This Week in the Pac-10

There aren't a lot of great match ups this week. On paper, this week is a snoozefest, but that's why they play the games, right? The one game that is probably the most interesting to watch will be Oregon vs. UCLA, as both have 6-4 records. Washington and Cal both are fighting for bowl eligibility as well.


Washington State (8-2) vs. Arizona State (4-6) – 12:30 ABC

This one is going to be very ugly. It's in Martin Stadium, and it's cold. But how can it be any colder than the anemic ASU offense? ASU is getting tired, as this will be their 11th straight game without any rest. Coming off a 38-27 loss at Stanford last weekend, it doesn't bode well that they have to play the #8 team in the country in their barn. The Stunned Devils have lost three in a row and are the most disappointing team in the conference, along with Washington, when looking at pre-season hype and actual performance. QB Andrew Walters is still hobbled by a sore ankle but did throw for 357 yards against a poor Stanford team that appears to be pulling itself out of the doldrums. All four of Arizona State's touchdowns came via the pass.

Washington State keeps on doing what it's done every week, and that is take the ball away at key times in the game. Last weekend it was Erik Coleman, who took home both defensive player of the week as well as special teams player of the week in the conference. This team knows defense, and has for the past four seasons. WSU and Texas have each recorded 154 sacks over the last four seasons, the most any team in the nation...WSU also has 88 interceptions since the start of the 1999 season, ranking third nationally behind Oklahoma, 95, and Kansas State, 92. On offense, QB Matt Kegel and his back up, Josh Swogger, find the speedy Sammy Moore and the sure handed Scott Lunde enough to allow the running game to open up. Jonathan Smith broke 100 yards last weekend against the Bruins. Expect him to do the same against ASU.

The Cougars and Sun Devils have played 29 times, with ASU holding a 16-11-2 advantage. WSU has won the last two games, while the Sun Devils won four straight before WSU's victory in Tempe in 2001 by a 28-16 score, and last year it was 44-22 Cougars in Pullman. ASU coach Dirk Koetter is 0-4 against WSU.

Dawgman line: WSU wins by three touchdowns
Oregon (6-4) vs. UCLA (6-4)

The Ducks woke up just in time to beat a very good California Bears squad in the last five minutes of the game. UCLA, on the other hand, is going backwards after a quiet but promising run at the Pac-10 title. They get the Ducks in the Rose Bowl, which should help keep it close. Although the Bruin offense has been pretty pedestrian, their defense has had shades of greatness. UCLA has allowed just three second-half touchdowns and one field goal in six Pac-10 games. Washington did not score on its final nine possessions of the game and scored just one field goal on its final 12 possessions. In the second half, UCLA allowed just 87 net yards on 30 snaps while forcing four turnovers and making four sacks. Dave Ball has been the ringleader, as he leads the NCAA in sacks with 13.5 and has 28 for his career. Oregon will need to put more than just a tight end on him.

The Ducks said they were going to scrap the scrap the two-quarterback system, but it might not be such a bad thing. Kellen Clemens rebounded from a benching to lead Oregon to a win late in the fourth quarter. In doing so, the Ducks became bowl eligible and may have gained some confidence. They showed a lot of moxie to rebound from the drubbing they took from Washington two Saturday's ago. UCLA will bring heat and has a solid secondary that will challenge whoever Mike Bellotti puts out there at quarterback. The Ducks will look to Terrence Whitehead to carry the load on the ground to keep Dave Ball and Rod Leisle out of the backfield. They held WSU to just over 300 yards last week but couldn't overcome mistakes by their offense.

UCLA leads the series, which dates back to 1928, by a 37-20 count. However, the Ducks have won three straight meetings between the two schools, the last two in the Rose Bowl. The Bruins have not defeated the Ducks since a 1999 contest at the Rose Bowl.

Dawgman line: Ducks down Brother Bear by a touchdown.
Oregon State (6-3) vs. Stanford (4-4)

18 seniors will be making their final appearance in Reser Stadium in Corvallis for Oregon State. OSU boasts one of the best defenses in the conference, as Richard Siegler and Bill Swancutt continue to post big numbers. Seigler has over 50 tackles for loss in his career while Swancutt, a junior, has already broken the school sack record. He has 22 for his career, 7.5 this season. He had a sack and two tackles in the backfield against Arizona. On offense, if the Beavers can get Steven Jackson going on the ground and not have to rely on the mistake-prone Derek Anderson, they should be fine. Jackson is one of the best backs in the country and will be a certain NFL first rounder in April. Stanford will stack 8 in the box to try to shut him down.

The Cardinal has been on fire, having dispatched of UCLA and ASU handily over their past two games, and are now hoping to become bowl-eligible. Stanford is the only team in the league that will play only 11 games this year, so they'll need to win two of their final three to play in the post season. Stanford got it done on the ground against ASU last week, going for 188, with JR Lemon gaining 151 of those. However, Chris Lewis had his best day as a quarterback, throwing for 279 yards in relief of the injured Trent Edwards. On defense, safety Oshiomogho Atogwe is the key force with 63 stops, two interceptions, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and two sacks. He is the guy that makes the Cardinal go.

Oregon State and Stanford have played 69 games in the series with the Cardinal holding a 46-20-3 overall edge. The Beavers currently have a two-game winning streak in the series and have won four of the last six games. Mike Riley is 1-1 vs. the Cardinal and Stanford's Buddy Teevens is 0-1 vs. Oregon State.

Dawgman line: Beavers stop Stanford's hot streak, down the Cards by 10
USC (8-1) vs. Arizona (2-8) – TBS 4:00PM

This is the biggest mismatch of the season. The league's premiere team vs. the league's doormat. However, the doormat just finished kicking the Washington Huskies in the ass, so they are feeling much better about themselves. Arizona's Mike Bell ran wild against Washington, going well over 200 yards and had three touchdowns, two over 60 yards. On defense, the ‘Cats sacked Husky QB Cody Pickett four times and held the Huskies pretty stiff after surrendering 174 yards in the first quarter.

Now they face USC, a team that will in all likelihood play for the national championship in January. The Trojans are loaded, have the best recruits, the best head coach, the best offense, the best defense, and the best band. Other than that, they are in bad shape. QB Matt Leinart is efficient and effective, but it is the Trojan defense that is scary. DL Shaun Cody, DL Mike Patterson, DE Omar Nazel, and DE Keneche Udeze are as good as they get. Arizona will find out very quickly that they are not playing Washington this week.

The two teams have met 26 times and USC has won 20 of them. However, they have split the last four meetings. Their last meeting, in 2001, USC pulled out a 41-34 thriller. This time, the only thrill will be that the goal post in the scoreboard end zone will be left untouched, even without the PA announcer threatening legal prosecution.. It was almost torn down after the win over Washington.

Dawgman line: Take the Trojans, by about four touchdowns.

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