All 10 teams play this week, and by our count there should be at least 3 good games. It’s hard to believe that the college football regular season is more than half over, but now we get to the heart of the conference schedule. The conference’s top dog faces a legitimate test on the road against a dangerous offense, and two talented but inconsistent teams match up in a game that will propel the winner into the top half of the conference’s power structure. As always, our preview of Stanford’s game appears in a separate, more detailed article, which you can read here.
- Washington State at Arizona State: Washington State looked good in the 4th quarter last week against Stanford, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves by thinking too much of the Cougars. Arizona State is rocking a 3-4 overall record and is just 1-3 in the PAC-10, but the Sun Devils have only been blown out once this season, which was last week at Berkeley. With a chance to get back to Tempe, have the home crowd, and regroup, Arizona State should have no problem taking care of the Cougars.
Arizona at UCLA: Nick Foles is a game-time decision for this game, so it’s unclear whether Foles or Arizona back-up quarterback Matt Scott will start in Pasadena. UCLA boasts the same less-than-impressive records as Arizona State, but the Bruins have not been consistent for any stretch this season. Though Arizona is certainly not an infallible team, the Wildcats have gotten very good play from their defense this season–they rank 6th in the country with just over 13 points allowed per game. They’d love to have Nick Foles play, but Matt Scott is a talented enough player to pull Arizona through this game, especially considering the running threat he poses to the UCLA defense. We’re guessing that Foles will rest up for Stanford on November 6, but Arizona will win in the Rose Bowl with or without him.
- Oregon at USC: Don’t be fooled by this game’s prime time slot on ABC. Even though Matt Barkley and the Trojans are capable of upsetting really good teams, it’s hard to imagine the inept USC defense containing the Oregon offense. USC’s best chance is to use its front seven to contain the running game and force Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas to beat them with his arm. But USC has a very slim chance of shutting down the spread option run game that the Ducks have run so effectively throughout the season. The Trojan offense should be able to score quite a few points on the Ducks, but Chip Kelly’s offense should run all over the Coliseum on Saturday night. Although USC stands a chance, it’s a small one. Look for a fairly comfortable Oregon win.
California at Oregon State: This could either be the game of the week or the most boring game on the schedule. Cal has played brilliantly some weeks (vs. ASU last Saturday) and horribly in others (at Nevada and at USC). Oregon State is a team that has only played .500 ball so far, but traditionally steps up as the autumn breeze gets colder and the trees in Corvallis look increasingly bare. This game is very hard to call, but we’re tentatively expecting a Cal win. With a ton of momentum from their blowout last week against the Sun Devils, Cal should be able make a statement against the Beavers and move into the conference’s upper half. Junior Bear tailback Shane Vereen has also had two consecutive under-100-yard games after having rattled off 3 consecutive 100+ yard games, so he’s due for a big game against a suspect Beaver front seven. Cal could blow up and get blown out, but we’re thinking they find a rhythm this week and get a nice win up north.