College GameDay is coming to Tucson, Arizona and I couldn't be more excited. I've been down here all week and it has absolutely been the talk of the town. My UofA friends that are still in college (and even some of the ones that have graduated) are planning on camping out tonight in preparation for the GameDay set.
Myself, and a few of my friends, bought tickets to this game over a month ago in preparation for what we thought might be the biggest game in recent Arizona Wildcat history.
Looks like we were right.
Despite Arizona's tough loss to Cal last weekend, they still control their own destiny when it comes to making the Rose Bowl to play Ohio State.
The story lines for this game abound, but for me, I've been struggling trying to decide what I'm more excited for: Potentially witnessing Tucson, Arizona erupt in joyful chaos...or being in the same vicinity of every sports fan's ideal woman—Erin Andrews.
I'm going to go with a toss-up.
Now onto the picks:
Arizona State @ UCLA (-4.5)
The season long struggle to find an identity will continue for the Arizona State Sun Devils this week as they start their third different quarterback. Samson Szakacsy has had a pretty wild ride to this point, but will finally receive his time in the spot light as Dennis Erickson gives his second quarterback their first career start in as many weeks.
Szakacsy, who grew up not far from the Rose Bowl, where Saturday's game will be played, was a former USC commit before injuries derailed his senior year of high school.
When Erickson came to ASU, Szakacsy decided to switch to the Sun Devils. Once there, he was supposed to compete with Sullivan for the number one job when injuries, again, kept him from being a viable option.
Now, seemingly healthy, the Sun Devils are going to count on his mobility and moxie to help them get past a UCLA team that is starting to hit their stride.
After dropping their first five conference games to start the year, UCLA is starting to strike back, beating the Washington schools in consecutive weeks.
During that stretch, freshman quarterback Kevin Prince has completed 40 of 57 passes for 526 yards and two touchdowns. He's also added 84 yards rushing and a touchdown.
In UCLA's last home game of the year, they are going to need their freshman quarterback to play his best as ASU comes into this game with statistically the best defense in the conference.
While I liked the way that Szakacsy played last weekend against Oregon, I think the Bruins will be too much for the Sun Devils at home. I like the way that team is coming along and the tandem of Neuheisel and Norm Chow should mean good things for UCLA going forward.
Pick: UCLA, 27-20
No. 19 Oregon State @ Washington State (+31)
I really do feel bad for Washington State. It's embarrassing that a Pac-10 team can be this bad but they really are. Every week it continues to amaze me and this week should be no different.
A week after getting smashed, 43-7 on their home turf by UCLA, the Cougars will have to take on an even more explosive opponent in the Oregon State Beavers.
They will also have to do this, without their only beacon of hope—freshman quarterback Jeff Tuel.
Tuel will be out with yet another injury this week and the Cougars will turn the offense back over to senior Kevin Lopina. It's kind of nice that the senior gets to start his final home game but that's about where the pleasantries end.
Oregon State should be using this game as a tune up for the all important "Civil War" next weekend against rival Oregon.
Quarterback Sean Canfield has been on point lately and the Rodgers brothers continue to provide all the big-play ability the Beavers could ask for.
There's really not much more to say about this one. Oregon State is going to smash the Cougars and cover the spread...maybe by halftime.
Pick: Oregon State, 48-10
No. 25 Cal @ No. 17 Stanford (-7.5)
This should actually be a pretty interesting game. Personally I think that Stanford is the best team in the Pac-10 right now. A resounding victory over Cal should cement that theory.
I was pretty hard on Cal last week because I couldn't understand how they could be favored over Arizona. I guess I was wrong. That being said, I think that Arizona lost that game more than Cal won it.
Cal will again be without Jahvid Best in this game as he recovers from his concussion. Shane Vereen and Kevin Riley will again be counted on to pick up the offensive slack. They are going to need to because Stanford has been absolutely clicking on all cylinders.
I've been saying it all season long but Toby Gerhart is a special running back. He has worked his way into Heisman contention and with another monster game here I think he could garner some serious votes.
Andrew Luck has also been getting a lot of hype as a future pro signal caller. Both of them will need to finish out their respective seasons strong in order to keep the buzz about them high but I fully expect them to do it.
Gerhart has 19 touchdowns on the year and almost more amazing, only has three games where he failed to score at least two touchdowns! In his last two games—against Oregon and USC—he has scored six. The man is becoming nearly impossible to stop and I fully expect another huge day from him on Saturday.
Cal has bounced back nicely from their early season struggles but Stanford is on fire right now. They'll win this game by double digits.
Pick: Stanford, 38-17
No. 11 Oregon @ Arizona (+6)
The Pac-10 game of the week and the site of ESPN's College GameDay will be raucous starting in about seven hours when the first fans start showing up and kicking off the, umm, festivities.
On the football field, it should be a clash of two high-powered offenses.
The Oregon Ducks have been dominant for months now, largely because of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and running back LaMichael James.
James has set the Oregon freshman record for rushing yards already, and his 1,193 yards are good for 10th in the Nation.
Masoli has been just as brilliant although he may need to watch out for a bit of history. The last two times Oregon has traveled to Tucson, they have lost their starting quarterback to an injury.
Arizona's starting quarterback needs to bounce back from a few sub-par performances after being arguably one of college football's hottest quarterbacks in October.
The Wildcats know what a win against Oregon means. Given the way USC has been playing and ASU's rebuilding status, a win here would seemingly be the largest obstacle for Arizona to overcome on their quest to the Rose Bowl.
Frenzy and electricity from a crowd can do funny things for a team. Fans can fuel their team in a way that is only understandable to those that have experienced it.
That being said, there will be no shortage of that here in Tucson this weekend. Smart money is on the Ducks to cover this game given Arizona's recent loss and seemingly less talented roster. However, I'm going to take the Wildcats in a memorable upset.
Now, if I can just figure out a way to get Erin Andrews to fall in love with me...
Pick: Arizona, 38-35
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