After a week of action, the Oregon State offensive skill players are filling the conference statistical leaderboard. Steven Jackson leads the league in rushing yards and along with Dwight Wright and eight others, is tied for the league lead in scoring. Wright and Jackson are also 1-2 in yards per carry. Derek Anderson leads the league in passing efficiency and is tied for most passing touchdowns. And Kenny Farley leads the conference in receiving yards per game. OSU was expected to have a solid defense, but it looks as though their offense will be one of the Pac-10's most explosive as well.
Franklin Field is the site of Oregon State's matchup against Temple. It is located on the University of Pennsylvania campus and is the oldest football stadium still in use. The stadium was used in the movie "Unbreakable" starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. It has a nice nostalgic feel to it, even though it probably won't even be half full, according to Temple's estimates.
A Little About Temple
Temple uses the same unconventional defense as Arizona State, the 4-2-5 defense. This will help in pass coverage, but it also could lead to a very big day for Steven Jackson. This defense requires containment by the defensive ends. If Dan Klecko, Temple's star end isn't fully healthy, Jackson could go for a whole lot of yards. Expect to see lots of running to the outside.
Temple's offense could be much improved from last year. They return 10 of 11 starters from last year and anytime that many guys come back, the unit could be dangerous. The defense also brings back 7. Temple will run a spread offense that often works without the huddle. Oregon State should excel at shutting down this type of offense with the speed at linebacker and the experienced secondary.
It's a crime for Colorado State to be ranked lower than Colorado. Let me say this, though, at fault is not Colorado State's ranking. I think their slot it appropriate. It's for Colorado to be ranked 17th after that game. There are many more deserving teams than Colorado State ranked below 17th that should be angry as well. Colorado gets this slot because they are a member of the Big 12.
I'm Telling You Again
Arizona is going to be a much better football team this year. I've got them pegged for a sixth place finish now, but if a few things go their way, they could easily jump into the top half of the Pac-10. Jason Johnson is going to be a good quarterback this season, and Clarence Farmer will rebound off his bad start (only 29 yards rushing).
The Toe's Power Poll
1) Washington State
3) Oregon State
8) Arizona State
This Week's Picks
Oregon 42, Fresno State 13. Oregon dominated Mississippi State in a way that I couldn't have imagined. The Ducks defense overwhelmed the Bulldog offense. This should be no difference against these Bulldogs. Fresno is nowhere near full strength with Jeff Grady, Bernard Berrian, and Kendall Edwards all injured. Between the injuries, academic problems, and suspensions, Fresno State has lost way too many skill players to make this game close. Fresno State will probably give a good effort, but it won't be enough at Autzen.
Washington 31, San Jose State 13. The huskies get a chance at redemption after squandering the game away against Michigan in Ann Arbor. Rick Neuheisal better win this one, after word leaked out this week that he is being rewarded with a six year contract extension. The athletic department was not going to announce it for a few more weeks, and it coming out after an embarrassing coaching error that led to the loss last week, is not good timing. San Jose State is playing the most brutal schedule in all of college football this year, playing just four home games, and traveling to Arkansas State, Washington, Illinois, Ohio State, and Hawaii. They also play 13 straight weeks without a bye. Washington should roll.
Boston College 34, Stanford 13. Stanford QB Chris Lewis is suspended for this one and won't make the cross-country trip to Chestnut Hill. Alumni Stadium won't be too kind to a Stanford team that is replacing its entire secondary, all three linebackers, two defensive lineman, three offensive lineman, and breaking in a new quarterback. Teyo Johnson and Luke Powell are good - but they're not that good. Brian St. Pierre anchors the Boston College offense at quarterback. If William Green hadn't left early for the NFL, the Eagles would have been a significant challenger in the weak Big East. But without him, they'll fall behind Miami and Virginia Tech. Also tipping the scale heavily to B.C. is that they have a game under their belt, even though it was a lackluster performance against a Connecticut team that will be awful. It's the same thing that happened to Oregon State last year against Fresno State. It takes game experience to be successful no matter how many players are returning. Stanford just has too many questions, especially when trying to implement Buddy Teevens new system. Boston College will dominate.
Washington State 45, Idaho 7. The battle of the Palouse will be less exciting this year than over the last two seasons. Sure, WSU beat up badly on Idaho last year, but the Vandals beat WSU in both 1999 and 2000. The Cougs have some questions after last week's performance against Nevada. Notably, can they run the ball? They seem to have found a good playmaking replacement for Lamont Thompson in linebacker Will Derting, who took over where Thompson left off in intercepting 3 passes against the Wolfpack. Washington State also answered some questions by shutting down Nevada RB Chance Kretschmer, holding him to just 67 yards on 26 carries. Mike Bush was a no-show only catching one pass for one yard. Expect to see him rebound this week, though. WSU will win easily.
Cal 45, New Mexico State 17. Cal exploded for 70 points in Jeff Tedford's opening game as Head Coach at Cal. Anytime a team scores that many points (even against a team as bad as Baylor), it means they are probably more than a decent team. Cal will do well in this one, although it will meet some challenges when it has to play at Michigan State, and at home against Air Force. The challenges don't stop when they hit the Pac-10 season, opening up against Washington State. Cal will be a much improved team this year, although the schedule makers didn't do them any favors. Kyle Boller will show this year he is better than the player he was his first three years. New Mexico State comes to town with its rushing attack. Cal's defense, another aspect that's better than last year, shouldn't have too many problems. Cal wins big.
Colorado State 28, UCLA 20. Colorado State pulls off what probably shouldn't be called an upset. It's laughable that they are a 7 point underdog. UCLA will play up to 10 true freshman in this game. They have many holes to fill, with 6 new starters on defense (two safeties, two linebackers, and two defensive lineman). They have had highly touted recruiting classes, but there is no replacement for experience. The Rams already have two games under their belt, against tough opponents (Virginia and Colorado) and will walk in to the Rose Bowl and get an early lead. I bet that extra practice that would have come from playing in a bowl game would come in handy for all the young and inexperienced players in Westwood.
Arizona State 31, Central Florida 28. It could be another rough one for the Pac-10. I'm picking ASU here, but they are by no means a lock. Central Florida showed quite a bit of resiliance in coming back to make it a tight one against Penn State last week. The UCF passing attack will run into a better pass defense in Tempe than they saw in Happy Valley. The Lions gave up way too many big plays on 3rd and long. The Golden Knights won't have the same luck this week. But Arizona State's offense must show that they can score points against good opponents. Central Florida doesn't have the stingiest defense, so points can be had. Chad Christensen must stay in the pocket and give his receivers time to get open. They will if he is patient. Shaun McDonald could have a big game. The Sun Devils should win this game close, but they must not check out too early.
Oregon State 31, Temple 13. Anytime a team brings back as many starters as Temple does, they shouldn't be taken lightly. Temple did what was expected in thumping Richmond last week, without star defensive end, Dan Klecko. Oregon State is clearly the better team, but they have been mediocre in road openers. We all know what happened last year. Two years ago, it took the Beavers the whole game to get ahead of New Mexico. With a young quarterback, road games can be difficult. Although, this crowd won't be hostile, even if they are Philadelphia fans (yes, the people that booed when Michael Irvin was carried off on a stretcher). It takes more people rooting for Temple than can be counted on two hands to make a hostile crowd. A big road win can never be counted on, but this one is as close as it gets.
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