Pac 10 Report: Week 7


If there is anything that Week 6 taught us, it’s that nobody is safe in the Pac-10. There were some hard fought games last Saturday in the West, but things will be quieter this week, as Oregon, Arizona State, Stanford and UCLA are on byes.

I’ll start with Oregon, who of all the teams remaining undefeated in college football, I have the most confidence of making the BCS title game. And that’s saying a lot when you take into account that I consider the Pac-10 the best conference in the country (yes, even including the SEC). When you win by twenty points on the road and in conference, even against lowly Washington State, that’s impressive. I get the feeling that most people think the Ducks should’ve won by more. It’s safe to say that Oregon has arrived.

California met expectations by letting their season slip, and then dismantling UCLA when everybody has written them off. And UCLA’s offense finally came back to bite them, amassing only 144 yards against the Bears. California’s recipe for success is quite simple: run the ball.

As for UCLA, they can obviously beat anybody (just ask Texas), but are just too inconsistent. Quarterback Kevin Prince was 13-31 against the Bears and only put up seven points, and that was the first time all season that Prince had double-digit competitions. Backup Richard Brehaut made an appearance, but make no mistake: if the Bruins are going to win, Prince has to be the guy and he has to step up.

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 04: Running back Jacquizz Rodgers  of the Oregon State Beavers at Cowboys Stadium on September 4, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The game of the week was Oregon State going into 9th ranked Arizona and winning 29-27. Boise State fans, rejoice. The Beavers may be 3-2, but those two losses were against great competition, and their rough non-conference schedule sets them up to be formidable in the Pac-10. Eventually, they were going to beat somebody, as Arizona found out.

It was a weird game with three failed PATs, and the combined 1,027 total yards meant a whole bunch of fun for the viewer. What will be interesting is how Arizona bounces back. They dropped eight spots in the rankings, and should be able to refocus against Washington State.

USC and Stanford played a crazy one. Both quarterbacks looked great, but I expected that from Andrew Luck. I was more impressed with Matt Barkley, who stepped up big on the road against a good team. I have been down on USC’s secondary all year, so it was no big surprised that they got torched by Luck, who averaged nearly 12 yards per pass. With back-to-back losses, Trojan fans have got to fear that their team lacks focus for the rest of the year. They played well, but there is no postseason future and a conference championship is unlikely now.

SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Jake Locker  of the Washington Huskies passes against the Nebraska Cornhuskers on September 18, 2010 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The Cornhuskers defeated the Huskies 56-21. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Is it time to start worrying about Jake Locker? It’s not that his numbers are that bad (except the Nebraska game), but for such a highly touted NFL prospect, he isn’t winning games. Granted, the Huskies have problems elsewhere, but Locker isn’t picking up the slack. Washington can only go as far he he does, and Locker isn’t showing any signs of getting better. Getting outplayed by Steven Threet at home is not a good sign.

On to week 7.

California vs USC

This is an interesting game, because the season is basically over for whoever loses. The matchup is interesting as well. Cal needs to run to win, but USC is vulnerable in the passing game. If the Bears struggle to figure out what they want to do, the Trojans may be able to get out to a lead early, and Cal isn’t constructed to play from behind. I like USC in a close game.

Arizona vs Washington State

Just what the doctor ordered after a tough loss at home for Arizona, Not much to preview, as the Wildcats should roll as 23.5 favorites on the road.

 

Oregon State vs Washington

Do or die for the Huskies. The Beavers are horrible against the pass, so if Locker can’t shine here, his stock will drop for good. Oregon State is the better team, but the matchup favors Washington. The Huskies are only 1-2 at home, and you have to think that will improve. I like Washington slightly in this game, as I will ride the Locker bandwagon all the way into the ground.

Written by Jay Fisher.  Follow him on Twitter @jfishsports.

Week 4 in the Pac 10


If you hear a rumbling, that’s the sound of everybody jumping off the Jake Locker bandwagon all at once. The biggest game of Week 3 for the Pac-10 was Nebraska vs Washington, and Locker’s 4 for 20 performance left a lot to be desired.

I wouldn’t be too alarmed for Locker, though. Yes, he was bad, but it’s not like everyone just missed the boat on him and he went from #1 overall pick to being a schlub. The Nebraska defense is really good, and the Huskie defense didn’t exactly do Locker any favors. I’ll wait to hold judgement, and the bye week should help Sarkisian and company refocus.

SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Jake Locker  of the Washington Huskies passes against defensive end Pierre Allen  of the Nebraska Cornhuskers on September 18, 2010 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Then there was Arizona’s trouncing of Iowa. This was an odd game for a few reasons. Iowa’s first possession ended in a punt block, the end result being a Wildcat touchdown. Iowa’s next possession ended with a pick-six. After Iowa scored its first touchdown, the ensuing kickoff was returned for a score.Now, I give Arizona all the credit for being opportunistic and creating turnovers, but how much can you really gauge from this game? After those first few drives, were the Hawkeyes really that into it?

It was 27-7 at half time, with those three touchdowns resulting from a blocked punt, interception and kick return. The high powered Arizona offense, when having to face the Hawkeye defense with a long field, could only muster two field goals. I’m not completely sold on Arizona just yet.

Some quick notes on a few other games:

I continue to watch USC with an eye of skepticism. They just don’t seem to possess the ability to overwhelm inferior opponents. Winning is the name of the game, but I’m just not sure the Trojans have what it takes to knock a good team out. Still watching, still waiting for some signs.

Arizona State almost shocked the world by going on the road and coming within a blocked extra point of tying #11 Wisconsin late. I had this one nearly pegged last week, but I’m still surprised. Might not be the last time I say that about the Sun Devils this year.

I take nothing away from UCLA beating a Case Keenum-less Houston team. But you beat who is in front of you, so kudos to the Bruins. Now on to Week 4…

USC vs Washington State

Here you go, Lane. While most people won’t figure there is anything to learn from this game, I’ll be watching. I want to see the Trojans whoop up on somebody, and who better than the worst team (by far) in the Pac-10. This is the time to send a message.

Stanford vs Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish are coming off two hard to swallow losses, and now they face one of the top quarterbacks in the country, Stanford’s Andrew Luck. I would be fearful of the Cardinal players being caught looking forward to next week’s Oregon matchup, but does anybody really look past Notre Dame?

I really don’t see the Irish stopping Luck. And by the way, the drinking game for this one will be all puns that include the words “Luck” and “Irish” by NBC commentators.

UCLA vs Texas

Texas might boast the best defense in the nation, and UCLA has serious offensive issues. You get blanked at home against Stanford, then what are you going to do on the road against Texas?

What they need to do is make sure the Longhorns don’t get any kind of running game going. Then take a page from Arizona’s book and look to special teams and turnovers early to knock the wind out of Texas’ sails. If this were a home game for the Bruins, I could see something like that happening, but a road game against a top ten team? I’d be surprised if the score didn’t end in double digits favoring Texas.

Oregon State vs Boise State

This week’s Pac-10 game of the week. Here’s something I find interesting: The Beavers painted their practice field blue this week to prepare for a trip to Boise. I find this very funny, but at the same time, a possibly genius move by Mike Reilly.

It also helps the Beavers that they are coming off a bye week. Then again, Boise State’s game last week against Wyoming might as well be considered a bye.

The Broncos are the better team, but the matchup favors Oregon State slightly. You want to run the ball on the Beavers, and Boise is a pass-happy team. However, OSU quarterback Ryan Katz cannot get into a shootout with Kellen Moore.

The Beavers have to make this a low-scoring game. Even if they are down, say, 17-3 at half, that’s better than having Moore and the Broncos start lighting up the scoreboard, even if OSU is keeping up early. They won’t be able to sustain that, and Boise will.

California vs Arizona

The Bears seem to be a team that does well when everybody counts them out and folds under pressure. Well, after getting mauled by Nevada last week, and Arizona picking up a signature win, the pressure is off.

The Wildcats jumped ten spots from #24 to #14 in the AP poll. Not sure if I agree with that kind of movement in the polls with the kind of game that went on last week. And really, that was the only real game Arizona has played so far, and it was over early. This is also the last game before the bye week for the Cats. I smell “trap”.

Shane Vereen of California scores a touchdown during the game against UC Davis at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California on September 4th, 2010.  California defeated UC Davis, 52-3. Photo via Newscom

What Cal needs to do is run the ball with a vengeance. Shane Vereen needs about 25 carries for the Bears to win. Keep the ball, stop Arizona from airing it out, and you give yourself a chance. I think they will keep it close late, but Nick Foles and the Arizona passing attack will find seams against a questionable Cal secondary, and make enough big plays down the stretch to put the Bears away.

Oregon vs Arizona State

While the loss was painful, Arizona State should feel pretty good about their performance against Wisconsin. This is also Oregon’s first real game. Kind of smell an upset here, as it has all the ingredients, but there’s only one problem: Oregon is really, really good.

And should be good enough to blow the Sun Devils out. Perhaps the game will remain close in the first half, as the Ducks get up to speed, but Oregon is the best team nobody is talking about, and ASU still has a ways to go before they can be seriously thought of as a threat.

Written by Jay Fisher @jfishsports on Twitter

PGWU Weekend Review


As most of you were watching college football on Saturday, I was enjoying my bachelor party.  I didn’t get to watch much college football, so I spent yesterday and this morning watching the games I recorded.  Here is my version of how the past weekend in college football played out.

Nebraska crushed the Huskies and embarrassed Jake Locker, 56-21.  20% completion percentage is a joke.  If I were playing the Huskers, my gameplan would be to run the football, a lot.  This is the first time I have seen Jared Crick this year and I think he is good, but not the great player everyone is making him out to be. Taylor Martinez is extremely fast around the corner, I would put one of my safties as a spy on him every play, prove you can beat me with your arm.  Nebraska has a Dallas Clark clone in WR/TE Mike McNeill, he is a threat all over the field. 

Houston’s chances of being a BCS buster were crushed by UCLA this week, 31-13 Bruins win.  Case Keenum played in this game, after having concussion symptons during the week, and might be out for quite a while longer now.  He was injured trying to make a tackle on an INT return by UCLA LB Akeem Ayers.  He injured his right leg, but that is all we know at this point.  Keep your eye on freshman QB Terrance Broadway, who stepped in after Keenum’s backup was hurt as well.  He is going to be a good one.  UCLA shored up their rush defense for this week atleast, holding Houston to a little over 100 yards this week.  Bruin RB Johnathan Franklin had a huge game with 158 yards and 3 scores.

Ohio State did what they were supposed to do against Ohio, 43-7 was the final.  Terrelle Pryor had a good game, but 2 INT worries me a little.  The combo of Daniel Herron and Brandon Saine provide a good punch for the Buckeyes.  Add in the rushing ability of Pryor and they have the makings of a very good running game.  I love the Buckeye defense,  they are solid from front to back.

Wisconsin struggled withe the Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday, but get the win 20-19.  Jay Valai is a hero this week after blocking the game tying extra point.  This raises some questions about the legitimacy of Wisconsin being ranked this high.  The Sun Devils are a team they should lined up and out muscled on every play, especially at home.  Scott Tolzien was his usual accurate self for the Badgers, connecting on 76% of his passes.  

Oregon State holds on to beat the Louisville Cardinals, 35-28.  The Beavers have an offense that is loaded with play makers, but a horrible defense.  Quizz Rodgers had a great game on the ground, gaining 132 yards and 2 scores.  He also caught a pass for a score.  The Beavers were saved by a late INT by Sr. CB James Dockery. 

Arizona proved the doubters wrong this week, beating Iowa 34-27.  Nick Foles threw for 303 yards and distributed the ball to 11 different targets last week.  They made Iowa’s defense look silly in the first half.  Big play’s helped the Wildcats out as well, an INT  return for a TD by Trevin Wade and a KR for a TD by Travis Cobb and a blocked punt helped Arizona out tremendously.  I am very impressed with Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi though, he looks like a better decision maker this season.  Iowa RB Adam Robinson was a non-factor the whole game.

Missouri gets an ugly win, beating San Diego State late 27-24.  This game was one to forget for Mizzou fans, and Blaine Gabbert for that matter.  The Tigers did get the win, but Gabbert threw 2 costly INT’s in the games final quarter.  He did connect with WR TJ Moe on a game winning 68 yard TD with 51 seconds left in the game.  Aztecs RB Ronnie Hillman had a very memorable game.  He rushed for 228 yards and 2 scores, one a 75 yard run, the other for 93.  The Tigers had a big time injury in this game when star DE Aldon Smith suffered a broken fibula, he hopes to be back for the Big 12 conference opener against Colorado.

Oklahoma barely slipped by Air Force,  27-24.  The Falcons gashed the Sooners with their running game, gaining 357 yards on the ground.  They averaged close to 6 yards per rush.  Landry Jones was solid in this game, throwing for 254 yards and a TD.  The Sooners leaned on RB DeMarco Murray, and he didn’t let them down.  Murray had 148 total yards and 3 scores.  Sooners WR Ryan Broyles had a solid receiving game as well.

Written by Jason Madson @isbnJMAD on Twitter

This Week in the Pac-10


 

 Week 2 was a good week to be a Pac 10 team. The conference swept every game, with the lone exception being Stanford’s beat down of UCLA, where a Pac 10 team had to lose. This looks to be a much stronger conference than is being nationally perceived.

Granted, the wins were piled up against less than formidable opponents, but only to teams won by single digits. One of those teams is the consensus basement dweller or the conference, Washington State. Yes, it was against FCS team Montana State, and yes, it took a fourth quarter rally to eek out the victory, but any win the Cougars can get is fine by them.

Then there is USC. The Trojans struggled offensively, a week after the defense was an issue against Hawaii. I’m starting to doubt whether or not Lane Kiffin will be able to give this team an identity. There is talent on the team, we know that. But I find their play inconsistent and rough. They surely haven’t played like a top 25 team thus far, despite the fact they are 2-0.

Some other notes from Week 2. Oregon continues to look like a team not only competing for a Pac-10 title, but possibly looking for a BCS title. The conference schedule will be tough in terms of going undefeated, but the Ducks administered another thrashing, this time at Tennessee. We’re all waiting for that matchup against Stanford.

Speaking of Stanford, their win against UCLA marks the first in-conference game of the season, in which the Cardinal cruised 35-0. I admit, this is a team that is looking better than I expected them to, even if I am low on UCLA.

Oregon State was on a bye in Week 2.

Alright, let’s move on to Week 3.

California vs Nevada

This Friday night game is an interesting one. Both teams are looking to move into the top 25 with a win here, but the Bears are the favorite despite being on the road in a short week.

When playing Nevada, you must guard against the run. It’s not that I don’t think Cal can defend, but can the offense, and most importantly QB Kevin Riley, get out in front early to force Nevada to play from behind. I think Cal is the better team, but Nevada may have the matchup they want.

USC vs Minnesota

The Trojans shouldn’t have a problem winning this game. I’m looking to see how they win. They have shown two different personalities in as many games, so perhaps game three can provide a glimpse on what this team will be like going into Pac-10 play. If they struggle, you can officially put a red flag on USC and Lane Kiffin.

Nebraska vs Washington

This is my Pac-10 game of the week. I want to see Jake Locker against this Cornhusker defense, and I’m sure many NFL scouts will be in attendance to see the same. Locker must be brilliant if the Huskies have any chance to win. I don’t expect Chris Polk to do much in the running game.

Defensively speaking, it’s not like Nebraska is an offensive juggernaut. Washington has to kill the run, kill the run, and oh, did I mention, kill the run? What happens here will be very eye-opening on just how good Washington can be this year.

Arizona State vs Wisconsin

Ex-Michigan quarterback and current Sun Devil Steven Threet has beaten a ranked Wisconsin team before, one of only two of Threet’s Ann Arbor victories. Arizona State has looked good enough to repeat Threet’s past, but the Badgers are going to be a much harder team to beat than the cupcakes presented to them so far.

I’ve been trying to talk myself into a Sun Devil win here, since Big Ten matchups seem favorable to their style of play, but with no experience this year playing tough competition, and going on the road against a hard-nosed team, they should just be happy keeping it close, which I do expect. Gamblers might want to look at the point spread in this one.

Washington State vs Southern Methodist

I’m not going to say this very often this year, but the Cougars are coming off a win. I don’t foresee me typing the same thing next week. This team is building, folks, and the losses will come in bunches, even to teams with problems such as SMU. The best case scenario here is keeping it close early and seeing any signs of progress.

Louisville vs Oregon State

I would not want to be Louisville this week. The Cardinals problem so far has been stopping the ground attack, and Oregon State is a team looking to run it down opponents’ throats. Add into the mix that the Beavers have had two weeks to stomach their loss against top-5 TCU, and yeah, I don’t see this being too close a game.

But you have to mention that the Beavers face Boise State next week, and the fear of overlooking a lesser opponent is out there. Louisville needs to hope for just that, and perhaps get an early lead and force Oregon State quarterback Ryan Katz to make some plays. Otherwise, it will be a long day for the Cardinals.

Portland State vs Oregon

The Ducks’ last tune-up before conference play. Portland State is an FCS school, and they will likely get pounded. Not much to see here.

Iowa vs Arizona

The only game this week featuring two top-25 schools. I hate this matchup for Arizona, who come equipped with a high octane offense but face a tough Big Ten defense. I favor the defense in battles like these, and the Hawkeyes are the better team. Plus, I worry about the defensive line against Iowa’s offense, and if the Wildcats can supply any pressure.

Being at home obviously helps, and Arizona has what it takes to rally if they find themselves behind, but Iowa to me is bigger and stronger and should win the all too important line of scrimmage battle. The Wildcats must force a shootout to be successful. I don’t see it playing out that way, but either way, it will be a great test, and should be a great game.

Houston vs UCLA

The good news: Houston quarterback Case Keenum may not play. The bad news: pretty much everything else. We can start with the fact that the Bruins can’t stop the run. Then we move on to their lack of ground control on offense. I’m a fan of what they’re doing, or more precisely, what they’re trying to do, but Houston, with or without Keenum is simply better at what they are doing.

UCLA needs to pray for a Keenum-less game. It’s really their only chance in this one.

Wake Forest vs Stanford

Okay, Stanford is better than I thought. Andrew Luck, who I already loved, is better than I thought. As for Wake, when Duke puts up 48 points on you, what do you expect one of the nation’s top quarterbacks to do?

Stanford wins easily here. The only concern is whether or not the defense can play as well as it has thus far, especially the run defense, but I don’t see it becoming a huge issue.

Written by Jay Fisher @jfishsports on Twitter

Pregame Warm-Up Podcast Week 3


This week on The Pregame Warm-Up Podcast, we discuss quite a few topics. Tune in for a discussion about Reggie Bush and what he should’ve done with his Heisman Trophy, the Pregame Warm-Up conference breakdown where we discuss the hot topics in each conference for this upcoming weekend, we made our selections for the Pregame Warm-Up Pick’em segment and finished this week off with the World Famous Prospect Quick Fire. Thanks for listening!


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