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2009 Pac 10 Fearless Predictions - Week 2

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 9, 2009


Previews and Predictions for the Week 2 Pac 10 Games.

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2009 Pac 10 Fearless Predictions

Week 2 ... Sept. 13 Games

- Arizona | Arizona St | California | Oregon | Oregon St
- Stanford | UCLA | USC | Washington | Washington St

Pac 10 Fearless Predictions
- Week 1, Part 1
 

- USC vs. Ohio State Fearless Prediction 

- Week 2, Part 2 (Purdue & Oregon, & More)
 

Stanford (1-0) at Wake Forest (0-1),12:00 EST, Saturday, September 12

Why to watch: Stanford and Wake Forest meet for the first time in history in a match up that’s going to unveil plenty about both schools. The Cardinal, fresh off its 39-13 rout of Washington State, is clearly trending upward under Jim Harbaugh, but is it ready to win a tough road game clear across the country? Pull it off, and the program will take a giant step closer to its first bowl appearance in eight years. While a win in Winston-Salem would be a luxury for Stanford, it’s an absolute necessity for Wake Forest, which dropped its opener—at home—to Baylor, 24-21. With games still left against Clemson, Miami, Georgia Tech, and Florida State, the Deacons would dig themselves a deep hole in their quest for a fourth consecutive bowl game.
Why Stanford might win: In the opener, Wake Forest looked every bit like a team trying to adjust to the loss of some of last year’s key parts. The offense was lost, turning the ball over four times, and the defense allowed a few too many big plays, all of which makes this road trip a little less daunting for the Cardinal. If the Deacons continue to have problems with the offensive line, Stanford will capitalize with the pass rush ability of ends Erik Lorig and Tom Keiser, and the blitzing of linebackers Clinton Snyder and Chike Amajoyi. The last thing the rebuilt Wake D needs to see is 230-pound hammer Toby Gerhart, who rushed for 121 yards and two scores in Pullman.
Why Wake Forest might win: Is it asking too much for redshirt freshman Andrew Luck to win a second straight road game, especially in a tougher environment than the Palouse? The Deacons actually did a decent job defending Robert Griffin and Baylor on Saturday, limiting them to just 24 points. The Cardinal doesn’t house a player with Griffin’s explosiveness, which will allow Wake to dedicate more resources, like linebackers Matt Woodlief and Jonathan Jones, to corralling Gerhart. Stanford is a feast or famine defense that remains vulnerable to the big play and lapses in coverage.
Who to watch: Lacking in offensive pop for years, Stanford may finally have a game-changer that commands the respect of opposing defenses. Sophomore WR Chris Owusu exploded in the most extensive action of his career, catching three passes for 86 yards and touchdown to go along with an 85-yard kickoff return for a score. His match up with CB Brandon Ghee, a future pro, bears watching throughout the afternoon.
What will happen: Hey, it’s never easy for a young program to travel across the country and knock off a well-prepared opponent. Harbaugh’s kids, though, are capable of doing it. As long as Luck doesn’t make unforced errors, Stanford will wear down Wake with Gerhart, a unique and tireless workhorse. The Cardinal D will bend at times, but it’ll also rattle QB Riley Skinner, who has a shortage of playmakers to provide support. For Stanford, this has the potential to be the kind of breakthrough victory that has a lasting effect throughout 2009.
CFN Prediction: Stanford 27 ... Wake Forest 21 ... Line: Wake Forest -2.5
Must See Rating: (Curb Your Enthusiasm Season Premiere 5 … The Fresh Beat Band 1) … 3
 ... Free Expert Football Predictions

Idaho (1-0) at Washington (0-1),3:30 EST, Saturday, September 12

Why to watch: Even in a 31-23 loss to LSU, Washington dispatched a message that it was no longer going to roll over and play dead in the face of elite opponents. With Steve Sarkisian on the sidelines and Nick Holt as his first defensive coordinator, the Huskies played with a refreshing level of energy and better execution, outgaining the Tigers 478-321. It wasn’t the ah-ha moment the program desperately craves, but it was something to build on over the next three months. Idaho debuted surprisingly strong as well, handling New Mexico State, 21-6, to open with a win for the first time in a decade. It was the Vandals’ first victory outside Moscow in almost three years, giving a much-needed boost to a school that won just three games in 2007 and 2008 combined.
Why Idaho might win: The offense shows a fair amount of balance, veteran leadership, and potential. Junior Nathan Enderle is back for his third season as the starting quarterback, where he’s developed a nice rhythm with receivers Max Komar and Preston Davis. On the ground, Idaho has two viable options, Princeton McCarty and Deonte Jackson, who combined for 144 yards on just 21 carries and will be running behind NFL certainty Mike Iupati. Washington has a long way to go on defense, and can be particularly vulnerable when the ball is in the air.
Why Washington might win: The opener didn’t expose just how feeble Idaho is on defense. The Huskies will. This is a different offense with the return of QB Jake Locker, who missed most of 2008 with an injury. He gives U-Dub the run-pass option, and his once-green supporting cast is beginning to grow up. Redshirt freshman RB Chris Polk had 90 yards rushing and 34 yards receiving against a tough LSU defense, and receivers Devin Aguilar, James Johnson, and Kavario Middleton are just beginning to get comfortable in this offense. Racking up almost 500 yards versus a quality SEC D is a promising sign for this up-and-coming unit.
Who to watch: Numbers hardly do justice to how well Washington DT Alameda Ta'amu played to start his second season in Seattle. The unusually quick 348-pounder routinely shot the gap and required double-teams, disrupting the LSU ground game. He’s one the Huskies’ best answers to their defensive woes and a rising young star in the Pac-10.
What will happen: The long wait is over. Washington is about to snap its 15-game losing streak, the longest in the nation. After going stride-for-stride with much better athletes a week ago, the Huskies will have few problems getting the offense going, turning loose Locker and his young weapons. They’ll revel in a rare chance to be the bully, rolling up 500 yards and putting the game out of reach shortly after halftime.
CFN Prediction: Washington 35 … Idaho 16 ... Line: Washington -21
Must See Rating: (Curb Your Enthusiasm Season Premiere 5 … The Fresh Beat Band 1) … 1.5
 ... Free Expert Football Predictions

UCLA (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0), 4:00 EST, Saturday, September 12, ESPN

Why to watch: The beginning of the Rick Neuheisel era got off to a thrilling start last season with a 27-24 overtime win over Tennessee in the 2008 opener. Little did anyone realize at the time that UCLA would end up being so inept, while Tennessee would also go into the tank and become one of the season’s greatest disappointments. The UCLA offense finished 111th in the nation and was 109th in scoring, while Tennessee finished 115th in yards and 110th in points. This season, each team is trying to rebuild anew and will be looking to make big statements that the times really are changing. For the Bruins, another win over Tennessee would bring a whole new measure of respect, at least compared to last year’s victory. After beating San Diego State to open the season, and with what looks like a relatively easy road over the next few weeks, if Oregon really is as lousy as it played against Boise State, a win in Knoxville might be the start of a big run for the Bruins. For the Vols, everyone will be pointing to next week’s showdown at Florida in what should be one of the nastiest games of the year. Blowing Western Kentucky out of the water in a 63-7 waxing might be a bit cathartic and might have been a nice start to the Lane Kiffin era, but this is a needed step up the ladder to show that the program has improved since almost 365 days ago. With five home games in the first six, this is when Tennessee has to take advantage of the schedule breaks, and it has to go into Gainesville next week roaring.
Why UCLA might win: While it didn’t necessarily show it last week, especially early on when San Diego State was able to put up 14 points in the first quarter, highlighted by a 78-yard pass play for an Aztec touchdown, the UCLA defense really should be good. This is a young group, but it’s a talented one with good athleticism and nice upside. The D put the clamps down over the last three quarters against SDSU, and it didn’t allow any sort of a running game. Tennessee might lead the nation in offense after one game, but UCLA isn’t Western Kentucky. The floodgates opened when the Hilltoppers started screwing up, so if the Bruins could hang on to the ball, this might turn out to be a bit of a slugfest.
Why Tennessee might win: The UCLA offense is still awful, while the secondary is a concern. With the loss of starting corner Aaron Hester to a broken leg, the Bruins are very thin, and very small in the defensive backfield. The Tennessee passing game clicked against WKU, and if the bigger receivers can exploit the size advantage, and if Courtney Viney doesn’t shine in Hester’s place, Vol QB Jonathan Crompton could have a second straight big game. If Tennessee gets any sort of a lead, UCLA doesn’t have the matured firepower to keep up. It’ll be a year or so before the strong 2009 recruiting class pays off, and as shown against SDSU, UCLA still has an inefficient passing game and little ground attack. Defensively, there wasn’t much of a pass rush, and that has to change in a big hurry or else ...
Who to watch: … Crompton could have another big game. A disaster last year, throwing four touchdown passes and five interceptions as the starter over the first four games and with a smattering of time late, Crompton came up with five scoring passes on a 21-of-28 day against WKU. He only threw for 233 yards and gave away two interceptions, but he showed a more accurate passing touch, came through with the big throws needed to make the game a laugher, and he took a great step forward to possibly being the leader who could make this a promising season. For UCLA, Kevin Prince threw two interceptions and a touchdown pass, and only threw for 176 yards, but the coaching staff liked his accuracy, completing 18-of-29 passes, and there was promise that he could be the steady playmaker under center that the Bruin attack missed so much last year.
What will happen: Tennessee won’t explode like it did against WKU, but it’ll have a balanced offense that utilizes RB Bryce Brown more and only makes Crompton throw the short-to-midrange passes with the hope for the receivers to make things happen against the thin Bruin secondary. UCLA won’t be able to run, Prince will throw four picks, and the Vols will have the win they want before battling Florida.
CFN Prediction: Tennessee 30 … UCLA 17 ... Line: Tennessee -8
Must See Rating: (Curb Your Enthusiasm Season Premiere 5 … The Fresh Beat Band 1) … 3.5 ... Free Expert Football Predictions

Eastern Washington (1-0) at California (1-0),5:30 EST, Saturday, September 12

Why to watch: The opening weekend couldn’t have gone any better for Cal, which rode the back of Maryland to a spot in the top 10. While the Bears were expected to defeat the Terps, the 52-13 demolition was an eye-opener that included a career-day from inconsistent QB Kevin Riley and a tremendous effort from the defense. Just two days after Oregon got exposed in Boise, Cal has already established itself as the clear-cut best bet to dethrone USC in the Pac-10. Eastern Washington is a quality Big Sky team that held up relatively well in games with Texas Tech and Colorado a year ago, nearly stunning the Buffs. The Eagles opened with a 35-14 win over Western Oregon, pulling away with a pair of fourth quarter touchdown passes.
Why Eastern Washington might win: The Eagles are home to a mature passing game and a high-scoring offense, led by QB Matt Nichols. The senior had 21 touchdown passes a year ago, and began this season with three more. TE Nathan Overbay and WR Aaron Boyce are the pillars of a talented and experienced receiving corps, while sophomore Taiwan Jones provides a spark on the ground. In a high-scoring game, Eastern Washington has the weapons to hang with a Pac-10 team.
Why Cal might win: Eastern Washington can score, but can it stop anyone? More specifically, can it contain a Bear offense that just hung 542 yards and seven touchdown on an ACC defense? Cal has too much speed and balance for the Eagles, especially if the opener winds up being a table-setter for Riley’s junior year. Plus, the top three backs, namely Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen, are explosive, averaging a healthy 8.2 yards a carry on Saturday night. Punter Bryan Anger might not need to dress for this contest.
Who to watch: Nichols can throw for a bunch of yards, but he also makes a lot of bad decisions and poor reads. While you can get away with erratic behavior against Western Oregon, it’s a recipe for disaster in Berkeley. Cal’s combination of a ferocious pass rush and lockdown corners Syd’Quan Thompson and Darian Hagan will equal a mess of turnovers for the Bear defense.
What will happen: No let up. That’s the message Cal head coach Jeff Tedford is sending to his team, fearing a hangover. The Bears will heed his warning, humming once again on offense and forcing the Eagles into costly mistakes on defense. Best will deliver a few Heisman moments before getting to the sidelines by halftime. With trips to Minnesota and Oregon preceding a visit from USC, Tedford wants to get to Sunday with an easy win and an empty injury report.
CFN Prediction: Cal 48 … Eastern Washington 17 ... Line: No Line
Must See Rating: (Curb Your Enthusiasm Season Premiere 5 … The Fresh Beat Band 1) … 1.5
 ... Free Expert Football Predictions