LOS ANGELES - Southern California's national championship dreams are dead, and Robert Woods believes it's partly because the Trojans care about one another too much.
Stick with him here: The All-American receiver says pride and team togetherness are why 18th-ranked USC leads the nation in penalties.
When the Trojans (6-2, 4-2 Pac-12) spend too much time sticking up for their teammates with late hits, taunts and other shenanigans, those emotions lead to more mistakes between the whistles, and it all adds up to a bumper crop of penalties - a jaw-dropping 82 of them, in fact.
"I feel like this team has too much pride," Woods said. "It's a brotherhood here. Guys are looking out for each other, (but) you need to play within the rules. We've made dumb mistakes. I retaliated and got a penalty, too."
With No. 2 and undefeated Oregon coming to the Coliseum on Saturday, the Trojans have run out of time to fix their mistakes before the start of their toughest stretch of the season. They've still got a sizable shot at the Pac-12 title game, but it's getting smaller with each yellow flag.
USC has been pushed back 677 yards by its penalties. The Trojans' 10.25 penalties per game are significantly more than 119th-place Florida International's 8.56 per game. USC was penalized 13 times for 117 yards in last week's 39-36 loss at Arizona.
• Penn State's special teams have been anything but special this season, and head coach Bill O'Brien isn't too happy about that. The Nittany Lions have struggled everywhere.
They rank in the bottom 10 of the 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision in net punting (31.9-yard average, 117th), punt-return defense (13.6, 111th), and kickoff returns (17.2, 111th). Their field goal kicker, sophomore Sam Ficken, is last in the Big Ten in percentage at .417 with five makes out of 12 tries.
"We've got to play better on special teams than we have in the past, especially last week," O'Brien said Wednesday
• Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges watched backup quarterback Russell Bellomy struggle during Saturday's 23-9 loss at Nebraska. But he insists Bellomy was prepared to step in for the injured Denard Robinson. Bellomy missed on his first 10 passes, threw three interceptions and was 3-for-16 overall for 38 yards.
"We can correct the mistakes, make sure he understands that an incomplete pass isn't a disaster," Borges said. "He's a smart kid, and he digests what you tell him quickly, and as he gains more experience, you'll see a better quarterback."
• No team in the country has sacked more opposing quarterbacks this season than Tulsa, which will be chasing after Arkansas' NFL prospect of a quarterback, Tyler Wilson, on Saturday.
The Golden Hurricane (7-1) lead the nation with 35 sacks this season, averaging a whopping 4.4 per game. All that pressure on the quarterback is one reason why Tulsa will carry a seven-game winning streak into its matchup against the Razorbacks (3-5).