ARIZONA @ USC
October 13, 2007
12:30 PM PST
Television: ABC (Regional
Arizona has lost five straight games to USC but they’re gaining
ground on the Trojans. In the last
three games, Arizona has kept it close midway through the
third quarter before USC’s overall depth, experience and talent eventually took
over. In Stoops’ first season,
at USC 49-9 but trailed only 21-9 with less than six minutes to play in the
third quarter. Carroll would later
was the most physical team the Trojans had played that year. In the 2005 game again played at the
Coliseum Arizona had a chance to tie things at 28-28 but instead threw an INT
inside the red zone. USC treated
the INT as a wake up call, rattled off 14 unanswered points and won 42-21. In 2006, Arizona held USC to a total of 10 points
through the first three quarters before eventually losing 20-3. On all three occasions, at least from my
POV in the stands, it felt like Arizona was only one big play or one costly
mistake by USC away from really making all three of those games
interesting. This season, USC is
actually making the key mistakes and it has cost them dearly. Against Washington, mistakes kept the Huskies in the
game until the end. Against
Stanford, mistakes (4 INT’s and 8 penalties) again plagued the Trojans. If this were any other program in the
country sans LSU I’d say USC is primed for one of those <b>We’re Still in
Shock</b> losing streaks that results in an all too common 3-game
slide. This is USC though so them
finishing the season 11-1 and either backdooring their way into the BCS
Championship Game or completely dominating another Big 10 team in the Rose Bowl
is extremely possible.
Just in case I’m wrong and
USC is ripe for a fall this might be the best time for the Wildcats to play
USC. Umm, that is if Arizona wasn’t twisted in
its own web of despair.
In two road conference
games this season, the Wildcats have been outscored a whopping 52-6 in the first
quarter. Why the team is not coming
out of the locker room ready to strap it on has baffled everyone from the
players and coaches to the fans.
The team is talented as evidenced by their strong play after their poor
starts. Some will argue that
Cal and Oregon State shut down the engines and coasted to
victories after their huge first quarter leads. While that may be true, Arizona did hold
the Beavers to only 40 total yards of offense in the second half last week and
actually threatened Cal on several occasions only to have an untimely turnover
or penalty thwart a scoring drive that could have narrowed the
On Saturday, the keys to
the game are simple. For Arizona, they must put
pressure on QB Sanchez who was just named the Trojans starter on Thursday. Sanchez hasn’t started a game since 2004
when he was in high school. USC is
banged up on the offensive line while the Wildcats’ defensive line is as healthy
as a unit can be six games into the season. If Arizona only rushes four and allows Sanchez to
get comfortable in the pocket then shame on them. They deserve to lose. If they come after Sanchez and force him
to make plays under duress, then there is a possibility that Arizona’s talented
secondary can get hot and make things difficult for USC in the air. Arizona must also have faith in their rushing
attack and get frosh Grigsby at least 20 carries to see what he can do. If they abandon the run, then QB Tuitama
could be in for another long day (sacked 8 times against OSU). For the Trojans, they have to neutralize
ground game and force Tuitama to throw 50 or more times. On offense, the key for them is to get
their own ground game going to take some pressure off Sanchez. Getting back RB Johnson from injury will
help this cause.
L.A. Memorial Coliseum – 92,000
WASHINGTON STATE @ OREGON
October 13, 2007
12:36 PM PST
The good news for WSU is
the visiting team in this series is 5-2 in the last eight games. The bad news is only two of the games
have been played in Autzen Stadium, meaning that it’s been the Ducks who have
been doing all the winning on the road.
Last season, Wazzu did hold serve though in beating Oregon 34-23 in Pullman.
That was a much different Cougars bunch though with a solid defense and a
balanced offensive attack. This
season, QB Brink has been forced to go it alone in trying to beat opponents in
the air. He’s done a stellar job
but while one-pronged offensive attacks might get it done in the Big 12 they
aren’t going to get it done in the Pac-10.
on the other hand, does have both a running and passing attack. In fact, their attack comes in the form
of a multi-headed beast named Dixon.
QB Dixon is getting things done on the ground and in the air and is
supported by a cast of athletes as good as any in the country. RB Stewart is having a fine season as is
the entire Ducks WR corps.
The X Factor in this game
is how well Oregon bounces back from their gut
wrenching loss to Cal two weeks ago. The bye week had to have helped but if
they get off to a slow start against the Cougars the hangover effect could set
in and who knows. The Cougars gave
a very good Arizona State team all they could handle last week
and they are hungry for their first conference win. While ASU runs a traditional Pro-style
offense that relies on talent and efficiency to wear down opposing defenses,
offense is a tad more unconventional.
So, unless a defense is really anticipating well it’s a lot more
difficult to stop. For that reason,
to move the ball on Wazzu and avenge last season’s upset loss.
Stadium – 54,000
TCU @ STANFORD
October 13, 2007
2:05 PM PST
(3-3, 1-2 MWC)
Stanford QB Pritchard gets
the start against TCU after leading the Cardinal to their incredible upset of
USC last weekend. Season starter
Ostrander was cleared to play this week, but head coach Harbaugh made the
decision and that’s that. Despite
last weekend’s huge win, it’s hard to imagine that Stanford has turned any major
corners. That’s not to say they’ve
improved because they have. But the
reality is they’ve been pounded by Pac-10 teams this season. In their three conference losses,
they’ve been outscored 141-51. The
good news is they have a non-conference game on Saturday against visiting
TCU. The even better news is the
Cardinal has already played one Mountain West Conference team this season in
which they beat San
handily, 37-0. The bad news is TCU
is a lot better than SJSU.
The Horned Frogs, unlike
the Trojans, now have a full 60 minutes of game film to study Stanford’s
tendencies with Pritchard at the helm.
Will that be enough though to make a difference? It might. TCU has a very strong front seven and
outside of giving up 34 points to Texas, the team has not surrendered more than
24 points to any other Division I opponent. Stanford, on the other hand, has given
up 45, 55 and 41 points in their three losses. The fact that Stanford is coming off a
big win and the game is played in Palo
Alto gives them a slight advantage, but don’t be
surprised if TCU comes in and knocks off the Cardinal.
Stadium – 50,000
October 13, 2007
4:07 PM PST
Television: Versus (Direct TV –
This is a huge conference
game for many teams. If Cal wins, and they
should, the Beavers will drop to 1-3 in conference play. If that happens, coupled with the
expected losses of Arizona to USC, WSU to Oregon and Washington to ASU, the top
six conference teams will really begin to separate themselves from the bottom
half of the conference. Unlike in
2006 where five teams were separated by only one loss at season’s end, 2007 is
shaping up to be much different.
The Beavers dominated
week by blitzing on nearly every play.
They forced 3 INT’s, 8 sacks and a host of QB hurries. Despite the intense pressure on
Tuitama, the Wildcats had many opportunities to get back into the game. They didn’t though because of dropped
passes and penalties that negated touchdowns. Cal won’t do that against OSU. For one, Cal WR Jackson is one of if not
the best wideouts in the country.
Second, Cal’s offensive line is a lot better than UA’s
and should do a better job of picking up the blitz while also creating huge
holes for RB Forsett.
Blitzing defenses can wreak
havoc as evidenced from last weekend’s beat down of Arizona. However, blitzing against an offense
that is capable of handling the pressure can have disastrous results. Expect a handful of long gainers by
Forsett as Cal
will catch OSU in blitzes, make the blocks and spring their running back
untouched and into the secondary.
These runs should occur often enough to keep OSU off balance and allow
Cal to dictate
the flow of the game.
California Memorial Stadium – 72,516
WASHINGTON @ ARIZONA STATE
October 13, 2007
7:26 PM PST
Television: Fox Sports
This should be a great game
to watch whether you’re a fan of these schools or not. Both teams have athletes all over the
field and each has an exciting QB and RB capable of making big plays.
ASU has won three straight
against UW and should make it four in a row on Saturday. In last year’s meeting, Sun Devils QB
Carpenter connected on a 25-yard TD pass in overtime for the win. As has been the case for ASU all season
though, discussing the past is meaningless with this program because the
presence of head coach Erickson on the sidelines has given the Sun Devils an
entirely different mentality then the one they had under Dirk Koetter. It’s a winning mentality and it comes
with a swagger that bleeds confidence.
Similarly, the Huskies are also playing with an improved attitude. Despite being 2-3, they’ve been in every
game including their contest two weeks ago where they lost to USC 27-24. UW has had two weeks to prepare for ASU
while the Sun Devils return home for the first time since Sep. 22. The Huskies are searching for their
first conference win while the Sun Devils are looking for their fourth before
heading into a bye week of their own.
ASU’s upcoming schedule has
them hosting Cal on Oct. 27 before then
traveling to Oregon and UCLA. ASU needs to give UW its undivided
attention because the Huskies are more than capable of pulling off the
upset. ASU’s aggressive defense
should force UW QB Locker out of the pocket but that might not be a good thing
as Locker thrives as both a passer and a runner. ASU may need to commit a LB to spy
Locker which could free up the Huskies’ TE’s to roam freely in the middle of the
field. If they find a way to
contain Locker in the pocket, then advantage Sun Devils who have not one but two
players with three or more INT’s on the season. I expect this game to be close but
knowing what’s at stake and knowing that the team has a bye week to prepare for
won’t hold anything back which should help his team pull away in the fourth
Devil Stadium – 71,706