This Week in the Pac-10: Week 7

Stanford vs. Oregon is the game to watch this week in the conference. It will be interesting to see if the Cardinal can bounce back from a heartbreaking loss on homecoming to the Cougars. The other games involving Pac-10 teams don't hold the intrigue that the game at Autzen does, but let's take a look around the league.

Montana State v. Washington State
USC v. Notre Dame
Stanford v. Oregon
Arizona v. Washington
Oregon State v. Arizona State
California v. UCLA
Current Pac-10 Standings

Montana State v. Washington State (Thursday)

The good news for Montana State? They broke their 18-game losing streak with a victory at Weber State earlier this season and are currently riding a 3-game winning streak, their latest triumph coming courtesy of Sacramento State, 20-0. The bad news? That winning streak is going to end at 7:00 p.m. PDT on Thursday, as a badly outmatched and out-gunned Bobcat squad heads to the Palouse to take on a Washington State team that is riding high and playing like they did when they went for the Roses in 1997. They went to Stanford and dispatched the #22 team in the land, their first win in Palo Alto since 1988. Gone is David Minnich, the Pac's leading rusher as of last week, and replacing him apparently is John Tippins. All Tippins did was run for 75 yards against the Cardinal, 39 of those precious pieces of real estate coming in the fourth quarter. Ryan Johnson is averaging over 130 yards on the ground for the 1-AA Bobcats, and the best chance for survival. QB Tyler Thomas hasn't shown he can cut it in the Big Sky yet, so expect the Cougs to bring the house and send Thomas home with more than just a headache.

Washington State 50-7

USC v. Notre Dame

An interesting match up, to say the least. The Trojans look like they are seriously on the verge of breaking out of their shell offensively. They certainly took a big whack at that shell with a 48-17 shellacking of Arizona State at the Coliseum Saturday. Part of their success was the fact that ASU's starting QB, Jeff Krohn, left early with an ankle injury, but most came from the potent right arm of Carson Palmer, who went 18-26 for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns. And Sunny who? Sunny Byrd, a fifth-year senior who had NEVER carried the ball before, came in when Sultan McCullough went down with an abdominal strain and gained 63 yards and 2 scores against a struggling Devil D. With Notre Dame throwing the ball to the tune of 52 yards a game (the worst in D1 so far this year), Pete Carroll can throw 8 and 9 in the box, daring the Irish to throw. The key match up here will be how Palmer stacks up against the 7th best pass defense in D1 ball. If the Trojans can find someone to pick up the slack on the ground (maybe the Byrd-man again?), that will allow Carson some room to maneuver. As it stands, USC only needs to score 17 points to beat the Irish away from home, and right now, the men of Troy are cruising along at a 23 point clip per game. Sounds like the perfect spread to me.

USC 23-17

Stanford v. Oregon

The game of the week in the Pac-10, the Trees head up to Autzen to tackle that 23 home-game winning streak, now the longest in the nation with Miami's thrashing of the Seminoles. With a wild and woolly 45-39 loss at the hands of Washington State on Saturday, Ty Willingham will need to try something special to rally his troops. There's no question the Cougs took some serious wind out of their sails. It's a positive for Stanford that Randy Fasani will be ready after suffering an injury in the third quarter. The closer he is to 100 percent, the better the Cardinal's chances. Another plus; Stanford showed the world they could run the ball on Saturday, and they will need plenty of Brian Allen and Kerry Carter if they expect to be in it by the fourth quarter. Fasani cannot win it alone. That being said, they won't win at all. Oregon has yet to be seriously tested (despite a slight hiccup against Wisconsin), and Mike Bellotti has plenty of reasons to keep cracking the whip. For starters, an undefeated season and a possible shot at the National Championship. Joey Heismonton is looking sharp and both Mo Mo and O'Smith are fully capable of taking a game upon their shoulders. Willingham will get his troops ready (he always does) and the Trees will get their points, but not while the Ducks rack up a bunch of their own. Expect another shootout ala Stanford-WSU.

Oregon 41-28

Arizona v. Washington

Two teams come to Seattle reeling from getting the tar beat out of them, one by a top-10 team and one suffering from the biggest case of SI Jinx ever. So who is really hurting more? Well, the Huskies can certainly make a strong claim for the 'walking wounded' award, with significant injuries to 6 positions, but Arizona has just been pounded into submission the past three games, allowing an average of 50 points and 400 total yards per game. That's just the tonic the Dawgs require and they'll use a weak 'Cat D as a punching bag to instill confidence in a fragile offensive line in need of some easy pickings. With both Cody Pickett and Taylor Barton not at 100 percent, it'll be up to the OL and also up to Willie Hurst and Rich Alexis to re-establish a normally potent Husky ground game that was stuffed into submission by UCLA on Saturday. Offensive Coordinator Keith Gilbertson may alter the passing game to work more short routes into the mix, including screens to take pressure off of Pickett and Barton. The Wildcats have some offensive weapons in Clarence Farmer and Bobby Wade, but there is a drop-off in talent after that. That won't placate Tim Hundley, however, who remembers full well how a lightly regarded back named Leo Mills ran circles around the Huskies last year. Well, Mills returns, but his supporting cast isn't the same as last year, and he won't pop up to surprise the Dawgs this time around.

Washington 42-21

Oregon State v. Arizona State

This game, while not the game of the week, is perhaps the most intriguing match up, in my opinion. Oregon State comes off a whitewashing of ASU's cross-state rival, while ASU is tasting some of that whitewash, delivered courtesy of USC. Before last Saturday, this game was shaping up as a clear ASU win in the making, but now I'm not so sure. There's two main things at play here. Dirk Koetter is 0-2 away from home, but undefeated when in the friendly confines of Sun Devil Stadium. And the home games really haven't been close, as ASU has scored 38, 53 and 63 points in those three contests. Granted, San Diego State, San Jose State and Louisiana-Lafayette aren't exactly UCLA and Oregon, but outside of the Spartans those defenses weren't especially horrible. In short, Koetter can put up points. He did it as OC at Oregon, he did it as Head Coach at Boise State, and he's doing it in Tempe. But just when you thought it was all going swimmingly for the Devils, hold that thought. Starting QB Jeff Krohn injured his ankle against USC and is questionable to doubtful to go on Saturday. If Matt Cooper has to strap it up again, it's c'est la vie for ASU. I think I'll go with the hot hand here and go with the Beavers, although this game could be a total toss-up if Krohn comes back healthy enough to contribute.

OSU 21-17

California v. UCLA

Out of the frying pan, into the fire. Such is the life for Tom Holmoe and the California Golden Bears of late, and it gets only worse as they travel to Pasadena to take on a surging Bruin squad. Here's the game in a nutshell; the 109th best defense in D1 football takes on the task of trying to stop the leading rusher in the country (DeShaun Foster, at 163 yards per game) and the UCLA offense, scoring at a clip of nearly 30 points per game. The Bear offense? Try 17 points per game. So 30 to 17 could be a reasonable prognostication, but add in some home-field advantage and the fact that the Bruins smell a national championship run and this game is going to be the pigskin equivalent of a bug getting smooshed on the windshield of an 18-wheeler as it rolls down the road in cruise control, heading unimpeded towards its final destination. Perhaps, curiously enough, the final destination may be the same stadium UCLA calls home.

UCLA 45-7

	        Conference Games       All Games
	        W  L   Pct. Pts. Opp   W  L   Pct. Pts. Opp  Streak
Washington State 4  0  1.000 178  107   6  0  1.000 255  134   Won 6
Oregon           3  0  1.000 135   57   6  0  1.000 228  116   Won 7
UCLA             2  0  1.000  73   20   5  0  1.000 147   60   Won 5
Washington       2  1  0.667  71   87   4  1  0.800 147  108  Lost 1
Stanford         2  1  0.667 111   89   3  1  0.750 149  111  Lost 1
Oregon State     1  2  0.333  72   75   2  3  0.400 123  141   Won 1
USC              1  3  0.250 110   89   2  4  0.333 137  109   Won 1
Arizona State    0  2  0.000  45   99   3  2  0.600 199  148  Lost 1
Arizona          0  3  0.000  52  149   3  3  0.500 149  209  Lost 3
California       0  3  0.000  55  130   0  5  0.000  88  218  Lost 8 Top Stories