The ROSS REPORT

How refreshing it was to see BYU smash-mouth their way to victory last week against Wyoming. I look forward to BYU bringing it again this week against Air Force.

I have revived my "Blue Notes" column from last season in a different and, hopefully, more interesting format.

The Cougars roll into Colorado to attempt to bring Air Force to ground. No one who has followed these two teams the past three seasons can mistake this matchup as anything else but a rivalry. Two blowouts by the Falcons and one tightly-fought contest have raised our collective blood to a boil.

While Fisher DeBerry and Gary Crowton may wax diplomatic in talking up their players, don't be deceived by the above-the-surface friendly demeanor. This hatchet is far from buried.

Tomorrow's matchup will be interesting in that Air Force is a young team with what appears to be a fledgling option star at quarterback. Meanwhile, BYU is a mixed bag of talented veterans and youth still looking for their consistent "A" game.

What to expect? How about more of Curtis Brown and Naufahu Tahi? The offensive line is starting to click. We saw glimpses of this during the Boise State game. The CSU game also gave the offensive line a chance to develop confidence with Jeff Grimes' continuing guidance.

The Wyoming contest confirmed that BYU has a genuine run game. How about an accurate John Beck? To be honest, Beck's throws last week weren't that far off target. To me, it looks more like a development issue. You know the story. Two steps forward, one step back.

The Air Force pass defense on the surface looks strong, but a reality check reveals 101.2, 117.6 and 169.1. These are their yards-per-game average passing statistics against Navy, New Mexico and UNLV. Ironically Div I-AA team Eastern Washington bested California and Utah in throwing for 293 yards against Air Force.

How about the Falcons' special teams malfunctions? Air Force's punting team stunk it up against the 3-3-5 last year. Do you think two weeks is enough time to prepare for it again? I don't think so. Look for Mendenhall to prepare his defenses to take away the corners forcing Falcon quarterback Carney inward.

BYU will balance another 400-plus yardage game between the backfield and downfield.

BYU 34, Air Force 17 in a competitive match.

OTHER ROSS PICKS:

San Diego State @ New Mexico:
The Lobos have had an up and down season thus far. After a tough battle vs. Wazzou, they turned on the defense and stifled Texas Tech. With the Lobo quarterback in question, this team is all about running back Dontrell Moore and Rocky Long's defense.

SDSU has to wonder what it takes to win a game in this league. They boast a strong defense as well as speed and talent at the skill positions on offense. The problem is no offensive production. Sound familiar? Will the Aztecs solve the puzzle this week in Albuquerque? Sorry, not this week. Lobos in another nail biter: UNM 24, SDSU 19

CSU @ Wyoming:
This year's border war is extremely important. This is a make or break game for Colorado State if they are going to beat the odds and become bowl eligible. Wyoming needs two more W's to secure a bowl spot, and this game looks to favor the Cowboys. CSU lost their veteran quarterback for the season – and are now BYU'ing it for the toughest part of their schedule. Warning to Cowboys: Caleb Haney may be a true freshman at quarterback, but he also is very efficient. He threw for 29 touchdowns and only three picks in his senior year in high school. He also filled in well for Holland against the Aztecs, throwing 12-19-115. He capped his performance going 5-5 on an 80-yard drive for a touchdown in the first half to put the Rams up by eight points. Warning to Rams: the Cowboy pass defense is better than advertised. Receivers will be open, but the line play is disruptive enough to take younger quarterbacks out of the play. This is not so much a war as a battle. Wyoming 28, CSU 17

UNLV @ Utah:
The Utes are rolling; living up to their status as this year's poster child for BCS buster. They have had fortunate timing in scheduling. Regardless of what you think of their chances, one has to accept they are a good team and are playing excellent football. What is even clearer and most disconcerting for Rebel fans is that Utah plays their best in Salt Lake City. This year they average scoring 45.3 points a game at home vs. 24 on the road. UNLV has struggled to reach 20 points anywhere, and has had to rely on a big play or two or even worse, opponent meltdowns. The Rebel defense may have turned the corner, but Nevada, BYU and UNM are not actually firing up the field on offense. UNLV also has struggled historically against the Utes. Rebel defense will keep Utah under their average, but without an offense, UNLV goes down in flames. UTAH 37, UNLV 19

REST OF THE BEST:

Syracuse at 15 W. Virginia:
If the Mountaineers don't beat you, they will literally beat you. WVU has been flagged a conference-high 60 times for 591 yards. Syracuse is looking tough after keeping it close vs. Florida. WVU has been beating up cupcakes. Bake sale is over this weekend. Syracuse will muscle out a victory in Morgantown.

S. Florida at 15 Louisville:
The Cardinals are flying high on their way to the Big East, while South Florida is still cutting their teeth as a Div IA player. Battling out a last minute loss to Miami is much more impressive than battling out a loss vs. Army. Louisville sluggers bat down the Bulls.

25 Iowa at Penn State:
Iowa can't win on the road, and when they lose on the road they lose badly. Penn State can only win at home, and they do it with defense. Even in their losses, they have kept it close. Nittany Lions rake the Hawkeyes back out of the top 25 this weekend.

Northwestern at 6 Wisconsin:
If this game were at home, I would give the Wildcats a bonafide chance. Sorry, not this week. Erasmus James will not be on the field, but the Badgers defense is for real. Northwestern should be well conditioned, playing no less than three overtime games this season. There will be no bonus round this week for the Wildcats as the Badgers bury Northwestern.

20 Florida at Mississippi State:
Florida coach Ron Zook is still in the hot seat still going into Starkville. The only bells being rung this Saturday, however, will be Mississippi State helmets. Gators death roll deals further demise to the Bulldogs.

14 Virginia at Duke:
The Cavaliers are clicking on offense and, in spite of last week's spanking at the hands of the Seminoles, they are in the saddle vs. the Blue Devils. The only thing clicking at Duke are the backboards at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Virginia dukes up and KO's the Blue Devils. <> Kansas at 2 Oklahoma:
Kansas is enigmatic to say the least. They are no longer a cellar dweller, but they are not up to the task of taking on and beating a solid Sooner squad. Oklahoma plucks the Jayhawks in Norman

Colorado at 17 Texas A&M:
College Station will be rocking this weekend as the Aggies take on the Buffaloes. The Buffs are struggling right now as Gary Barnett plays musical quarterback with Cox and Klatt. Colorado isn't that far away from taking it up a notch. Aggies believe in themselves, but Colorado is 4-1 vs. A&M. This is going to be a tough, bruising game. Barnett settles his offense this week, but not enough to shave the Aggies.

Kentucky at 3 Auburn:
Hanging tough is something Kentucky understands, as that is about all they have been able to do over the past four defeats. It doesn't get any better as the Tigers welcome the Wildcats to Auburn. Auburn sports the more ferocious feline in this cat fight.

Boston College at 24 Notre Dame: The annual clash of Catholic schools is always exciting. Notre Dame seeks to turn the tables on Boston College – who have beaten the Irish in their last three meetings. This game is in South Bend. Notre Dame is playing much better than last year, and the Eagles are coming off a disappointing loss to Pittsburgh. The Fighting Irish will prove themselves the Princes of the Parrish this year in Indiana.

5 Florida State at Wake Forest:
This is going to be tougher than most think. The Demon Deacons can play, and they are very close to being an undefeated team. They sport the 3-3-5 defense that wreaked havoc on the Seminole offense last year. Florida State has a top notch run defense, and Wake Forest has a top notch rushing game. Who wins this one? Florida State in a close one.

22 Oklahoma St at Missouri:
Two seemingly solid teams coming off tough losses make this matchup one of the most intriguing this weekend. Missouri hasn't lost a home game since 2002 and leads the series including four straight in the most recent games. The Cowboys risk having the wheels come off their wagon train if they let the Tigers flash their claws. Mizzou too much for Oklahoma State in a scoring fest.

Alabama at 11 Tennessee:
As happy as the Crimson Tide must feel beating Southern Mississippi, they should be sober-minded going into Knoxville. Tennessee has beaten two out of three ranked teams with a true freshman quarterback. The Volunteers handily turn the tide this Saturday.

UCLA at 21 Arizona State:
Whew, this game should be an exercise in offensive production. Both teams can produce lots of points. The Sun Devils however have seen their production taper off over the last three games – while UCLA has remained stable. Regardless this one will be a battle. Arizona State hasn't beaten the Bruins in five years. This is the year they get that monkey off their back. Sun Devils burn the Bruins. 13 Michigan at 12 Purdue:
One of these teams is a player and the other is a poseur. Which is which? We find out tomorrow. It's Henne and Hart vs. Orton and a platoon of receivers. This game is in West Lafayette and the Boilermakers were a fumble away from sewing up a victory against Wisconsin. Purdue will prove too hot to handle by the Wolverines.

Washington at 1 USC:
One word: OUCH! The Huskies have been hampered by injuries all season. Not that it would have mattered. They are headed to the Coliseum to play the best team in the nation. The Trojans will further injure Washington as they make last week's spanking of Arizona State look like a close one.

UNLV at 9 Utah:
Utah in a clinic.

10 Georgia at Arkansas:
The Bulldogs begin a four game road trip in Fayetteville. Arkansas only has one returning starter on offense and that is their quarterback Matt Jones, who is dealing with a groin injury. It is too bad for the Razorbacks as Georgia bullies themselves back into contention for a top spot in the BCS.

8 Texas at Texas Tech:
New Mexico got it and Oklahoma got it. Texas won't get it. What is it? It is how to shut down the Red Raider offense. Texas Tech has no qualms about turning a game in to a footrace. Neither the Sooners nor the Lobos had the horses to do so, so they focused on cutting off their opponent's feet. Result? Win. Conclusion? The Longhorns are visiting Lubbock and will get caught in a Red Raider buzz saw. Texas Tech takes Texas out of Top Ten.

7 California at Arizona:
If the Wildcats thought that the pain has ended, enter California. The Golden Bears are having the season for their lives with an offense that is hitting on all cylinders. California has been near-perfect if you discount the hiccup in Los Angeles. Arizona should hope they can somehow change the venue as they will only offer their fans another bruising display of mediocrity. Golden Bears tear up the Wildcats.

4 Miami at North Carolina State:
This smells like an upset waiting to happen. Both these teams have the best defenses in the ACC. The difference is N.C. State is better known by conference opponents vs. Miami. This familiarity makes all the difference in how well they play. The Hurricanes dodged another bullet last week against Louisville. Will they be able to put this one away early or will they need another bounce here, bounce there to keep themselves perfect. Hurricane season is still rocking the ACC as Miami squeaks out another win in Raleigh.

Troy at 18 LSU:
Troy is not the team that beat Missouri earlier this season. Quarterback controversy aside, the Tigers are way too loaded to lose this one. Look for a one-sided event as LSU mauls the Trojans.

Fresno State at 19 Boise State:
Boise State hasn't looked good winning any of their games this year except vs. in-state rival Idaho. Dan Hawkins' quote following the Tulsa game says it all: "It was not picture perfect and clean, but it was clean enough to win.'' Well, in spite suffering two tough losses, the Bulldogs of Fresno State will require more than just "good enough to win." Boise State still has the horses to win this game. Broncos in a WAC style shoot out.

ROLL CALL

Urban Meyer, Utah coach - Stock Rising
Meyer now has the task of keeping BCS sugar plums from dancing in his players heads. Maybe he can tell his players to not refer to the BCS as the BCS, but as the CBE or The Championship Back East. Love him or hate him in his third season as a head coach, he is a proven winner.

Fisher DeBerry, Air Force coach – Stock Stable
A freshman quarterback and lots of young players haven't daunted Fisher in going for that conference championship. This man is one of the few old guard coaches left in Div 1. He will hang up his whistle in Colorado.

Gary Crowton, Brigham Young coach - Stock Falling
You win some and you lose some seems to be the next phase in the development of Coach Crowton. He will have to win some more and lose none if he is going to stick around Happy Valley.

Joe Glenn, Wyoming coach – Stock Rising
Glenn is a straight forward, to the point kind of guy that has the Cowboys believing again. You gotta love his candor about the team good or bad. A Montana star is rising in Laramie.

Sonny Lubick, Colorado State coach – Stock Stable
Feel his pain. Sonny has been good for the Rams and has definitely raised the bar. This season has a Crowtonesque feel to it given the injuries and mistakes. Welcome to the world of Gary. Sonny should weather this storm. He has the tools to be good in 2005.

Rocky Long, New Mexico – Stock beginning to dip
This is a key season for Rocky. He has raised expectations in Albuquerque amongst fans and boosters with winning seasons and a bowl game. If the Lobos don't have a winning season this year, the "we need a new coach" clock will start ticking.

John Robinson, UNLV coach – Stock has been bought out
Win, lose or draw, Robinson won't have to reflect on next season. The Rebel administration is in the process of creating a short list to replace him. Tom Craft, SDSU – Stock Falling
Tom is struggling with injuries as well as losing starters. He is currently starting six freshmen on offense. The clock is ticking, Tom. Ironically, coach Tedford is sitting pretty in Berkeley after former head coach Holmoe did the leg work. Timing is everything. If you don't believe that, ask Gary Crowton.

WHISPERS:
The rumor mill is grinding out some beauties this season, but most of them have proven to be nothing but grist for the mill. The latest whisper concerns program-wide replacements to many positions in the BYU athletic department. Only time will tell if there is any bite to this bark.

FANDUMB: Sometimes I think I get an idea of what Bill Cosby or Art Linkletter (if you're old enough to remember) felt like when interviewing children who say the darnedest things. Of course, it doesn't come off as cute when reading various message board comments written by… uh... adults? Regardless, this weeks Fandumb award goes to Wyoming. (Quotes are as is.)

Hirtas' rant is proof that one should never post on a message board when agitated:

Hirta - How can you not doing anything but dislike BYU? Griping on the sidelines after they "get" a phantom offsenive pass interference call against Wyoming... when just a few minutes before that they got an interception off of an pass interference that WASN'T called???

have you EVER seen an offense that holds more than BYU's and NO CALLS!!! >{? Unbelievable.

It is close at half time...GO POKES...own the 2nd have a quiet those obnoxious BYU fans!!

Hmmm … Makes you wonder if English is truly Hirta's first language. The Roll of inebriated cowboy fan will be played by Packerpoke and here is his divine soliloquy:

Packerpoke - The coach of By? will be fired after they lost to Utah Amen to that its Sunday trying to nice here because God is still in WYo.

The irony of all of this is that another one of their own inadvertently brought clarity to the mumbo jumbo above with a quote from an Adam Sandler film in his profile:

"What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

I guess I can't top that. Huh? See ya next week.

Ross Out!

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