It's hard to believe we're almost a month done with the 2010 college football season, but heading into the fourth Saturday there is still a lot to figure out in the Pac 10.
Yes, Oregon 'looks' unstoppable, but so would most top 25 teams after having played the likes of New Mexico and Portland State in two of three games to begin the schedule.
Stanford's offense is just as lethal with Andrew Luck under center. Arizona is proving itself as a legit conference contender with their speed and sound defense. Oregon State, under Mike Riley, is always well-coached and again a threat, and even Arizona State looks to be better than expected. Also, let's not forget about those So Cal Trojans. Despite being on probation and playing without a chance to go bowling, that doesn't mean Lane Kiffin's bunch can't dictate the winner in the league this fall or play spoiler to a degree.
The Cardinal, Beavers and Bruins all have road, non-conference tests this weekend, so for week four we look at the three Pac 10 match-ups going down on the left coast.
USC (2-0) @ Washington State (1-2) (3 p.m.)
Whenever USC meets up with the Cougars, a competitive match is never really expected. And while Wazzou might not be as pitiful as the last couple of seasons, it's still hard to expect them to keep pace with Southern Cal in Pullman on Saturday.
The Coogs have gotten some good quarterback play in their first three ball games, seeing sophomore Jeff Tuel throw for 700 yards and five TDs (only one INT). USC are installed as 21.5-point favorites away from Los Angeles. Having been anything but convincing against Minnesota last week on the road, you would think the Trojans would be more sound defensively and further disciplined with regards to penalties. It might take more than a half to get past this number, but at the end of the day Southern Cal is Southern Cal and Washington just isn't.
Prediction: USC 35, Washington State 13
California (2-1) @ Arizona (3-0) (10 p.m.)
After a huge win in the desert, how will the Wildcats look? That seems to be the biggest issue, and considering Cal is coming off a horrible blowout loss to Nevada, Arizona only being a touchdown favorite seems to suggest that perhaps a little letdown is in order for Mike Stoops' squad.
Kevin Riley continues to hold back Jeff Tedford's offense. Shane Vareen's six TDs so far has shown he is more than capable of picking up the load left behind by Jahvid Best. But still, for Cal to have allowed over 50 points to a WAC team, albeit a talented Wolfpack side, that is giant red flag.
Of course U of A could letdown after a natural high of winning a nationally televised game over a top ten team. But I can't see it. This team is focused and ready to finally be at the top of the conference. Still a long ways from that, but I expect another strong showing from the 'Cats.
Prediction: Arizona 27, California 20
Oregon (3-0) @ Arizona State (2-1) (10:30 p.m.)
Oregon already earned a road victory, running away from Tennessee in Knoxville several weeks ago. But will the same result be the case when the Ducks travel in the league against an ASU team that gave Wisconsin all it could have asked for in Madison last time out. Steven Threet is running the offense well, having transferred from Michigan in hopes of securing a full-time gig.
Vegas lists Oregon as 10.5-point favorites. Some could look at this spread as small, based on their blowout victories to begin the season. But having yet to begin conference play, and getting their first league game away from Autzen, I think partial judgment should be held until we see this unproven offense do it on a more consistent basis. Because let's face it, Oregon can score all they want against bad teams. But doing it on a weekly basis in conference play is what will make this team a legit commodity and perhaps a darkhorse for the BCS title game come January.
Prediction: Oregon 34, Arizona State 23