2009 Pac 10 Fearless Predictions - Week 9
Oregon's LaMichael James & USC's Allen Bradford
Oregon's LaMichael James & USC's Allen Bradford
Posted Oct 28, 2009

If this isn't for the Pac 10 title, it'll go a long way to determining the final pecking order. Can LaMichael James and the Oregon running game outslug Allen Bradford & USC? Check out the Previews and Predictions for the Week 8 Pac 10 Games.


2009 Pac 10 Fearless Predictions

Week 9 ... Oct. 31 Games

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

Pac 10 Fearless Predictions
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 | USC vs. Ohio State | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5
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Game of the Week

USC (6-1) at Oregon (6-1),8:00 EST, ABC, Saturday, October 31

Why to watch: Two contenders. One monumental Pac-10 game. And a whole lot at stake for both programs. Although Arizona isn't out of this thing, the winner of Saturday's primetime showdown in Eugene takes a giant step closer to Pasadena. If that team happens to be red-hot Oregon, for all intents and purposes, it'll basically end USC's seven-year headlock on league supremacy. Others have come close to doing it over that time, but no one has been able to close the Trojans out. The Ducks have been on an incredible ride since losing the opener to Boise State, reeling off six straight wins and actually getting better despite injuries and adversity. USC has won four in-a-row, but is saddled with that one conference loss to Washington and had to break a sweat to fend off Notre Dame and Oregon State the last two weekends. Since both schools are ranked in the top 10 of the BCS, there'll be implications that could extend outside the Pac-10 boundaries. You could light up the city of Portland with the electricity that's going to be produced in Autzen Stadium.
Why USC might win: The patchwork Oregon defense has been otherworldly, but can it remain on that level against elite competition? The Ducks have been relying on players, like DE Kenny Rowe, rover Javes Lewis, and S John Boyett, who could be in for a rude awakening. The Trojans have scored 30 or more points in each of the last three games, leaning on one of the nation's best offensive lines and a dynamite set of skill position players. QB Matt Barkley has yet to lose a game and is no longer performing like a rookie. Joe McKnight is the big-play weapon out of the backfield, but he's begun to get help from Allen Bradford, a 235-pound thumper, who had 147 yards and two scores last week. Without CB Walter Thurmond, who shuts down Damian Williams, one of the nation's premier wide receiver? As good as the Duck D has been, USC is about to knock it down a peg or two.
Why Oregon might win: Shhhh. No one seems to be noticing, but that supposedly impenetrable USC defense has suddenly become vulnerable. Over the last two weekends, the Trojans have given up 285 yards passing to Notre Dame and 482 total yards to Oregon State. The Duck ground game has been sensational since the opener in Boise, ripping off at least 193 yards in each of the last six games. QB Jeremiah Masoli showed no ill-effects last week from his knee injury, and RB LaMichael James has gone for more than 150 yards in three of the last five games. While it might be a no-name bunch, Nick Aliotti's defense has yet to show a crack and has yielded a single touchdown pass in the last four games.
Who to watch: Can you beat the USC defense without a multi-dimensional attack? Oregon State had it last week with QB Sean Canfield and RB Jacquizz Rodgers, but Oregon ranks 108th in passing offense. If Masoli can't get the ball to his receivers and TE Ed Dickson, it'll allow the Trojans to press up S Taylor Mays and linebackers Chris Galippo and Michael Morgan. James is terrific, but he won't solve this caliber of defense without some threat from Masoli's arm.
What will happen: Although Oregon has become an unbelievable story, its run is about to suffer a detour. USC is the seven-time defending champs for a reason, handling these types of do-or-die situations about as well as any program in America. This game will be won at the line of scrimmage, where the Trojans enjoy their biggest gap. They'll control the aggressive Duck defense, allowing Barkley to locate receivers, and McKnight and Bradford to find seams. This might not be a vintage USC defense, but Pete Carroll will leverage every resource in his power to stop Masoli and James from taking over the game on the ground.
CFN Prediction: USC 33 … Oregon 27 ... Line: USC -3.5
Must See Rating: (The Damned United 5 … Cougar Town 1) … 5
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Cal (5-2) at Arizona State (4-3),3:30 EST, ESPN Gameplan, Saturday, October 31

Why to watch: Yeah, it's too little, too late as far as the Pac-10 race goes, but Cal has started to heat up over the last two weeks, shredding UCLA and Washington State. Clearly over the earlier losses to Oregon and USC, the Bears are relaxed and playing like the team that zipped through the early part of the schedule. There's still plenty to play for in Berkeley, including a 10-win season and a better bowl bid. Arizona State is an odd team that's been treading water for much of the season. It's been up and down throughout the fall and rarely sustains any level of prolonged consistency. After getting waxed by Stanford a week ago, the Sun Devils better turn the tide now because a visit from USC and a trip to Oregon are up next for the program.
Why Cal might win: A confident Kevin Riley means an unstoppable Bear attack. Over the last two games, the quarterback has thrown six touchdown passes, which has opened things up for the backs, Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen. When Best and Vereen are getting into the open field, this offense has the explosiveness to hang 40 on plenty of defenses. The Cal defense has a little less to worry about this weekend, facing an Arizona State offense that's been very sketchy, especially since the schedule got tougher.
Why Arizona State might win: Yeah, the defense buckled on The Farm last weekend, but throughout the season, it's been the program's spine. The Sun Devils are No. 6 nationally versus the run and are tied for the Pac-10 lead in takeaways. The front seven, in particular, is loaded with playmakers, like tackles Saia Falahola and Lawrence Guy, and linebackers Mike Nixon, Vontaze Burfict, and Brandon Magee. This could be a good spot for beleaguered QB Danny Sullivan to get on track, facing a shaky Cal pass defense that ranks 114th in the country and gives up too many long balls.
Who to watch: Sophomore WR Marvin Jones has officially emerged as the go-to guy for Riley. He's always looked the part and has had all the physical skills, but his fundamentals and finer points have been somewhat lacking since arriving. That has started to gradually change over the last three weeks, and Riley has taken notice. He's connected with the speedster 10 times during that period for 180 yards and three touchdowns.
What will happen: Watching Cal over the last two weeks, you get the feeling it's going to surge for a while. Sure, the competition wasn't stiff, but how is Arizona State any different? This is a middling program that doesn't have enough offensive pop to go stride-for-stride with the Bears. Riley will remain on target and Best will keep piling up numbers as a back and a receiver, leading the school to a double-digit win on the road.
CFN Prediction: Cal 31 … Arizona State 21 ... Line: Cal -7
Must See Rating: (The Damned United 5 … Cougar Town 1) … 2.5
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UCLA (3-4) at Oregon State (4-3),4:00 EST, Saturday, October 31

Why to watch: All of that hope that was gushing out of Westwood has been replaced by despair, with UCLA mired in a nasty four-game losing streak and no end in sight. While no one with common sense was banking on a Pac-10 title this soon into Rick Neuheisel's tenure, expectations were heightened with a 3-0 start that included an upset of Tennessee in Knoxville. Instead, the Bruins haven't even come within 10 points of a victory. Go ahead and give a moral victory to Oregon State, which went toe-to-toe with USC in the Coliseum before falling, 42-36. The Beavers actually outgained the Trojans, a testament to how well they've been playing in October. That said, they're going to need this game in order to improve their chances making a return to the postseason.
Why UCLA might win: If the Bruins are going to get off the schneid, they'll have to do so behind the defense and P Jeff Locke, who's having a Freshman All-American season. Save for the collapse versus Cal two weeks ago, the UCLA D has been stingy all season, allowing just 22 points and 180 passing yards a game. With DT Brian Price causing mayhem up front, LB Reggie Carter patrolling running lanes, and Alterraun Verner and Rahim Moore manning the secondary, this is a difficult group to navigate.
Why Oregon State might win: The Beavers' biggest problem has been defense, but you won't know it against a UCLA attack that's been in neutral all year. On offense, Oregon State has started to cook, scoring at least 28 points in each of the last four games. Last week's 36-point outburst was the most yielded by USC in four years. RB Jacquizz Rodgers and WR James Rodgers were the sure-things in Corvallis, but now that QB Sean Canfield is playing as if he'll continue his career on Sundays, the Beavers have a diverse and dangerous set of options. The lefty threw three touchdown passes on the Trojan secondary, and has developed chemistry with veteran WR Damola Adeniji.
Who to watch: Slowly but surely, Oregon State FS Cameron Collins has started to realize some of his enormous potential. At 6-2 and 220 pounds, he's a tremendous all-around athlete and in many ways a poor man's Taylor Mays. He's had 19 tackles in the last two games, and figures prominently into the Beavers' plans on defense over the next two-plus seasons.
What will happen: Although both teams lost last weekend, it's evident who's playing well and who is playing out the string. Oregon State is actually peaking, especially on offense, a trend that's going to continue Saturday afternoon in Corvallis. The Beavers will mix the passing of Canfield with the shiftiness of the Rodgers brothers, building a lead that the UCLA offense won't be able to overcome.
CFN Prediction: Oregon State 31 … UCLA 17 ... Line: Oregon State -9.5
Must See Rating: (The Damned United 5 … Cougar Town 1) … 2
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Washington State (1-6) at Notre Dame (5-2),7:30 EST, NBC, Saturday, October 31

Why to watch: Notre Dame is bringing its brand to San Antonio for the first in an interesting series of off-site, neutral field contests. The Irish has always recruited well in Texas and have about 4,600 alums in the state, so it figures to have a decided edge in the stands. After getting to 5-2 with a hard-fought 20-16 win over Boston College, the Domers are still holding out hope of running the table and qualifying for that coveted spot in the Bowl Championship Series. For Washington State, this is a rare opportunity to play in front of a national TV audience. Considering the Cougars' play this season, that's probably not such a good thing for anyone except maybe the players' friends and family. Although their games have been a tad more competitive than a year ago, they're still losing by an average of 22 points.
Why Washington State might win: The weak link on the Irish this fall has been the defense, particularly the secondary. Notre Dame is 117th nationally in pass defense, and has allowed the last five opponents to throw for at least 275 yards. The Cougars will continue the education of true freshman QB Jeff Tuel, who was sharp a week ago, going 28-of-42 for 354 yards and two touchdowns versus Cal. He'll look to air out, with the help of an improving corps of receivers that's bolstered by Johnny Forzani, Jared Karstetter, Jeffrey Solomon, and Gino Simone. Wazzu is used to playing from behind and being dragged into track meets.
Why Notre Dame might win: Washington State's Pac-10 worst defense has no chance of slowing down the Irish attack. The Cougars get no backfield pressure and are giving up 500 yards a game. For QB Jimmy Clausen, it's an open invitation to pile up the numbers, especially since weather won't be a factor inside the Alamodome. He'll continue to feed TE Kyle Rudolph and WR Golden Tate, who's having a spectacular season without a lot of help from the other receivers. This is also a great opponent for Notre Dame to work on the running game, feeding the ball 20-25 times to leading rusher Armando Allen.
Who to watch: Manti Te'o is the real deal. The blue-chip recruit from Hawaii has begun to show the Irish and the nation why he was one of the most coveted linebackers in America in February. Slow out of the gate in September, he's really erupted in October, cracking the starting lineup and racking up at least eight tackles in each of the last three games. In the win over Boston College, he was making plays everywhere, including 2.5 behind the line of scrimmage.
What will happen: This is one of those times when the Irish will be able to name the score and only stop putting up points when it decides to pull back on the reigns. Notre Dame has too much offensive firepower for a Wazzu defense that's Big Sky-caliber. Clausen will chuck four touchdown passes as part of 550-yard, wire-to-wire domination.
CFN Prediction: Notre Dame 45 … Washington State 14 ... Line: Notre Dame -29
Must See Rating: (The Damned United 5 … Cougar Town 1) … 2
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