I’m a big believer that we should celebrate the little victories in life. Positive school report cards for the kids, for example. Or a small promotion at work. Or when you wake up late, scramble out the door, and find no traffic on a weekday morning.
So give Dan Lanning his moment today, will ya?
Oregon beat Eastern Washington 70-14 on Saturday. It marked the first career victory for the Ducks’ first-year, first-time head coach. I hope Lanning went home on Saturday night and dogpiled his three boys in the middle of his living room carpet.
It was an uplifting scene at Autzen Stadium. On a college-football Saturday that gave us Appalachian State’s upset of No. 6-ranked Texas A&M and Marshall over No. 8 Notre Dame, the Ducks did exactly what they should have done to an inferior, Big Sky Conference, opponent.
On Saturday, Oregon’s effort netted:
39 first downs.
604 yards of offense.
I don’t think we should lower Oregon’s standards today and throw a parade. But let’s give Lanning a small, symbolic victory lap. Because life’s little moments are worth celebrating and the Ducks’ coach now trails Mike Bellotti by only 115 wins for most all-time football-coaching victories at UO.
Give Oregon quarterback Bo Nix a fist bump, too. He completed 28 of 33 pass attempts and threw five touchdown passes. All that, amid a week spent calling for his head. Nix still has work to do, sure. There’s a much tougher test coming next Saturday when BYU comes to Eugene, but the transfer quarterback dominated Eastern Washington in a way that a guy with 20-something SEC starts ought to do.
A few other things for your Sunday…
• Photographer Serena Morones captured Oregon’s 70-point outburst with a photo gallery that is worth your time. I don’t know which photo you’ll like the best, but Morones is gifted.
• I was in Fresno to see Oregon State’s thrilling walk-off win over Fresno State on Saturday night. I filed a column from the stadium. I don’t think anyone was shocked to see Beavers’ coach Jonathan Smith call the field-goal unit back and send Jack Colletto onto the field to try to win the game.
Still, the guy is stone-cold, isn’t he?
• The Beavers host Montana State next Saturday at Providence Park. Oregon State regularly played in Portland in the 1960s and 1970s, but OSU’s last game in the Rose City was a 49-0 defeat at Civic Stadium to UCLA in 1986.
• Fresno State fans left the stadium upset about an erratic kicking performance. They were also frustrated with a couple of late decisions by coach Jeff Tedford. But those things happen and the Bulldogs’ opportunistic opponent deserves credit.
• Washington State’s upset win over Wisconsin provided the Pac-12 and coach Jake Dickert with a nice moment on Saturday. The Cougars were a 17.5-point road underdog and won the game outright, 17-14.
• Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium is a ridiculously tough place to play. Think: 80,000 people screaming for your spleen while you’re trying to do your job. WSU transfer quarterback Cameron Ward played last season, for example, at University of the Incarnate Word. Home-stadium capacity: 6,000. Ward and his teammates handled the noise, just fine.
• The 247Sports Talent Composite uses an algorithm to measure team talent. Wisconsin entered this season as the No. 25 most-talented team in the country. The Badgers have 15 players on the roster who were rated as either four-star or five-star recruits. By the same measure, Washington State is the No. 72 most-talented team in the country. WSU had no four-star or five-star players in uniform on Saturday. But what the Cougars did have were 69 three-star recruits, seven two-star players, better focus, more grit, and a superior game plan.
Stars aren’t everything.
• Washington (2-0) sure looks lethal under coach Kalen DeBoer, doesn’t it? Especially on the offensive side of the ball, where UW is showing some explosion. The Huskies blasted Portland State, 52-6 on Saturday. Vikings coach Bruce Barnum spent part of his post-game talking about how there are two tiers to the upper-level of college football.
“Washington is in the top tier,” Barnum said. “They have a system going on offense and how (quarterback Michael) Penix sits back there, he is accurate and has a big arm, and their O-line is an impressive group.”
• The Huskies don’t have Utah or USC on the regular-season schedule. Fortunate for them? Or for the Utes and Trojans? We’ll find out next Saturday when the Huskies face ranked Michigan State in Seattle.
• I thought Stanford would play USC much closer than the final score on Saturday. The Trojans aced their first conference test in a 41-28 win. Couldn’t help but notice that former Oregon running back Travis Dye was USC’s leading rusher with 105 yards on 14 carries.
• Los Angeles Times’ columnist Bill Plaschke wrote a terrific column off the game, wondering if USC might not just be back — but also be back to being the best team in America.
• Nebraska fired football coach Scott Frost on Sunday morning. His buyout was set to drop from $15 million to $7.5 million on October 1, but Nebraska apparently decided it couldn’t wait a few weeks longer. Frost was 16-31 at Nebraska.
Suddenly, Mike Riley’s 19-19 record in Lincoln doesn’t look so bad.
• Colorado got blasted 41-10 by Air Force on Saturday. Someone needs to do a heat-check on coach Karl Dorrell’s seat this week. He’s 4-12 in his last 16 games. Colorado’s next two games are at Minnesota and home vs. UCLA.
• The Pac-12’s Arizona schools got beat on Saturday by a combined score of 73-34. It was disappointing to see Arizona fade in the fourth quarter at home against Mississippi State in a 39-17 loss. Meanwhile, ASU just looked overmatched in a 34-17 loss to Oklahoma State.
Have a great Sunday everyone… I appreciate that you’re here.
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"Stone cold". "Brass balls". "Steely determination" Whichever euphemism you want to use, fits. This is why I love Coach Smith, a new and improved version of Dennis Erickson. Aggressive and fearless to the end. I love the way he played Tedford with the timeouts and play changes. I am sure his players do, too.
Loving your articles, reading everyone,,, sometimes twice!