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2009 Pac 10 Fearless Predictions - Week 6

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 8, 2009


Previews and Predictions for the Week 6 Pac 10 Games

2009 Pac 10 Fearless Predictions

Week 6 ... Oct. 10 Games

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

Pac 10 Fearless Predictions
- Week 1
 | USC vs. Ohio State | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 Week 5


- Week 5, Part 2 (Oregon State at ASU, and Wazzu at Oregon)  

Game of the Week

Oregon (4-1) at UCLA (3-1),3:30 EST, ESPN GamePlan, Saturday, October 10

Why to watch: As separation begins taking place in the Pac-10, Oregon finds itself at the adult table and rising quickly in the national polls. Long past the opening day debacle in Boise, the Ducks have now won four in-a-row and the last two league games by a combined score of 94-9. Gaining in confidence every week, they’re taking their show on the road for the first time in more than a month. Although UCLA is clearly improved from a year ago, this is still a school being held together by masking tape, especially on the offensive side of the ball. That was evident in last week’s first loss of the year to Stanford. With the league portion of the schedule about to kick into high gear, the Bruins need a bounce-back win right now before the season goes into a downward spiral.
Why Oregon might win: Sure, everyone focuses on Jeremiah Masoli, LaMichael James, and the rest of the offense, but what about the Duck D? Overlooked through the hot streak, it’s allowed just one touchdown over the last two games and has been terrific in pass defense, even after losing CB Walter Thurmond. Oregon is getting up-field pressure from DE Kenny Rowe, sure-tackling from linebackers Casey Matthews and Spencer Paysinger, and more turnovers than any other Pac-10 team. The unit presents problems for a UCLA offense that’s averaged less than 20 points over the last three games, and will be counting on the return at quarterback of a rusty Kevin Prince, who missed the last two weeks with a broken jaw.
Why UCLA might win: Until the offense can get to the end zone with more frequency, the Bruins will continue leaning heavily on one of the conference’s best defenses. They’ve yet to allow more than 24 points in a game, and have gone three consecutive weekends without allowing a touchdown pass. Oregon has been sporadic through the air, which will continue, allowing UCLA to stack the box to stop the running game. With DT Brian Price occupying more than one blocker, linebackers Reggie Carter and Kyle Bosworth will enjoy a clearer path to the backfield.
Who to watch: After rising up the depth chart in the offseason, Oregon sophomore rover Javes Lewis has continued to play well during the first half of the season. Now third on the team with 28 tackles, he’s basically a safety with the athletic ability of a cornerback. He’ll continue to have a more prominent role in this defense, especially after Thurmond was lost for the year.
What will happen: Oregon is about to endure the kind of challenge that it hasn’t faced the last two weekends. On the road and against a salty defense, it’ll have to work well beyond halftime to keep the winning streak alive. Masoli will connect with Ed Dickson for a pivotal fourth-quarter score, building a bulge that UCLA won’t be able to make up.
CFN Prediction: Oregon 28 … UCLA 20 ... Line: Oregon -5.5
Must See Rating: (A Serious Man 5 … Couples Retreat 1) … 3
-Free Expert Football Predictions

Arizona State (2-2) at Washington State (1-4),5:00 EST, Saturday, October 10

Why to watch: A couple of reeling Pac-10 teams square off, with designs on reversing their recent negative trends. Arizona State has dropped two straight games to Georgia and Oregon State, erasing all of the good karma that came out of the first two weekends. At Sun Devil Stadium last Saturday, there were chants for the backup quarterback, one of many signs that the 2009 season is approaching a tipping point. Washington State likely peaked two weeks ago, when it rallied in Seattle to defeat SMU. Since that lone victory over the Mustangs, the Cougars have been outscored 79-12 by two of the league’s front-runners, a reminder to head coach Paul Wulff how much rebuilding he still faces on the Palouse.
Why Arizona State might win: Even in losing, the Sun Devil defense has played very well all season, limiting opponents to just 232 yards and 16 points a game. Even Georgia had problems solving this athletic unit, so prosperity hasn’t been all about scheduling. Against the league’s worst offensive line, Arizona State will look to get DE Dexter Davis his first sacks of the year, while turning loose linebackers Mike Nixon, Gerald Munns, and Vontaze Burfict. The Devils are No. 2 nationally in turnover margin, bad news for a Wazzu offense that has no playmakers and has been careless with the ball.
Why Washington State might win: At long last, a challenge the Cougar defense might be able to overcome. Arizona State has scored just 17 points in each of the last two games, slipping to 88th in the country in total offense. Things have gotten so bad, Dennis Erickson was forced to give a vote of confidence to QB Danny Sullivan during the week. Promise on the Washington State defense comes in the form of freshmen, like DE Travis Long and CB Daniel Simmons, who continue to mature with more snaps. Remember, it was just two weeks ago that the Cougars limited USC to 27 points in the Coliseum.
Who to watch: If Arizona State has any hope of playing in a December bonus game, someone has to step up on offense. Sullivan is a marginal quarterback, holding the torch until freshman Brock Osweiler is ready to take over. For now, he’d help his job security by feeding No. 13, senior WR Chris McGaha, as much as possible. The most polished receiver on the roster, he caught a career-high 15 passes for 165 yards a week ago, keeping the Sun Devils in the hunt in the second half.
What will happen: After coming up short the last two Saturdays, Arizona State won’t pass on an opportunity to bully a weaker opponent, as if it’s still early September. While the offense will sputter at times, it’ll finally begin finishing more drives, getting a couple of scoring strikes from Sullivan and a pair of short plunges for six from RB Dimitri Nance.
CFN Prediction: Arizona State 34 … Washington State 14 ... Line: Arizona State -21
Must See Rating: (A Serious Man 5 … Couples Retreat 1) … 1.5
-Free Expert Football Predictions

Stanford (4-1) at Oregon State (3-2),7:00 EST, Saturday, October 10

Why to watch: After three consecutive wins and a perfect start in conference play, Stanford has quickly become the story of 2009 in the Pac-10. It might be time to start taking the Cardinal more seriously after it passed its toughest test so far, defeating unbeaten UCLA, 24-16. The next hurdle for the program will be to win a tough road game, which could happen this Saturday. For the first time since 2005, Oregon State has not started a season 2-3, courtesy of last weekend’s pivotal 28-17 upset of Arizona State in Tempe for the first time in four decades. The game could prove to be a turning point for a Beaver program that spent the first month of the season trying to locate an identity and some consistency.
Why Stanford might win: The Cardinal has ridden the broad shoulders of RB Toby Gerhart all season, but it might be inclined to go to the air more often this week. While the program has taken it slow with redshirt freshman QB Andrew Luck, he now has five games in the vault and an opponent that ranks 114th against the pass and has just three sacks all year. Stanford, on the flip side, leads the Pac-10 in fewest sacks allowed, meaning Luck will have all night to find top receivers Ryan Whalen and Chris Owusu. The run defense, a problem early on, has stiffened, holding the last three teams to less than 100 yards on the ground.
Why Oregon State might win: The Beavers appear to be turning the corner, an annual ritual each October in Corvallis. They’re coming off their best all-around effort of the season, getting balance on offense from QB Sean Canfield and brother James and Jacquizz Rodgers, and improved play out of the defense. Fueled by DT Stephen Paea and LB Keaton Kristick in the middle, Oregon State has moved up to No. 12 nationally in run defense, and could neutralize Gerhart, the heart-and-soul of the Cardinal program. Stanford is still a young team that flopped in the second half of its last road trip.
Who to watch: Pass protection has been a shared problem at Oregon State that’s attributed to Canfield’s modest mobility and a handful of first-time starting linemen. The Beavers can ill-afford any breakdowns against a Stanford team that will bring the heat from DE Tom Keiser and a back seven that mixes its blitzes well. S Bo McNally and LB Clinton Snyder, in particular, are a couple of defenders capable of covering big chunks of turf.
What will happen: With a chance to take a head of steam into the second half of the season, this is a critical game for both programs. While Stanford is obviously on a northerly path under Jim Harbaugh, winning on the road is a whole different animal than holding serve on The Farm. The Cardinal will suffer a temporary setback, bowing to the Rodgers siblings and an Oregon State team poised to go on its annual mid-season revival.
CFN Prediction: Oregon State 27 … Stanford 21 ... Line: Stanford -2
Must See Rating: (A Serious Man 5 … Couples Retreat 1) … 2.5
-Free Expert Football Predictions

Arizona (3-1) at Washington (2-3),10:00 EST, Saturday, October 10

Why to watch: Okay, so even after upsetting USC, few felt Washington was prepared to take command of the Pac-10 race, but consecutive losses have now put bowl eligibility in serious jeopardy. If the Huskies don’t want to squander all of the goodwill they amassed last month, they’ve got to rebound immediately. Failing to close out Notre Dame in South Bend on Saturday is the type of heartbreaker that could haunt a young team for weeks. Arizona got a week off to rest and process its biggest triumph of the season, a 37-32 upset of Oregon State in Corvallis. With three winnable home games to follow, this is the type of swing game that could propel the Wildcats on to the periphery of Pac-10 contention.
Why Arizona might win: For the first time all season, the Wildcats got a much-needed glimpse of their offensive ceiling, putting up 37 points and almost 400 yards on Oregon State. It was no coincidence that QB Nick Foles was making his debut in the starting lineup. The big righty didn’t air it out often, but he did throw three touchdown passes and has the arm strength to keep defenses from flooding the intermediate routes with a Cover 2. Balance comes in the form of big-play Nic Grigsby and a deep collection of running backs. Washington’s true colors have begun to bleed through on defense, giving up 71 points and a slew of long gainers the last two games.
Why Washington might win: The Huskies will put their fate on the shoulders of QB Jake Locker, who’s just talented enough to carry the team back to the .500 mark. He continues to get more comfortable in Steve Sarkisian’s system, leading the Pac-10 in total offense. His supporting cast, while young, has started to emerge as well. RB Chris Polk just got done rushing for a career-high 136 yards in South Bend, and fellow freshman James Johnson has caught a team-best 21 passes. Washington has clearly been a better team in Seattle, beat USC and Idaho, and outplaying LSU.
Who to watch: It’s no surprise that the Washington offensive line has been a weak spot this season. That’s been the case for years now. The Huskies’ challenge on Saturday night will be to keep DE Ricky Elmore out of the backfield. With Brooks Reed slowed by injury, the junior has picked up the slack in the most extensive action of his career, collecting 3.5 sacks in the last two games.
What will happen: Washington has the better quarterback and the home-field advantage. After that? It’s all Arizona. The Wildcats are stronger in the trenches and have a much stingier defense. The staff will keep Foles from having to do too much, feeding Grigsby, Keola Antolin, and Greg Nwoko to set up play-action. The inexperienced Husky receivers will have problems shaking free from corners Trevin Wade and Devin Ross, heaping pressure on Locker to go it alone.
CFN Prediction: Arizona 30 … Washington 23 ... Line: Arizona -2.5
Must See Rating: (A Serious Man 5 … Couples Retreat 1) … 2.5
-Free Expert Football Predictions