Chris Dufresne: Let’s really assess these score values

By Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times/MCT Posted October 3, 2012

LOS ANGELES You’ve seen the score, but do you really know it?

People waking up Sunday morning to see Oregon had defeated Arizona, 49-0, could have rightfully concluded:
• Oregon’s offense must have gone nuts.
• De’Anthony Thomas took a step closer to winning the Heisman Trophy.
• Arizona is a fraud.
• Oregon’s defense must now be compared with Alabama’s.

Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.

Oregon led the game by only 13-0 at the half. Thomas offered a few thrills with a nifty punt return but finished with 59 combined rushing and receiving yards.

Freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota was not particularly sharp, missing on 15 passes. No Oregon player had more than 100 yards rushing or receiving.

It’s amazing how different similar-looking shutouts can be.

Two weeks ago, Alabama crushed Arkansas’ spirit in a 52-0 win in Fayetteville. The Crimson Tide humiliated and toyed with the Razorbacks.
Conversely, Arizona might have been in the game to the end had it not squandered six trips into the red zone. Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense amassed 332 total yards.

A drive chart recap of Arizona’s first four possessions:
• First and goal at the Oregon 10.
• First and 10 at the Oregon 11.
• First and goal at the Oregon 2.
• First and 10 at the Oregon 19.

All this knocking-on-the-door produced nothing, and Oregon ended up with its first league shutout since 2003.

“When we’re going to try to beat a team like Oregon, you have to finish off those drives,” Arizona Coach Rich Rodriguez said afterward. “We had a lot of opportunities, especially early, and didn’t do it.”

Arkansas’ season was effectively finished after playing Alabama, while you can reasonably argue Arizona is still riding an upward track.

Oregon’s defense pitched a shutout, yes, but this wasn’t anything like an Alabama shutout. The Ducks’ “D” is a gutsy bunch that swarms the ball and turned two Arizona passes into touchdowns.

It really helps to know what a final score means:
Louisiana State over Auburn: 12-10. It looks like a real stinker, but let’s peel back the curtain.

A lot of schools wouldn’t get away with this kind of effort, but LSU is backed by the full faith and credit of the Southeastern Conference. Never mind that Auburn has a losing record and is coming off a near-defeat to Louisiana Monroe. When Sunday’s polls came out, LSU dropped only one spot, to No. 3.

There is no truth to the rumors that some voters actually called Les Miles to apologize for having to move Oregon up to No. 2.

Pollsters could not bring themselves to drop LSU all the way below Florida State, which stayed stuck at No. 4 despite a double-digit win against the nation’s No. 10 team.

USC over California: 27-9. You might see a solid-score answer to last week’s Stanford loss. Guess again: USC’s win hardly moved the national needle. In fact, the Trojans dropped one position, to No. 13, in Sunday’s USA Today coaches’ poll.

We suggest next time playing in LSU uniforms and winning, 12-10.

Florida State over Clemson: 49-37. You see a great win for Florida State.

We see a crushing loss for Clemson. The defeat wrecks the Tigers’ BCS hopes unless you think Florida State is going to lose twice in the ACC Coastal Division, or a major bowl is going to give Clemson another chance after it odorized last year’s Orange Bowl.

Alabama over Florida Atlantic (40-7), Ohio over Norfolk State (44-10), Louisiana Tech over Illinois (52-23).

Three lopsided wins by undefeated teams. OK, so what’s the difference?

Alabama could have won 70-0, 30-10, 42-3 … it didn’t matter.

Ohio and Louisiana Tech could win the rest of their games, 40-7, and not even get a sniff at a BCS at-large bid. Ohio, of the Mid-American, and Louisiana Tech of the Western Athletic have banana-peel traction in trying to become this year’s Cinderella. The highest-ranked “non-AQ” champion in the top 12 would earn an automatic BCS bid.

Louisiana Tech (3-0) received a whopping 28 points in Sunday’s coaches’ poll. Ohio (4-0) trickled home with 13.

Nebraska over Idaho State: 73-7.
This was Nebraska exacting every ounce of hurt in an effort to stay relevant in a Big Ten conference that is leaking credibility.

Rutgers over Arkansas: 35-26.
You see a washed-up team in the SEC West. We see a rising star in the Big East, which gets a free-ride automatic BCS bid no matter how many losses its champion suffers. Watch out now: Rutgers could run the table until the Big East closer against Louisville on Nov. 29. And that game is in Piscataway.

Notre Dame over Michigan: 13-6.
It looks like a Little League baseball score, but here’s the underlying story: Notre Dame never needs to join a conference so long as it keeps winning ugly games like these. The Irish (4-0) sit at No.10 in the AP and drew a 4.0 rating on NBC, the top television number on a crowded and competitive college football Saturday.

Anyone think NBC isn’t going to renew the contract?