo Jackson at quarterback.

Actually, it was Boo Jackson, a transfer from El Camino College in Torrance, who nearly led an upset that would have gone down like castor oil in Columbus.

Ohio State has not lost to a team from the state of Ohio since a 7-6 loss to Oberlin in 1921 -- and still (whew) hasn't.

Ohio had a 7-6 halftime lead in Saturday's game and held a 14-12 lead entering the fourth quarter, when the Buckeyes were apparently informed by public address that the game had started.

Ohio State didn't take the lead, at 19-14, until 14 minutes remained and then added a 69-yard punt return for a touchdown that put some finishing gloss on something that looked gross.

What should USC make of all this?

Not much, really.

Really?

Ohio State obviously had a serious case of the "look-aheads."

It's tough to ask a roster of young men to take seriously, with the USC game so close at hand, an Ohio team coming off a loss to Wyoming.

Will the Buckeyes play like this next week?

If they do, why bother fighting Coliseum traffic?

Look, if Ohio State brings its "B for Bobcat " game to L.A. next week, USC will win its second straight game by the score of 52-7.

But that's not likely to happen.

Ohio State simply got caught flat-cleated. It played without star tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells, who injured his right foot in the Youngstown State opener.

It thought it could beat Ohio without showing USC too much of the playbook, and almost paid a heavy price.

You see it all the time in college football, a superior team losing focus against a school it's supposed to stomp.

It happened to USC last year against Stanford. By the end of the year, though, wasn't USC playing as well as any team in the country?

Don't give up on your team yet, Buckeyes fans.

We'll tell you when to give up.

"We've got a lot of work to do," Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel said. "The good news is we're 2-0, it's September, and hopefully we can get a lot better."

In Seattle, BYU got the kind of luck you sometimes need in a miracle season. And Washington (0-2) remains luckless.

The scene: Washington quarterback Jake Locker, after scoring a late touchdown to get the Huskies to within an extra point to tie the score, was penalized for tossing the ball into the air.

That pushed the extra point back 15 yards, Jan Jorgensen blocked Ryan Perkins' 35-yard attempt, and BYU left Puget Sound at a not-so-sound 2-0.

Should the unsportsmanlike penalty have been called?

Analysts at various cable outlets screamed themselves hoarse saying there should have been no call.

Yet, Section C of Rule 9, Section 2, Article 1 of the rule book states "throwing the ball high in the air" is unsportsmanlike conduct.

Officials this year have been told to put special emphasis on excessive celebration.

Larry Farina, the referee for Washington-BYU, issued a statement after the game that read in part, " . . . It is a celebration rule that we are required to call. It is not a judgment call."

Not shockingly, BYU Coach Bronco Mendenall agreed.

"Even if it was on our team it should have been called," he said. "The rules are the rules."

More shocking was the fact Washington did not cry foul.

"I was kind of disappointed in myself for doing that," Locker told the Seattle Times afterward.

Coach Ty Willingham added: "It's unfortunate, but it's one that they almost had to call."

My two cents: It may have been the right call, but it's a stupid rule, and it should be changed.

Players should be allowed a brief period of exhilaration that includes tossing the ball into the air.

Locker did not chuck the ball into the stands or at a player.

Officials make judgment calls on every play. They should be allowed, whenever possible, the discretion to allow players to decide the outcome of games.

What should UCLA make of all this?

Well, the Bruins need to take next week's trip more seriously than last year's rough landing in Salt Lake City that ended with a 44-6 loss to Utah that derailed what was supposed to be a UCLA dream season.

UCLA should also this week practice the all-important play where, after a player scores a touchdown, he hands the ball respectfully to the official and tells him, "Have a nice day."

--

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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