This Week in the Pac-10: Week 9

Last week some teams had a major opportunity to distance themselves from the pack. Instead the conference is now bunched up tighter than a can of sardines. When UCLA and Washington State blew their chances, it brought Stanford, Oregon and Washington right back into the thick of the chase.

With four of those teams matched up against each other, this week will weed out at least two pretenders, while another will have its hands full with an old friend. Here are the match ups.

Arizona at California
Arizona State at Oregon
Oregon State at USC
Stanford at Washington
UCLA at Washington State
Current Pac-10 Standings

Arizona at California

Well, the good games are out of the way, so let's get to the rest of the action. The Wildcats make their way to Strawberry Canyon to tackle the Golden Bears, and they shouldn't have too much trouble, even though they are looking for their first conference win in 11 tries. To that extent, they couldn't find more hospitable hosts than Tom Holmoe and the Cal football team, who have seemingly forgot about the key goal in football - winning. Arizona QB Jason Johnson and the Wildcat receivers should have a field day on Cal's secondary; if it wasn't for the generosity of LSU, they'd be the worst pass defense in the country. As it stands, they are merely 114th. To add insult to injury, it looks as if Reggie Robertson might get his second start in a row, and while Reggie is a talented and athletic field general, he's extremely young. If Joe Igber can't go (which is likely, due to a broken clavicle), that's going to put more pressure on Cal's youngsters. That will simply be too much for the Bears to overcome, and even though Arizona isn't that good right now, they are healthier at the key positions and are hungry for a win. Bear fans see the writing on the wall for Holmoe and are simply treading water until word comes in about a replacement.

Arizona 28-10

Arizona State at Oregon

This game holds a lot more intrigue than you may think, especially since ASU is coming off a heartbreaking loss at home to Washington and the Ducks are riding high back to their hometown and ready to start another impressive Autzen-based winning streak. The main reason for the intrigue is Dirk Koetter, who was offensive coordinator at Oregon before he left to head up the Boise State program. He's familiar with the Oregon program, and runs a similar type of offense that isn't short on innovation or daring. Koetter has the horses to get in the end zone, either with Delvon Flowers on the ground or Shaun McDonald through the air, and if Jeff Krohn can buy enough time and stay healthy, the Devils could make a game of it. But chances are Onterrio Smith will make Koetter's return to Eugene an unpleasant one. If the Devils could stop the run, that would be one thing, but they can't, especially against a team that is averaging nearly 220 yards per game on the ground. Expect Smith to be a one-man workhorse once again for the Ducks, with Joey Harrington sprinkling in enough of a passing game to keep ASU off balance. The Ducks have just enough defense to keep the Devils a little behind in the scoring column, and that's all that's going to matter.

Oregon 41-32

Oregon State at USC

Another ho-hummer, with the Beavs taking their act on the road to the Coliseum, where they meet up with a Trojan team that is battered, bruised and still a little bewildered after their 41-34 triumph over Arizona, where they blew a 31-10 second quarter lead. It took a great play by Kris Richard to seal the victory for USC with only 1:50 left after the Wildcats outscored the Trojans 21-3 in the second half to that point. It's somewhat ironic that even with the esteemed Norm Chow running the ship, it took a play by the defense to provide the final margin of victory. And that wasn't the only D score, as Kevin Arbet also raced 70 yards unimpeded after picking off a Jason Johnson pass. Oregon State will most assuredly welcome a game in the sun after having to 'bear' miserable conditions in their 19-10 win over Cal. WR James Newson had his breakout game, going for 166 yards in receptions and one touchdown. Newson will find rough going against a decent Trojan secondary, but expect Dennis Erickson to try and make some hay by jumping on the backs of Kenny Simonton and Pat McCall and riding them to victory. This game is another tough one to call, but with Sultan McCullough a possibility to go, I give the Trojans the nod at home.

USC 27-24

Stanford at Washington

The best game in the country that no one will see (at least not yet).

The Cardinal shocked just about everyone but themselves with a thoroughly impressive 38-28 win over UCLA at the Farm, catapulting Stanford from outsider to legitimate contender. What was even more amazing was that they dismantled a top-5 team with their second-string QB. Chris Lewis made all the little things happen, as he went 20-29 for 250 yards and three scores. But he also did give up three picks, so if Washington can get to him early and often, they may be able to rattle the young signal-caller. What the Huskies may not be able to control is just how well the Cardinal run, especially if Brian Allen and Kerry Carter work hard behind that experienced offensive line. They went for over 200 yards on the ground against a UCLA defense that was normally very stingy against the run. If Owen Biddle can get away with cheating up on the line like he did last week, that extra defender up close just might help the Huskies neutralize the run enough so that they put it all on Lewis' arm to get the job done. Chris has legit weapons, like Teyo Johnson, Ryan Wells and Luke Powell, but Lewis will have to be money on his passes. Offensively for the Dawgs, what separated shoulder? All Cody Pickett has done in the last two games is throw for 707 yards and 5 scores. The Cardinal secondary has given up almost 1700 yards in 6 games through the air. That, and the reemergence of the wave, should be enough to keep UW's 10-game home winning streak against the 'Trees intact, but it will be a helluva battle. Another John Anderson cardiac kick?

Washington 37-34

UCLA at Washington State

Another huge game in the Palouse, the ESPN Game Day truck was seen speeding out of Pullman doing 80, trying to get back to the East Coast so they could go cover the Illinois-Purdue game or hotly anticipated North Carolina-Georgia Tech match up (yawn). It's too bad Fowler et al didn't give those crusty Palousians a chance, because this game will be a barn-burner to the bitter end. Apparently they are more interested in riding mechanical broncos or something like that. Anyways, with Cory Paus 'doubtful' for this game, that really swings things in the favor of the Cougs, who made a brilliant late-run dash at Oregon before succumbing to those pesky Ducks. And give those Bruins credit too; they could have let the white flag wave high in the second half, but showed some guts by sucking it up and playing well with their second-string QB, Scott McEwan. But this UCLA team will be far displaced from the sun and fun of SoCal, so bring an extra pair of long johns and get ready for some football, Eastern Washington-style. It can be flashy at times, like when Nakoa McElrath or Mike Bush grabs a hold of a Jason Gesser fastball down the middle of the field, but mostly it's an old Marine guy running right at you again and again until you fall asleep. Then they strike. One little tidbit for Bob Toledo - the nearest Krispy Crème is in Issaquah, so load up before you leave LAX.

WSU 24-17

	        Conference Games       All Games
	        W  L   Pct. Pts. Opp   W  L   Pct. Pts. Opp  Streak
Oregon           4  1  0.800 201  123   7  1  0.875 294  182   Won 1
Washington State 4  1  0.800 195  131   7  1  0.875 325  186  Lost 1
Washington       4  1  0.800 135  146   6  1  0.857 211  167   Won 2
Stanford         4  1  0.800 198  159   5  1  0.833 236  181   Won 2
UCLA             3  1  0.750 157   75   6  1  0.857 231  115  Lost 1
Oregon State     2  3  0.400 115  126   3  4  0.429 166  192   Won 1
USC              2  3  0.400 151  123   3  5  0.375 194  170   Won 1
Arizona State    1  3  0.250 117  156   4  3  0.571 271  205  Lost 1
Arizona          0  5  0.000 114  221   3  5  0.375 211  281  Lost 5
California       0  5  0.000  82  205   0  7  0.000 115  293  Lost 7 Top Stories