CALIFORNIA @ UCLA
October 20, 2007
12:30 PM PST
Television: ABC (Regional
This is a huge Pac-10 game
this week. A win by Cal and the
idle Sun Devils will move into first place as the lone team without a conference
loss. A win by UCLA and the Bruins
will move into a tie with ASU as both teams will then have matching 4-0
conference records. The home team
has won the last seven games in this series, a streak that dates back to
1999. Last year, UCLA amassed a
season high 516 yards of total offense.
They were led by QB Cowan’s 329 yards in the air. This year, season starter Olson is out
which again paves the way for Cowan to lead the Bruins. The only problem is Cowan is banged up
as well and whether or not he is effective due to limited reps in practice could
be a major factor in the game.
in a similar situation as their QB status remains a game day decision. If Longshore can’t go, the Bears will
lose some experience at the position but not necessarily talent. Backup Riley completed 20 of 34 passes
for 294 yards last weekend against a strong Oregon State defense. In the closing seconds though Riley made
a critical mental mistake which resulted in the clock running out before
attempt a short, game-tying field goal.
Saturday’s game is filled with a ton of questions, which should make it
entertaining to watch. How will
UCLA respond after suffering their second embarrassing non-conference loss of
the season? How will Cal, and more
importantly Riley (if he plays) perform after the shocking end to their game
against the Beavers? Will UCLA’s
2006 defense finally show up in 2007?
How many different ways will Cal get the
ball into the hands of Mr. Everything, Jackson?
Will the road team finally win in this
In the end, this game will
come down to which secondary plays better.
Both have been hit hard by opposing offenses. Both teams run the ball effectively, but
have not put up the most impressive numbers in the air. The team that can connect on some big
pass plays to open up the field and keep the safeties honest and out of the box
should win the time of possession and the game. I’m leaning toward Cal to get the victory
but one thing I’ve learned in watching UCLA is that when Cowan is at the helm
his team plays like winners.
Bowl – 91,500
USC @ NOTRE DAME
October 20, 2007
12:30 PM PST
USC has won five straight
in the series and despite their rash of injuries, there’s no reason to think
that Notre Dame can in anyway duplicate their efforts from two weeks ago when
they went on the road and upset UCLA.
There’s too much familiarity between USC and Notre Dame for either team
to be intimidated by the other or more importantly, have the gall to
underestimate the potential of the other.
That said, USC is the better team, this is the kind of game Pete Carroll
lives for, and there’s no doubt he’ll have his Trojans focused on the task at
hand. As for coach Charlie Weiss,
the signs are there that he just might be in over his head. Rushing true freshman QB Clausen into
the starting line up after the season-opening loss was the move of a desperate
coach and when I think of desperate coaches at Notre Dame I think of only one
man, Gerry Foust. His continuous
rotation of starting QB’s since then also seems desperate to me. Weiss is hiding behind statements like,
“he’s a bit banged up and not as healthy as we’d like him to be,” for reasons
why Clausen in not starting this week but the truth is the frosh hasn’t played
well and he’s just not ready. So,
ND starts their third different QB this weekend which is never good for any team
let alone a team that is 1-6.
As trendy as the pick might
be to go with the Irish here as 18-point dogs, I’m just not feeling it. USC’s invincibility has taken a serious
hit in the last 12 months and a tight game in South Bend will really send Trojans’ fans into
a panic. The good news for the
Trojans is it does look like RB Johnson will play this weekend which gives USC
three very capable running backs (Washington and McKnight) to help take pressure
off an injured Booty at QB or the young and inexperienced Sanchez. The match up to watch is USC’s TE Davis
go up against ND’s Zbikowski.
torched opponents this season with several game changing plays. I expect Big Z to use Davis as his key
throughout the game. If Z can read
perhaps he can neutralize what’s been USC’s most effective offensive
Last season, Notre Dame
held the Trojans to a respectable 139 yards on the ground. Expect that number to go up drastically
on Saturday as USC is currently averaging 198 yards on the ground and have done
this against defenses that at least on paper are better than the Irish. Add to this the fact that the Irish are
currently ranked 120th in the nation in rushing offense (32.1 YPG)
and therein lies the disparity between these teams. This looks to be a game where Notre Dame
should cover the large spread, but I’m guessing they don’t. Will the final score by 44-24 like it
was last year? I doubt it, but I
could easily see it being 31-10. Of
course, stranger things have happened in this series where records and the
opinions of analysts have been rendered meaningless on more than one
Dame Stadium – 80,795
STANFORD @ ARIZONA
October 20, 2007
4:00 PM PST
Television: FSN & FSA (DirectTV-652 &
Stanford has won four of
the last six games in this series, including a 20-16 win in Tucson in 2005. Arizona
defeated Stanford in Palo
Alto last season which extended a trend in recent years
where the road team has won six of the last seven in this series. Both teams find themselves tied for
eighth in the conference standings heading into Saturday and both teams are
coming off disappointing losses last weekend.
Okay, enough of the blah,
blah, blah. Here’s the deal. With five games remaining in the season,
it’s now or never for the Wildcats.
At a minimum they need to win four games to become bowl eligible but five
is more likely with the unusually high number of teams across the country that
should have seven wins by season’s end.
While going to a bowl would be great, I could care less right now. What I want to see is a motivated team
play to their potential for once.
If Arizona can achieve that I can live with the
results. I say that because if they
do the results more often than not will be victories. I also want to see Stoops & Co. use
the remainder of the season to build for the future. Our upperclassmen have paid their dues
and have earned their way onto the field but the reality is that for all they’ve
accomplished in four years, this team still plays very much the same as they did
back in 2004. With a ton of new
blood on the roster and a host of talented underclassmen, I want to see the two
Terrell’s, Dean, Gronk, Grigsby and Elmore get as much playing time as possible
from here on out.
I was pleased by our
defenses overall performance against USC last weekend. Sure, they couldn’t stop the Trojans
93-yard drive that ate up the entire clock at the end of the game but that’s
what a Stoops led offense will do to a defense over time. The conservative play calling and
continuous three and outs by the O leaves the D on the field for too long and
eventually they break down, which is exactly what happened in the Coliseum. Hopefully, Stoops lets Dykes call an
entire game so we can get a second glimpse of the offense that put 48 points on
the board against Wazzu. Saturday’s
contest is all about which team wants it more, which scares me. The good news for Arizona fans is this team
seems to have the same mental makeup of last year’s squad that won three of four
to close out the 2006 season. The
bad news is Stanford is the kind of team that Arizona has loved to overlook under Stoops and one thing
is for certain, head coach Harbaugh will have the Cardinal ready to go in
Arizona needs to get off to a fast start to keep their fans
interested and in the stands. The
day game should help the student section avoid the typical second half mass “bar
rush” exodus out of the stadium so if the ‘Cats play well, they should have a
packed stadium at game’s end to celebrate with. Expect a big performance out of QB
Tuitama but don’t expect a blowout unless Grigsby or Jennings gains at least a
100 yards on the ground.
Arizona Stadium – 56,002
OREGON @ WASHINGTON
October 20, 2007
4:30 PM PST
Television: Fox Sports Northwest (Direct TV –
Boy oh Boy how things can
change over the course of a season.
A month ago UW was the talk of the conference after wins over Syracuse and Boise
State and a valiant losing effort
State. Since then, the Huskies have lost all
three Pac-10 games and have somewhat fallen off the radar. Despite their four-game skid the Huskies
are a battle-tested team that should be feared. QB Locker remains a duel threat and the
team’s overall speed enables them to compete with anybody. For the most part, they remained
competitive through the 3rd Quarter only to tire or breakdown in the
final 15 minutes of all four losses.
In this series, the Ducks
have won three straight despite trailing UW 58-36-5 all-time. This border rivalry is as intense as it
gets in the Pac-10. So, don’t be
surprised if this game is decided late.
has yet to face a QB with the unique talents of Locker and that may prove to be
a challenge early. However, their
defense does have the luxury of seeing their own duel threat QB Dixon every day
in practice and once they figure out Locker’s game-decision tendencies, they
should be able to make some adjustments and force him into only being a
passer. I expect Oregon to eventually take away the Washington running game,
which means UW’s receivers will need to step up and make plays for their
For Oregon, the Ducks have
suffered some devastating season-ending injuries to their Receiving Corps. Still, the Ducks have been able to
reload at the position. Dixon will be a nightmare to contain for a Washington defense that
hasn’t stopped anyone since September.
Look for Oregon to pound the ball with Stewart early to
set up their passing game before opening things up in the second quarter. This game should be filled with plenty
of fireworks on offense and if the weather permits, a lot of scoring. In the end, though, it’ll be turnovers
that decide it and unfortunately for Washington, I’m guessing they’ll be the team
who has the worst turnover margin.
If Oregon can capitalize on Huskies’ mistakes
then scoring in the high 30’s should be good enough for a 14-point win.
Stadium – 72,500