Arizona State v. Washington State
Stanford v. Oregon
Arizona v. Oregon State
Ironically enough, Arizona leads this series, 19-5-1, but the Beavers are working on a three-game winning streak, including last year's 38-3 slobberknocker in Corvallis. The Wildcats are hoping to avoid a second consecutive 0-5 league start against a team that has won 20 of its last 23 at home. Frankly it doesn't sound too promising for Mackovic and company, and for good reason. They are playing a team that ran for 301 yards last week against California, and the 'Cats are last in the league in rush defense. Add to that the fact that the Wildcats are the worst in the league when it comes to scoring points and OSU is the stingiest in terms of giving them up, this game plays right into the hands of the home team. In short, this is just like putting rocket fuel on a bonfire. Expect Steven Jackson to roll to another 200-yard effort, just in time to take on the conference's best rush defense at Washington next week. Arizona should provide ample fodder for the Beavs to get their game on and gain a ton of confidence heading into Husky Stadium.
Oregon State 51-17
Arizona State v. Washington State
This is the game in the West for sure on Saturday, and if it wasn't for the biggest tailgate in America and a Big-12 clash between Colorado and Oklahoma, this would be the game everyone would be focusing on as the one to watch in the country. I'm sure there weren't a lot of people that forcasted that coming into the season, but Arizona State is off to a 4-0 start in Pac-10 play, marking just the third time in school history that the Sun Devils have achieved that feat since joining the league in 1978. This week's ranking for ASU is the highest for the team since the 1997 Sun Bowl squad was ranked 14th at the end of the season. What also makes this game an intriguing one is that the Devils have won the last two meetings at WSU's Martin Stadium, including a 23-20 overtime victory in Pullman on Oct. 21, 2000, when current ASU kicker Mike Barth booted home a 41-yard game-winner and first-round NFL draft choice Adam Archuleta picked off a pass in the endzone in overtime. Last year, the Cougars snapped a four-game losing streak to the Sun Devils with their 28-16 win in Tempe. Also another plus for the Cougs is that ASU Head Coach Dirk Koetter is 0-3 against them, including two losses when he was the boss at Boise State. Jason Gesser is 21-9 as a starter, the best record ever for a starting quarterback at Washington State, and he's a touchdown away from breaking Ryan Leaf's record of 59. He just became WSU's most prolific quarterback, passing Jack Thompson on the all-time list for total yardage. The key for the home team is how they handle 'T Rex' - Terrell Suggs. If Suggs goes haywire like he did on the Huskies last week, he could be a catalyst. I think WSU specifically defenses Suggs, like runs away from him, for example. And conversely, I feel that the Cougs will get to Andrew Walter and really make life miserable for the redshirt frosh.
Washington State in a bitterly contested battle, 17-14
Stanford v. Oregon
This should be a cakewalk for Oregon on paper, as they look to snap their longest skid in three seasons, but ironically enough this isn't a team they've handled well in the past. Stanford has won four of the last five games against Oregon at Autzen Stadium, including last season's 49-42 come-from-behind win that saw the Cardinal score the game's final 21 points. The Cardinal have posted wins at Autzen in 1991 (33-13), '93 (38-34), '95 (28-21) and lost to Oregon in 1998 (63-28) before last year's win. Since 1964, the Cardinal own a 24-9 record vs. the Ducks. Kerry Carter, while not having the season he would have liked to so far, tied a school record by rushing for four touchdowns in last year's game against Oregon, and will need that kind of effort again. But don't count on it. Stanford has been fairly resistant on the run, but they haven't seen a running back like Onterrio Smith all year (Tyler Ebell comes close, but not quite). Smith will run for big yardage at home, making Jason Fife's life a lot easier. USC shot down Smith, holding him to only 79 yards, his season low and the first time this year he's been held to under 100 yards for a game. That won't happen again. Another thing to watch is the kicking game. Stanford is the only Pac-10 team to give up a touchdown this year via return. That should give Smith and Amundson ample opportunity to rip off at least one big return, perhaps even one that will go the distance.
This Week in the Pac-10
With the other games not doing much to affect the overall standings, all eyes are fixed on Pullman this Saturday to see if the Devils have what it takes to put Dirk Koetter's program on the map.
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