Pac-10 preps for conference play

Pac-10 preps for conference play

Pac-10 preps for conference play
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

If the Pac-10 were a political party, it would probably hand Southern California its nomination without so much as a roll call vote.

Alas, they're going to require the Trojans to earn their seventh straight title on the field. Given the shabby state of the conference, that might not be much of a challenge for a powerhouse that whipped Virginia and Ohio State by a combined 85-10.

But consider that six of USC's last seven losses have come against Pac-10 rivals. Pete Carroll's Trojans excel in the big games. It's the small ones that give them trouble, and there will be plenty of those in the next two months.

Still, Carroll doesn't buy the notion that Trojans will cruise through the conference.

''We have a ridiculously difficult schedule going through the conference, and we don't address where they're ranked or anything,'' Carroll said.

That's wise, because at the moment the Trojans don't have another Top 25 opponent on their schedule.

Besides, it's not as if USC has no flaws. The Trojans rank dead last in the conference in kickoff returns, averaging 14.3 yards per return. Of course, they've only had to return three kicks so far.

Already there are questions about whether the Pac-10 is so feeble that it will drag down the Trojans in the BCS standings. To forestall such talk, Pac-10 coaches stress that it's too early to make snap judgments, perhaps hoping critics eventually forget ugly losses to UNLV, New Mexico and Maryland.

''I wouldn't say that we are down,'' Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson said this week. ''Maybe some of the other conferences are up.''

Maybe. Either way, the Pac-10 season shifts into high gear this week - and from Seattle to Tucson that's a good-news, bad-news proposition. A team-by-team outlook based on overall records:

1. USC (2-0)

Good news: Only an epic disaster will stop the Trojans from earning a berth in the Bowl Championship Series title game.

Bad news: In an epic disaster, USC lost to Stanford at home last year and missed out on the BCS title game. Keep an eye on the Oct. 25 visit to Arizona, which has ambushed a Top-10 team in Tucson each of the last three seasons.

2. Oregon (3-1, 1-0)

Good news: No more Western Athletic Conference teams on the schedule.

Bad news: Trips to USC, Arizona State and Cal in a five-week span that begins Oct. 4. It's a tough road for a banged-up bunch that has used four quarterbacks - two sophomores and two freshmen.

3. Arizona (3-1, 1-0)

Good news: With Stanford and Washington up next, the Wildcats have a chance to be 3-0 in the Pac-10 for the first time since 2000.

Bad news: In 2000, Arizona lost its last five games and fired coach Dick Tomey. Be careful what you wish for, Mike Stoops.

4. California (2-1, 1-0)

Good news: The Golden Bears stunk it up at Maryland, but the farthest east they'll have to travel the rest of the season is Tucson.

Bad news: Once a team renowned for big plays, the Bears rank 101st in the nation in punt returns. Where have you gone, DeSean Jackson?

5. Arizona State (2-2, 1-0)

Good news: Gridiron collapse of the Sun Devils, ranked 15th in preseason, should not damage recruiting by the school's NCAA champion softball team.

Bad news: At Cal Oct. 4. At USC Oct. 11. At home in December?

6. Stanford (2-2, 1-1)

Good news: Players receive a Stanford degree when they graduate.

Bad news: Cardinal ranks 109th in passing offense and has thrown only one touchdown pass against five interceptions. You'd expect more from a team coached by a former quarterback, Jim Harbaugh, although he did play for run-loving Bo Schembechler at Michigan.

7. Oregon State (1-2, 0-1)

Good news: The Beavers are 1-0 at home.

Bad news: Next home game is against USC on Thursday night.

8. UCLA (1-2, 0-1).

Good news: Men's basketball team begins its quest for a fourth straight Final Four on Nov. 12, by which time the football team will have only three losses remaining.

Bad news: The Bruins' best quarterback may be coach Rick Neuheisel, who led the Bruins to victory in the 1984 Rose Bowl. UCLA has four touchdowns this season - one was scored by a linebacker and another by a defensive lineman.

9. Washington State (1-3, 0-1)

Good news: Even if they don't win another game all season, the Cougars are guaranteed a trip to Hawaii, where they'll end the regular season on Nov. 29.

Bad news: The Cougars are giving up an incredible 39.75 points per game, 114th in the nation, and they've allowed 20 touchdowns. Memo to opposing kickoff teams: get plenty of rest before visiting Pullman.

10. Washington (0-3, 0-1)

Good news: Only a silly rule - and a blocked extra point - prevented the Huskies from forcing overtime against Brigham Young in a 28-27 loss on Sept. 6.

Bad news: The Huskies lost their other two games by a combined score of 99-24.

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Re: Pac-10 preps for conference play

PAC-10 Week 4 Recaps and Notes  
by: Jorge Gonzalez 

In 2007, the Pac-10 conference was one of the best conferences in the country. Just one year later, the conference has the #1 team in the country in USC but the rest of the conference has not been very impressive. The Trojans solidified their number one ranking by destroying Ohio State 35-3 last week. Outside of USC, the rest of the conference has struggled in their non-conference games. ASU was shocked by UNLV 23-20 two week ago and UCLA was blanked by BYU 59-0. Oregon has battled injuries and lost a rare game at home to Boise State 37-32. Only five teams played last week with three of teams were victorious.

Southern Cal Trojans

The Trojans had a bye after destroying the Buckeyes on national television and now takes on their first conference opponent in Oregon State. The Trojans have been impressive with their win over Ohio State and traveling across country to demolish the Virginia Cavaliers 52-7. With the play of the rest of the conference considerably down so far this season, it looks like the Trojans should end up in the championship game with a perfect record. In both wins, the offensive and defensive lines of the Trojans have been very impressive. Trojan quarterback Mark Sanchez had all the time in the world to throw the ball while Ohio State quarterback Boekman appeared to get hit by a Trojan defender on every play. Sanchez was 17-28 for 173 yards and four touchdowns. Boekman was 14-21 for just 84 yards and two interceptions. For now, the Trojans are bye far the best team in the country.

Arizona Wildcats

The Wildcats are coming off their first conference game in which they easily defeated the Bruins 31-10. The offense was efficient with quarterback Willie Tuitama completed 16 of 29 for 222 yards for two touchdowns. Tight end Rob Gronkowski made his presence felt in his first action of the season with touchdowns of 22 and four yards. The Wildcats are 3-1 on the season and have a bye before they take on the Washington Huskies at home. The Wildcats only lose was to New Mexico by the score of 36-28. It may appear the Wildcats may have been looking ahead to playing UCLA in that spot. Even though the victory was a convincing over the Bruins, we need to keep in mind that the Bruins have multiple injuries on both sides of the ball.

Arizona State Sun Devils

The Sun Devils started the season with high hopes and a national ranking. The Sun Devils were 13th ranked team in the country before losing UNLV 23-20 two weeks ago. Things were not much better this week as the third ranked Georgia Bulldogs cam to town. The Sun Devils were no match for the Bulldogs as they lost 27-10. Knoshown Moreno ran through ASU defense for 149 and 2 touchdowns. Sun Devil quarterback Rudy Carpenter was 23-36 for 208 yards and a touchdown. The Sun Devils have a bye this weekend and will need to toughen before the Cal bears come into town.

California Golden Bears

The Golden Bears did not play last week. California will try to rebound from their35-27 loss to Maryland. The Bears out gained the Terrapins 461 yards to 297. The Bears scored three touchdowns in the last seven minutes but cam up just short. Colorado State is up next and should be an easy win for the talented Bears. The Bears may have a flat spot here with Arizona State on deck.

Oregon Ducks

The Ducks continue to loss quarterbacks as Jeremy Masoli to a concussion in the Boise State 37-32 Loss. Freshman quarterback Darron Thomas came in off the bench to complete 13-25 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns. The Oregon secondary gave up 386 yards and too many big plays. The Ducks will have the Washington State Cougars to work on get their fundamentals. Oregon will need to get things figured out in a hurry with a trip to Los Angeles to take on the USC Trojans.

Oregon State Beavers

The Beavers did not play. The Beavers had a week off after beating Hawaii 45-7. They needed a good win with Trojans on deck. The Beavers were crushed 45-14 by Penn State and may face the same result against the number one team in the country.

UCLA Bruins

The Bruins are battling injury problems on both sides of the ball. The Wildcats of Arizona came into Los Angeles and easily won 31-10. The 59-0 whipping they took from BYU the previous week may have been on the mind of the Bruins. The Bruins did have a solid effort from running back Chane Moline who rushed for 11 for 72 yards. UCLA’s offense will have to get a rerunning game going if they want a chance to knock off the tough Fresno State Bulldogs.

Stanford Cardinals

Stanford is the sports book favorite team this week after punching a touchdown with just nine seconds left and San Jose State with no time outs to stop the clock. The Cardinals were down by 10 points early and woke up to score 23 unanswered points. Toby Gerhardt rushed for 148 yards on 22 carries and 1 touchdown. Stanford will be traveling to Washington and will need to continue to produce the pressure on the quarterback that they had in the second half against San Jose State. With Notre Dame up in two weeks both games are winnable but the Cardinals will need to put two halves of football together.

Washington Huskies

The Huskies will are back to the drawing board Oklahoma blew them out 55-14. Quarterback John Locker gave solid effort completing 16 of 24 passes for 146 yards. He also rushed for 44 yards and a touchdown. The Huskies at least have a beatable opponent in Stanford. The Cardinals have been up and down this year and have Notre Dame up in two weeks. Look for a big effort out of the Huskies here.

Washington State Cougars

The Cougars finally got a much needed win when they rolled Portland State 48-9 last week. Prior to last weeks game, The Cougars lost their first three games by 39 points per game. The Cougars are the worst team in the conference and have to take on the Oregon Ducks next. After losing 45-17 to Baylor, the Cougars are going to need really improve if they are to win a conference game.

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Re: Pac-10 preps for conference play

Pac-10 Tip Sheet
By Brad Young

Pac-10 play this week kicked off Thursday night with the Southern Cal-Oregon State tilt, while both Arizona and Arizona State are enjoying a bye week. There are a pair of conference clashes slated for Saturday (Stanford at Washington and Oregon at Washington State), while two schools (UCLA and California) collide in non conference contests.

Let’s take a closer look at the four games this weekend involving Pac-10 teams.

**Stanford at Washington**

-Caesars Palace installed Washington as a 3½-point home ‘chalk’ over Stanford, with the total set at 52½. Fox Sports Net will provide coverage of this contest beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET.

-Stanford (2-2 straight up and against the spread) was mired in a two-game losing skid before upending San Jose State as a seven-point home favorite, 23-10. There was no total on that contest.

-The Cardinal entered halftime trailing the Spartans, 10-7, but won the game outright and covered by posting 10 points in the fourth quarter. Stanford finished the contest with advantages in rushing yards (204-54), while trailing in time of possession (33:02-26:58).

-Quarterback Tavita Pritchard struggled by completing 13-of-28 passes for 159 yards with an interception. The junior signal caller also ran nine times for 40 yards and a touchdown, but Toby Gerhart was the real rushing star with 22 carries for 148 yards and a score.

-Washington (0-3 SU, 1-2 ATS) is coming off its bye week after facing a tough early season test against Oregon, Brigham Young and Oklahoma. The Huskies were blown out at home versus the Sooners September 13 as a 21-point home underdog, 55-14. The combined 69 points eclipsed the 62-point closing total, helping the ‘over’ improve to 2-1.

-Washington was dominated across the board, trailing in rushing yards (274-87), passing yards (317-249) and turnovers forced (3-0). Quarterback Jake Locker was 16-of-24 passing for 154 yards, while rushing 12 times for 44 yards and a score. Wideout D’Andre Goodwin stepped up with nine receptions for 82 yards in the loss.

-The Huskies toppled the Cardinal last year as a three-point road favorite, 27-9, while the combined 36 points never seriously threatened the 57½-point closing total.

-Stanford offensive lineman Gustav Rydstedt (concussion) is ‘questionable’ versus the Huskies, while defensive back Austin Yancy (hamstring) and wide receiver Marcus Rance (hamstring) is ‘out.’

-Washington tight end Michael Gottlieb (hamstring), safety Victor Aiyewa (groin) and cornerback Quinton Richardson (knee) are ‘probable’ against the Cardinal, while strong safety Jason Wells (knee), strong safety Darin Harris (concussion), offensive lineman Mark Armelin (foot) and cornerback Byron Davenport (ankle) are ‘doubtful.’

-The Cardinal follow this contest with a road game against Notre Dame before returning home to tackle Arizona. The Huskies travel to Arizona next weekend before home games against Oregon State and Notre Dame.

-Saturday’s forecast for Seattle, Washington calls for partly cloudy skies with a 20 percent chance of rain. The high is projected to be 66 degrees, with a low of 49.

**Colorado State at California**

-Caesars Palace opened California as a decided 26-point home favorite over Colorado State. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. ET.

-Colorado State (2-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) slipped past Houston last weekend as a six-point road underdog, 28-25. There was no total on that contest.

-Quarterback Billy Farris was 24-of-33 passing for 276 yards with two touchdowns, while Gartrell Johnson had 19 carries for 69 yards and a score. The Rams enjoyed advantages in rushing yards (146-93), turnovers forced (4-0) and time of possession (37:21-22:39).

-California (2-1 SU and ATS) is coming off its bye week after traveling east two weeks ago and losing to Maryland as a 14-point road favorite, 35-27. There was no total on that matchup, but the ‘over’ did cash the first two games for the Golden Bears.

-The game wasn’t as close as the final score indicated since Cal posted 21 fourth quarter points. Quarterback Kevin Riley completed 33-of-58 passes for 423 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, while wide receiver LaReylle Cunningham caught seven passes for 138 yards.

-Cal upended the Rams last season as a 14-point road favorite, 34-28, while the combined 62 points slithered ‘over’ the 61-point closing total.

-Colorado State offensive lineman Mark Starr (ankle), defensive back Brandon Owens (ankle) and center Tim Walter (ankle) are ‘probable’ against the Golden Bears.

-California linebacker BJ Beatty (leg) is ‘doubtful’ versus the Rams.

-The Rams follow this contest with a two-game homestand against UNLV and Texas Christian. The Golden Bears host Arizona State next weekend before having another bye week.

-Saturday’s forecast for Berkeley, California calls for sunny skies, with a high of 79 degrees and a low of 57.

**Fresno State at UCLA**

-Caesars Palace lists Fresno State as a seven-point road ‘chalk’ over UCLA, with the total set at 46 1/2. ABC Sports will provide coverage of this contest starting at 3:30 p.m. ET.

-Fresno State (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) survived a double-overtime scare with Toledo last weekend as a 5 ½-point road favorite, 55-54. There was no total on that contest, but the ‘under’ prevailed the first two outings for the Bulldogs.

-Signal caller Tom Brandstater was 22-of-28 passing for 231 yards with four touchdowns, while running back Ryan Mathews had 18 carries for 87 yards.

-UCLA (1-2 SU and ATS) continues its downward spiral after falling to Arizona last weekend as a 3 ½-point home underdog, 31-10. The combined 41 points went ‘under’ the 52-point closing total, ending back-to-back ‘over’ outings.

-The Bruins kept the game close until surrendering a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns. UCLA could manage only 196 yards of total offense, 81 yards passing along with 115 yards rushing. Quarterback Kevin Craft was 15-of-31 passing for 81 yards, while Chane Moline paced the ground game with 72 yards on 11 carries.

-Fresno State and UCLA have not played each other the past few years.

-Fresno State offensive lineman Richard Pacheco (hamstring), wide receiver Jason Crawley (hamstring) and wide receiver Devon Wylie (foot) are ‘questionable’ against the Bruins.

-UCLA running back Kahlil Bell (ankle) and wide receiver Nelson Rosario (knee) are ‘probable’ versus the Bulldogs, while tight end Cory Harkey (ankle), linebacker John Hale (ankle), offensive lineman Micah Kia (back), center Micah Reed (knee), defensive tackle Jerzy Siewierski (neck) and running back Aundre Dean (ankle) are ‘questionable.’

-Fresno State embarks on a two-game homestand following this contest against Hawaii and Idaho. UCLA returns to Pac-10 play next weekend against Washington State before traveling to Oregon.

-Saturday’s forecast for Pasadena, California calls for sunny skies, with a high of 89 degrees and a low of 64.

**Oregon at Washington State**

-Caesars Palace opened Oregon as a 21-point road favorite over Washington State. This contest is slated to start at 6:15 p.m. ET.

-Oregon (3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS) was upset by Boise State last weekend as a 10 ½-point home ‘chalk,’ 37-32. The combined 69 points toppled the 52-point closing total, ending a string of two straight ‘under’ outings for the Ducks.

-Oregon made things interesting by outscoring the Broncos in the fourth quarter, 19-0. The Ducks dominated Boise State in rushing (227-38), but trailed in passing (386-237), turnovers forced (4-2) and time of possession (32:22-27:38).

-Quarterbacking injuries caught up with Oregon, led by freshman signal caller Darron Thomas who was 13-of-25 passing for 210 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. His favorite target was tight end Ed Dickson who caught seven passes for 103 yards with two scores. Running back LeGarrette Blount stepped up with 99 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in a losing effort.

-Washington State (1-3 SU, 0-3 ATS) notched its first victory of the season by routing Portland State in a ‘non-board’ affair, 48-9.

-The Cougars put the game away with 24 points in the third quarter, ending the contest with 638 yards of total offense. Quarterback Marshall Lobbestael was 9-of-12 passing for 149 yards with two touchdowns, while tight end Devin Frischknecht caught five passes for 110 yards and a score.

-Oregon is 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS the past four meetings with Washington State after routing the Cougars last season as a 20-point home favorite, 53-7. The combined 60 points went ‘under’ the 69-point closing total, ending a string of three straight ‘over’ outings in this series.

-Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli (head) and defensive back Walter Thurmond III (groin) are ‘questionable’ versus the Cougars, while quarterback Justin Roper (knee) is ‘out.’

-Washington State quarterback Kevin Lopina (shoulder), defensive lineman Fevaea’I Ahmu (shoulder), linebacker Cory Evans (undisclosed) and linebacker Kendrick Dunn (ankle) are ‘questionable’ against the Ducks.

-Oregon travels to Southern Cal next weekend to take on the Trojans before returning home to tackle UCLA. Washington State heads on a two-game road trip following this contest against UCLA and Oregon State.

-Saturday’s forecast for Pullman, Washington calls for partly cloudy skies with a 20 percent chance of rain. The high is listed at 70 degrees, with a low of 44.

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