Pac-10 Football: Previewing This Week's Matchups
With three Pacific-10 conference matchups, this is essentially opening weekend of the Pac-10 Conference. UCLA and Stanford have already faced off, with Stanford getting the best of the Bruins.
This week will feature California against Arizona, Oregon against Arizona State, and USC against Washington State, as well as some intriguing out-of-conference matchups.
With so much at stake this week in the Pac-10, here is a preview of all the Pac-10 games, including the out-of-conference matchups.
California at No.14 Arizona
Arizona proved they are not all hype last week when they took down Iowa at home. Their defense stepped up and had three sacks in the final minutes of the game.
They have another big game this week with California coming to Tucson. Cal looks to bounce back after last week’s debacle in Nevada.
With Arizona having a quick defensive line, Cal will really need to protect Riley this week to have a chance. Not only having talent on the field, Arizona will get the home crowd as well.
Last week, the home crowd really helped Arizona. Arizona does need to be careful, as coming off a big win can lead to a big letdown the next week, even at home.
Cal will look to take advantage of this “high” Arizona is on, while Arizona looks to protect their house in the desert.
No.5 Oregon at Arizona State
Who outscores their opponents 189-13 on the season? Yes, two of those opponents are New Mexico and Portland State, but one is from the mighty SEC. Oregon has won 72-0 against New Mexico, 48-13 at Tennessee, and 69-0 against Portland State.
Arizona State will host these “Mighty Ducks” in the Pacific-10 opener. The biggest chance the Devils have is to stop that potent offense.
Kenjon Barner, LaMichael James, and Remene Alston have a combined 810 yards and nine touchdowns in three games. But they are not all offense. The Ducks' defense has five interceptions, six fumble recoveries, and seven sacks.
Arizona State will look to Steven Threet. Threet has taken over the Devils offense and done a nice job. He has a 66 percent completion percentage with five touchdowns, but does have three interceptions.
The Devils will need to keep the Ducks' offense off the field, so Threet and the offense will be a big factor in this game. They need to protect the ball and have long drives to have a chance.
No.20 USC at Washington State
Three Big Ten teams faced three Pac-10 teams last week. In typical USC fashion, the only team who won on the road was USC.
The Trojans are not putting up huge numbers or giant impressive wins. They are simply doing what needs to be done to win.
Matt Barkley has stepped up nicely and needs to continue to control the offense. He has nine touchdowns in three games.
Washington State just has not figured out how to step up yet. They have struggled for a while and would like to “stop the bleeding” a little.
The Cougars will really need to step up this weekend to have a chance against USC. They will need to control every aspect of the game, including the clock.
If the Cougars can get some huge defensive, offensive, and special teams plays, they may be able to possibly win. Or, if USC just doesn’t show up.
No.16 Stanford at Notre Dame
One of the most deflating losses to a team is to lose on a last-second play. You think you have the game won (or tied in this case) and just like that, they pull a fast one on you. Notre Dame lost on a fake field goal at Michigan State last week.
This week will be no easier task with Stanford coming to town. Cross-country road trips are hard, but Stanford is rolling and Notre Dame has fallen flat the past couple weeks.
Stanford had a nice statement win at UCLA and a blowout in an out-of-conference matchup against Wake Forest. Andrew Luck has looked great completing almost 65 percent of his passes and throwing ten touchdowns with no picks.
Notre Dame will need to have a big game from their defense to rattle Luck. The Irish have three interceptions and eight sacks on the season. They will need a lot more than that against Stanford.
Similar to the Devils, the Irish’s biggest weapon will be their offense. They need to have long drives for points to keep Stanford’s offense off the field and wear them down.
No.24 Oregon State at No.3 Boise State
Oregon State will play their second game this season on the road against a top-five opponent. The first game ended badly, with the Beavers losing to TCU by nine. They will hope for a better outcome against Boise State.
On the other side of the ball, Boise State has their first home game of the season, after edging Virginia Tech and thumping Wyoming.
Boise State is the kind of team that never goes away and finds a way to win. Against the Hokies, Boise State rallied and came back, then scored the go-ahead touchdown with a minute to go.
Oregon State needs to play 60 minutes of football to beat Boise State. They cannot let one play go or Boise State will take advantage.
Boise State needs to remain sharp to win. They were sloppy against Virginia Tech with over 100 penalty yards and two fumbles.
UCLA at No.7 Texas
UCLA has not looked sharp this season, losing at Kansas State and home against Stanford. They did win against a ranked Houston team at home, but that does not mean they are on track.
UCLA will head in to Texas to face the Longhorns this weekend. The Longhorns hold a huge crowd advantage.
This game will be strength versus strength. UCLA is averaging over 200 yards on the ground, while Texas is leading the country in rush defense, giving up only 44 yards per game.
Texas definitely has history on its side, as the Longhorns are protecting two streaks in this game. They have a 17-game home winning streak as well as a 17-game regular season out-of-conference win streak.
UCLA needs to throw everything they have at Texas. Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert proved he can be rattled, throwing three interceptions against Texas Tech. UCLA needs to pressure Gilbert.
When Texas has the ball, they need to remain focused to win. Despite throwing three picks, Gilbert still controlled the offense well last week and proved he can stay poised in the pocket.