Week 7 Pac-12 - Cal-UCLA & Oregon St-Wazzu

Posted Oct 9, 2013

Week 7 Fearless Predictions & Preview - Cal at UCLA & Oregon St at Washington State

Oregon at Washington
Arizona at USC, Stanford at Utah, Colorado at ASU

Cal (1-4) at UCLA (4-0) Oct. 12, 10:30, ESPN2

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Cal and UCLA lock horns for the 84th time in the Pac-12's biggest mismatch of Week 7. The Bruins, fresh off an inspired win on the road at Utah, have risen to No. 11 in the AP poll and No. 13 in the Coaches Poll. Last week was the second time in four games that UCLA left Westwood to pick up a quality win, another indication that Jim Mora's second team is on the verge of narrowing the gap on conference heavyweights Oregon and Stanford. It's official. The Bears are in full-fledged rebuilding mode this season. It was one thing to lose to Northwestern, Ohio State and Oregon, but getting doubled-up at home by Washington State is a sign that Cal might not win a second game in 2013.

Why Cal Might Win: Consistent with all Sonny Dykes-led teams, the Bears can score. Rookie QB Jared Goff is piling up school records for a team that now ranks No. 4 nationally in passing. Once the offenses inevitably enter fast-forward mode, Cal will have the potential to keep up. Not only is Goff becoming increasingly comfortable in the new attack, but RB Brendan Bigelow and receivers Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper equip him with the explosive playmakers needed to stretch the Bruin D.

Why UCLA Might Win: The worst defense in the Pac-12? A toss-up between Colorado and Cal. The Bears are currently defenseless, getting gashed to the tune of 45 points a game. Sure, the Bruins are a little banged-up, but this is a good week for next-man-in to be a suitable mantra. Cal won't have any answers for versatile UCLA QB Brett Hundley, who'll put his unit on his shoulders if needed. A Bruin offense cranking out 562 yards a game will have few problems navigating the leaky Bear defense.

Who To Watch Out For: UCLA will be without two starters, LT Torian White and RB Jordon James, who's off to a scintillating start. If, as expected, James is out, redshirt freshman Paul Perkins will be asked to shoulder a much larger role.

- Cal has been decimated at linebacker, an underlying factor of a run defense yielding 5.4 yards per carry. Penn State transfer Khairi Fortt and Hardy Nickerson are doing all they can, but with very little help from a disappointing D-line.

- UCLA LB Anthony Barr is beginning to make a compelling case as this year's premier defensive player in college football. He terrorized the Utah O-line last Thursday, and now leads the Bruins with eight stops for loss and three forced fumbles in just four games.

What Will Happen: Perfect timing for a visit from sinking Cal. UCLA needs to insert new starters into the lineup, but won't suffer the ramifications against one of the Pac-12's problem children. Even without James in the backfield, the Bruins will cruise to north of 40 points, aided by a few takeaways from the defense. Goff will throw for a bunch of yards, but it'll again come in a losing effort.

Prediction: UCLA 54 … Cal 23
Line: UCLA -25 o/u: 71.5
Must See Rating: (5 Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight – 1 I Dream of NeNe: The Wedding) … 2.5
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Oregon State (4-1) at Washington State (4-2) Oct. 12, 10:30, ESPN2

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Oregon-Washington is this week's title bout in the Pac-12. Oregon State-Washington State, though, is also looking rather compelling on the undercard.

The Beavers and the Cougars have combined to go 8-1 since both lost on the opening weekend. Wazzu has emerged as one of the league's pleasant surprises so far, validating the start of Mike Leach's second year on the Palouse with last week's road rout of Cal. The Cougars are now just two wins away from qualifying for their first bowl appearance in a decade. Oregon State has won four straight since falling to Eastern Washington, regrouping on the fly the way this program has been accustomed to doing under Mike Riley. Still, there's a lot left to be learned about a Beaver squad that's lacked consistency throughout the first half of the year.

Why Oregon State Might Win: This is the best passing game Wazzu has faced all season, including last week's foray with the Cal's Bear Raid. QB Sean Mannion, with ample help from star WR Brandin Cooks, is playing his way into the minds of the NFL scouting community. Well-protected through five games, he's thrown a nation's-best 21 touchdown passes, nine to the polished Cooks. Plus, the week off has allowed the team, especially top RB Storm Woods, to get healthy again.

Why Washington State Might Win: The Cougars are improving on offense, scoring their most points in a Pac-12 game in a decade. Still, it's been the play of an active and attacking defense that's helped fuel the program's fast start. Pullman is home to one of the country's most improved D's, a unit that's picked off nine passes and has been stingy in the red zone. Wazzu excels in the back seven, with CB Damante Hornton, Deone Bucannon and linebackers Cyrus Coen and Darryl Monroe serving as regular tempo-changers.

Who To Watch Out For: The Cougars can be thieves, but so can the Beavers, particularly CB Steven Nelson. Wazzu QB Connor Halliday, who has been picked 10 times already, might want to avoid No. 7's area of the field.

- Halliday does have a slew of good receivers with which to challenge the Oregon State secondary. Eleven different Cougars have caught at least 10 passes this season, none more reliable than WR Gabe Marks.

- Oregon State is going to need a big game from DE Scott Crichton, especially against an opponent that likes to air it out. The all-star has just 1.5 sacks so far, but he gets the kind of attention from opposing lines that helps create opportunities for his teammates.

What Will Happen: The Beavers and the Cougars at Martin Stadium could be the setting of one of the most underrated games of Week 7. Both schools are hot and looking at the other one as a launching point to a strong second half. Oregon State is as healthy as it's been all year, and it's already proven it can win in a hostile environment. In a shootout, Mannion will outduel Halliday, tossing more touchdowns and making fewer turnovers.

Prediction: Oregon State 40 … Washington State 34
Line: Washington State -1 o/u: 59
Must See Rating: (5 Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight – 1 I Dream of NeNe: The Wedding) … 3
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