WAC Fearless Predictions, Week 2

Posted Sep 7, 2006

Preview and predictions for the week two WAC games

Boise State | Fresno State | Hawaii | Idaho | Louisiana Tech
Nevada | New Mexico St | San Jose State | Utah State
- Past WAC Predictions: Week One

WAC Week Two Fearless Predictions, Part 2

Game of the Week

Oregon State (1-0) at Boise State (1-0) 7:30 PM EST ESPN Thursday September 7th
Why to Watch:
  Outside of the fact that it’s Beavers and Broncos on blue turf on national television, this Boise State team believes that an undefeated season puts them in a BCS game for the first time ever, while the Beavers want to prove they can go out on the road and win a big game.  Neither team was actually tested in their respective openers, but that’ll change on Thursday night in a tone-setting game for the two programs.
Why ­­­­Oregon State Might Win:  Oregon State RB Yvenson Bernard picked up where he left off last season with a 19-carry, 124-yard performance against Eastern Washington.  His quickness and burst to the hole will test the talented group of Bronco linebackers that won’t face another back like him the rest of the year. On the other side of the ball, the Beaver defense can penetrate and get up field and create mayhem with the Boise State offensive blocking scheme – they racked up ten tackles for a loss against EWU.  Any chaos that they can create up front will disrupt the timing of the passing game and shut down direct running lanes for the Boise State running backs.
Why Boise State Might Win:  It’s on the blue turf, right?  This is a different team at home, as the 2003 Beavers can attest to losing 53-34. The Broncos can put either RB Jon Helmandollar or Ian Johnson behind QB Jared Zabransky and be equally effective in the running game and pound the ball on the Beavers. The two combined for 128 yards on only 22 carries against Sacramento State and will try to establish the tempo early on. The ability to use two fresh backs takes some pressure off of Zabransky, keeping the Bronco offense on the field and Bernard off of it.  The Beaver running back faces, arguably, the best set of linebackers in the WAC – Colt Brooks (WAC defensive player of the week) and Korey Hall, who combined for 14 tackles against Sacramento State.
Who to Watch:
  The Oregon State linebackers will be under the spotlight as they attempt to stop Zabransky. The Bronco QB is equally good scrambling out of the pocket as he is dropping into one, so the front seven has to respect his running ability, which could open gaping holes in pass coverage.  Boise State CB Orlando Scandrick won’t have to face former OSU star WR Mike Hass, but the Beaver receivers can stretch the field with their speed and open things up for Bernard.
What Will Happen:  Oregon State doesn’t want the focus of the game to fall on QB Matt Moore’s shoulders for two reasons.  One, Bernard is tough to contain and puts the most pressure on the Bronco defense.  Two, Moore is prone to mistakes in the passing game when he has to throw the ball excessively.  Boise State should roll a safety into the box consistently to keep Bernard from gashing the Bronco defense; however, that will put their corners out on an island against the Beaver receivers.  Although the OSU defense limited Eastern Washington to minus-14 yards rushing, it won’t be able to handle the Bronco offensive balance  Zabransky doesn’t have to be Superman, just consistent – 200 yards throwing, no picks and 40 to 50 yards rushing are realistic goals.
CFN Prediction: Boise State 28 … Oregon State 24 ... Line: Boise State -8 
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Fashion House) ... 3.5

Idaho (0-1) at Washington State (0-1) 3:45 PM EST Saturday September 9th
Why to Watch:  Last week, the WAC had its first ever Hal Mumme Bowl with New Mexico State playing Mumme’s former team, Southeast Louisiana.  In week two, the first annual Dennis Erickson Bowl will take place in Pullman as Erickson and his Vandals travel to one of his former haunts to face Wazzu.  The Vandals are much improved over last season and are thinking major upset after a good showing in a 27-17 loss to Michigan State and with the Cougars coming off a tough, bruising 40-14 loss Auburn.
Why ­­­­Idaho Might Win:  With just under ten minutes left against Michigan State, the Vandals trailed by only seven points when many thought they would be facing the Spartans backups in a blowout by that point.  Moral victory or not, the Vandals went toe-to-toe with Sparty and the confidence gained in East Lansing should reverberate throughout the entire season.  Having RB Jayson Bird back on the field was instrumental in winning the time of possession battle as he registered 88 yards on 20 carries.  In the new, shorter college game, his ability to pick up four-plus yards a carry is extremely valuable.
Why Washington State Might Win:  The Cougs may have lost All-Pac-10 running back Jerome Harrison, but his successor, DeMaundray Woolridge averaged nearly ten yards per carry against the speedy Auburn defense.  He only got nine carries, but that should change, if he’s fully healthy, facing an Idaho run defense that gave up 193 yards to the Spartans on the ground.  Woolridge suffered a thigh bruise in the Auburn game and his status is questionable.
Who to Watch:  WSU DE Mkristo Bruce is one of the best pass rushers in the Pac-10 and his ability to disrupt the edge blocking schemes on both the run and pass are vital this week.  On the other side of the ball, stopping Woolridge and the Coug running game will fall heavily on Idaho LB David Vobora, who registered 16 tackles last week at Michigan State.
What Will Happen:  The Cougs QB Alex Brink will get his confidence back after a rough outing on the Plains (11 of 24 for 67 yards and one pick), but then again facing the Auburn secondary and the Idaho secondary are two different animals altogether.  The Vandals will attempt to control the clock and the ball with a controlled passing game and a lot of Bird on the ground, but that might not matter if the Cougars are striking quickly.  The Coug defense won’t allow Idaho QB Stephen Wichman to use the quick passing game as an extension of the running game to pile up 35+ minutes of game action like it did against the Spartans.
CFN Prediction
: Washington State 41 … Idaho 17 ... Line: Washington State -17.5 
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Fashion House) ... 2

Stanford (0-1) at San Jose State (0-1) 6:00 PM EST Saturday September 7th
Why to Watch:  Even with ten offensive starters returning, Stanford struggled on its trip to Eugene to face Oregon scoring an un-Pac-10 like ten points while giving up 48.  San Jose State did not have the same problem moving the football, but it gave up 35 points to the Washington Huskies in a loss in Seattle.  With the tough Pac-10 schedule on the horizon, this becomes a must-win situation for the Cardinal, but it’s vital for the Spartans to utilize the momentum generated from last week’s game against Washington in their own home opener. San Jose State has given its next door neighbor problems before, and if it plays like it did last week, it will again.
Why ­­­­Stanford Might Win:  The Cardinal receiver tandem of Mark Bradford (nine catches for 108 yards and one TD) and 6-8 Evan Moore (four receptions for 62 yards) is difficult for any team to contain.  The Spartans only gave up 168 yards through the air last week against Washington, but they didn’t face this combination. Trent Edwards will be able to bomb away all game long.
Why San Jose State Might Win:  Spartan QB Adam Tafralis had one of the best opening weekend performances across the nation (28 of 35 for 323 yards and three TDs) with 17 balls going to  either WR James Jones or John Broussard. If he can stay composed, he should have a good day against a Cardinal secondary that allowed Oregon’s Dennis Dixon to complete 70% of his passes. 
Who to Watch:  Safety Trevor Hooper registered 12 tackles last week in Oregon, but if he has to do that again this week, the results won’t be good for the Cardinal.  The Cardinal linebackers can’t allow the Spartan runners to get to the secondary level throughout the game and have to keep an eye at all times out for Yonus Davis. The mini-back had only nine carries last week due in large part to the fact that the Spartans fell behind early against Washington, but he’ll get far more work this week.
What Will Happen:  The Cardinal running game didn’t get out of neutral against Oregon with leading rusher Toby Gerhart averaging less than four yards per carry (a total of 100 yards on the day), but the Spartans should be softened up a bit. Needing their own running game to flourish, the speed runners aren’t going to be a problem for the Cardinal defense. Oregon was able to run behind the power of Jonathan Stewart, but the Spartans don’t have a back like him. The passing games for both teams are solid, but Stanford’s is much more dangerous.
CFN Prediction: Stanford 40 … San Jose State 20
... Line: Stanford -10.5 
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Fashion House)
... 2

Utah State
(0-1) at Arkansas (0-1)  7 pm EST Saturday, September 9th
Why to Watch:  Both teams are coming off brutal opening game defeats – Utah State lost to Wyoming 38-7, while Arkansas was destroyed by USC for the second consecutive season.  The Hogs will take their anger out on an Aggie team that’s still trying to find an identify under head young head coach Brent Guy. This has to be when the Arkansas running game gets rolling, or there will a huge concern. Of more excitement is the official debut of the Mitch Mustain era as the super-frosh gets his first start after seeing a little time against the Trojans.
Why ­­­­Utah State Might Win:  Aggie QB Leon Jackson III is a much better QB than he showed in the opener against Wyoming.  When at his best, he’s a dual threat who puts stress on opposing defenses when he has the ball in his hands.  He also punted eight times last week, which makes him a true throwback. If the Hogs don’t account for him and his decent receiving corps, this might be closer than Arkansas might like.
Why Arkansas Might Win:  RB Darren McFadden might not be all the way healthy, but even at 85 or 90% he’s a threat that Utah State can’t stop.  Expect to see his carries and touches increase as his stamina returns, and expect him to add more pop to a ground ganme that had problems putting the ball on the turf last weekend. LB Sam Olajubutu will have the responsibility of containing Jackson and not allowing him to get outside the pocket and hurt the Arkansas defense with his scrambles. The Arkansas All-American had ten tackles against USC and should have at least that many against Jackson and the Aggie offense.
Who to Watch:  The battle to watch will be Arkansas CB Matterral Richardson and Chris Houston against Utah State WR Tony Pennyman and Kevin Robinson.  Throughout the USC game, Herring kept his corners in press man coverage, allowing the front seven to be as aggressive as possible against USC.  He’ll continue to be aggressive against Utah State, which puts the Aggie WR duo, considered one of the best pairs in the WAC, in single coverage against the two Hog cover corners.  If Jackson can get a few seconds to throw, the pressure is 100% on Richardson and Houston to not get beat.
What Will Happen:  McFadden is going to get 12 to 15 touches in this game, which isn’t good news for the Aggies.  He averaged nearly five yards per carry after sitting out most of fall camp, so the Aggies can expect McFadden to carry the offense on Saturday.  Of course, all eyes are on Mustain, which increases the importance of McFadden’s role in this game. All the parts will click in an easy Hog win.

CFN Prediction
: Arkansas 41 .... Utah State 10
... Line: Arkansas -28
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Fashion House) ... 1.5

WAC Week One Fearless Predictions, Part 2