In the news:
Like Peyton Manning and Alec Baldwin, he seems to be everywhere.
Todd Graham has opened his Arizona State program up to a regular inside look on Pac-12 Networks. Last week, he consented to an ESPN.com reporter spending three days with the program, including game day with Wisconsin.
He got 50 interview requests this week, and ASU accommodated 19 of them. Oh yeah, and he got a contract extension.
What do you know, he’s in the limelight again this weekend. The Arizona State-Stanford game is the best thing going in college football Saturday, a matchup of teams ranked 23rd (ASU) and fifth in the land.
Graham is quotable, excitable and a little like Pete Carroll of the Seahawks. It’s difficult to envision him sleeping.
“They’re the defending conference champions, the Rose Bowl champions,” Graham said of the Cardinal, a team which ASU has missed the past two years. “They’re a team that really has a lot of things that we talk about that we aspire to be.”
On the other side, Stanford coach David Shaw didn’t exactly hurl bouquets in the direction of Dennis Erickson, whom Graham succeeded at ASU.
“To take that program from where it was two years ago . . .” Shaw said, patting Graham on the back and hitting Erickson with the recoil.
Saturday’s best TV games, chronologically:
Idaho State at Washington (AP No. 17), noon, Pac-12 Networks: I don’t presume to be a sage on the Big Sky, but when’s the last time Idaho State won something? Its last winning football season was 10 years ago. Its last winning men’s basketball season was 11 years ago.
Tennessee at Florida (19), 12:30 p.m., CBS: This was a lot more fun when Steve Spurrier was at Florida and Peyton Manning at Tennessee. Now the Gators (1-1) have an eight-game win streak in the series, despite the fact watching their offense (122nd nationally in the red zone) is like biting down on tin foil.
Michigan State at Notre Dame (22), 12:30 p.m., NBC: Speaking of bad offenses, MSU has beaten an FCS team and two winless, meek majors (South Florida and Western Michigan) and the Spartans (3-0) have still had to punt 20 times. As for the Irish (2-1), one reason they’re breaking off the Michigan series is the one with Michigan State dates back to 1897. Next up for the Domers, in order: Oklahoma, Arizona State and USC.
Utah State at USC, 12:30 p.m, ABC: What does it say about the trajectory of these two programs that the last time they met, in 1989, USC was a 45 ½-point favorite, and this week, it’s favored by 6 ½? The Aggies (2-1) have a dynamic quarterback in Chuckie Keeton (78-percent completions, 12-1 TD-interception ratio, 187 yards rushing) and the No. 13 defense nationally. No matter: A loss by USC (2-1) would not play well in LA.
Colorado State at Alabama (1), 4 p.m., ESPN2: A good example of letting your heart overrule your head. CSU’s head coach, Jim McElwain, was ‘Bama’s offensive coordinator from 2008-11, so the Rams (1-2) are headed to Tuscaloosa with the 93rd-ranked defense in the country, about to play in front of 101,000, which will be the biggest crowd to see them in history.
“If anybody is scared, and I’ll see that in their eyes this week,” McElwain told the Denver Post, “I’ll leave them home.” The CSU travel squad thus numbers 23 (kidding).
Arizona State (23) at Stanford (5), 4 p.m., Fox: There’s a suspicion that Stanford may have revealed about 10 percent of its playbook in sleepy victories over San Jose State and Army. If Shaw wins, he’ll be the first Cardinal coach since George J. Presley (no relation to Elvis) in 1909-11 to post three victories each of his first three years.
Auburn at LSU (6), 4:45 p.m., ESPN: For reasons known only to Colley’s Bias Free Matrix Ratings — one of the BCS computers — Colley’s has Auburn (3-0) No. 1 this week, an opinion LSU (3-0) is likely to dispute. The game features two quarterbacks who have improved; Auburn’s Nick Marshall was erratic against Washington State, but just threw for 339 yards against Mississippi State, and LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, ordinary last year, has a 205.3 efficiency rating to lead the SEC.
Utah at BYU, 7:15 p.m., ESPN2: Both quarterbacks will run; Utah’s (2-1) Travis Wilson burned Oregon State for 142 yards last week and BYU’s (1-1) Taysom Hill has 301 net yards rushing and a 10.8-yard average.
This is the kind of stuff that happens in the Utah-BYU rivalry: Last year, BYU, down 24-21, was toast when a fourth-down pass was batted away as time expired. Fans rush field. But officials put 0:01 back on the clock and BYU tried a 51-yard field goal, which was blocked. Fans rush field again. Utah is penalized 15 yards for the fan interference, officials ruling the ball was still live. Finally, BYU’s 36-yard field goal hits the left upright. Fans rush field a third time, and Utah wins.
Idaho at Washington State, 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks: For now, this has assumed the role of a big brother/little brother fracas. The Cougars (2-1) are favored by 31 ½, more than any other game in the series since Idaho (0-3) stepped up to the FBS level.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or email@example.com
About Bud Withers
Bud Withers gives his take on college sports, with the latest from the Huskies, Cougs, and the rest of the Pac-12.
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