Pac 10 Fearless Predictions, Oct. 20
UCLA CB Trey Brown
UCLA CB Trey Brown
Posted Oct 18, 2007

Previews and Predictions for the Week 8 Pac-10 Games.

Pac 10  
Arizona | Arizona StCalifornia | Oregon | Oregon St
Stanford | UCLA | USC | Washington | Washington St 

Pac 10 Fearless Predictions Sept. 1Sept. 8 | Sept. 15Sept. 22 | Sept. 29 
Oct. 6Oct. 13 | Oct. 27 | Nov. 3Nov. 10 | Nov. 17Nov. 24Dec. 1

How are the picks so far? SU: 33-13 ... ATS: 25-19-1

Pac 10 Game of the Week

California (5-1) at UCLA (4-2) 3:30 EST, ABC
Why to watch: The Pac-10 game of the week pits two of the five programs that have separated from the rest of the field in the hunt for a spot in the Rose Bowl.  And two teams that have been saddled recently with injuries at the quarterback position.  Cal is coming off an excruciating loss to Oregon State, its first of the year, making this a must-win game in order to remain viable in the conference race.  QB Nate Longshore looked on helplessly as freshman Kevin Riley was unable to rally the Bears from behind versus the Beavers.  With so much at stake in Pasadena this Saturday, Jeff Tedford is hoping that Longshore’s ankle has healed sufficiently to get his starter back in the huddle, but is preparing for the alternative.  UCLA is one of just two teams unbeaten in league play, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to the buzz that surrounds the program.  The Bruins have been embarrassed twice this year by inferior opponents, face a crisis at quarterback, and have heard the calls for Karl Dorrell’s head grow louder.  Yet, with a win this Saturday, they’ll join Arizona State atop the Pac-10 with five games left.  While starting QB Ben Olson remains on the shelf, Dorrell is cautiously optimistic that backup Patrick Cowan can return from a torn MCL in his right knee that cost him the past two games.
Why California might win: With or without Longshore, the Bears will be able to move the ball through the air on a UCLA pass defense that’s allowing 242 yards a game.  Before making a mental mistake at the end of last week’s loss, Riley actually played well, throwing for 294 yards and accounting for three scores, and has a dynamic receiving corps that’ll burn a questionable Bruins secondary.  A Cal line that’s permitted the fewest sacks in the Pac-10 will neutralize DE Bruce Davis and a very aggressive UCLA pass rush.  Defensively, the Bears have been tough to beat on the ground, which will put added pressure on the Bruin quarterback to kick-start one of the league’s worst passing games.
Why UCLA might win: Save for the Utah debacle in Week 3, the Bruins defense has been rock solid all year, holding opponents to an average of 23 points and 324 yards a game, while consistently making plays for negative yards.  Cal is not the same offense when RB Justin Forsett isn’t running well, which will be tough to do against a UCLA rush defense that’s No. 10 in the country at only 81 yards a game.  If Longshore does play, that bum ankle will be a serious liability against Bruce Davis an aggressive Bruins front seven that’ll treat him like a sitting duck.  If Longshore can’t go, Riley will be making his first career road start with reduced support from the running game.
Who to watch: DeSean Jackson is the headline-grabber of the Cal receiving corps, but Lavelle Hawkins is quietly having a great season that’s attracting the attention of NFL scouts.  He’s got terrific speed, soft hands, and plays with a toughness that belies his stature; he just isn’t Jackson.  Lost in last week’s defeat was his nine-catch, 192-yard, two touchdown day with a slew of key catches down the stretch. With Jackson getting so much attention from opposing defensive backs, Hawkins could be in store for a blowout second half of the season.
What will happen: Cal will rebound from last week’s loss against a UCLA team that’s way too inconsistent and struggling with quarterback issues of its own.  The Bears will click on a couple of deep balls from either Riley or Longshore to pull away from the Bruins.
CFN Prediction: California 34 … UCLA 21  ... Line: California -9
Must See Rating: (5
Keeping Up with the Kardashians - 1 Ellen's dog plea) ... 4

Pac 10 Saturday, Oct. 20

USC (5-1) at Notre Dame (1-6)  3:30 EST, NBC
Why to watch: While there might not be a more storied non-conference rivalry than USC – Notre Dame, you’d never know it this year with the luster off what’s normally one of the big games of the year.  USC has looked nothing like the preseason No. 1 team, losing to Stanford and laboring to beat Arizona over the last two weeks.  Can the injury-ravaged Trojans regroup to win a sixth straight Pac-10 title, or did they peak with the Sept. 22 rout of Washington State?  It’ll be one of the interesting sub-plots of the second half of the year, as few are expecting USC to be anything more than an also-ran.  The big problem is the unsettled quarterback situation, where John David Booty might try to play through a broken finger on his throwing hand, but is more likely to give way to Mark Sanchez for the second straight week.  Losers of five straight in this rivalry, Notre Dame will be seeking to be the champion of Los Angeles after beating UCLA two weeks ago.  The Irish has some uncertainty of its own at quarterback, where freshman Jimmy Clausen is benched in favor of junior Evan Sharpley, but lately, being the starter for the Irish doesn’t necessarily mean much.  While it’s no surprise that Clausen has suffered through growing pains, Sharpley has provided a nice spark in two of the last three games.
Why USC might win: Will Notre Dame score on Saturday?  Hard as it is to imagine, the Irish has the worst offense in America, averaging 190 yards and 11 points a game, and things get no easier with the Trojans in town.  For all of the program’s issues lately, USC continues to harbor a star-studded defensive unit that’s yet to allow more than 100 yards rushing in a game.  The Notre Dame offensive line versus Sedrick Ellis, Lawrence Jackson, and the rest of the Trojans D-line is a mismatch that should get Clausen or Sharpley planted into the turf at least a half-dozen times.
Why Notre Dame might win: Is Paul Hackett still on the USC sidelines?  The Trojans offense has been lethargic the last two weekends, putting up just 43 points and turning the ball over seven times against mediocre competition.   Unless Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush dig up some unused eligibility, things aren’t going to get better overnight, especially if Sanchez is forced into action again this week.  While the Irish hasn’t been a rock on defense, it’s been respectable, creating takeaways and overachieving in pass defense.
Who to watch: Somewhat lost in USC’s offensive problems has been the play of TE Fred Davis, who stepped up in his senior year to become the team’s go-to receiver.  He leads the Trojans with 29 catches and four touchdown receptions, but even more impressive is his gaudy average of 17 yards per grab.  Davis will continue his salary run this week against an average group of Notre Dame linebackers.
What will happen: Playing Notre Dame in front of a national TV audience is a PR opportunity for Pete Carroll and USC to show the rest of the country that they still have relevance in 2007.  As so many have done this year, the Trojans will shut down the Irish, getting enough from the offense for an easy win.
CFN Prediction: USC 28 … Notre Dame 13 ... Line: USC -18
Must See Rating: (5
Keeping Up with the Kardashians - 1 Ellen's dog plea) ... 3
Stanford (2-4) at Arizona (2-5)  7:00 EST
Why to watch: The winner is pretty much assured of not finishing the year in the Pac-10 cellar.  Yippee.  Arizona still holds out hope of qualifying for a bowl game, even though its margin for error is almost non-existent.  The Wildcats played USC to a stalemate for most of last week’s game before falling short in the final quarter, their fourth loss in the last five games.  Stanford, too, squandered a fourth quarter lead last weekend, losing to TCU at home and failing to capitalize on the momentum built in the upset of USC two weeks ago.  Like Syracuse, which hasn’t done anything since stunning Louisville, the Cardinal needs to start winning a few games in order to avoid the one-trick pony label in 2007.
Why Stanford might win: Arizona cannot run the ball this year, so it’ll again be up to Willie Tuitama, Michael Thomas, and the passing game to move the sticks Saturday night.  That could be a problem against a Cardinal defense that already has more sacks than all of last year.  The Wildcats have done a poor job in pass protection this fall, yielding 16 sacks, which presents a problem versus a Stanford D that’s not afraid to sell out on the blitz with LBs Clinton Snyder and Pat Maynor.
Why Arizona might win: The Wildcats had problems getting points and first downs the last two weeks, but that was against the veteran defenses of Oregon State and USC.  Stanford isn’t going to be confused with Oregon State or USC.  The Cardinal is last in the Pac-10 in total defense and next to last in scoring defense, results that’ll propel Arizona back to three weeks ago when it lit up Washington State for 48 points.  Tuitama will spread the ball around to his receivers, getting plenty of support from RB Nick Grigsby, who’s shown flashes of potential in his debut season.
Who to watch: Tuck away the name Rob Gronkowski, Arizona’s true freshman tight end, who has an upside that matches his 6-6, 250-pound frame.  He’s got the potential and the raw ability to be a complete player at this level before too long.  Gronkowski has caught 10 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns, showing that he’s ready to be an immediate factor in the Wildcats’ suped-up passing attack.
What will happen: Arizona was showing signs of life on offense before running into Oregon State and USC in successive weeks.  It’ll get back on track this weekend, scorching Stanford for 300 yards through the air and 150 more on the ground.
CFN Prediction: Arizona 33 … Stanford 21 ... Line: Arizona -10.5
Must See Rating: (5
Keeping Up with the Kardashians - 1 Ellen's dog plea) ... 2

Oregon (5-1) at Washington (2-4)  7:30 EST
Why to watch: At a post-Cal game crossroads of the season, Oregon chose the path that could lead to a January bowl game, humiliating Washington State on Saturday, 53-7.  The only downers on the day were the season-ending injuries of WR Cameron Colvin and RB Jeremiah Johnson, who’ll be sorely missed the rest of the way.  The Ducks offense has been scintillating this fall, scoring at least 50 points in three of the last four games, and creating an environment for QB Dennis Dixon to seriously contend for a Heisman Trophy.  With a stumbling Washington team up next and USC to follow, Oregon better keep its eye on the ball this week.  The Huskies have lost four straight after opening with two wins and quickly raising expectations.  For much of the year, including last Saturday at Arizona State, it’s been a tale of two halves, with U-Dub starting fast before collapsing in the final two quarters.  Is it conditioning, poor halftime adjustments, or some combination of the two?  The Huskies better figure it out quickly because they’ll need to play all four quarters to snap the skid this week.
Why Oregon might win: The Ducks are No. 4 nationally running the ball.  The Huskies are atrocious at stopping the run.  It doesn’t take an offensive guru to figure out the Oregon gameplan.  While Johnson will be missed, starter Jonathan Stewart is still one of the premier backs in the country, and along with Dixon, will run circles around an overmatched Washington defense.  And if the Huskies try to stack the line, Dixon will burn them with the help of one of his trusted accomplices, WR Jaison Williams or TE Ed Dickson. Basically, Oregon has too much firepower waiting in the wings.
Why Washington might win: Husky QB Jake Locker hasn’t been sharp through the air, but that could change against an Oregon pass defense that’s yielding 252 yards a game and has too many breakdowns in coverage.  Locker will look to utilize Anthony Russo and Marcel Reece, a physical target who has caught 23 balls for 339 yards and three touchdowns this year.  Remember that before playing so well a week ago, this is the same Duck defense that gave up 31 points in back-to-back games with Stanford and Cal. This isn’t Autzen Stadium; while great on the road, Oregon is unbeatable at home.
Who to watch: With Colvin and Brian Paysinger on the shelf with injuries, it’s incumbent upon Williams to be more than just a go-to receiver over the second half of the year.  The senior has to take his game to a new level, while providing leadership for Aaron Pflugrad and Derrick Jones, two of the young receivers that will see their roles increase out of necessity.
What will happen: Even with the injuries, the Oregon offense is too hot right now to be slowed by a Washington defense that’s playing on its heels, particularly on run downs.  The Huskies will land a few punches, but not enough to make this game interesting in the final quarter.
CFN Prediction: Oregon 40 … Washington 23 ... Line: Oregon -11
Must See Rating: (5
Keeping Up with the Kardashians - 1 Ellen's dog plea) ... 2.5

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