This game matches up nicely. Both teams come into this game losing some real veterans on the OL and are replacing a QB. Michigan has the edge in John Navarre, but that edge will probably be negated by Husky Stadium (see; Ken Dorsey). Washington's DL, headed by Larry Tripplett, Marcus Roberson, Terry Johnson and Jerome Stevens comes primed to feast on Navarre's slow footing, while Tacoma's Larry Stevens looks to make Cody Pickett's first start in the purple and gold an unpleasant one. He'll have help at LB, where Larry Foote, Eric Brackins and Victor Hobson will be roaming sideline to sideline. Give the edge to the Dawgs here as they overcome some first-quarter offensive jitters to plant the Wolverines into the Husky Stadium field turf. Tailbacks Willie Hurst and Rich Alexis should be the difference in allowing a young Dawg OL time to focus on the running game. Lloyd Carr won't make the same mistake Butch Davis did last year in disrespecting the Husky faithful, but it won't matter. They will make life Hell for Navarre.
Prediction: Washington 21-7.
Idaho is bad. Very bad. They finally gave in to the mighty crimson and gray football machine known as Washington State last week and will face a tougher defense this week when they head down to the desert to face the Wildcats. Head Coach John Mackovic got his era off to a successful yet unspectacular start, methodically torturing San Diego State 23-10 by scoring 23 straight unanswered points. Arizona QB Jason Johnson had a successful first turn against the Aztecs and should have no problem against the lowly Vandals. The only problem I can see in this game for the ‘Cats is that they need to find someone to run the ball behind Clarence Farmer. Last year it would have been Larry Croom, but Larry decided to transfer out, leaving the RB corps a little dry. As it was last year, the Wildcats will have a stifling defense but an inept offense. It won't hurt them as they mash some potatoes on Saturday, but they need to find a spark to generate some points before conference play starts. Johnson's start was promising, and with Bobby Wade, Malosi Leonard and Andrae Thurman available in the vertical arsenal, it may just be time for 'Air Mac' in Tuscon.
Prediction: Arizona 40-10.
Gary Crowton held no punches back as he throttled Tulane 70-35 to start his collegiate head coaching career off in grand style. Cougar QB Brandon Doman threw and ran his way all over the Green Wave, as BYU amassed 734 yards in total offense. 734? Shoot, I think they'll only need about 234 to beat the Golden Bears, even though the game will be played in beautiful Strawberry Canyon. Cal Coach Tom Holmoe is really on the hot seat this year and playing an offensive juggernaut like BYU isn't the best way to test his tolerance to flaming recliners. One thing going in his favor is that he has a new offensive coordinator in Al Borges, and junior Kyle Boller is poised to live up to his 'baby Jesus in cleats' tag he was labeled with out when he prepped at Hart High in Newhall. With receivers Chase Lyman and Chad Heydorff expected to see limited action, the offensive load just may rest on the shoulders of tailback Joe Igber, and while Joe is a fantastic player, he's not capable of winning games solely on his own.
Prediction: BYU 45-28.
There's no question that the Ducks possess one of the most high-powered offenses in the country, led by Heisman candidate Joey Harrington. Offensive Coordinator Jeff Tedford threw the kitchen sink at Wisconsin, complete with shotgun reverses and attempted throw-backs to the quarterback. Unfortunately, the Duck defense was sieve-like in their attempts to stifle a middle-of-the-road Badger offense. While Oregon may suffer a little bit during the Pac-10 season as a result, the Utes shouldn't pose a problem, especially since the game will be in Eugene. The only think Mike Bellotti should be concerned about is the letdown that may occur after a very emotional and hard-fought battle with Wisconsin, but even the letdown might last a quarter, tops.
Prediction: Oregon 55-10.
Pete Carroll is off to a good start, and can thank the legs of Sultan McCullough for that. The senior tailback went for 167 and 3 scores as Carroll moves to 1-0 as the head man for the Trojans. Heralded QB Carson Palmer didn't set the world on fire against the Spartans, but he didn't make a ton of mistakes, which just might be a winning recipe for Carroll. This will be the first game for the Wildcats, and it will be a substantial upgrade in scheduling for Head Coach Bill Snyder. For example, their next two out-of-conference foes after their game in Los Angeles include Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State. No disrespect to the Bulldogs and Aggies, but they suck. USC does not suck, but USC is also, for the most part, an unknown quantity. Sophomore QB Ell Roberson is also an unknown quantity for the Wildcats, but tailback Josh Scobey isn't, so Snyder may rely on Scobey to help his new QB get his feet wet. The crowd in LA shouldn't be a problem, as the folks there would put more effort into yelling louder in traffic than they would in Memorial Coliseum. Hopefully the Carroll era will take some of the dust off of the patrons and wake them up, but it won't help.
Prediction: K-State 31-15.
UCLA takes their act on the road again after a very successful trip to Tuscaloosa. DeShaun Foster looks poised to have a monster season, and if quarterback Cory Paus can remain healthy they should be a force to be reckoned with by the time conference play comes around. Paus will gain a huge boost in confidence after handling a team like Alabama in the un-friendly confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium. Kansas Memorial Stadium and its capacity of just above 50,000 will seem like a high school game in comparison to Bryant-Denny, and the Jayhawks will seem like Pop Warner compared to Alabama. Heck, Kansas beat lowly SW Missouri State by only 14 in their first game of the season. Surrender Dorothy.
Prediction: UCLA 41-10.
The Aztecs take on the other Arizona Pac-10 team and will find even tougher sledding than they did on their home turf when they played the Wildcats. QB Lon Sherriff and tailback Larry Ned will have a very tough time going up against the likes of ASU DE Terrell Suggs and LB Solomon Bates. The only thing new Sun Devil coach Dirk Koetter has to concern himself with is how his newly appointed QB, Jeff Krohn, handles his responsibilities this fall. Now normally, the incumbent would be given the benefit of the doubt, and Krohn started nine regular-season games last year. The problem is getting comfortable with a new coach and a new system, and Krohn may have some early struggles. One weapon he didn't have last year was tailback Delvon Flowers, and Delvon is back for his final season. Add sophomore Mike Williams and heady walk-on Tom Pace, and Koetter may not have to put Krohn in a lot of passing situations. That's where problem #2 comes up. Koetter was a big-time passing coach at his old school (Boise State), and running usually became nothing more than a switch-up to keep defenses honest. Will he adapt to his personnel, or will he let the pigskin fly? We'll see, but either way, the Aztecs don't present a serious threat.
Prediction: ASU 29-7.
BC looks to have a very potent offense, led by quarterback Brian St. Pierre and tailback William Green. Green, in particular, is a home-run hitter and can break off big chunks of yardage at any time. Receiver Dedrick DeWalt is not only a solid pass-catcher, but is lightning quick and can be a force returning kicks and punts. That talented trio dismantled former Husky coach Phil Elmassian's West Virginia defense last Saturday, but this game will be on the other side of the country against what looks to be a little stiffer competition. The Cardinal do lose conference sack leader Riall Johnson and first-team all league DT Willie Howard, but return starters Coy Wire, Tank Williams and Ruben Carter. Wire will especially be a thorn on Green's side. Offensively for Stanford, Randy Fasani returns at QB, and Kerry Carter, Brian Allen and Casey Moore all return to run the ball and keep the Eagles' D off balance. The difference-maker, or secret weapon, that Cardinal Head Coach Ty Willingham is about to unleash on the world is Riall's younger brother, Teyo. Teyo is going to create Jerramy Stevens-type mismatches for defenses and will be the difference in this game.
Prediction: Stanford 28-23.
KC Enzminger is their whole offense, as the Aggies' QB is also their leading rusher. They go as he goes. And they did have 407 yards rushing against Louisville in their first game, so negating a strong ground attack will be the biggest test for the Beavs. Linebacker D'Wayne Taylor is undersized, but has been a starter since he was a freshman. The Beavers got run out of Fresno with their tails between their legs, suffering a fairly humiliating 20-point pounding to the Bulldogs. QB Jonathan Smith still showed that he has the ability to put points up quickly, but with both lines getting their lunches handed to them, the Beavs will always be coming from behind, not a good sign. It's lucky for them that even though they are going on the road, they'll be playing a team that has nothing on Fresno State. This should be a perfect game for the Beavers to find their compass, and with the week of hell they are sure to endure, courtesy of Dennis Erickson, they'll take their frustrations out on the Aggies.
Prediction: OSU 41-3.
The Cougs for real? Granted, the Idaho Vandal team they played last Thursday wasn't the same Vandal team Tom Cable assembled last year, but quarterback John Welsh was back and Washington State made him look bad. Offensively, Mike Price has found a couple of go-to guys in Mike Bush and Nakoa McElrath, so Jason Gesser has someone to throw to. Also look for true freshman Trandon Harvey to make his mark. The Broncos moved up in class to join the Western Athletic Conference, and were greeted with a big brother-like welcome into the big leagues by the South Carolina Gamecocks last week. To Boise State's defense, they went all the way across the country and gave South Carolina a great test, and they did it with a new head coach and a redshirt freshman QB. I'm sure Ryan Dinwiddie didn't have the game he had hoped for, but the young man went 18 for 31 in a very hostile environment, so he'll be ready for whatever the Cougs throw at him. The guy to watch for the Broncs is tailback Brock Forsey, who can beat WSU on the ground and also by catching passes. I think WSU is riding high off of their Idaho whitewashing, and take their act to the smurf turf and leave the Broncos feeling blue.
Prediction: WSU 35-21.