Oregon v. Oregon State
USC v. UCLA
Stanford v. California
Yes, the Big Game. The oldest series on the west coast, first played in 1892, the Cardinal and Bears have at it for the 105th time. And, to add more intrigue to a game that needs none, it's the 20th anniversary of 'The Play'. 50 games in this rivalry have been decided by a touchdown or less, including 6 out of the last 8 and 5 on the very last play of the game. Stanford has won the last seven, but expect this game to turn that trend around like a U-turn on The Alameda. Last year it was Tyrone Willingham coaching the Cardinal and Chris Lewis throwing for 390 yards and 4 scores. This year? Try Buddy Teevens and Kyle Matter, not exactly names that are going to strike fear in the hearts of Bear fans. To get his legacy in Strawberry Canyon off to a rollocking start, Jeff Tedford needs to pull out all the stops and then one more to humiliate and embarrass Stanford, and I think they will do it. Since Pac-10 play has begun, California has lost a game, then won a game. Guess what? They lost to Arizona last week, 52-41. So what will happen this weekend?
Oregon v. Oregon State
Of all the rivalry games in the Pac-10, this one is the longest, spanning 106 games. Oregon has a distinct advantage in the series of late, going 21-5-1 since 1975. They won a battle royale last year in Eugene, but I expect this one will be a little more wide open. That has to favor the home Beavers. And much like last weekend's UW-UO game, this also features two teams going in opposite directions. Steven Jackson has put the Orange and Black on his back, going for 230 yards in a come-from-behind win last weekend at Stanford. He only needs 57 yards to break the all-time single-season rushing record at OSU, so he'll be motivated by more than just a shot at in-state bragging rights. Oregon, on the other hand, has to be wondering where things went wrong. They just got smoked by Washington at home and could get smoked again this weekend if they can't find some offense. Without Onterrio Smith the Ducks O went south in a big way. It's not that they don't have the talent. For some reason, Jason Fife just hasn't been as sharp as he was earlier in the year. The Beavs will make him pay for errant throws and they will thrive off the hometown mojo.
Oregon State 35-25
USC v. UCLA
This series, much like the Big Game, has been filled with squeakers lately. 15 of the last 22 have been decided by 7 or less. The Bruins can take some solace in the fact that, if it does come to crunch time Nate Fikse has been (literally) automatic. He's 10-10 since taking over the place-kicking chores. But - it won't be that close. Not close at all. USC has a current five-game winning streak and blanked the Bruins at home last year by 27. Carson Palmer is on the verge of breaking Steve Stenstrom's Pac-10 record for total career yardage. He needs 76 yards to do the trick and should have that by the first quarter. The killer stat for the home team? The Men of Troy had 201 yards rushing last week in their win over Arizona State. If USC has 201 yards on the ground this Saturday, it will be a similar embarassment to last year.
This Week in the Pac-10
When it comes to this weekend, all bets are off and all the records can be thrown out the window. On to the games!
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