Oregon State – as Arizona – still have the inside track to the conference title as their lone conference loss did not come against one of the other four teams with one loss. The Beavers have a bye this week, and they will remain in first place at least for another week. There are two games this week that will start to separate the teams at the top…
USC 5-1 (3-1) at Arizona 5-2 (3-1)
The Trojans No. 5 ranking in this week's BCS Standings keeps them alive for a shot at the national championship game. One thing USC will not be is bored, as they try to go through their schedule for the remainder of the season without suffering another Pac-10 loss. They have lost two conference games each of the last two seasons.
The Trojans play Arizona this week and California on November 8. Both of these games should be for first place in the conference. The USC defense has been a beast over the last three weeks. In the last three games, the defense has given up a total of 10 points. The Trojans need to be ready to stop a Wildcat offense that went off on the Cal Bears in the second half of last week's game.
Look for Arizona to get the ball to tight end Rob Gronkowski, one of the best players at his position in the country. Gronkowski has 16 catches, six touchdowns and is averaging 16.4 yards per catch. Arizona should pound the football and utilize play action and look to hit Gronkowski and receiver Mike Thomas with the deep ball.
This game is very important for Arizona. If they can pull the upset at home they will remain in first place. USC will look at this game as a stepping-stone to the Pac-10 crown and possibly the first chance, post the first BCS standings, to make a case for a shot at the BCS championship game.
Cal Sports Digest…Arizona is a different team at home, but USC will not struggle as Cal did last week.
UCLA 3-4 (2-2) at California 4-2 (2-1)
This is a must win for the Golden Bears. If Cal finishes below second place in the league this year, the season should be considered a disappointment.
The Bears lost to Maryland and Arizona two teams that they should not have lost to. The common denominator in both those games was the Bear's inability to stop the run.
Maryland ran for 141 yards and Arizona rushed for 179 yards. The Bears also must avoid the turnovers against the Bruins if they expect to win. If USC can beat Arizona, Cal could be right back in first place if they take care of business against the Bruins.
After six games, Cal still has not found any consistency in their passing game. Hopefully the production they got from receiver Verran Tucker last week will carry over to this Saturday.
On the Bruins side of the ball, 6-foot-4 185-pound freshmen receiver Taylor Embree (25 catches and 324 yards) is a player that the Bears have to be aware of on Saturday. The UCLA program will eventually be a force in the Pac-10 under new head coach Rick Neuheisel. Along with offensive coordinator Norm Chow and defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, they make-up one of the best coaching staffs in the country. It is just a matter of time before they get the players they need to fit their system. However, that time will not come this week.
Cal Sports Digest says….Cal is practically unbeatable at home.
©Copyright 2008, CalSportsDigest.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.