2009 Pac 10 Fearless Picks - Week 12
Arizona QB Nick Foles
Arizona QB Nick Foles
Posted Nov 18, 2009

Everyone is talking about Stanford's rise, Oregon's offense, and USC's collapse, but Arizona is still alive thanks to Nick Foles, who has occasionally played like the league's best QB. Can the Cats beat the Ducks and throw a wrench into the Pac 10 race? Check out the Previews and Predictions for the Week 12 Pac 10 Games.

2009 Pac 10 Fearless Predictions

Week 12 ... Nov. 21 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 (8-2) at Arizona (6-3),8:00 EST, ABC, Saturday, November 21

Why to watch: The muddled mess that is the Pac-10 race is about to get some clarity in Tucson. Although not as compelling as before Arizona lost to Cal last weekend, both schools control their own destiny in the quest for Pasadena. Win out and a Rose Bowl date with Ohio State is the prize. The Wildcats stumbled in Berkeley, 24-16, their first loss in over a month. They'll need to regroup in a hurry, delivering some of that November magic that's become customary since Mike Stoops was hired. The Ducks got back on track following its loss to Stanford two weeks ago, routing Arizona State in Eugene, 44-21. The last remaining team with just one conference loss, it'll carry a target on its chest until someone can replace it at the top of the pile.
Why Oregon might win: Against some of the better offenses on the docket, Arizona has wilted, yielding an average of 37 points in consecutive games with Oregon State, Washington, and Stanford. Only when the likes of UCLA and Washington State came up on the schedule did the situation stabilize. The Ducks will provide no such breather, cranking out a league-high 237 yards a game on the ground and scoring at least 40 points in each of the last four games. While it's no secret that Oregon will look to establish the ground game with QB Jeremiah Masoli and RB LaMichael James, it doesn't mean that the Wildcats will have any answers. No one has since the opener at Boise State.
Why Arizona might win: As impressive as the Oregon defense has been this fall, Stanford showed two weeks ago what a balanced attack can do to the no-name unit. The Wildcats feel they have a similar system, ranking no lower than third in Pac-10 rushing and passing. With the expected return of RB Nic Grigsby to complement Keola Antolin, Arizona hopes to regain its prowess on the ground to go along with the big arm of QB Nick Foles. The Ducks will get their yards, but the ‘Cats have been stout against the run this season, yielding just 104 yards a game. And if forced to pass, Masoli has been erratic throughout the year.
Who to watch: The Arizona offensive line has been one of this year's pleasant surprises, giving up just seven sacks in nine games. Too much time means Foles will be able to hook up liberally with Terrell Turner and Juron Criner, another one of the team's upstarts. It'll be incumbent upon Oregon ends Kenny Rowe and Will Tukuafu to beat the tackles off the snap and force Foles out of his rhythm.
What will happen: ESPN Gameday is in town. The crowd will be roaring. Oregon is still the better team. History shows that anything can happen in Tucson this time of year, but that Duck ground game is the X factor that few have been able to solve. Once things settle down after the first 15 minutes, Masoli and James will take control of the situation, wearing down an Arizona defense lacking girth in the front seven and bringing Oregon once big step closer to the Rose Bowl.
CFN Prediction: Oregon 37 … Arizona 27 ... Line: Oregon -6
Must See Rating: (WWII in HD 5 … Old Dogs 1) … 4
-Free Expert Football Predictions

Arizona State (4-6) at UCLA (5-5),4:00 EST, Saturday, November 21

Why to watch: When Arizona State travels to Westwood to face UCLA this weekend, bowl extinction will be on the line for both schools. Over the last couple of weeks, the Bruins have ridden the backs of the Pac-10's two Washington schools to snap a long losing streak and climb back to sea level. A third win in-a-row would make the school bowl-eligible, though six wins is not necessarily a guarantee that a bid will be forthcoming. At their current pace, the Sun Devils are in danger of becoming the conference's next worst thing to the Huskies and Cougars. After peaking at 4-2 in mid-October, Arizona State has been unable to overcome a sputtering offense, dropping the last four games as the competition improved. It'll need a couple of upsets and a few breaks to have any chance of playing past November.
Why Arizona State might win: The league-leading Sun Devil D finally sprung a few leaks last weekend, but that was against Oregon and long overdue considering the burden it faces. UCLA will present far fewer challenges. The Bruins are ninth in the league in scoring and have failed all season to generate a consistent ground game. Arizona State will keep that trend alive, while making life miserable for young QB Kevin Prince. It'll enjoy a huge edge near the line of scrimmage, mauling a mediocre UCLA line with tackles Lawrence Guy and Saia Falahola, and linebackers Mike Nixon and Vontaze Burfict.
Why UCLA might win: Just like this week's visitors, the Bruins will enjoy the upper hand whenever Arizona State has the ball. The Sun Devils, too, have no running game and the situation behind center is a mess. Will it be Samson Szakacsy or one of the injured hurlers, Danny Sullivan or Brock Osweiler? Will it matter? None of them figure to have much success against a talented UCLA defense that boasts All-America candidates in DT Brian Price, LB Reggie Carter, S Rahim Moore, and CB Alterraun Verner. The unit leads the Pac-10 in tackles for loss, showing good speed and an ability to string out plays.
Who to watch: Maybe it's the opponents. Or maybe the game is beginning to slow down. Whatever the reason, UCLA redshirt freshman QB Kevin Prince has begun to play with confidence since returning from an injury. Over the last three games, he's thrown just one pick to go along with four touchdowns and 849 yards. If the Bruins are going to turn the corner in the coming years, they'll do so on the right arm and live feet of No. 14.
What will happen: There's work to be done in Los Angeles, but back-to-back wins have UCLA playing with more confidence and a sense of purpose. That helps this time of year, as do home games. In a physical, low-scoring game that'll look like something off the SEC Network, the Bruins will ride their defense and ace PK Kai Forbath to a third consecutive victory.
CFN Prediction: UCLA 23 … Arizona State 16 ... Line: UCLA -4.5
Must See Rating: (WWII in HD 5 … Old Dogs 1) … 3.5
-Free Expert Football Predictions

Oregon State (7-3) at Washington State (1-9),5:00 EST, Saturday, November 21

Why to watch: While everyone else is focused on the play of Stanford, demise of USC, or magic number of Oregon, Oregon State is quietly playing some very solid football. Winners of three straight and five of their last six, the Beavers have vaulted into the Top 25 and remain firmly in the mix for a Pac-10 championship. If they can win their final two games, including the Dec. 3 Civil War in Eugene, and Arizona loses just once, the Beavs will play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1964. Washington State is trudging to the finish line of another miserable season, dropping the last seven games by no fewer than 13 points. With fans no longer showing up and players growing accustomed to the culture of losing, the Cougars are in danger of slipping into a deeper hole that takes years to escape.
Why Oregon State might win: Since working out some wrinkles back in September, the Beaver offense has played extremely well, averaging more than 400 yards and 31 points a game. Thanks to the improved play of Sean Canfield under center, Oregon State has achieved a level of balance that's frustrated defenses far more talented than the one from Wazzu. Teams used to be able to get away with stacking the box to RB Jacquizz Rodgers. If they try it now, Canfield will carve them up, with the help of receivers James Rodgers and Damola Adeniji.
Why Washington State might win: The only hints of vulnerability coming out of Corvallis these days surround a sketchy secondary that's allowed 19 touchdown passes and gets little help from the pass rush. It'll be incumbent on Cougar quarterbacks Kevin Lopina, Marshall Lobbestael, and Jeff Tuel, who might all play, to find ways to get the ball in the hands of the receivers. While underutilized throughout the year, Jared Karstetter, Jeffrey Solomon, Gino Simone, and Johnny Forzani have a mix of size and speed to snap off the occasional big play downfield.
Who to watch: No one in the Pac-10 is defending the run better than Oregon State, which yields just 102 yards a game. And while that might not be pivotal this weekend, it'll matter big time against Oregon two weeks from now. The key cog of that unit is DT Stephen Paea, a freakishly strong and agile interior lineman. Even when he's not making the actual stop, there's a good chance he's occupying multiple blockers and freeing up a teammate to get closer to the action.
What will happen: Oregon State has one more toll to pay before gearing up for the Civil War and a possible winner-take-all game with rival Oregon. Washington State, which has yet to score a first quarter touchdown in 2009, figures to offer little resistance at this stage of the season. The Beavers will jump on the Cougars right away, building a quick lead behind Canfield and Rodgers, and never being challenged beyond the first few series.
CFN Prediction: Oregon State 45 … Washington State 10 ... Line: Oregon State -32.5
Must See Rating: (WWII in HD 5 … Old Dogs 1) … 1.5
-Free Expert Football Predictions

California (7-2) at Stanford (7-3),7:30 EST, Saturday, November 21

Why to watch: The heck with the original blueprint. Stanford has been so dominant over the last three weeks, it's skipped a few stages in the rebuilding process. Who needs a gradual progression when you can batter Arizona State, Oregon, and USC in consecutive games and become one of the hottest topics in the sport? Last Saturday's 55-21 smackdown of the Trojans was a seminal moment for Jim Harbaugh and a Cardinal team that remains on the periphery of the Rose Bowl hunt. Cal would love nothing more than to stop its chief rival in its tracks. The Bears just got done knocking Arizona down a peg in the pecking order, and have won four of the last five games. A win in the Big Game would put a positive spin on a season that nearly veered off the rails in early October.
Why Cal might win: The Stanford defense, while making strides, has allowed at least 38 points in three of the last five games and will finish the year sans top linebacker, Clinton Snyder. The Cardinal has had particular problems stopping the pass, which is good news for Bear QB Kevin Riley. The junior has managed the season modestly well, throwing three times as many touchdowns as picks and helping speedy WR Marvin Jones mature in his second season. RB Shane Vereen may not be Jahvid Best, Cal's injured star, but he does a pretty good impersonation, averaging more than five yards a carry and twice going for 150 yards in the past month.
Why Stanford might win: There might not be an offense in America that's executing better than the one on the Farm. The Cardinal now leads the league at 445 yards a game, hanging more than 50 points on Oregon and USC defenses that were supposed to be two of the Pac-10's stingiest. Blending the power running of Toby Gerhart with the precision passing of Andrew Luck, Stanford has been virtually unstoppable for the past month. Not to be forgotten is an offensive line that's allowed six sacks in 10 games and has exceeded everyone's expectations. Given time to throw, Luck will have success against an overrated Cal secondary that's allowed seven touchdown passes in the last four games and ranks 114th nationally in pass defense.
Who to watch: Now that Best won't suit up, Stanford can stake claim to the Big Game's biggest threat in the open field. Whether he's catching passes or fielding kickoffs, WR Chris Owusu is a game-changer with the speed and explosiveness to bring the home crowd to its feet. If the sophomore is permitted to stretch the field, it'll open things up for the running game and the underneath stuff for WR Ryan Whalen and TE Coby Fleener.
What will happen: Ambushing USC a week after upsetting Oregon showed that Stanford wasn't just a good football team, but it was also a mature one. No lack of focus or getting caught reading press clippings. And no reason why the Cardinal can't get its hands on the Axe for just the second time since 2002. The offense will remain on a roll, peppering Cal with Gerhart between the tackles and Luck occasionally over the top. Stanford destroyed the Trojans and the Ducks, two teams that toyed with the Bears earlier in the year. Sometimes those metrics are difficult to ignore.
CFN Prediction: Stanford 38 … Cal 24 ... Line: Stanford -7
Must See Rating: (WWII in HD 5 … Old Dogs 1) … 4
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