This Week in the Pac-10: Week 4

Well, hopefully with a another week now buttressed between the ourselves and the horrible events of September 11th, football will once again become a normal event in our lives instead of the frivolous escape it was just a few days ago.

Perhaps, if we all close our eyes and pray real hard, the Pac-10 may just start playing some defense again too. Actually, outside of UCLA (and the Huskies at times), that may be a more difficult than rebuilding the Twin Towers at this point, but we can always dream...

UCLA v. Oregon State
Stanford v. USC
Washington v. Cal
Oregon v. Utah State
Washington State v. Arizona
San Jose State v. Arizona State
Current Pac-10 Standings

UCLA v. Oregon State

What looked to be a VERY marquee matchup at the beginning of the season now has potential laughter written all over it. This game could easily be forecast as 'A Tale of Two Teams', as dissimilar their respective starts have been. UCLA rolled unscathed through a relatively difficult OOC schedule, while the Beavs gave Fresno State their biggest home win ever, and barely beat New Mexico State, a team that just got 64 hung on 'em courtesy of Kansas State. So the questions are; will UCLA continue to impress, and, will the Beavs show up to play the type of game they are capable of on paper? I think so. I'm going to go out on a limb for the first time this year and predict a close win by the Beavs, simply based on some home-field advantages OSU has, and the fact that Head Coach Dennis Erickson knows how to get his teams jacked up for the big ones. The other thing the Beavs have going for them is that they haven't played for a couple of weeks, thus allowing the team to get fully healthy and put 100 percent of their efforts towards this game. UCLA's defense hasn't seen a QB the caliber of Jonathan Smith yet, nor a running back quite like Kenny Simonton. Granted, the Bruins' D has some splendid performances under their belt already, but remember the last time they made the fateful trek to Bean Dip Stadium? They got their hats handed to them 55-7. I think the ghost of whitewashings past comes back to bite Bob Toledo in the bum, as UCLA comes into Corvallis, but fades badly to an inspired OSU team bent on proving the pollsters right. They are a top-25 team, and they'll show the world this coming Saturday.

OSU 25-17

Stanford v. USC

USC hardly gets a breather at home here, as Stanford is riding as high as any team in the conference right now. QB Randy Fasani was just named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week for his work against Arizona State, and he's looking as good as any of the top conference signal-callers. 8 scores through the air and no picks? Are you kidding me? And mark it down right now; Teyo Johnson is the Pac-10's next Jerramy Stevens. The kid is athletic and can run like crazy. He's going to be a special player. All it will take is one of the trio of talented RB's to get on track (last week it was Brian Allen), and the Trees will be able to name their own score. Carson Palmer has never really been the same since his freshman year, and while he can throw as good a ball as their is in the Pac, he's a virtual statue in the pocket. The Cardinal won't have to put a ton of pressure on Carson for him to feel the heat. Add to that an offensive line of guys who have as much experience protecting a quarterback as I do, and that spells heartburn for New Trojan OC Norm Chow. Chow is finding out the hard way that Palmer's round peg doesn't fit into his square hole of an offensive philosophy. If it hadn't been for a great play by Sultan McCullough and a blown coverage by the Oregon secondary on Kareem Kelly's long TD pass, the Ducks would have gone away big winners in Eugene Saturday night. Stanford won't be as charitable as the quackers were.

Stanford 39-24

Washington v. Cal

The Dawgs put their current 18-game series win streak on the line in Berkeley, and the Golden Bears have been chipping away at that streak for the past three years, only to be turned back at the last minute by some Washington histrionics. Does that presume another hard-fought battle in Strawberry Canyon on Saturday? There's about as much chance of that happening as the Grateful Dead reforming and playing a 15-show run at the Greek Theatre. Garcia's dead, remember? Looking at the Bears' defensive numbers is pause for comic relief; 111th (out of 115 D1 teams) in pass efficiency defense, 114th in turnover margin, 113th in scoring defense, dead last in the country in pass defense, and 109th in total defense. Sounds like just the thing for a Husky offense that needs some confidence in the red zone, but unfortunately for the Dawgs, they'll be without TE Jerramy Stevens and tailbacks Willie Hurst and Braxton Cleman. That means that true freshman Chris Singleton is just one player away (Rich Alexis) from seeing some serious playing time for the Huskies, much in the same way Terrell Williams is if Cal RB Joe Igber's ankle continues to give him problems. All this seems to be leading to both quarterbacks throwing the ball until their arms fall off. In that scenario, UW wins in a landslide. In fact, in any scenario, UW wins in a landslide.

Washington 45-7

Oregon v. Utah State

When are the Ducks going to schedule someone worthy? When Bellotti cuts off his mustache? Ooops, that's not right. Anyways, there's not much that needs to be said about this game, other than it's the biggest game Logan, Utah has ever seen, and the Aggies have a running back named Emmitt White, who is a pretty good runner, and another guy named Kevin Curtis who supposedly has good hands. But usually there's 11 guys on offense, not two, so it's those other 9 that are going to have some issues with the incoming Duck D. The Quackers aren't lighting it up, but they aren't losing games either, and they need a breather after suffering 20 mini heart attacks in their 24-22 win over USC in Eugene. Did anybody really ever believe Joey Harrington WASN'T going to pull that one out? The guy has anti-freeze in his veins, but don't believe the Heisman hype, Oregon fans. Marques Tuiasosopo was exactly the same way, and the closest he's ever been to the Downtown Athletic Club will be on November 25th when the Oakland Raiders visit the New York Giants, and he STILL won't be in the state of New York. The quacking faithful will have to be content with a complete and thorough blasting of the Aggies, and hope that Joey H. can pad his stats one last time before the Ducks start playing some real teams (minus Cal, of course).
Oregon, by however many the Romney Stadium scoreboard will comfortably allow (I'm guessing 66-17, something like that)

Washington State v. Arizona

This game is shaping up to be a very intriguing one to handicap. They both have one common opponent; The University of Idaho. Both teams scored 36 against the Vandals, yet the Wildcat D gave up 29, while the Cougs just 7. Both Quarterbacks are named Jason. The parallels are simply uncanny. But when it comes down to it, the intangibles are going to tell the story, and unless the Wildcats come up with a couple of 6'5" 'intangibles' in a hurry, they won't have an answer for Nakoa McElrath and Mike Bush. Add to that volatile mix the hot hand of Jason Gesser, and the Cougs present a very formidable offensive attack. Will the home cooking of Tucson give Arizona a fighting chance? Of course, and Wildcat field general Jason Johnson is looking more and more like a solid Pac-10 quarterback, and as long as Malosi Leonard continues his surprising play as the second WR to Bobby Wade, the 'Cats will have a chance. But in the end, Air Price will have the final say in a wild and see-saw affair.

Washington State 35-33

San Jose State v. Arizona State

The Spartans head down to Tempe to take on a Sun Devil team trying to figure out just what went wrong in the 51-28 thumping they absorbed at Stanford. And SJSU hasn't played a game since September 8th, when they were shellacked by the Colorado Buffaloes, 51-15. Both teams giving up 51 points in their last games? Hmmm...well, one thing is for sure; this contest won't be a defensive struggle, although SJSU has amassed a mighty 25 points in two games' play. Also, this game pits two first-year coaches against one another; Fitz Hill for the Spartans and Dirk Koetter for ASU. The only real offensive weapon the Spartans bring to the table is RB Deonce Whittaker, and even though he's only 5'7", he packs a big punch ala Kenny Simonton. QB Marcus Arroyo should have time to throw, as the Spartan offensive line has not given up a sack so far this year. Whether he can take advantage of the time and get the ball downfield is a big key. ASU gave up a whopping 548 total yards to the Cardinal, and will need to tighten things up in a hurry before they get right into the thick of conference play. From a timing standpoint, Koetter couldn't have asked for a better spot to play a team like SJSU.

ASU 29-6

                 Conference Games        All Games
                 W  L  Pct.  Pts Opp     W  L   Pct.  Pts Opp  Streak
Oregon           1  0  1.000  24  22     3  0  1.000   79  60  Won  4
Washington State 1  0  1.000  51  20     3  0  1.000  128  47  Won  3
Stanford         1  0  1.000  51  28     2  0  1.000   89  50  Won  4
Arizona          0  0     --   0   0     3  0  1.000   97  60  Won  3
UCLA             0  0     --   0   0     3  0  1.000   74  40  Won  3
Washington       0  0     --   0   0     2  0  1.000   76  21  Won 10
Oregon State     0  0     --   0   0     1  1   .500   51  66  Won  1
Arizona State    0  1   .000  28  51     1  1   .500   66  58  Lost 1
USC              0  1   .000  22  24     1  2   .333   49  44  Lost 2
California       0  1   .000  20  51     0  3   .000   53 139  Lost 6 Top Stories