Here’s what we know after ESPN sent its first team, Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, all the way across the country to cover the second-rate Pac 12.

Fowler thinks USC plays its fight song A LOT in the fourth quarter, while Herbie clearly gives UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen the nod over Sam Darnold as a ready-made NFL prospect.

It was nice to have ESPN,  which doesn’t gas up many diesel trucks headed West, roll in for a visit. I used to get a kick when local papers would do a four-part series whenever Monday Night Football was coming in for a broadcast.

Friday:  “Where does Don Meredith eat when he comes to town?”

Thank goodness Los Angeles doesn’t fawn like that because we’re a big city that is two-deep again with NFL teams and just advanced a baseball squad to the seventh game of the World Series.

At least this ESPN crew didn’t break out “cupcakes” to illustrate the weak schedules Pac 12 “contenders” often play out here.

Fowler and Herbie prepared well and a gave a pretty good rivalry game their two-half, divided attention.

Many of us locals were just happy to see Darnold vs. Rosen play each other at least once. There seemed a chance, when Rosen got knocked woozy at Washington a few weeks back, that the two stars would move on to the NFL without ever exchanging glances.

Rosen played two years ago, while Darnold was a redshirt, and Darnold played last year while Rosen was out with an injury.

It went as you might imagine. Darnold won the game, but Rosen won the praise. Darnold gutted out “winning” football, while Rosen tossed poetic passes for a program seemingly going nowhere.

Darnold has led his team to one victory from winning the Pac 12, but Rosen passed for 421 yards and three TDs on his way to the next level.

Also make no mistake: The Pac 12 and USC were not going to get the “announcers’” bounce most conferences and teams used to get when Brent Musburger was on the call.

Brent was brilliant at making the game he was doing the most stakes-filled game on Earth. Teams on his watch always got talked up four-to-five spots higher than their actual poll ranking, while no Heisman candidate EVER got left behind.

Fowler and Herbstreit offered no such favors or salutations. They played it honest and straight—something local fans never wants to hear.

Neither was overly impressed with USC’s 28-23 win because it came against the nation’s worst-ranked run defense.

The crew also made clear two-loss USC was, in no way, involved in the playoff discussion even if it ended up in a two-loss discussion with Ohio State, the school Herbstreit attended.

Fowler noted, late in the game, a Nate Silver poll gave USC a 25% chance of making the playoff.

That basically meant “zero” to Herbie and Fowler.

It was irritating, if not accurate.

November Cupcakes

Jacob Godek kicked a 30-yard field goal with 2:50 left on Saturday to spare poor, poor Citadel a 61-0 loss to Clemson.

That should take the cold, hard sting out of defeat, right?

Good for Jacob, though, who had made only 5 of 13 attempts entering the game. Cole Fisher had no such luck, as he missed his only attempt in Mercer’s 56-0 loss at Alabama.

Too bad. Think of the memories, for years to come, a 56-3 loss would have brought Fisher and his family.

All told, Alabama and Clemson won by the combined score of 117-3. The top two teams in last week’s College Football Playoff ranking, however, should not be proud of these outcomes—they should be embarrassed.

College football deserves better than this on the third Saturday in November. Scheduling FCS (formerly 1-AA) schools in the heat of a pennant race is a disservice to the sport, its fans, and competitive balance. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.