This Week in the Pac-10
#6 Washington State (7-1, 4-0) at #3 USC (7-1, 3-1)
The Cougs had to rally from a 25-14 halftime deficit to top the Beavers 36-30 last week in the Palouse. QB Matt Kegel threw to the white jerseys five times, lost two fumbles along the way, and was sacked for a safety. However, he's getting the "W's" and that's all that matters. There are no style points awarded. LB Will Derting was honored with his third Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week award. For the season, the 6-0, 237-pound linebacker has 52 tackles, including nine for loss and 6.5 sacks. All that from a kid from Okanogan, Washington. Kudos to Will, sorry the Huskies didn't look a bit harder at you. The Cougar rush defense has really stepped it up, allowing just 39.6 yards over their last five games and is currently third in the country.
USC is, quite unashamedly, the best team in the conference right now. They are loaded, fast, deep on both sides of the ball, and – GASP – young. They have scored at least 30 points in 15 of their last 16 games, so they know how to put the rock into the end zone. Any of their three tailbacks would start for any other school except Oregon State. Reggie Bush showed the nation why he was so heralded out of high school last week against Washington, abusing the Husky defense for nearly 300 yards of total yardage. He's scary, and if WSU's linebackers and safeties gang up on him, they'll trust that Jason David can cover 6-5 Michael Williams by himself. David is one of the best cover corners in the country, but Williams is too physically dominating to not command safety help. On defense, USC's defensive line will be in Kegel's face from the first snap on. Keneche Udeze is the most dominating defensive lineman in the conference, and the second most dominating is the guy that lines up right next to him, Shaun Cody.
USC leads the series 50-8-4, but Wazzu has won 3 of the last 5 games, including the last two in LA. The Cougars also have a 7-game winning streak in Pac-10 games played in California. Last year, PK Drew Dunning nailed a 35-yarder in the first OT to give the #17 Cougs the victory of the #18 Men of Troy.
Dawgman line: Trojans flex their might against a good WSU team and win by 10.
UCLA (6-2, 4-0) at Stanford (2-4, 0-4)
UCLA has to own the Rodney Dangerfield award by now … undefeated in the Pac-10, but somehow they can't break the Top 25?? Go figure. They received 82 fewer votes than Boise State in this week's Coach's Poll??? That's some dissing on a major scale. The Bruins literally ran past ASU for a 20-13 win last week. Freshman Maurice Drew rushed for 176 yards and brought the Bruins from behind with an electrifying 83-yard touchdown run. That run was the longest run by any true freshman in UCLA history. The Bruin defense continues to step to the plate, as they have shutout 3 of their last 4 opponents in the second half. On defense, Dave Ball is a sack machine that should add to his Pac-10 leading total against whoever the Cardinal throw against him.
Stanford was shutout in Eugene last week 35-0, going down for the fourth straight game and its first shutout in 83 games. Another true freshman had a stellar performance. WR Mark Bradford had a career day catching 7 balls for 153 yards, including a 71-yarder, which was the Cardinal's longest play of the year. Once tops in the country, the rushing defense has now fallen to 22nd in the nation, giving up 108 yards per game. The Cardinal offense is in a world of hurt, they're without Trent Edwards at quarterback and they're last in the Pac-10. Chris Lewis just doesn't have Edwards' ability to make something out of nothing.
These two teams have been playing since 1925 and UCLA holds a 40-30-3 advantage. That edge is likely to grow by one after Saturday, although UCLA doesn't blow anyone out.
Dawgman line: Bruins win by a touchdown.
California (4-5, 2-2) at Arizona State (4-4, 1-3)
Cal returned to their winnings way, as they drubbed Zona 42-14 last week. Adimchinobe Echemandu tallied a career high 201 rushing yards and 3 TDs, and the Bears totaled 327 yards on the ground. Coach Jeff Tedford has learned his lesson – being that he needs to give the ball to the damn running back, no matter how pass happy he'd like to be. The Bears have had some tough breaks this year and could easily be 6-3 with very little help.
ASU went down to the Bruins, and QB Andrew Walter went down early in the second quarter, leaving freshman Sam Keller in charge for the remainder of the game. Keller, who had previously thrown only 12 passes, was chased all evening long by the Bruin defenders, and finished the game completing 11 of 21 passes for 79 yards. The Sun Devils will need some help from tailback Hakim Hill, as California has the horses up front to harass Keller, or Walter, as much as UCLA did. Next to Washington, ASU has been the biggest disappointment in the conference. This game could really tell coach Dirk Koetter whether or not his team will go into the tank and not surface in time for any bowls. Given the pre-season hype for this team and its Heisman hopeful, that's quite a fall from grace. If it sounds familiar in Seattle, just ignore this.
ASU holds a 13-10 advantage, but Cal took it last year 55-38 in Tempe. Maybe the difference will be that it's Homecoming, and the Devils win 76% of the games on that special weekend.
Dawgman line: Cal wins on the road by a late field goal.
Arizona (1-7, 0-4) at Oregon State (5-3, 2-2)
Arizona has now lost 7 straight, most recently to Cal. Freshman QB Kris Heavner started his fourth game, but managed only 180 yards passing. Michael Bell rushed for most of his career-high 182 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown run, after the Wildcats fell irretrievably behind. Arizona has gained 921 total yards in its last two games, but scored just 35 total points in losses to UCLA and the Bears. One thing the Cats perfected in their loss was how to run a balanced offense. They tallied 201 yards in the air and 201 yards on the ground. Third-down conversions need some work, they were only 2-11 last week. Their best player, TB Clarence Farmer, is out for the remainder of the year.
For the second straight week, TB Steven Jackson was held to under 100 yards thanks to both Washington schools. Jackson gained 85 yards on 28 carries, but the Beavers only netted 15 yards on the ground against WSU. Beaver safety Mitch Meeuwsen had three interceptions, one that he returned 45 yards for the Beavers' first score. OSU scored 18 straight points in the final 6 minutes of the second quarter to surge ahead before going dead in the water on offense. They won't have that problem against the Deserted Swarm, who will not be able to stop Jackson like the Cougars did. The only shot Arizona has in this one is to make Derek Anderson throw as much as possible, as he's proven to be a bit on the color-blind side when it comes to jerseys. Kirk Yliniemi is earning his scholarship, and had four more field goals against the Cougars on Saturday.
The Cats lead the series 19-6-1, but the Beavers have taken the last four. Arizona can't be too excited as they had back to Corvallis after losing 38-3 both in 2001 and 2002. The Beavers have outscored the Mildcats 109-15 in the past three years.
Dawgman line: Oregon State wins this one by 30 as Jackson tops 200 yards.
Link to last week's match ups
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