Pac 10 Landmines - The Scary Letdown Games
Washington QB Jake Locker
Washington QB Jake Locker
Posted Aug 20, 2009

What are the dangerous games that every Pac 10 team needs to watch out for? These are the ones that might be sandwiched in between two bigger games, they could be the ones late in the season that will be tough to get up for, or they simply could be letdowns.

The Pac 10 Landmine Games

The traps to watch out for

By Pete Fiutak

Landmine Games For Every Team
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It's next to impossible for a team to get up for every game over the course of the long season. It's easy to be jazzed for the big rival or the top five team, but college kids can't remain focused enough to play razor sharp for one game and then maintain the same high level again the next week for the also-ran.

Below are the very dangerous letdown games for each team. These might be sandwich games, games a team and the fans won't take seriously, the game after a big rivalry, the game before a big game, or just a game that the team just won't be stoked for and could turn into a painful loss against a weaker opponent. If you find yourself arguing that these games will be easy, you're jumping into the same trap these teams might fall into. At the very least, these could be tougher tests than your favorite team might think. Sure, the team might win the game, but it might be pushed very, very hard.

- Arizona - Sept. 12 vs. Northern Arizona
This is a landmine because ... Coming off a tough opener against Central Michigan, Arizona might be looking past NAU to get to road games at Iowa, Oregon State, and Washington. If everything is clicking, the Wildcats should win in a walk, but if the Wildcat offense isn't quite working yet, especially on the O line, it could be a long day against a team that led the FCS in sacks last season and finished third against the run.

- Arizona State - Oct. 10 at Washington State
This is a landmine because ... It'll be easy to assume a walk-in-the-park road trip considering how bad Wazzu was last year and with ASU winning the matchup 31-0. However, the Sun Devils were 1-4 on the road last season and will be coming off a tough home game against Oregon State. The Cougars aren't going to be challenging for the Pac 10 title, but they'll be better.

- California - Sept. 19 at Minnesota
This is a landmine because ... The Bears have gone east of Colorado just once since late 2004, and the results weren't good losing to Maryland last season. They went 1-4 on the road with the lone win at Washington State. After home dates against Maryland and Eastern Michigan, Cal has to deal with Minnesota's bright, shiny new stadium, and it should be rocking as the Gophers will be pointing to this game as a possible program changer. It won't help the Bears' mindset that at Oregon and USC will follow.

- Oregon - Nov. 7 at Stanford
This is a landmine because ... Oregon has won seven straight over Stanford, but it could fall in a letdown trap after facing USC in what should be the Pac 10 game of the year. The Duck ground game isn't going to be stopped cold by the Cardinal defensive front, but this could end up being a bit of a shootout. Helping Jim Harbaugh's team will be the prep time; the Cardinal gets a week off before the game and will have been at home for three weeks.

- Oregon State - Sept. 12 at UNLV
This is a landmine because ... As good as Oregon State has been over the last few years it has had issues on the road. It lost its first three road dates last year, including a loss to at Utah, and lost three of its first four away games in 2007. UNLV will have had a chance to tune up against Sacramento State and should be relatively sharp running the spread. The Rebels played two BCS teams last year, Arizona State and Iowa State, and won both games.

- Stanford - Sept. 19 vs. San Jose State
This is a landmine because ... It's not like this is a true road game for the Spartans, having to travel up the road a few miles for the Bay Area battle. With the best receiving corps in the WAC and the Dick Tomey-coached defense, it won't be an upset if SJSU pulls off the win. Stanford will be coming off two road games to start the season, going to Washington State and Wake Forest, while the Spartans will be battle tested playing USC and Utah to kick off the season.

- UCLA - Nov. 14 at Washington State
This is a landmine because ... UCLA lost six of its last eight games against Wazzu and struggled in a 44-41 win in 2005. UCLA's offense will be inconsistent, and it could be struggling a bit with its third road game in four weeks. The Bruins will play at Arizona and Oregon State before hosting Washington. It should be a shootout with the Cougars likely to see this as a possible chance to pull off a big Pac 10 upset. It might be its only real chance.

- USC - Nov. 7 at Arizona State
This is a landmine because ... So where's the clunker going to come? Last year it was against Oregon State (and against Arizona, but the Trojans pulled out a sluggish win) while two years ago it was the gack against Stanford. The trip to ASU comes at the perfect time for a clunker. It comes after the road trip to Oregon, it's the third road game in four weeks, and it should be right about when the Trojans hit their annual in-season malaise. ASU will have been home for a few weeks after playing Cal the week before.

- Washington - Sept. 12 vs. Idaho
This is a landmine because ... For a team on a 14-game losing streak, there's no such thing as a landmine. But the game against Idaho might qualify after starting the season against LSU and with USC to follow. The pressure will be on to not just beat a bad Vandal team, but beat it badly. If Idaho can hang around for just a little while, the collar could quickly get tight around the Dawgs' neck. There might not be another game this season, at least until the Apple Cup against Washington State, when UW is favored.

- Washington State - Sept. 19 vs. SMU
This is a landmine because ... The Cougars start the season at home against Stanford and Hawaii, and should win at least one of the two. And then comes SMU with its high-octane passing offense (at least that's the goal), and while Wazzu will be used to seeing the ball in the air after facing the Warriors, the June Jones-led Mustangs should be more explosive. With road games against USC and Oregon over the following two weeks, the full focus might not be there.