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The next few weeks will be crucial in determining the final Pac-10 standings. Arizona State will play California in its next game in Berkeley. With a week to prepare, ASU will have an opportunity to kick its feet up and watch its next opponent do battle against a reeling USC team.
California will pose a threat, especially in Strawberry Canyon, but once again ASU is in virtual must-win mode.
The Bears have been a Jekyll and Hyde team thus far, winning their first two games against Colorado and UC Davis by a combined 104-10 score. However, the next two games might have been more revealing as Nevada rolled up 52 points on what appeared to be a poor Cal defense. Then, the Bears nearly pulled off an upset in Tucson, losing 10-9 in the last minute.
Just like ASU did against Washington, Cal regained its form last week with a big win over UCLA, recording a 35-7 home win.
The Sun Devils should feel confident going into the game in Berkeley next Saturday. Cal has struggled through the air this season with Kevin Riley at quarterback, and last week was no different.
Riley passed for 83 yards and one touchdown from 16 attempts. Not exactly Heisman trophy numbers, but Cal running back Shane Vereen just might be the best back no one has heard of.
Vareen carried the ball 25 times for 151 yards and two touchdowns. The elusive Bears' running back also hauled in 3 catches for 51 yards. No doubt about it, Vareen is a stud, and will be the focus of the Sun Devil defense.
This game will be very even, much like the Oregon State-Arizona State game a few weeks back. The Sun Devils have matured since then, and more importantly, tasted victory again.
With a one-dimensional offense, ASU's defense might be ready for a feast and dominate the game, although none of that will matter if the Sun Devils turn the ball over. In the last two trips to Memorial Stadium, ASU has turned the ball over eight times.
Maybe if it rains in Berkeley, the Sun Devils will be more conscious of ball security and run away with this one.
Look for ASU to continue its run, and earn its second straight conference victory.
Looking even further, the Sun Devils will host Washington State the following week, so a win in gorgeous Strawberry Canyon might just set ASU up with a few consecutive wins.