This Week in the Pac-10

We're not quite done with the out-of-conference foes, but for the most part this marks the first week where league play opens up. The game of the week again features the USC Trojans. This time they head to Pullman to take on the Washington State Cougars.

Does the early away game at a place that traditionally gets tougher to play the later the year goes demonstrate the Trojans' fortuitous scheduling? Or will the Cougars continue to put up points that would make Steve Spurrier smile? On to the matchups!

Oregon v. Arizona
UCLA v. Oregon State
USC v. Washington State
North Carolina v. Arizona State
Stanford v. Notre Dame



Oregon v. Arizona

As it was with their non-conference play, the Ducks get to ease on into league play by playing (arguably) the worst team in the Pac, and true to form their path becomes even that much easier as the 'Cats main running threat will miss this duel in the desert.
Clarence Farmer is out for the next three weeks, meaning true frosh Mike Bell gets the call. He did go for over 100 against North Texas, but that was the Mean Green. Mr. Bell, meet the Meaner Green. Oregon dismantled the Wildcats 63-28 last year, and there's no reason to expect anything differently this Saturday. Jason Fife will be given a safe, low-risk passing package from Andy Ludwig against the number-two rated pass defense in the conference, but this will be the game Onterrio Smith will run for daylight. Arizona frankly sucks against the run, giving up nearly 175 yards per game. Smith has been dinged up here and there and the bye week will give him a chance to heal up and run roughshod.
FB Helmet
Oregon 63-28 - again.



UCLA v. Oregon State

UCLA heads to Bean Dip Stadium with a solid, if unspectacular, win over San Diego State University, while Dennis Erickson and the Oregon State Beavers are just looking for positives in the wake of a 22-0 whitewashing at the hands of USC in LA last Saturday.
Derek Anderson finally looked like a young quarterback, as the offensive line was not able to contain the Trojans' four-man frontal attack. Erickson couldn't have found a better tonic than the Bruins when it comes to defensive lines in the Pac-10. UCLA is giving up over 160 yards rushing per game, perfect for Steven Jackson to get things back on track. It also means Anderson should have more time this weekend to find his receivers from the pocket. You won't be able to say the same thing for the Bruins. The Beavs' D is going to be pissed, and OSU is 5-1 at home after a road loss under Erickson, including a 55-7 rout of UCLA after losing to Stanford on the road in 1999. History is going to repeat itself here, as Cory Paus is going to have an absolute nightmare of a game in Corvallis. Look for Drew Olson to come in at halftime after the Beavs go up big early.
FB Helmet
Oregon State 45-21.



USC v. Washington State

The game of the week in the Pac. Washington State heads back home after a hard-fought 48-38 win at Cal, and the Trojans feel invincible after blanking OSU, a team that (until Saturday) looked like they could score on anybody. So who is going to prevail in this battle in Pullman? Since this series has been moved back to Pullman, USC is 7-1, so do the Cougs have a home-field advantage? There's no question that USC's defense has dominated so far this year, both on the scoreboard and in the stats column. They are clear of the next best defense in the league by SEVENTY total yards per game. That's an incredible number, and they've done it against some pretty darn good competition. WSU is averaging 430 yards on offense, the Trojans are allowing less than half that. What's obvious here is that something will have to give. Jason Gesser played with a lot of heart against the Bears but there's no question that he will not survive if USC's defensive line gets anywhere near the same amount of pressure they got against Derek Anderson. And if Matt Kegel or Chris Hurd have to play more than a quarter of this game, that will be all she wrote for the Cougs.
Carson Palmer isn't going to set the world on fire at Martin Stadium, so he'll need Sultan McCullough, Malaefou MacKenzie, Justin Fargas and Hershel Dennis to haul the offensive load. If Palmer doesn't have to win the game for USC, they win handily.
FB Helmet
USC 28-17



North Carolina v. Arizona State

After ripping Stanford's insides out, you would think ASU head coach Dirk Koetter would love to keep things rolling with league play, but he's not done with his non-con schedule first. Ironically enough, the Tarheels come stumbling into Sun Devil Stadium in search of some offense. If Washington feels like they've got some red-zone woes, look at UNC's stats - 381 total yards offense per game that is resulting in an average of 21 ppg. That's pretty bad.
Darian Durant is a moving highlight reel at QB, this year's Woody Dantzler, but he doesn't have a lot of help around him. Their leading rusher, Jacque Lewis, is averaging less than 60 yards per game on the ground. One thing the 'Heels do better than anyone in the ACC is cough it up, giving up a robust 14 turnovers in 4 games. Arizona State caused Stanford to hand it over 7 times last Saturday. See the pattern? The Devils rack up some more points off UNC miscues and I will predict Skyler Fulton to score another touchdown on an Andrew Walter pass.
FB Helmet
Arizona State 48-28



Stanford v. Notre Dame

This should be an interesting scene. Let's see - Ty Willingham recruits all the current players on Stanford's staff. Not only does he leave, but now they have to go to his new school and play against him. Isn't college football a blast? Willingham has the undefeated Irish feeling pretty good about themselves right now, and Notre Dame's strength is their defense, allowing only 275 yards per game against some pretty tough competition. The Cardinal, under new coach Buddy Teevens, has the offense going pretty well at 430 yards per contest, but 15 turnovers in 3 games just isn't acceptable. Couple that with ND's ability to capitalize (13 turnovers gained), and you sense a disturbing trend for Teevens. The other question is, who will start?
Chris Lewis or Kyle Matter? Lewis has been starting since coming back from injury, but Matter is making his case. While the Cardinal have enough offense to stay in the game, do the Irish? They are averaging less than 300 total offensive yards per game, and while Carlyle Holiday is an exciting player to watch he is still very much a young QB still learning the nuances of the position. Ryan Grant and Rashon Powers-Neal showed a semblance of a running game, but Arnaz Battle is going to need to lead the Irish receiving corps and Holiday is going to have to step up and exploit a Stanford secondary that has been giving up over 285 yards per game through the air. The intangibles are all in ND's favor - home cooking, momentum, luck of the Irish - you name it. There's just no way Teevens pulls this one out, especially with the 65-24 debacle against Arizona State still fresh in his noggin. Welcome to the Pac-10, Buddy.
FB Helmet
Notre Dame 21-9

Dawgman.com Top Stories