2009 Pac 10 Fearless Predictions - Week 8

Posted Oct 23, 2009

Previews and Predictions for the Week 8 Pac 10 Games

2009 Pac 10 Fearless Predictions

Week 8 ... Oct. 24 Games

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

Pac 10 Fearless Predictions
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Game of the Week

Oregon State (4-2) at USC (5-1),8:00 EST, Saturday, October 24

Why to watch: No, USC has not forgotten last September's loss in Corvallis, which wound up preventing it from playing for a national championship. The Trojans would love nothing more than to provide a little payback for having to hear about that gaffe throughout the balance of the 2008 season. They've regrouped since this year's stumble, a Sept. 19 loss at Washington, to win three straight games, including last week's 34-27 survival in South Bend. Oregon State took a two-game winning streak into last Saturday's bye and has begun to heat up, like it does at this time every year since 2006. The Beavers understand that one more loss in league play pretty much dashes any hopes for a Rose Bowl berth.
Why Oregon State might win: The Beavers will use the same formula as a year ago, feeding USC a steady diet of the Rodgers brothers, RB Jacquizz and WR James. Quizz is having another all-star season, averaging 160 yards from scrimmage a game and scoring 13 touchdowns. When he's healthy and making big plays, it becomes easier for QB Sean Canfield to play-action his way downfield to WR Damola Adeniji. Oregon State is averaging 33 points over the last three games and is capable of slugging it out with a USC attack that has been sporadic, especially on third down and in the red zone.
Why USC might win: The Trojans once again harbor one of the nation's toughest defensive units. They're allowing just 11 points and 260 yards a game, really clamping down on the run. Opponents are managing just two yards a carry, which is going to be a barrier to success for Rodgers. Canfield will struggle to evade the pressure of the nation's top sack unit. The combination of Everson Griffen and Nick Perry at defensive end, coupled with a blitzing Michael Morgan from linebacker, will torment a Beaver offensive line that has labored badly in pass protection. A flushed Canfield is an ineffective Canfield.
Who to watch: USC QB Matt Barkley has shed the training wheels and has started to cycle to stardom. He really started to flash all of his enormous upside in South Bend on Saturday, throwing for a career-high 380 yards and looking very comfortable throwing to WR Damian Williams and TE Anthony McCoy. Oregon State has not adapted well to a whole new set of starters in the secondary and has zero pass rush, which means Barkley's ascent is about to continue.
What will happen: With or without the revenge factor, USC has too much of an edge at the line of scrimmage to be seriously threatened this year by Oregon State. When the Trojans have the ball, they'll open holes for Joe McKnight and give Barkley the time he needs to pick apart the Beaver secondary. On defense, Troy will run Canfield ragged, collapsing the pocket and putting him on his back all night. By the third quarter, USC will already be conservative, milking the clock with a steady flow of running plays.
CFN Prediction: USC 34 … Oregon State 14 ... Line: USC -21
Must See Rating: (Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) 5 ... This Is It 1) … 3
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Oregon (5-1) at Washington (3-4),3:30 EST, ESPN Gameplan, Saturday, October 24

Why to watch: Oregon has returned to action after being off last week, knowing that it's all alone atop the Pac-10 and controls its own destiny in the race to Pasadena. The rest and time away from the field couldn't have been timelier for a Duck team that was slammed with injuries during the five-game winning streak. As the home stretch approaches, Chip Kelly hopes to be as close to full strength as he's been since opening night. Washington has become college football's version of an amusement ride, filled with ups-and-downs and all kinds of unexpected twists and turns. Every week seems to feature a frenetic finish, including last Saturday's debacle in the desert. Seemingly headed to overtime with Arizona State, the Husky secondary napped as the Sun Devils hooked up on one of the simplest Hail Marys in the history of the game. Back under .500, U-Dub is running out of mulligans in that quest to play in the postseason.
Why Oregon might win: The hope around Eugene is that Jeremiah Masoli is healthy enough to ignite the offense after sitting out the UCLA game with a knee injury. He is back at practice, though he's yet to be fast-tracked into contact. A mobile Masoli combined with RB LaMichael James is a dangerous combination for a Washington defense that ranks ninth in the Pac-10 and has gotten exposed since the monster effort against USC a month ago. Somewhat lost in the Ducks' recent run has been the play of the defense, which has allowed just 19 points in the last three games and is being fueled by lesser-known cogs, like DE Kenny Rowe and safeties Javes Lewis and John Boyett.
Why Washington might win: Under Steve Sarkisian, the Huskies are playing with a new attitude and confidence, especially in Seattle. They've won three in-a-row at home, losing a competitive game with LSU in the opener. If Masoli is anything less than 100%, Washington will enjoy an edge at quarterback, where Jake Locker is always dangerous. He's thrown 11 touchdown passes, rushed for 223 yards, and gotten RB Chris Polk and WR Devin Aguilar more involved with the offense. Oregon's erratic passing attack will allow talented Husky linebackers Mason Foster, Donald Butler, and E.J. Savannah to cheat up to stop the run.
Who to watch: Considering all of the concern in the offseason, the rebuilt Oregon offensive line has done a nice job of opening holes and protecting the quarterbacks. Jordan Holmes has been a rock at the pivot and Bo Thran has held up well at left tackle. Their biggest concern this week will be containing Washington DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, a workaholic coming off his first two-sack game of the season.
What will happen: Expect the unexpected when Washington is on the field. While not as talented as Oregon, the Huskies still have a lot of fight left in them and tend to play at a higher at home. They'll shake off last week's loss and drag the Ducks into another exciting, eventful game loaded with drama. In this venue, the Masoli situation is cause for concern. If he's unable to break down the defense with his feet, Oregon isn't anywhere near as potent. With the crowd buzzing, Locker will scramble for the winning score, adding another chapter to a chaotic season.
CFN Prediction: Washington 30 … Oregon 27 ... Line: Oregon -7
Must See Rating: (Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) 5 ... This Is It 1) … 3
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Washington State (1-5) at Cal (4-2),4:30 EST, Saturday, October 24

Why to watch: Now that the Rose Bowl is just a place to see UCLA home games, Cal can turn its attention to San Diego and a possible berth in the Holiday Bowl. The Bears took their first step toward salvaging the 2009 season, pounding the Bruins, 45-26, coming off the bye week. Oregon and USC are in the rear view mirror, so this team is liable to start playing downhill over the final six games. Washington State got a much-needed off week to lick its wounds and digest another futile start to the season. With no hope for bowl eligibility, Paul Wulff and his young Cougars will spend the second half of the year learning about some of the underclassmen and trying to build something positive to take into the offseason.
Why Washington State might win: Over the last three games, the Cal defense has sprung leaks, even allowing three touchdown passes to aerial-challenged UCLA. The Cougars will look to attack with QB Jeff Tuel, RB Dwight Tardy, and a spate of experienced receivers. Tuel is the future in Pullman, mixing an accurate arm with the ability to break from the pocket and bolt for the sticks. Tardy has been around for five years and won't be unnerved by playing on the road or having to shoulder the load on the ground.
Why Cal might win: The Bears had a refreshing attitude a week ago, battering a very good Bruin defense with a mix of the run and the pass. While Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen both went for 100 yards rushing, Kevin Riley had his best game through the air in a month. He connected on 14-of-23 passes for 205 yards and three touchdowns, using his backs, WR Marvin Jones, and TE Anthony Miller. Cal has far too much firepower for a Wazzu defense that's saddled with injuries and giving up almost 500 yards a game.
Who to watch: Jones had his best game of the year a week ago in Pasadena, which the coaching staff hopes is a harbinger of things to come. He has all of the physical tools to be a star, but remains a little raw and inconsistent at the finer points of the position. Riley found him four times for 89 yards and two touchdowns, an indication that he's growing more confident in the precocious sophomore.
What will happen: Now that the competition has waned, Cal will get back to slapping around weaker opponents. Last week's blowout of UCLA on the road sent a signal that the Bears plan to fight for respect over the last half of the season. They'll compile a little more momentum at the expense of toothless Washington State, topping the 500-yard mark in total offense and never getting challenged.
CFN Prediction: Cal 51 … Washington State 10 ... Line: Cal -36
Must See Rating: (Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) 5 ... This Is It 1) … 2
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UCLA (3-3) at Arizona (4-2),6:30 EST, Saturday, October 24

Why to watch: If there's a Pac-10 sleeper lurking behind favorites Oregon and USC, might it be Arizona? One of five teams left with just one conference loss, the Wildcats used a frantic fourth quarter rally to get past Stanford for a potential turning-point victory. It was a show of resiliency for a program that had lost a heartbreaker to Washington just a week earlier. Now that the vultures have started to circle UCLA, does it have anything left to fend them off? A season that began with three wins and so much promise has suddenly deteriorated with three consecutive conference losses. Rock bottom may have been located in last Saturday's lopsided loss to Cal, which was as bad as the 45-26 indicated. If that wasn't the low point, it's going to be a rough six weeks for Rick Neuheisel.
Why UCLA might win: Forget the toe tag. The Bruin offense has a pulse. For the first time all year, UCLA displayed some potency in the loss to Cal, getting more than 300 yards passing from Kevin Prince and more than 100 yards rushing from Johnathan Franklin. Both redshirt freshmen, it's possible that the light has started to finally go on in the backfield. A trend might be formed in Tucson versus an Arizona defense that's given up at least 32 points in each of the last three games. As bad as the Bruin D was on Saturday, it was not indicative of the unit's overall talent or potential.
Why Arizona might win: Three games. Three examples why making the switch to Nick Foles at quarterback was a stroke of wisdom. The sophomore has helped ignite the Wildcat offense, leading it to at least 33 points in each of his starts. He has the long arm to stretch the defense and maximize the abilities of receivers Juron Criner, Terrell Turner, and David Douglas. Plus, his rifle helps open up running lanes for Nic Grigsby. If Arizona gets up around 30 points again, UCLA doesn't have the parts on offense to beat that number.
Who to watch: Getting Grigsby back to full strength has been a huge plus for the Arizona offense. He's played sparingly in the last three games, but did turn seven carries into 89 yards and a touchdown in the comeback win over Stanford last weekend. For the season, he's averaging a little more than eight yards a carry, a representation of his ability to split defenders and bust into the secondary.
What will happen: UCLA isn't as bad as it looked against Cal on Saturday. Still, it's not quite good enough to beat Arizona on the road either. The combination of Grigsby on the ground and Foles through the air will stay one step ahead of a Bruin offense that's a little more confident and potent than it was in September. The Wildcats have gotten comfortable playing in tight games, the last four of which were decided by 10 points or less.
CFN Prediction: Arizona 31 … UCLA 23 ... Line: Arizona -9
Must See Rating: (Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) 5 ... This Is It 1) … 2.5
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Arizona State (4-2) at Stanford (4-3),10:15 EST, Saturday, October 24

Why to watch: Stanford needs to put some chains on its tires because it's started to lose traction, an eerily familiar feeling in Palo Alto. The Cardinal has lost back-to-back games to Oregon State and Arizona, the latter after holding a lead for most of the game. If the program doesn't want to squander a shot at bowl eligibility for a second straight year, this is as close to a must-win situation that it'll have in 2009. Arizona State, on the other hand, has won consecutive games over the league's teams from Washington, holding off the Cougars and stunning the Huskies on a 50-yard touchdown pass in the final seconds. A third straight win might stamp the Sun Devils a first-division Pac-10 team and bring them within a victory of returning to the bowl season.
Why Arizona State might win: Even as the competition has started to ramp up, the defense continues to be the cornerstone of this program. The Sun Devils are No. 2 nationally in run defense and have piled up 15 sacks over the last two games. No fluke, they're getting outstanding play out of the front seven, namely DT Saia Falahola, and linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Mike Nixon. Stanford RB Toby Gerhart was hobbled with a bad ankle at the end of last weekend's game, and if he can't effectively navigate this Arizona State D, the Cardinal will have serious issues reaching the end zone.
Why Stanford might win: Even at somewhere less than full-strength, Gerhart should play and be an inspiration to those around him. If he's unable to carry the load, QB Andrew Luck is getting to a point where he can pick up more of the slack. More comfortable now that he's beyond the halfway point of his first season, he's thrown for 649 yards and five touchdowns the last two weeks. Receivers Chris Owusu and Ryan Whalen have combined for seven touchdown catches and will be handfuls for the Arizona State secondary. For the first time since the beginning of the month, the Cardinal defense will be facing an average offense that lacks scary talent at the skill positions.
Who to watch: An intriguing game-within-the-game will pit Owusu versus the Pac-10's stingiest kick coverage. The Sun Devils are allowing a league-low 18 yards a return, but the sophomore is No. 4 nationally at over 35 yards a touch and has taken three back for touchdowns. It'll be interesting to see if Arizona State evens kicks in his direction or opts to squib the ball along the turf.
What will happen: Unbeaten at home and playing with a sense of desperation, Stanford has the edge in intangibles in an otherwise very competitive game. The Cardinal will get a workmanlike effort from Gerhart and a pair of touchdown passes from Luck, holding off an Arizona State offense that lacks pop and has had issues protecting the quarterback. Stanford will pressure lumbering Danny Sullivan into a key fourth-quarter turnover with the game hanging in the balance.
CFN Prediction: Stanford 24 … Arizona State 17 ... Line: Stanford -6
Must See Rating: (Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) 5 ... This Is It 1) … 2.5
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