This Week in the Pac-10

Last week was marked by a few heart-breaking losses and a few games that went a little closer than expected for the Pac. With the exception of the Arizona defeat, every loss came either in the final minutes or in one case on the final play. Here is what's in store for the conference this week, with two teams kicking off their Pac-10 title runs.

California (1-2) at Utah (1-1) (Thursday)

Cal was unable to hold on last week against Colorado State, as Rams QB Bradlee Van Pelt passed for 317 yards in the 23-21 victory. The Bears continue their Mountain West schedule and travel to Utah to star on ESPN this evening. The Utes are similarly licking their wounds, as their comeback fell short last week in College Station. Trailing Texas A&M 21-0 at the half, Utah came storming back to within 2 points, but failed on their 2-point conversion with just 6 seconds left, to lose 28-26. Speaking of that last play, that was a quarterback keeper and, unfortunately, Utes QB Brett Elliott broke his left wrist and will miss this contest. Cal QB Reggie Robertson leads the Pac with 8 TD passes, and his main target, WR Geoff McArthur, leads the nation in total receiving yards, with 340. Is it just a coincidence, or do these total numbers have a little something to do with the fact they've played one more game than everybody else?

Dawgman line: Bears by five points
Washington State (1-1) at #17 Colorado (2-0)

Let's not dwell on last week's ‘Coug job' … let's just say it was either the luck of the Irish, or the evil curse on PK Drew Dunning for being named the Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance against Idaho. Of course against Notre Dame, Dunning clanked a PAT off an upright and then duck-hooked his overtime field goal attempt wide right. This week it's another tough road test for Wazzu, as Colorado has already beaten the CSU Rams and the Bruins. The teams have met four times and the Cougars' only victory came in Boulder back in 1981. WSU Linebacker Will Derting is hoping that all this curse talk is just an old wives' tale, as he was just named the Pac-10's Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Notre Dame, racking up 12 tackles, including 3 sacks and a forced fumble. An interesting match-up is in store because WSU faces a team that's been a bit of an enigma. Against CSU, the Buffs were in a shoot-out where the two teams racked up 1,089 yards. In the contest against the Bruins, the two teams could only muster 488 yards of offense. The Cougars have shown a very balanced offense and a tough defense, but which Colorado team will they face?

Dawgman line: Buffaloes by a FG
Hawaii (1-0) at #4 USC (2-0)

USC scored early and late last week, handing BYU a 35-18 loss after the Cougars had closed the lead to just 3 points. This week, it will be Timmy Chang taking on the "Wild Bunch II" when Hawaii makes its first appearance in the Coliseum since 1930. The "Wild Bunch II" is, according to USC Media Relations, the nation's finest defensive line, but who would argue that anyway? Perhaps their front four should be called "WMD," because through two games, they have a combined 41 tackles, 13 tackles for losses of 58 yards, 8 sacks for minus 49 yards, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, two passes batted down and an interception return for a touchdown. Last week, Hawaii handled Appalachian State, 40-17, without their star QB, who had to sit the game out due to a violation of the WAC's "six-credit rule." Chang, who is just a junior, already is Hawaii's career passing leader with 8,615 yards. But the going may get a little tough, as the Warriors have to replace three of their offensive linemen, who are now in the NFL, as the Wild Bunch II will have Chang sharpening his scrambling abilities.

Dawgman line: Trojans by 24 points
New Mexico State (1-1) at Oregon State (1-1)

OSU just can't seem to win in Fresno. What didn't help their cause last week were Derek Anderson's five interceptions, the team's 14 penalties, and going only 1-15 on third-down conversions. FSU kicked the game winning field goal with 31 seconds left in the game. The Beavs look to continue their brand of good, clean, apple pie football, as handed down by Dennis Erickson, this week as they open up Division I home play against the Aggies. NMS opened up their season losing to No. 5 Texas, 66-7, but rebounded last week over Western New Mexico 48-3. The Aggies have a potent rushing attack, averaging 222 yards (22nd in nation), and they already have six players that have rushed for at least 40 yards this season. If Oregon State is on their toes, they can take advantage of the Aggies' propensity to lay the ball on the ground, they've had 9 fumbles so far, but have only lost three. Beaver running back Steven Jackson has been unstoppable in his own right. . . Well, other than being slowed by his own offense that has 6 turnovers and 81 pass attempts so far. Jackson has tallied 431 all-purpose yards after two games.

Dawgman line: Beavers by 16 points
Oregon (2-0) at Arizona (1-1)

Oregon upped its record last week by holding off the well-coached Nevada Wolf Pack, 31-23. Now we all sit on the edge of our seats wondering what kind of special double-secret, Nike 007 gadgets the Ducks will break out, undoubtedly wanting to kick off Pac-10 play in style . . . since it is an evening affair, maybe some new swoosh headgear equipped with state of the art "Knight-vision." The dual-headed QB monster now heads south to the desert where it actually hopes to score in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Kellen Clemens has seen the bulk of the action, but senior Jason Fife is still Mike Bellotti's "spark plug." And how about those Mildcats? Last week, they gave LSU its most one-sided road victory since 1958, getting pounding 59-13. This week, they hope to break an 11-game Pac-10 home-game losing streak, but the Ducks have beaten the ‘Cats in four straight. But Arizona does have one thing going for them – this is the second straight week that they will appear on TBS, following the NASCAR race. Jeff Gordon was seen donning a "save John Mackovic" t-shirt. This contest could be a quarterback carousel, as Arizona will also most likely have two guys fighting for time, sophomore Nic Costa, who is the starter, and RS FR Ryan O'Hara, who actually leads the team in passing.

Dawgman line: Quacks by three touchdowns
Illinois (1-1) at UCLA (0-1)

For the Bruins last week, they just had to cream the passer a tad late, helping Colorado keep a drive alive and come from behind with 2:15 left in the game and win 16-14. This week, they'll be a few QBs short, as sophomore Matt Moore has a bruised tibia and back-up John Sciarra has been suspended after being ratted on by the local media that he had previously been arrested. The always-supportive UCLA alumni will be greeting their team this week with open arms at the Rose Bowl, showing up in the wee hours of the morning, hoping to get their hands on one of 10,000 schedule posters that will be given away. For Illinois, this will be their first trip to the Rose Bowl, where they aren't actually playing in THE Rose Bowl. In their first two games, they lost 22-15 to Missouri and beat up on Illinois State, 49-22, on Boy Scout Day. Senior QB John Beutjer has completed 70% of his passes this season, after leading the Big-10 in passing yards per game in 2002. True freshman running back E.B. Halsey exploded onto the scene with 222 all-purpose yards in his first game.

Dawgman line: Bruins by four points
Utah State (0-2) at #16 Arizona State (1-0)

ASU started their season off a little sluggish, falling behind to Northern Arizona 7-0, before being ignited by a 100-yard interception return by R.J. Oliver. They finished off the Lumberjacks 34-14, despite being outgained by the visitors and losing the time of possession by almost 15 minutes. QB Andrew Walter threw for 224 yards and 4 touchdowns, and without Terrell Suggs terrorizing quarterbacks, the defense recorded only 3 sacks. In Logan, they are looking for a new scheduling coordinator, as Utah State will play its third-straight road game, and second game against a ranked opponent. Last week, they swam in the sea of red in Lincoln, losing 31-7 to the Cornhuskers. In true Lou Holtz fashion, ASU Coach Dirk Koetter warns his faithful that Utah State played better than the score indicated, even though the Aggies are 1-37 all time against ranked opponents. Individual Aggies to watch are LB Roberts Watts, who has 26 tackles, and 6'4 TE/FB Chris Cooley, who leads his team in receiving.

Dawgman line: Devils by 20 points Top Stories