Wouldn't it be nice if instead of blaming a cover jinx, people would come out at admit they badly overestimated Oregon? Wouldn't it be fantastic if there were a decent explanation why Washington State is ranked 6th in the country when the best team they've beaten is ranked 47th by a leading national rating service? And how in the world did UCLA give up more than 500 yards to Arizona last week. Questions, questions, questions...
Wouldn't it be nice if instead of blaming a cover jinx, people would come out at admit they badly overestimated Oregon? Wouldn't it be fantastic if there were a decent explanation why Washington State is ranked 6th in the country when the best team they've beaten is ranked 47th by a leading national rating service? And how in the world did UCLA give up more than 500 yards to Arizona last week. Questions, questions, questions...">
<p class="txt">Wouldn't it be nice if instead of blaming a cover jinx, people would come out at admit they badly overestimated Oregon? Wouldn't it be fantastic if there were a decent explanation why Washington State is ranked 6th in the country when the best team they've beaten is ranked 47th by a leading national rating service? And how in the world did UCLA give up more than 500 yards to Arizona last week. Questions, questions, questions...</p>
(This is the another in a series of columns that will look at Pac-10 football teams
- primarily by picking out elements that stood out from the previous week's box scores,
play-by-play and statistics of both the team involved and its prospective opponent.)
California (3-4, 1-1
This Week: at UCLA
Last Week: IDLE
Bowl outlook: Good. Saturday's game
vs. UCLA is huge - a loss would mean the Bears would have to finish 4-1.
Cal's hoping that a week's
rest and preparation time will mean that Aaron Rodgers last game (9-of-34, 52 yards) was
an aberration and Adimchinobe Echemandu's last two (147 yards and 146 yards) weren't. One
could make the case that the Golden Bears have finished up the difficult part of its
conference schedule and should have a slightly less challenging time in the weeks ahead.
While that might appear to be the case, Arizona State's rout of Oregon, Arizona's scare of
UCLA, UCLA's rout of Washington, and of course Cal's win over USC, pretty much anything
can happen the rest of the way. The Bears will have to overcome injuries to their
defensive secondary, but UCLA's passing attack is relatively tepid compared to the rest
of the conference.
Arizona (1-6, 0-3
This Week: IDLE
Last Week: L, 24-21 vs. UCLA
Bowl outlook: None. But recent
efforts have shown they're not lying down like, uh, dogs.
While the Wildcats have
become increasingly competitive lately; they continue to struggle in the fourth quarter,
being outscored 48-3 in the last four games. What was astounding about the UCLA game is
that the Wildcats outgained the Bruins 519 to 333 - but were done in by four
interceptions. The Wildcats averaged 6.6 yards a carry in running for 276 yards.
Backup QB Nic Costa continues to see spot playing time, but is proving to be far
more effective as a runner (3 att, 41 yards) than a passer (4-of-11 for 56 yards). The
chances of the Wildcats actually winning a conference this year now don't see so remote.
Arizona State (3-3,
This Week: at North Carolina
Last Week: W, 59-14 vs. Oregon
Bowl outlook: Looking up. With
Oregon St. and USC out of the way, ASU could rise quickly in the standings.
The Sun Devils convincing
victory over Oregon last week was the shock result of the Pac-10 last week. After
suffering big losses to Oregon State and USC, Arizona State looked to be in a tight
competition with Washington as the conference's most disappointing team. Instead they
clobbered the Ducks by using a terrific pass defense and a sterling passing effort by
Andrew Walter (18-of-28, 316 yards) while outscoring Oregon 38-7 in the second half. ASU
frustrated Oregon into a season worst 9-of-26 passing for 127 yards and two turnovers).
Oregon (4-3, 1-2
This Week: IDLE
Last Week: L, 59-14 at Arizona
Bowl outlook: OK. This week's bye
can't hide the fact that Oregon's going to have to really battle to finish with seven
With their only conference
win against Arizona and having been mercilessly hammered in their other two conference
games, Oregon appears destined for a mid-table finish. Something happened during the
Washington State game which has shaken the Oregon QB tandem and opposing defensive
coordinators have picked up on it and the Duck braintrust has failed to come up with a
counter-adjustment. In Oregon's first four games, its QBs were 81-for-120 with 0
interceptions and 1105 yards. In its last three games, the QBs have been 49-of-118
with 10 interceptions and 764 yards.
Oregon State (5-1,
This Week: vs. Washington
Last Week: IDLE
Bowl outlook: Strong - four of six
remaining games are at home, but the road games are Washington State and Oregon.
It's always a good sign when
you can get a national magazine to give you a near-plug for the Heisman Trophy coming off
a weekend where you didn't play. But then, this came from the same magazine that in the
same issue had a cover story about a game that ran for parts of six pages without actually
talking about the game. Steven Jackson needs the Beavers and Trojans to win out to put a
spotlight on the OSU-USC game. This Saturday, OSU, the conference's most penalized team is
facing Washington, which leads the conference in opposing penalty yardage.
Stanford (2-2, 0-2
This Week: vs. Washington State
Last Week: L, 44-14 vs. USC
Bowl outlook: To paraphrase Spock:
not impossible, but improbable
Now that Stanford has played
three teams not named San Jose State, the Trent Edwards era has hit choppy water. After
throwing for 278 yards in his debut, he's gone 34-of-74 yards with 5 interceptions and 2
touchdowns to go with 251 yards. Out of 100 QBs in the NCAA's latest statistics, Edwards
is ranked 99th and has the lowest yards per attempt and yards per completion in the
country. Against USC, Edwards was replaced in the third quarter by Chris Lewis. While it's
always good to give a young quarterback experience, it's also folly to put a QB in
situations where he can't succeed and can't develop any confidence.
This Week: vs. Cal
Last Week: W, 24-21 vs. Arizona
Bowl outlook: Should be able to
manage at least a split of its remaining games; still have USC and Washington State on the
UCLA's defense giving up 519
yards to Arizona of all teams was astonishing. In its other five games, the Bruins had
given up 245, 283, 354, 230, and 258 yards - and one of those games was against Oklahoma.
This Saturday will give a better indication whether the Bruins were simply complacent or
whether Arizona had found something which could be exploited. The Wildcats had several
gains - both running and passing - of 25 or more yards. UCLA gave up 276 yards rushing to
a Wildcat team that entered the game averaging about 80 yards rushing a game.
USC (5-1, 2-1 Pac-10)
This Week: at Notre Dame
Last Week: W, 44-14 vs. Stanford
Bowl outlook: Excellent - last
week's outcomes means that USC could play its way out of the Rose Bowl. Its two toughest
games left will be at home.
After two solid wins, there
appear to be no lingering effects from the Trojans loss to Cal a few weeks ago. Matt Leinart shook off injuries against Stanford to have another solid game (18-of-27 for 260
yards). Well, at least not for the football players. While the backup QB all season long
had been Matt Cassell, on Saturday the Trojans used freshman John David Booty to spell
Leinart. Booty, who graduated a year early from high school, leapt over Cassell, Brandon Hance and Billy Hart on the depth chart.
Washington (3-3, 1-1
This Week: at Oregon State
Last Week: L, 28-17 vs. Nevada
Bowl Prospects: Dropping like a
rock. Needs to split its last six games with only one semi-sure thing (Arizona) left.
Washington outgained Nevada
447 to 397 and was the benefit of 149 penalty yards. And they lost? Five turnovers will do
it every time. For the season, Washington's a -7 on turnovers, so it's not as if the
Nevada game was typical of Washington's problems. In the past two games, the Husky pass
defense has surrendered 557 yards on 35-of-54 passing. That won't be nearly enough to make
OSU's Derek Anderson nervous this Saturday.
Washington State (5-1,
This Week: at Stanford
Last Week: IDLE
Bowl Prospects: Strong - while a
top three finish is likely, who have they beaten? Cougars could easily finish 7-5.
The conference's Humpty
Dumpy is sitting on the wall right now. A #6 ranking is a fine accomplishment, but the
teams they've beaten are ranked 47, 56, 77, 102 and 129 according to the latest Sagarin
numbers, and they've lost to the #37 team. This week, they play Stanford, which is #53.
While you can't fault Washington State for winning their games and winning most of
them by large margins, you can fault the poll voters for placing teams high who have no
business being up there. Can a reasonably informed voter for any panel can come up with a
good reason why Washington State can be considered the 6th best team in the country?
CyberBear Staff Writers regularly visit the CyberBears Insider board, and are
available to discuss questions you may have about this article or about Cal Athletics.