West Side Stories

One thing is for certain: I'm no Jimmy the Greek. Last week I went 7-3 straight up and 5-4 against the spread (Washington-Oklahoma was a push). For the season, that puts me at 15-4 and 9-7, respectively.

UCLA pulled a Dorrell and failed to cover against Rice, and Stanford lost a big lead – and then the game – to local rival San Jose State.

With that in mind, here is the initial unveiling of the West Side Power Ratings:

1) Southern Cal (1-0)
2) Oregon (2-0)
3) Arizona State (2-0)
4) UCLA (2-0)
5) Cal (1-1)
6) Washington State (1-1)
7) Oregon State (1-1)
8) Washington (1-1)
9) Arizona (1-1)
10) Stanford (0-2)
Everyone knows about the two marquee match-ups this weekend, and unfortunately, the slate is pretty awful beyond that. Let's start with the clunkers.

Stephen F. Austin (1-1) at Arizona (1-1)
Mike Stoops complained after his team's 45-3 loss to LSU that they needed to schedule more patsies. "I'm not in favor of scheduling games like this. I think it's ridiculous to put our kids in that situation. Playing nine conference games, we're the only conference in America that does that. Looking at other schedules, it kind of bothers you. I have to do a better job of scheduling to give our kids the best chance to win once conference play starts." This week he'll have his chance as the Wildcats take on Division 1AA Stephen F. Austin. Stoops is 7-15 in his career at Arizona, and two of those seven wins have come against weak D1AA teams. Stoops will pick up his third on Saturday, and the Wildcats will move to 2-1. Whether they can actually compete in the Pac-10 remains to be seen. The offense still has a ways to go.

Arizona 28, Stephen F. Austin 13

Portland State (2-0) at Cal (1-1)
Another Pac-10 team takes on another D1AA squad. Cal will roll in this one. They followed a tough loss to Tennessee on the road with a nice win over Minnesota, and their passing game seems to be gaining steam. Desean Jackson gets better with each passing week. This game will get ugly very quickly, and the second-stringers should see plenty of action.

Cal 52, Portland State 13

Baylor (1-1) at Washington St (1-1)
Washington State is just too good for Baylor, one of the dregs of the Big 12. The Cougars hung in for a half against Auburn and destroyed Idaho. Washington State should put up lots of points in this one, and it'll be another ugly Pac-10 game. This is one of those games that has me begging me for conference play.

Washington State 45, Baylor 14

Fresno St (1-1) at Washington (1-1)
Last week I picked the Huskies over Oklahoma as a wild card game; could I actually pick Tyrone Willingham's squad two weeks in a row? I've seen both of Fresno State's games, and they haven't really impressed me all that much. Washington squeaked by San Jose State and didn't get blown out (20+ points) by Oklahoma. Although Pat Hill is probably a better coach, expect Washington to hang in there. Their running game is stronger than it's been the last few years, and behind that they'll find a way to win this game in the fourth quarter.

Washington 24, Fresno State 21

Arizona State (2-0) at Colorado (0-2)
Most college football fans probably didn't have this game circled on their calendars prior to the season, but it was a game that they would watch while flipping between games. That's probably not the case anymore. Colorado, under new head coach Dan Hawkins, has been one of the surprises of the 2006 season. Unfortunately, they've been surprisingly awful. Hawkins was originally on Dirk Koetter's staff at Boise State, and this won't be one of those games where the pupil shows up the teacher. Rudy Carpenter will torch the Buffalo secondary, Hawkins' offense will continue to struggle, and the halftime segment on the Hawkins-Koetter relationship will be more interesting than the game itself.

Arizona State 31, Colorado 9
Navy (2-0) at Stanford (0-2)
This is another fascinating undefeated versus winless match-up. On the one hand, there's Navy, an independent school trying to beat a BCS conference team on its way to a potential 10-win season with a nice bowl game in its picture. On the other hand, there's Stanford, who had high hopes for a solid season but whose opportunity to reach .500, let alone a bowl game, now seems to be in jeopardy after losing painfully to San Jose State last week. On top of that, talented wide receiver Mark Bradford was knocked out for the season. The Cardinal have no running game, very little defense, and now half of their passing game is wearing street clothes on Saturdays. Despite all that, I'm picking Stanford. Walt Harris will sell this game as the turning point in his team's season, and they'll respond. Besides, there is no one in Navy's secondary who can cover 6-foot-7 wide receiver Evan Moore.

Stanford 38, Navy 31

Oklahoma (2-0) at Oregon (2-0)
Playing at Oregon is not an easy task, especially when Paul Thompson is your starting quarterback. At least that's what the pundits say. Oklahoma has beaten the Ducks twice in the last two years, and their defense is physical enough and fast enough to give the Ducks' spread offense a difficult test. Oregon won't be facing Stanford's bad defense nor Fresno State's group of WAC-recruited defenders. Now they'll go up against some of the most highly recruited defenders in the country, and I suspect that quarterback Dennis Dixon will struggle. Tailback Jonathan Stewart is a fast and physical back, but he won't emerge from the shadow of the Sooners' Adrian Petersen, who will have a big game running against the average Pac-10 defense of the Ducks.

Oklahoma 34, Oregon 28

Nebraska (2-0) at Southern Cal (1-0)
Heading into this game, the Big 12 should be 1-2 in these Pac-10/Big 12 battles. Unfortunately, the Cornhuskers won't be able to even the score. They may test the Trojans' defense at times, but it's hard to pick against Pete Carroll when he has two weeks to prepare. Although I believe that the Trojans' offense will struggle more two years removed from Norm Chow and one year removed from Matt Leinart, the Cornhuskers just don't have a defense that can seriously challenge Southern Cal. The Trojans have too many weapons, and the Nebraska secondary has some serious issues. Can Zach Taylor make it a shoot-out and lead the Cornhuskers to victory? It's possible, but it's going to require a perfect game on offense and a bunch of turnovers.

Southern Cal 31, Nebraska 14

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