Schooling Schooler: USC Forfeits Reflect Poorly on the MCLA
Colorado State is the No. 2 team in the country and has hurdled every obstacle all season. For some reason, Nick believes that BYU will be the team to take down the Rams on Saturday.
Nick has a bee in his bonnet, so he'll kick things off today.
SCHOOLER: Instead of complaining about how I lost my lead this week, I will join Jac in a rant about how pathetic USC is. Two forfeits against divisional opponents?! (That's me yelling.) That has to be the most pathetic thing I have ever heard of. And to top it off, the reason for forfeiting was because half of the team went to "Coachella," a large music festival in California.
Thankfully, my day was not ruined. I hung out in Isla Vista with all the bikini-clad women in the perfect board-short weather. The beer was flowing and I was happy. However, when I got to the field, only half-smiles could be found. Parents had traveled from all corners of the country to support the seniors in their last home game. There was still a celebration and catered BBQ, but what they really wanted to do was play their last game at The Pit.
Not only has USC embarrassed the MCLA and SLC, they ruined what would have been a memorable experience for the Gaucho seniors. Maybe a little more than two hours notice before forfeiting? The Trojans had to have known sooner.
I feel bad for USC's coach, Brett Tietjen. How do you work with players like that? The MCLA is a serious organization. If USC does not take all games seriously, it does not deserve to be part of the league. I hope the MCLA and SLC appropriately punish the Trojans and we never see anything like this again. Deliberately forfeiting against the top two teams in your division is uncalled for.
Shame on you USC.
COYNE: If growing up in Berkeley teaches you one thing, it's how to write a rant dripping with indignation. Sadly, Nick is absolutely correct.
Initially I assumed the game was forfeited because of somewhat understandable reasons – injuries, academic conflicts, etc. They aren't great excuses, because typically they speak to a lack of depth, but sometimes they are a reality in the MCLA. However, if Nick's information about the forfeiture is correct, and it was due to nothing more than the players opting to attend a concert, this raises more troubling issues than a ruined Senior Day or a non-eventful tailgate.
It makes the MCLA look unserious, and that is a label that a non-varsity league cannot afford to wear. It resurrects ugly stereotypes that a lot of people in a lot of different parts of the country have worked hard to put to bed.
On that note, I'm clinging to a one-game lead -- 33-22 to 32-23 -- although Nick and I disagree on four contests this week.
Onto the games...
No. 8 Colorado (8-4) at No. 7 Boston College (9-2) – 7 p.m., Friday
COYNE: This is a great late-season, interconference duel, and the Buffaloes should be lauded for making this trip. It is these types of sojourns that legitimize the league as a whole, so kudos to Mike Ryder and CU for bringing their show to Beantown. They might even pick up a recruit or two with a good showing.
Will they? It's an extremely tough question. I've gone back and forth about this, and there is a laundry list of pros and cons for both teams. I'm going to play a hunch and take the Buffs in what constitutes an upset. Both teams are headed to Denver, and could potentially see each other in the first two rounds, but I see CU racing out to a quick start and coasting home for an 11-7 victory.
SCHOOLER: Boston College has a great defense and a very balanced offense. They are going to need that defense to be solid against James Blackburn and the Buffalo offense. As long as the Eagles can hold Blackburn to fewer than three points, I can see Boston College winning this game and moving up in the national rankings. BC wins, 10-8.
No. 2 Colorado State (10-1) at No. 5 BYU (13-2) – 7 p.m. MDT, Saturday
COYNE: Brigham Young gets Colorado State on its own field on the back-end of a double down, which is usually a red flag, even for a team as strong as Colorado State. The Cougars also have the motivation of needing this win to get back into the driver's seat for a semifinal seed in Denver. Everything is there to call the upset.
Alas, the Rams will win. The reasons are three-fold. First, Colorado State has excellent depth, especially in the midfield, which will help with any potential fatigue issues. Second, while he struggled against Colorado, the Rams still have the better faceoff man, allowing them to dictate tempo if necessary. Third, Utah doesn't have the horses to make CSU sweat on Friday night. The Rams sweep the weekend, including a 13-9 win over BYU on Saturday.
SCHOOLER: Colorado State can be defeated and this is the weekend that it will happen. Ted Ferrin is an animal. The Rams will attempt to slow down the Cougar offense by controlling possession time, but the Cougs are just as disciplined as Colorado State. BYU suffered its only losses in the state of Michigan. That place has been a sort of graveyard for MCLA teams this season, so I do not think too much about those games. BYU takes this game, 6-5.
No. 13 UC Santa Barbara (9-4) at No. 4 Chapman (10-3) – 7 p.m. PDT, Saturday
COYNE: This game wasn't going to make the list, but Schooler actually requested it for the sole purpose of picking UCSB. When it comes to the Gauchos, our boy Nick is like a moth to the flame, even though we're in a tight competition with very few weeks left. I guess he's starting to warm up to Sarah Palin after her speech in Wisconsin.
Is UCSB a good team? Yes. Will the Gauchos make the national tournament? Probably. Will they win this game? Absolutely not. They haven't played a meaningful game in a month, and they haven't played a game at all in two weeks after USC bailed on them. Chapman doesn't have the tools like it did in past seasons, but dispatching UCSB will not be a problem. Panthers, 12-8.
SCHOOLER: In the glory days, the Gauchos owned this rivalry. It wasn't even much of a rivalry because UCSB dominated so many times. I remember a game where the lone goal scored by Chapman was tossed in by one of the Gaucho defenders.
Unfortunately, those days are long gone, and UCSB has been a lost team since its embarrassing defeat at the hands of Michigan a month ago. The Gauchos rebounded by crushing UCLA a few weeks ago, but UCLA is a bush-league team.
There is potential. I have seen glimpses of it all season, so if there is any time to rebound, it is now. I'm hoping that the Gauchos are fired up and ready to play after having USC ruin their Senior Day last weekend. Gauchos take this game in a nailbiter, 13-12.
Buffalo (8-3) at Boston University (4-2) – 8:30 p.m., Friday
COYNE: The Bulls provided me my one-game margin this week thanks to their victory over Rhode Island (which, oddly enough, was Schooler's selection last week), so I'm going to choose one of their games again this week. I really liked the way Buffalo used balanced scoring – at least five different players scored in each of last weekend's three wins, including eight against URI – to win crucial conference games.
BU is the only thing standing between the Bulls and the No. 2 seed in the PCLL tournament. Both the Terriers and Bulls lost by a goal against Boston College, so whichever team can grab the easiest route to that rematch will be in the best shape. This game looks like a toss-up, so I'll take the team that doesn't have a seven-hour drive and is playing at home. BU, 11-10.
SCHOOLER: The PCLL has easily been the most exciting conference to follow this season. There are a bunch of teams in contention for the AQ, and they could send two teams for the first time since Northeastern and Boston College went in 2007. These teams are very evenly matched and since I went against Buffalo last week, I will try my luck again. The ferocious Terriers take this in a one goal game.
No. 24 California (6-6) at No. 25 Stanford (8-2) – 2 p.m. PDT, Saturday
SCHOOLER: A game close to my heart. I grew up with this rivalry. The football games were especially exciting for me because the Big Game, as it is called, always brought me $25 for selling the parking spot in our driveway. If I could put all of that money down on this game, I would. Bears take this one, 13-10.
COYNE: The teams who will compete in the four-team WCLL tournament have been set, and these two are among that group, so it's not a do-or-die game for either team. However, there is plenty at stake. The winner will grab the No. 3 seed, and thus avoids playing Cal Poly – the overwhelming favorite to walk away with the automatic qualifier – in the first round. Granted, the winner gets UC Davis, which is no small task, but the Aggies are more vulnerable than the Mustangs.
These teams are about as close as their rankings, so no easy pick here, but the Cardinal duo of Jack Farr (18g, 20a) and Sammy Romer (25g, 18a) will prove to be too much for the Cal back-line. I like Stanford on the Farm, 9-7.