Pac-10 Weekend Preview

UCLA and Stanford have already tasted Pac-10 competition this season. For UCLA, it was like a glass of fine wine. For Stanford, it was like drinking sand. The other teams will look to satisfy their thirst by winning their conference openers. It's now time for the second best conference in the nation to begin to tear itself apart with the survivor heading to the Rose Bowl, or beyond.

 

 

ARIZONA @ CALIFORNIA

September 22, 2007

3 PM PST

Television:  Versus (DirectTV- channel 603)

 

This is one of the most exciting series' in the Pac-10.  The all-time series for these teams is knotted at 12-12-2.  Last year, Arizona pulled off the major upset in beating then #8 Cal, 24-20.  The game was filled with big plays.  Cal's Jackson returned a kickoff for a touchdown.  UA's Cason intercepted a 4th quarter pass and took it to the house for the winning score.  This season, revenge has been the theme for the Bears who already avenged their embarrassing loss to Tennessee in 2006 by thumping the Vols to start their 2007 campaign.  Saturday will be no different as they look to avenge the loss to Arizona late last season.  Longshore, Forsett and Jackson make the Cal offense formidable.  Arizona's usually strong defense has been exposed so far this season and even more surprising, it's been because of the ‘Cats secondary who has already given up five passing TDS in only three games while allowing opposing QBs to throw for an average of 273 YPG.  That's good news for Bears QB Longshore who is looking to improve upon his season total of only 4 TDS through the air.  When Arizona has the ball, their offensive numbers are up from last season but some disturbing trends are starting to take shape that have ‘Cats fans weary.  The ‘Cats are still struggling in the Red Zone.  So far, Arizona is a paltry 58.6 percent in the red zone (7-12) with scoring drives stalled because of two missed field goals, two turnovers on downs, and one fumble.  Against Cal, if the ‘Cats get a chance to score they'll need to do a better job of punching it in for the score JUST to keep things close.  Arizona has only committed four turnovers this season despite taking more risks downfield, but still has yet to score a rushing TD this season.  If the ‘Cats become too one dimensional they can forget about beating Pac-10 opponents.

 

The news isn't all bad for Arizona though.  The ‘Cats under Stoops always seem to play better when their backs are against the wall and after dropping winnable games against BYU and New Mexico, Stoops & Co. have never been pinned under so much pressure to start winning games.  How the coaching staff reacts and leads will be a key on Saturday.  If they unleash the talent they know they have and call for a more aggressive defensive scheme, they have the experienced horses to wreak havoc on Cal.  Offensively, Arizona can surprise Cal but the receivers will need to hold onto the ball and Tuitama will need to make better decisions when it comes to down and distance situations. 

 

The experts expect a blowout.  As long as Arizona doesn't feel sorry for itself for having a poor non-conference record, the ‘Cats cannot only compete with the Bears they can win.  Arizona can match Cal across the board talent wise.  That's not the problem.  The problem is these ‘Cats don't believe they can win.  If they can reverse their mental makeup, then they can reverse what prognosticators think will be the final result.

 

California Memorial Stadium – 72,516

Field Turf 

 

 

WASHINGTON STATE @ USC

September 22, 2007

5 PM PST

Television:  ABC

 

After their modest performance against Idaho, the trendy thing to do was claim the Trojans to be overrated.  After the Nebraska blowout in Lincoln, nobody is foolish enough to make that mistake again.  The Trojans are for real.  Their linebacker corps is tenacious, their defensive line is relentless and their secondary, well, just ask Nebraska QB Keller how fast they are (Keller's only 2 passing TDS occurred after USC's third stringers entered the game late in the fourth quarter).  Wazzu QB Brink is a true talent and is having a great season, statistically.  Don't be surprised if he throws for more than 350 yards but the question will be, is that going to be enough?  WSU is 2-17 all-time at the Coliseum, but those two victories did come in their last four tries in So Cal.  Last season, USC held off the Cougars 28-22.  The outcome remained in doubt until USC freshman FS Mays intercepted a Brink pass on the game's final play.  The Trojans haven't lost a home game since 2001 and don't expect that streak to end on prime time television this weekend.  USC is not the kind of team that lays an egg following a big win.  For head coach Carroll and his players every game is a big game because they view every game as an opportunity.  All Saturday night is to USC is another opportunity to have fun on the football field while stating their case why they are the best team in college football.  Wow!  See what a winning attitude does for a team's confidence. 

 

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – 92,000

Natural Grass 

 

 

OREGON STATE @ ARIZONA STATE

September 22, 2007

7 PM PST

No television scheduled

 

This game has upset written all over it and if Dirk Koetter were still the head man in Tempe, that's exactly what would happen.  Unfortunately, for the Beavers, Erickson is leading the way now and his Sun Devils have taken to his aggressive coaching style by playing aggressive, hard-nosed football on the field.  The Sun Devils lead the Pac-10 in personal fouls and Erickson would have it no other way.  His teams have always played physical and that's something ASU has lacked in recent years.  So far it's earned them a 3-0 start to the season.  The last time OSU took the field, they were humiliated at Cincinnati in front of a nationally televised audience.  The Beavers can use that fuel to feed their fire.  They haven't played since Sep. 6 so the extra time to prepare for the Sun Devils could work in their favor.  Many said OSU could contend for a Pac-10 title if they got steady QB play.  They haven't yet but that's not to say QB Canfield can't improve upon his season totals of 47-80 completions for 571 yards and 4 TDS.  Last year, OSU held ASU QB Carpenter to a season low 9 completions in 27 attempts.  That was just one of the many reasons why they were able to thump ASU 44-10 in Corvallis.  This year should be payback for the Sun Devils but things just aren't that simple in life.  Expect this to be a drag ‘em out shootout game between two very good teams that will be decided in the fourth quarter.  Carpenter has been turnover prone throughout his career and his two INTs to the Beavers last year have not been forgotten.  If Carpenter can compose himself and get help from his senior RB Torain, ASU will win.  If OSU is able to pressure Carpenter (they had four sacks in 2006), they just might force him into the kinds of mistakes that can cost better teams games. 

 

Sun Devil Stadium – 71,706

Natural Grass 

 

 

OREGON @ STANFORD

September 22, 2007

7 PM PST

No television scheduled

 

This game has blowout written all over it.  Fortunately, for Stanford, nobody in the country will see it.  Even more fortunate for Stanford is that those living on the east coast probably won't even read about in their morning papers until Monday.  Oregon has won five straight against the Cardinal including last year's 48-10 lambasting that saw the Ducks run wild for 298 yards on the ground.  While both teams have improved this season Oregon looks to have made bigger strides.  A win would give Oregon their eighth straight conference road opener victory, which is an extremely impressive streak.  Stanford will need to do a much better job of keeping their QB Ostrander on his feet as the Ducks had three sacks in last season's game at Autzen.  If the Cardinal can, Ostrander is more than capable of putting up big numbers.  Last year he threw for 224 yards on 20 of 34 completions.  At home, the crowd factor should allow the experienced senior QB to audible in and out of plays to try and take advantage of an aggressive Oregon defense.  If he catches the Ducks guessing wrong, WRs Sherman and Bradford could be catching TDS this weekend.  The score should be closer than analysts think, but not that much closer.  Expect to see the Ducks' record at 4-0 heading into next week's big game against California.

 

Stanford Stadium – 50,000

  Natural Grass

 

 

WASHINGTON @ UCLA

September 22, 2007

10:15 PM PST

Television:  Fox Sports Net (DirectTV channels – 649, 651 & 653)

 

Although the Huskies have only beaten the Bruins once since the 2000 season, this game is almost always competitive.  Last season, UW snapped a five game losing streak to UCLA by outscoring the Bruins 29-3 after falling behind 16-0 early in the game.  The 29-19 victory saw then QB Stanbeck throw for 3 TDS against a good Bruins secondary.  UW is 4-7 on the road under head coach Willingham while UCLA is 20-5 at home under Dorrell.  Both teams are coming off their first loss of the season but there's no argument as to which teams' loss was worse.  While everybody expected UW to lose to Ohio State, they did an excellent job of staying with the Buckeyes until the 4th Quarter.  Conversely, UCLA was beat down by Utah and then trampled on in their stunning 44-6 setback to the Utes.  The Bruins need better play from their QB Olson who is only completing 50.5% of his passes.  Olson does have 5 TDS, but he also has 4 INTs.  The real problem for UCLA, though, an uncharacteristic problem that is similar to the one that has troubled Arizona this season, is the Bruins' lack of aggression on defense.  UCLA was supposed to be a dominant force on defense and so far they've allowed BYU and Utah to put up pretty gaudy numbers.  BYU QB Hall threw for 391 yards against UCLA two weeks ago while Utah QB Grady threw for 246 yards and 3 TDS.  In order for UCLA to win, they'll need more inspired play on defense to stop UW's offensive attack which is led by sophomore sensation Locker who leads the team in passing yards (488) and rushing yards (269).  Both teams played quality schedules thus far so the wheels have been oiled so to speak.  Since the Rose Bowl crowd won't provide UCLA with any real home field advantage, expect the Huskies to give the Bruins the fight of their life.  Washington is arguably the most improved team in the entire country, but don't underestimate the Bruins after last weekend's humbling loss.  Somebody will be kicking a field goal to win this game late.  I think it'll be Washington but don't quote me on that. 

Rose Bowl – 91,500

  Natural Grass

 


Wildcat Authority Top Stories