Premier Pac-10 Games of Week 14

Despite having a bye, Cal's bowl destination will hinge on what happens on Saturday. The Civil War will decide the fate of many in the Pac-10 Conference. An Oregon State win over Oregon could send the Bears to the Holiday Bowl. USC takes on Notre Dame in one of their last futile attempts to impress BCS voters. The Bears need two Pac-10 teams in the BCS to improve their bowl opportunities…

Either USC or the Oregon State will go to the Rose Bowl. The Trojans will lock up at least an at-large berth into the BCS with wins over Notre Dame and UCLA next week. Oregon and California have a chance at the Holiday Bowl, but a Duck win in the Civil War would place them in San Diego and would push Cal as far down as to the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco. If two Pac-10 teams make a BCS games then the fifth slot in the Emerald will not have an eligible Pac-10 team to fill.

The two schools from the state of Oregon have gone back and forth in this series the last five years. Since 2003 the Beavers hold a 3-2 lead over the Ducks. USC is currently fifth in the BCS standings and the Trojans have to wait and see what the Beavers do to determine if they will again be in the Rose Bowl or pack their bags for the Fiesta Bowl or possibly the Sugar Bowl. The USC Trojans square off against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. This game should not be competitive on the field, but the contest will include a lot of off the field drama. There are rumors swirling around that if Charlie Weis cannot find a way to beat Pete Carroll's Trojans he will no longer be Notre Dame's head coach. If the rumors are true Charlie Weis is in an impossible situation.

No. 23 Oregon 8-3 (6-2) at No. 17 Oregon State 8-3 (7-1)

OSU will play in their biggest game of the season since they hosted the Trojans, and with a Rose Bowl berth on the line, the Beavers will be without their star running back Quizz Rodgers.

Rodgers leads the conference in rushing with 1,253 yards. In a game as big as this one, his production will be missed. The Beavers did play the majority of the Arizona game without their leading rusher. As a result, Mike Riley should have an idea of what kind of game plan will be the most effective for his team.

Back-up running back Ryan McCants had 15 carries for 52 yards in the Beavers 19-17 victory over the Wildcats. The Beavers will have to rely on their passing game to defeat the Ducks.

OSU receiver tandem James Rodgers and Sammie Stroughter is the best in the conference. They have combined for 107 catches and 1,419 yards.

The Ducks have not defeated Oregon State since 2005. They would like nothing more than to keep their rival from earning a trip to the Rose Bowl. Despite a lot of injuries at the quarterback position, Head Coach Mike Bellotti may have found a quarterback in Jeremiah Masoli (1,212 passing yards and 559 yards rushing) who can lead the Ducks to a lot of victories in the up coming seasons. The Ducks will need to get off to an early lead and force the Beavers to be one-dimensional and put a lot of pressure on Sean Canfield. The last two games have been decided by a total of nine points and this game should be a very close contest.

Cal Sports Digest says…The Beavers will be smelling Roses.

Notre Dame 6-5 at No. 5 USC 9-1 (7-1)

The Trojans have better talent than Notre Dame at every position on the field and the Trojans have better coaches.

Every year the Irish are included in the top recruiting classes in the county, but those players have not produced on the field. The one player who could have turned around the fortunes of Notre Dame is Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn who changed his mind on attending Notre Dame at the last second. Benn has 121 receptions and 1,731 receiving yards in the last two years.

The Irish are lacking speed on both sides of the ball and this has been a major problem for the last 10 years or more. Brady Quinn, Ryan Grant and John Carlson have been the only Irish players who have been productive in the NFL in a long time. On the other hand, 80% of the Trojans current defense will play on Sunday.

That talent difference is impossible to overcome. Notre Dame is not just having problems beating USC. Teams like Navy and Air Force are tough for the Irish to handle. In the last two games, Notre Dame has given up 82 points to the Trojans. Expect more of the same on Saturday.

Cal Sports Digest says…USC by 50.


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