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.

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PGWU Power Poll: Week 6


Every week the writers at Pregame Warm-Up will get together for our top 15 schools, or as we like to call it, the “Power Poll”. Each individual writer gives their top 15, then we assign the 1st place team 15 points all the way down to the 15th place team with 1 point. The points are combined and here is how week 6 ended up:

  1. 1. Alabama Crimson Tide- 88 points (five 1st place votes)
  2. 2. Oregon Ducks- 84 points (one 1st place vote)
  3. 3. Boise State Broncos- 67 points
  4. 3. Ohio State Buckeyes- 67 points
  5. 5. Nebraska Cornhuskers- 65 points
  6. 6. TCU Horned Frogs- 63 points
  7. 7. Oklahoma Sooners- 50 points
  8. 8. Auburn Tigers- 46 points
  9. 9. Utah Utes- 31 points
  10. 10. South Carolina Gamecocks- 26 points
  11. 11. Arizona Wildcats- 25 points
  12. 12. Arkansas Razorbacks- 21 points
  13. 12. LSU Tigers- 21 points
  14. 14. Michigan Wolverines- 20 points
  15. 15. Michigan State Spartans- 12 points

Others Receiving Points:      Iowa 8 points, Miami 6 points, Stanford 5 points, Missouri 4 points, Nevada 2 points, UCLA 1 point

PGWU Podcast: Week 4


This week we discuss the legal troubles at Florida, talk about the big stories in each conference in The Breakdown, make our selections in the PGWU Pick’Em segment and finish the show off with the World Famous Prospect Quick Fire. Enjoy!

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

PAC 10 Preview


Add one part Pete Carroll dashing to the NFL and one part a stronger conference as a whole, and what do you get? A wide open Pac-10. And I mean, WIDE open. There are a ton of teams with legitimate shots at taking the prized crown in the West. The 2010 season is predicated on one thing: experience. Experience in age and experience in position will determine this year’s champion. Here is a preview, from my predictions in order of finish, worst to first.

10. Washington State

I like Paul Wulff, I think he’s a good coach. But the talent simply isn’t here.

Both lines are solid, and I don’t see much dropoff from the skill positions, but there is a lack of playmaking ability on this squad.  Quarterback Jeff Tuel isn’t bad by any means, but he’s no Jake Locker, either. The rest of the offense is no more than a “bleh”.

I’m actually excited to watch the front seven of the defense and how well they can hold ground, but this secondary can only hope for mediocre. They may be the opposite of Kiffin’s USC defense; well-coached but not enough talent to play close.

9. UCLA

This team is not built to win now. It is a program trying to find an identity.

Starting quarterback Kevin Prince is the cornerstone. His success is dire to where UCLA goes, not just this year, but in the seasons to come. I believe in Prince. I do not believe in the running attack. Underclassmen at both the running back and fullback position will hinder the Bruins’ progress.

This defense can hold for three quarters, maximum. But three quarters to this team will seem like an eternity, as the time of possession with no ground control will be the demise. Watch out though, because this team is well-coached and might make some noise in 2011 and beyond.

8. Arizona State

I am not to high on Pac-10 teams who have major questions on the offensive side of the ball. Steven Threet as the quarterback? Not sold. Cameron Marshall as a premier back? Tag me skeptical.

This is a shame, considering ASU has what is possibly the best defensive line in the conference. The linebackers are a question, yes, but the back line is not. But defense isn’t the issue here.

As good as I expect the defense to play, I’m just not sure this offense can keep up with the Oregons and USCs of the world. Having not one senior manning the offensive line is not a good sign.

A decent team, but the Pac-10 is loaded with playmakers.9. UCLA

This team is not built to win now. It is a program trying to find an identity.

Starting quarterback Kevin Prince is the cornerstone. His success is dire to where UCLA goes, not just this year, but in the seasons to come. I believe in Prince. I do not believe in the running attack. Underclassmen at both the running back and fullback position will hinder the Bruins’ progress.

This defense can hold for three quarters, maximum. But three quarters to this team will seem like an eternity, as the time of possession with no ground control will be the demise. Watch out though, because this team is well-coached and might make some noise in 2011 and beyond.

7. Stanford

Much like California, experts question the loss of a premier back, in this case Toby Gerhart. That loss will be more than made up for in quarterback Andrew Luck, who I expect to have a huge season. Though the running back production will obviously be lacking, the big-play expectations should make up that difference.

Questions are in the defense, which include major position changes at linebacker (ex-fullback Owen Marecic starting at ILB), and corner (ex-receiver Richard Sherman). This scares me. There are high-powered offenses in this conference. Can the Bears stand up to the challenge?

6. Washington

Two words: Jake Locker. He is the consensus #1 pick in the NFL draft right now. It’s not all hype. He is really good. And he is getting better.

The receivers he has are explosive enough, but is his backfield? Chris Polk is a promising tailback, but the right side of the offensive line is a concern. This pro-style offense is delectable to scouts, but does it translate to Pac-10 wins?

Depth issues on the front line plague the Huskies, and if the defense can’t control the clock and hand Locker the ball, does this future NFL prospect’s talent mean much? Look for time of possession to be the key in all Washington games this year.

5. California

The biggest gripe against the Bears is that they disappoint. Whenever anyone expects them to make the leap, they blow it. Well, I don’t expect them to win this league, but they should be formidable.

The one aspect of Cal’s offense everyone if looking to is replacing Jahvid Best. Don’t worry about it. Junior Shane Vereen will do his job. Returning three of their top four wide-outs is a positive as well.

The problem is at quarterback. Kevin Riley must make big plays. Throwing down the field and opening up this offense is the one key to the Bears’ success.

Ironically, giving up the big plays is this defense’s biggest weakness, which is the reason why I don’t have Cal ranked above Arizona. The quick strike can cripple this team. Pac-10 teams with good tight end play and deep threats can destroy this questionable Cal secondary and linebacking group.

I expect the Bears to play every game close, but give up that one play or two that keeps them from Rose Bowl contention.

4. Arizona

When looking at the Wildcats this year, look to one man: Nick Foles. He should thrive this year. If running back Nic Grigsby stays healthy, expect him to open up the offense and make Arizona a high-flying threat. The receivers are there, and a big, over-powering offensive line should provide adequate protection.

Then there is the defense. I’m not too wild about this “Cheetah” formation they are playing with, which features four defensive ends manning the entire line. Look, when you need a gimmick as your go-to as a defensive game plan, something is wrong. Will tinkering and scheming make up for an inexperienced front seven? I’m not sure this can hold up against offenses like Oregon’s.

3. Oregon State

Everyone is down on the Beavers because of their non-conference schedule. They start the season by playing TCU and Boise State, who combined to go 25-0 in the 2009 regular season. They may (and should) lose both games. But those losses will help the Beavers in the Pac-10.

The offense is anchored by a strong running back and receiving unit, but the question is whether or not sophomore Ryan Katz is the answer at quarterback. The O-line shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but accuracy and consistency from Katz is.

I wouldn’t worry about the defense, though. While there is some youth on the defensive ends, the linebacker and corner positions should hold up the fort.

But will a 1-2 start derail this team’s focus? Head Coach Mike Riley has his work cut out for him, though if he can stay the course with a talented team, expect them to make waves.

2. USC

Pete Carroll was a great college coach, don’t get me wrong, but recruiting was the key to his success. USC routinely fielded more talent than the guys on the other side if scrimmage, and in college football, talent usually wins out.

New head coach Lane Kiffin isn’t without talent. But he is without experience. While I like the Trojans’ chances as regaining Pac-10 superiority, the youth is a problem. USC has only ten returning starters from 2009, replacing twenty-six lettermen.

The inexperience starts at offensive line. Freshman Seantrel Henderson mans the right tackle position, and he is a synopsis of what USC is this season: highly recruited, loads of talent and potential, but unproven. This includes underclassmen at right guard, defensive end, both safety positions, tight end, and of course, sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley.

I expect Barkley to be solid, but is Kiffin a good enough coach to lead an inexperienced team to a Pac-10 title? I say no, but talent should get them close.

1. Oregon

The obvious red flag here is the absence of last year’s starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. Due to off-the-field discretions, Masoli was dismissed from the team and suspended for the 2010 season (ultimately being ruled eligible to play for Ole Miss). So the big question for Oregon is who is the quarterback, and can he replace Masoli?

That quarterback is Darron Thomas, and don’t you worry about him. I fully expect the Ducks’ offense to be the class of the conference, with a strong running game backed by sophomore tailback LaMichael James (1,546 yards last year) and a solid receiver core. Oh, and the offensive line might be one of the nation’s best. This offense will light up the scoreboard.

So will the defense hold up their end of the bargain? With an offense like Oregon’s, I look to the defensive backs, who will be up against an offense who is behind and passing more often than not. And their DBs are stacked. With three returning starters, gaining ground on the Ducks defense should be no easy task. Look for big things in Eugene.

Written by Jay Fisher @jfishsports on Twitter