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Picking the Pac - Week 7

Week seven in the Pac 10.

WSU, Oregon, and Oregon State have the week off.

Southern California at Notre Dame

This is the big game of the week nationally because of a tradition that goes back to the days of Knute Rockne. The Irish had no problem removing of Catholic rival Boston college from the schedule after a six game losing streak but getting rid of USC isn't so easy. You have all those televisions that NBC loves. You would think NBC would love all those TV sets back in New England too.

The Irish and Trojans have a common opponent in Washington. The Huskies beat the Trojans in Seattle and were robbed of a certain victory by the officials in South Bend. the Irish faithful seem to think that because they stole a victory over Washington they can do the same thing to USC because Washington of course beat the Trojans.

As Lee Corso says every weekend not so fast! USC is superior to the Irish at about every position and they have their QB back healthy and with experience. I am predicting that USC will treat the Irish like California. the Trojans are getting better every week while the Irish are just holding on.

USC by 17

California at UCLA

This is the moment of truth for these two football programs. Cal is almost out of it after suddering two conference losses. The Bruins on the other hand also have too lossed and are fighting to keep alive this week. If Cal loses to UCLA their season is over and they are at the bottom of the conference with WSU which was unthinkable only three weeks ago.

I have examined this game pretty close and I like the Bruins because of their defense. The prescription for beating Cal is loading the line of scrimmage and taking Jahvid Best out of the game. The Bruins can do that without worrying too much about Kevin Riley. UCLa has one of the better defensive units in the conference.

The problem with the Bruins is they are as inept on offense as ASU is. They can give up points quickly like we saw in the third quarter of last weeks game against Oregon. They don't have a Jake Locker that can rally them back. Once the Bruins are two TD's behind they are toast.

UCLA has a better defense than Cal and that should be enoug to win the game because if UCLA is going to get something going this year a good bet would be against a questionable Bears defense.

UCLA by 3

Stanford at Arizona

This is another big game. Both team have one loss in conference and whoever loses gets the kiss of death of having two. I like the way Arizona matches up with Stanford. They have a defense that can control the one dimensional Stanford offense. Offensively Nick Foles continues to get better every week. If the Cardinal plays the same way they did against OSU they could be in for a long day.

The big equallizer in this is Arizona isn't explosive or well coached. The key to beating Stanford is getting ahead of them by a couple of scores early which takes them out of their power running game. The Tree doesn't play well from behind. I think Andrew Luck will develop into an All Pac 10 QB but when the game is on his frosh shoulders the Tree struggles.

I think Arizona bounces back at hime and wins a close one which would give the Huskies control of their destiny in the Pac 10 if they keep winning.

Arizona by 3

Washington at Arizona State

This is one of these games on the schedule the Huskies need to win. From a strictly statisitical standpoint the Sun Devils should kill us on the road. Past statistics don't win football games and when I look closely at ASU the key to beating them is having a plus turnover ratio. The Devils have an offense built to make mistakes and give up points. On the other hand they have a defense that can make up for it if you play sloppy. They av eup six turnovers against WSU and it didn't hinder them in the least.

Washington needs to get out to an early lead an not make mistakes to win this game. Fortunately we have the type of offense led by Jake Locker that can get that done. ASU isn't easy to rush on and they blit quite a bit. That opens up opportunities for Washington to get some quick early scores long. It also gives Jake the latitude to step up in the rush and get into the secondary easliy. As we saw last week against Arizona once he gets in the secondary he is gone because he is likely the fastest player on the field.

Dennis Erickson is no fool and he will try to pick Washington apart with a high percentage short passing game. He has the players on the outside to make the bubble screen work all day. Washington will have a couple of pieces back this week on defense so Holt needs to counter that early and take it away from them. A real plus for UW is that Danny Sullivan is the QB. He makes mistakes, isn't very mobile, and picking up a couple of interceptions will be key in cementing the first road victory of the year.

Washington by 3

Conference Notes

Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli is back at practice but his movement is restricted. The medical staff doesn't want him moving side to side because of a knee injury he suffered against WSU. Masoli said he had an MRI last week and it didn't show anything. Despite that he says he isn't sure if he will be ready for the Washington game on October 24th. He describes the injury as day to day. He says he wakes up with the knee pretty stiff in the morning at this point. With two weeks to go his availability for the UW is too early to call.

USC's defense got a big boost this week with the return of DE Armond Armstead. The 6-foot-5 Armstead was a starting defensive end before he suffered a broken bone in his left foot during training camp.

John Wilner is calling the Cal/UCLA clash a watershed moment for Cal coach Jeff Tedford. Two years ago, they zoomed to a 5-0 start and were on the brink of a No. 1 ranking before splitting apart at the seams. They lost six of their final seven regular-season games and spent the winter searching for answers. Cal is trying to avoid a repeat of that collapse.

Oregon State sophomore running back Jacquizz Rodgers has been named this week’s Pac-10 Conference Offensive Player of the Week, league commissioner Larry Scott announced Monday. Rodgers, from Richmond, Texas, accounted for 271 all-purpose yards, tied for the third-highest total in school history, as the Beavers defeated Pac-10 Conference leading Stanford 38-28 last Saturday at Reser Stadium.

ASU Tight end Stanley Malamala suffered a broken jaw during the Washington State game but continued to play. He is expected out for six weeks and will have a plate wired into his jaw so it heals properly.

ASU Kicker Thomas Weber (groin) will miss a fifth straight game. Bobby Wenzig, who missed an extra point and had another blocked, could be challenged this week by two walk-ons.

ASU Offensive Guard Zach Schlink (knee) participated in Tuesday's practice, but on a limited basis. Coach Dennis Erickson said it's still doubtful Schlink will play Saturday.

ASU Omar Bolden (knee) didn't practice yesterday, but Erickson said he expects him to play on Saturday.

ASU WR Kyle Williams is limited in practice because a hamstring injury that kept him out against Oregon State.

Starting ASU flanker Chris McGaha missed a second consecutive practice due to the flu but might be well enough to play on Saturday. To improve depth at wide receiver, true freshman Jamal Miles is giving up his redshirt and will play this week.