December 31, 2011 |
Nick Toon knew what he was getting into when he signed on with Wisconsin. The senior receiver, the son of former Badgers and NFL receiver Al Toon , recognized he would play for a run-first program. "That's something you kind of have to have in the back of your head when you get involved with Wisconsin," Nick Toon said. Still, Toon caught 54 passes and scored four touchdowns as a sophomore two years ago. Last season, a toe injury sidelined the 6-foot-3 Toon for three games, his production dropping to 36 catches and three touchdowns.
December 3, 2011 |
As parting gifts go, perhaps the only thing UCLA players could have done better was pull off one of the biggest upsets in college football history. Or make it a bit closer at the end. That did not happen Friday night at Autzen Stadium, but the Bruins sent fired Coach Rick Neuheisel off with an effort worth remembering in the inaugural Pac-12 Conference title game. The Bruins, 31-point underdogs, hung with No. 9 Oregon through part of the third quarter before losing, 49-31.
December 1, 2011 |
If there is a contemporary poster player for UCLA's "Gutty Little Bruins" reputation from long ago, it is senior linebacker Sean Westgate. Westgate arrived at UCLA as a 5-foot-11, 205-pound linebacker and helped launch Rick Neuheisel's tenure as the Bruins coach by scooping up a blocked punt and running 13 yards for a touchdown in a first-game upset over Tennessee. Now, with UCLA a heavy underdog to Oregon on Friday night in the inaugural Pac-12 Conference championship game at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore., he will try to prevent the Neuheisel Era from ending with a whimper.
November 18, 2011 |
Matt Barkley was 12 years old on that blustery fall day in Eugene, Ore., when Carson Palmer effectively won the Heisman Trophy. Here's hoping somebody showed Barkley the film this week. It was 2002 and the college football world wasn't quite sure about USC. Or about Palmer. The Trojans entered the game ranked 15th, Oregon 14th. The game was played in Autzen Stadium, where then, as now, great visiting players go to become ordinary. Just before that season, the stadium's capacity had been increased from 41,698 to 54,000.
November 17, 2011 |
Reporting from Eugene, Ore. — Just to be clear, Michael Clay does not want to sound like a complainer. The linebacker understood when he signed with Oregon he was joining a program known for its rapid-fire offense. For outracing opponents, not stopping them cold. Defense is something of an afterthought. "Can't deny that," Clay said. "We kind of fly under the radar. " But this fall, with the fourth-ranked Ducks sneaking back into the national championship hunt, scoring almost seven touchdowns a game, Clay and his defensive teammates are starting to get noticed.
November 15, 2011 |
Matt Barkley has proved adept at making adjustments this season. USC's junior quarterback was at it again Tuesday, though the pocket in which he displayed poise was created by reporters and camera operators, not offensive linemen. Barkley had said last week that while Oregon was very good, he believed that Ducks teams he played against in the past were better. That caused Trojans Coach Lane Kiffin to run interference Sunday, saying Barkley would have "a very different opinion" after watching film of the Ducks, who are No. 4 in the Bowl Championship Series standings.