This Week in the Pac-10: Week 11

I can't believe that the season is almost done with, but here we are - Rivalry Week. And while a couple of them aren't being played this week (UA-ASU and UO-OSU), there are still three classic matchups that will have the conferences' undivided attention.

With Washington's blowout loss and UCLA's squeaker defeat, this week's game don't have quite the luster that they once promised, but Rivalry Week is always a fun one to look forward to, regardless of future implications. This week, old wounds are re-opened and bitter feuds are again renewed. Isn't it great?

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




The Big Game: California at Stanford

Stanford, as with Washington, will need something special from the Dawgs and Beavers if they are to get in a 4-way tie for first, but it's possible and it's the only motivation Ty Willingham will need to offer the Cardinal, as they take on a demoralized Bear team that's about to lose their leader. This Cal team may almost be the worst team they have ever fielded, and that's saying something. They are the 83rd ranked team in the country when it comes to offense and the 104th ranked defense. Staggering and appalling are the first three words that come to mind. But they are the team that made 'The Play' in 'The Game', so I suppose anything is possible here. And they will be playing for their embattled coach, Tom Holmoe, who has already said that he'll resign at the end of the season. Well Tommy, the end of the season comes this weekend for you, so you better come up with something special for your parting shot. Did they ever try to diagram 'The Play'? And it doesn't matter if Randy Fasani or Chris Lewis is quarterbacking the Trees on Saturday. Hell, Sheri Lewis and Lambchop could beat the Golden Bores. And during Rivalry Week, running up the score is permissible.

Stanford 67-14



The Apple Cup: Washington State at Washington

The game of the week in the Pac-10, the Cougs haven't had this much riding on an Apple Cup since 1997, when Ryan Leaf and company went to Seattle and handed the Dawgs a 41-35 loss, a game where the score didn't reflect how dominant Washington State had played. Since then, the Huskies have taken care of business in this series, throwing a 51-3 can of whoop-ass on the helpless felines last year. Will this game be a reprise of last year's debauchery? No, although with the chameleon-like changes the Husky defense is going through, anything is possible. ANYTHING. They could play 'bend-but-don't-break' defense, or they could simply snap. The first few series will determine which Washington team shows up. As for Washington State, a lot will rest on the head of QB Jason Gesser, which took a beating down in the Valley of the Sun. Gesser left the game with a concussion, but should be back to travel to Seattle. If it's determined on Tuesday that he's not 100%, Matt Kegel will get the nod. That would be a night-and-day difference for Washington defensive coordinator Tim Hundley, whose Dawgs beat up Kegel last year. Gesser is the heart and soul of a Cougar offense ranked in the top-10 in the country for points per game. True, having a healthy David Minnich will help the Cougs' cause considerably, but Gesser has the keys to WSU's car, and if he can't start it, Kegel may not be able to either. The Huskies to rebound in a big way after getting spanked by Oregon State last weekend. In regular season games since 1990, Washington's record is 12-3 after losing a game by double-digits. They'll need to muster up some serious Husky Stadium mojo for this one, and as with all heated rivalries, you can throw out the records. Washington hasn't lost at home this year, and they won't lose this one.

Washington 28-21



UCLA at USC

Ah yes, the crosstown rivals go after it this weekend, and while there isn't much riding on it except a possible Vegas Bowl berth for the hapless Bruins (DeShaun's driving!), this game is ALWAYS a great one to follow. Statistically, the boys from Westwood should wax the guys from South Central. But SC comes off a thorough bashing of Cal, whereas UCLA's fragile psyche took a blow with a 21-20 loss to Oregon, a game that was eminently winnable. Cory Paus and Brian Poli-Dixon both showed that they are back to the form that should win the Bruins ball games, but Paus has to keep the turnovers to a minimum. A key pick in the fourth quarter against the Ducks stalled a promising drive, and he can't afford to do that against an opportunistic Trojan D, who parlayed a pick and a fumble by the Bears into touchdown returns. The problem for USC continues to be the running game, as they had no less than TEN players run the ball against Cal in the hopes of trying to find an adequate replacement for Sultan McCullough. If Sultan doesn't give it a go this weekend, I think Chad Morton still has a year of eligibility left. As it stands, Bruin DC Phil Snow can line 10 in the box and dare Norm Chow and Carson Palmer to chuck it deep. Sorry Trojans, but the emergence of Chris Howard last week was a day late and a dollar short for this season.

UCLA 35-21



Northern Arizona at Oregon State

The Lumberjacks make their way to Corvallis to tackle a Beaver team surging towards possible bowl eligibility. Granted, even if they do win out, there's no guarantee they'll get an at-large berth somwhere, but it's something to cling to, and Dennis Erickson will milk it for all it's worth. NAU is 8-2 and has second place locked up in the Big Sky, so this game is just for pride so they can tell their 1-AA buddies that they knocked off one of the big boys. The Beavs should look out for a balanced attack (210 running yards/game and 223 passing yards/game), led by QB Preston Parsons. He has two competant backs to hand off to in Brian Bingham and Marcus King. Through the air, Clarence Moore and Jonny Marshall have been Parsons' weapons of choice. But for all of their high-octane, the Lumberjacks have been sputtering of late on defense, which will lead them right into Erickson's hands. They've been surrendering 33 points per game during their last 3-game stretch, and since the Beavs just pasted 49 all over the 8th best team in Division 1, it stands to reason that this one could get ugly if NAU doesn't play some serious ball-control offense. I'll give NAU 21 because of their balance, but if OSU executes their offense to any degree that even remotely resembles the success they had last weekend against Washington, it won't be pretty.

Oregon State 55-21


2001 PACIFIC-10 CONFERENCE FOOTBALL STANDINGS
	        Conference Games       All Games
	        W  L   Pct. Pts. Opp   W  L   Pct. Pts. Opp  Streak
Oregon           6  1  0.857 264  167   9  1  0.900 357  226   Won 3
Washington State 6  1  0.857 243  161   9  1  0.900 373  216   Won 2
Washington       5  2  0.714 201  223   7  2  0.778 277  244  Lost 1
Stanford         5  2  0.714 277  238   6  2  0.750 315  260   Won 1
USC              4  3  0.571 222  150   5  5  0.500 265  197   Won 3
UCLA             3  3  0.500 191  116   6  3  0.667 265  156  Lost 3
Oregon State     3  4  0.429 177  166   4  5  0.444 228  232   Won 1
Arizona State    1  5  0.167 157  226   4  5  0.444 311  275  Lost 3
Arizona          1  6  0.143 189  296   4  6  0.400 286  356  Lost 1
California       0  7  0.000 120  298   0  9  0.000 153  386  Lost 9

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