West Side Stories

Last week I managed to catch most of the action from five Pac-10 games. UCLA was clearly the most surprising; Cal the most disappointing. I'm not sure that Oregon nor Southern Cal are as good as their wins make them out to be. I am certain, though, that Stanford is as bad as they looked. For the week, I went 8-1 straight-up, and 4-3 against the spread. Not so bad, but we can do better.

Oregon State (1-0) at Boise State (1-0)
The home team has won this game every year since 2003, but that's about to change. The Beavers had a strong opening week, beating up D1AA Eastern Washington. This is a team with a lot of offensive weapons, and quarterback Matt Moore is going to have a resurgent senior campaign. Boise State doesn't have Dan Hawkins anymore, but Chris Petersen has always been the guy calling the plays, and he has a senior quarterback, Jared Zabransky at the helm. The Broncos will certainly put points on the board, but this year they're no match for Oregon State. Yvenson Bernard will have a huge game running the ball between the tackles, and Moore simply has too many options for Boise State to cover. Expect a very high scoring game.

Oregon State 48, Boise State 41

Nevada (0-1) at Arizona State (1-0)
The Sun Devils failed to live up to lofty expectations in their season opener against Northern Arizona. Winning 35-14 isn't good enough, and they may take out their frustrations on poor Nevada, who comes to town after a 28-19 road loss to Fresno State. Nevada can be a dangerous team, but this is a bad week to play Arizona State. The Sun Devils will use their team speed at the skill positions to create mismatches. Last year Nevada's pass defense finished 104th in the nation, and they return seven starters from that squad. Unfortunately, the secondary isn't a strength for Nevada, which will spell doom for them on Saturday. Keep an eye on wide receiver Rudy Burgess: he should have a huge game for the Sun Devils.

Arizona State 42, Nevada 14

Washington (1-0) at Oklahoma (1-0)
Time to get a little nutty. The Huskies are going to shock the world and upset Oklahoma on Saturday. Laugh all you want, but the Sooners are about to find out just how vicious an animal the Husky really is. Irish fans know that Kent Baer can stop one-dimensional offenses with inexperienced, average-at-best quarterbacks. Hello, Paul Thompson, who threw two interceptions last week against UAB. On the other side of the ball, I expect Tim Lappano to call a variety of trick plays and utilize mobile quarterback Isaiah Stanback in ways to frustrate the Oklahoma defense. The Sooners have struggled in early season games the last two years, and this could easily be another one. Something in my gut is just nagging me; somehow the Huskies will pull this one out in a defensive struggle.

Washington 27, Oklahoma 23

Rice (0-1) at UCLA (1-0)
Last week Rice let a 16-point lead slip away in the last 17 minutes against the University of Houston. This week they make a trip to the Rose Bowl, where they will play a very confident UCLA team that looked terrific in beating up Utah 31-10. That spells trouble for the Owls. This one will get ugly quickly. The Bruins have too much talent on both sides of the ball, and their opponent next week is lowly Washington. There is no chance they'll get caught looking ahead. One key for UCLA is whether they can establish a running game that was non-existent against Utah. Kahlil Bell and Chris Markey should certainly get a lot of carries in this game as UCLA runs out the clock in a mercy killing in the second half.

UCLA 49, Rice 7

Arizona (1-0) at LSU (0-0)
Last week the Wildcats won a squeaker at home against BYU. Now they travel to play a top ten team in a very difficult atmosphere. Everyone wants to Arizona to be better than they really are…expectations are too high. They're still a year away, and it will show on Saturday. Arizona's offense didn't look great against the Cougars, and it won't look good against the Tigers. Last week it was the defensive scheme that gave them troubles; on Saturday it will be the defensive talent that shuts them down. The Wildcats may be able to suppress the LSU offense from time to time, but it's just not a good match on paper.

LSU 28, Arizona 10

Oregon (1-0) at Fresno State (1-0)
The Ducks are flying high after their impressive 48-10 win against Stanford, but there are two factors working against them in this game. First, they may be looking ahead to next week's game against Oklahoma. Second, Stanford's defense is terrible. I'm also not completely sold on Dennis Dixon as a quarterback, and I fully expect Fresno State head coach Pat Hill to sell out to stop the run. Oregon has some talent at wide receiver, and Derrick Jones and Cam Colvin are true burners, but Dixon is going to have to get them the ball downfield first. Stanford couldn't manage any pressure, and Oregon could run at will against them. This week will be different, and Dixon may have to carry more of the load in this game. If he does, Fresno State could pull off an upset.

Oregon 34, Fresno State 28

Idaho (0-1) at Washington State (0-1)
Cougar defenders are probably still having nightmares of Kenny Irons running all over them in their 40-14 loss to Auburn. Idaho played a tough game last week but still lost to Michigan State 27-17 in East Lansing. Now Vandal head coach Dennis Erickson returns to Pullman, where he once coached. Unfortunately, it should be a rocky homecoming, especially if Cougar tailback Demaundry Wooldridge's deep thigh bruise heals before Saturday's game. He had 86 yards on 9 carries against Auburn's vaunted defense, and he could make life miserable for Idaho's defense. His partner in the backfield, quarterback Alex Brink, should have a much better day against a much softer defense. Look for the Cougars to bounce back and win this one going away in the second half.

Washington State 31, Idaho 17

Stanford (0-1) at San Jose State (0-1)
This is definitely not a must-see game on Saturday. One team lost a tight game to Washington, and the other team's defense was embarrassed. Stanford probably has too much passing offense for the Spartans, but the real question will be, can their defense stop anyone? This has been a big game for San Jose State in the past, it's at home, and their confidence has to be high. On the other hand, this is a must-win for Stanford if they want to even think about hitting six wins to become bowl-eligible. Washington was able to put away San Jose State with several long runs, and that's a facet the Stanford offensive is sorely lacking. Tobey Gerhart had some good moments running the football, but Stanford will need Trent Edwards to find Evan Moore and Mark Bradford. The Spartan should have a hard time defending the 6-foot-8 Moore. In the long run, the Cardinal will win in an offensive shoot-out.

Stanford 38, San Jose State 28

Minnesota (1-0) at California (0-1)
Which Cal will show up? How many more missed tackles will we see? How many more passes will receivers drop? I may have picked Cal to win convincingly on the road at Tennessee, but at least I didn't pick them to win the national championship a la Lee Corso. Look for them to bounce back this week at home. Jeff Tedford is undefeated against the Big Ten (3-0), but then again he's only beaten Michigan State and Illinois. The Minnesota defense won't create the "deer in the headlights" look in quarterback Nate Longshore that the Vols defense did play after play last Saturday. I expect the Cal offense to get off to a quick start, and there shouldn't be any looking back once the second quarter hits. Cal will need to stop talented tailbacks Amir Pinnix (15 carries, 114 yards) and Alex Daniels (24 carries, 155 yards), but they have the front seven to do just that.

Cal 27, Minnesota 21

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