Today With The Toe

So usually it's "This Week With The Toe," but because I left tonight's USC-Auburn game out of my article from last week, I thought it would be nice to give my thoughts today on that game along with a few notes from the first full weekend of the season.

Seven out of ten Pac-10 teams have opened their season, with UCLA, USC, and Stanford being the holdouts. This weekend, Stanford opens at Boston College and UCLA opens hosting Colorado State. Both will be very tough matchups. Look for my predictions in those games later this week.

How about Cal hanging 70 points on that vaunted Baylor defense? Okay, so the (Baylor) Bears don't have much of a reputation for having a stingy defense, but it's pretty impressive for the (Cal) Bears to score that much on a Big 12 team, even if it is Baylor. Jeff Tedford must be very happy with the way his team played in its debut. Kyle Boller has one last go around to prove he isn't bust. They will show improvement this year, but before (Cal) Bears fan get too excited, wait until the Pac-10 season starts. The (Baylor) Bears thrashing doesn't say pencil the (Cal) Bears in for a winning season, but it does say they won't be awful.

Washington needs to get a co-head coach to handle the actual in-game coaching duties, especially at the end of the game. If Rick Neuheisal is getting paid a million dollars a year (it's actually more now with his reworked contract), he ought to be able to make the simple no-brainer decisions at the end of the game, like not trying to pass the ball when your team is up and trying to kill the clock and making sure that you only have 11 guys on the field. AFTER A TIMEOUT! Ricky might be a slick recruiter, but he needs somebody watching over every decision he makes.

Oregon looks like they are about to back up all the talk they have been doing over the offseason. They beat up a clearly awful Mississippi State team, but that's not to take away from the great performance Oregon put up. The Ducks will make some noise in the conference race this year.

Arizona, Arizona State, and Oregon State crushed 1-AA opponents while Washington State beat Nevada, all with the expected results. Though, it's a good idea never to take those results for granted. We remember EWU and GSU. Of note in the Arizona game, Jason Johnson passed for 380 yards, while Clarence Farmer was shut down, being held to only 29 yards rushing on 16 carries. Aloha's Nic Costa got into the game late. In limited action, he was 3-5 for 26 yards passing, and had a nice 19-yard run.

As for the USC-Auburn matchup, I like USC to win solidly. Carson Palmer, like Kyle Boller, gets his one last go-around. The Trojans will be experienced on both sides of the ball, although they do have a couple of questions on defense. Troy Polamalu is their leader. As arguably the best safety in the country, he'll anchor the defense and will probably put on a big show in this game. Auburn is a young team that has had a few minor injuries to fight through in fall camp. They have as many sophomores starting as they do seniors (six). This is a game USC should win handily. USC 28, Auburn 13.

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