The Beavers take on a respectable Mountain West opponent in UNLV this week as seven point favorite A road game against the Rebels provides a step up in competition from Portland State before taking on legitimate Top 25 contender Cincinnati at home.
If you read my Keys to the Game piece, you know how I think this one is going to turn out. Let's look around the league before the ice melts in my drink.
Pac 10 Power Poll:
1 – Cal: Watching the Cal – Maryland game is cause for a little hand wringing for Beaver fans and the rest of the Pac-10. Devastating on defense, dangerous on offense, explosive, and with a talented QB under center. Cal has to be the front runner for the conference crown.
2 – USC: What bumped USC from the top spot is simply the fact that they appeared limited on offense with Barkely at the controls. Against a severely overmatched opponent in SJSU, Barkely did his job and handed off the plethora to the talented stable of running backs, but this is the Pac 10. Hell, I could have done that. You either have a QB or you are in trouble when chasing the conference crown.
3 – Oregon State: The Beavers enter 3rd place almost by default. A team returning the Pac-10 player of the year, plus another pair of explosive playmakers on offense, plus what looks to be a sturdy defense -- that places OSU in the position of Dark Horse Contender.
4 – UCLA: Bruin fans insist all of their woes last year on offense were due to a voodoo woman named Phyllis. With the injury bug hex off their backs and in their rearview mirror, UCLA has a chance to prove it with their visit to Rocky Top. Orange Attack says "put up or shut up".
5 – Stanford: This was the widest split in our meeting. Half wanted the Cardinal placed in the bottom half of the poll based on their allowing WSU to look like a real Pac 10 team, the other half we are pretty sure have a man crush on Jim Harbaugh. Mrs. OA says he is cute. OA immediately voted No. 9.
6 – Arizona: The QB questions haunt the Mildcats. A strong defense will be the hallmark of the Arizona program, but a pair of reliable running backs and a talented roster make Arizona one to keep an eye on. If the QB situation clears up and Sonny Dykes gets that offense untracked… watch out.
7 – Washington: A surprisingly strong performance against LSU bumps UW up the poles a notch. Only thing that doesn't move them into the middle is the fact that LSU may again be overrated. Regardless, Tyrone Willingham is somewhere in a dark room wailing "whyyy, oh, whyyyyy!" after watching Locker and Polk – both injured last year – shred LSU's defense.
8 – Oregon: "The train is wobbling back and forth like this (imagine hands waving wildly) and everybody on both sides is looking at nothing but green." Twelve point favorites at home against Purdue, it's gut check time for the Ducks. Win handily and keep Chip Kelly off the hotseat. Lose and… Ho boy.
9 – Arizona State: Dmitri Nance is looking awful and couldn't crack the starting lineup at a single Pac 10 school. When your anointed starter barely manages a 50 percent completion ratio, it's big trouble in the Valley of the Sun. The Devils have a good defense this year, if they didn't, it would be a pretty safe bet they'd finish last in the Pac 10. Big question for the year: When is St Dennis FINALLY going to can Gregg Smith? The ASU OL is so bad that Rob Schneider is practicing his "OH NO WE SUCK AGAIN" post season video.
10 – Washington State: The Cougs looked decent against Stanford -- at least they belonged on the field. One thing about being projected to finish dead last in the conference, any time you make a showing it's kind of a shock. Nowhere to go but up, Cougs. But it's still going to be a long climb.
It was very hard work writing this column on the laptop. I put a lot of thought into it.
Whatcha got?? Hit OA with your best shot at firstname.lastname@example.org. Granite chin here, son, I can take it.