This Week in the Pac-10
Game of the week (Getty Images)
Game of the week (Getty Images)

Posted Nov 7, 2002

I'm sensing a theme here. The Pac-10 game of the week last week? ASU-WSU. This week? UO-WSU. You're starting to get the picture. And while the road to the Rose Bowl leads through Pullman this year, the Oregon Ducks could put a serious crimp in Mike Price's holiday plans this Saturday. On to the games!

UCLA v. Arizona
California v. Arizona State
Oregon v. Washington State
USC v. Stanford

UCLA v. Arizona

This game comes at a perfect time for
UCLA. After the Bruins got a big boost on the road at Washington, Drew Olson is coming into his own as a true freshman, and shouldn't be shocked with back-to-back games away from the friendly confines of the Rose Bowl. He went to Seattle and played mistake-free football and let his surrounding cast help him win. He relied on Tyler Ebell, who got 100 yards on the road against the top-rated rush defense in the Pac. Arizona is dead-last in rush defense, which plays right into Ebell's hands. He should have a big game. The Bruins have become an opportunistic defense, picking UW QB Cody Pickett off four times, returning one for a touchdown. Expect the Bruins to put a ton of rush on 'Cats QB Jason Johnson. Arizona's OL has given up a league-high 38 sacks, so UCLA should also win the battle of the trenches handily.
FB Helmet
UCLA 45-24

California v. Arizona State

This is a really intriguing game, for reasons other than you might expect. Sure, the Sun Devils have a ton riding on this game, but so do the Bears. Barring an overturn of their bowl ban, a game like this one IS their bowl game, and Jeff Tedford knows this. He's had a week off to prepare and scheme. This matchup pits two of the brighter minds in the game today, so this game could very well already be won or lost before it's even played. ASU is coming off a poor performance in Pullman where the Cougs doubled them up. They have a lot to prove and I expect Dirk Koetter's team to come out with a lot of fire. This is ASU's final home game too, so they should be suitably fired up. The key matchup in my opinion will be how
California keeps Terrell Suggs and the rest of the ASU defensive front off Kyle Boller's back. The Sun Devils lead the conference in sacks with 42, but the Bears have done a good job protecting Boller. They have only allowed 17 sacks so far through 9 games. Whoever wins that battle should have the edge when it comes to dictating field position. I anticipate ASU to get a turnover late to seal away a hard-fought victory. Tedford will have the Bears ready to play and this will be a battle.
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Arizona State 28-21

Oregon v. Washington State

Once again, another team comes to Pullman trying to knock the battery off the proverbial WSU shoulder.
USC couldn't do it. ASU couldn't do it. Oregon won't be able to do it either. It's bad enough that this game is on the road for the Ducks, but with Onterrio Smith a little bit of a question mark doesn't instill morale in oddsmakers. Smith sat out last weekend's 41-14 drubbing of Stanford. It's of little consequence that Terrence Whitehead picked up the slack; he's not facing the Cardinal this weekend. He'll be facing a much differenct defense, led by guys like Rien Long and Marcus Trufant. These guys are on a mission, and their number 5 national ranking has just put more jet fuel in their system. Now they are looking past just a conference championship. Now the Fiesta Bowl is starting to look like a viable option. And they know the Ducks provide a formidable obstacle in their path, but they have one big time thing going for them - senior leadership. Jason Gesser is getting snubbed in every way by the national media when it comes to Heisman consideration, but a solid showing in this game should do wonders to turn that around. The Ira Davis-Jason David thing is behind the Cougs and now more than ever the team seems to be running downhill towards a conference title. The Ducks have shown no reason why they should be able to shut Gesser down. After all, they allowed Andrew Walter to go for over 550. In Eugene.
FB Helmet
Washington State 41-28

USC v. Stanford

Much like their cross-city rival, USC is getting a patsy at just the right time. Pete Carroll's guys have had a week off to recharge their batteries and make sure their late rush at a conference crown is full steam ahead. They finish up with ASU, UCLA and
Notre Dame, so this game provides Carroll and company a perfect opportunity to shake off any rust they may have built up over the off week and work on the things they need to to build confidence before the Sun Devils come calling. For Stanford, they are playing like a beaten team. Here's a quote from Buddy Teevens after their loss to Oregon last weekend. "When guys are open, we need to throw the ball to them. When guys are open, they need to catch the football." Hmmm...Buddy? Let's hope those guys on the farm already understand that, because if they don't your short-lived career at Stanford will make your tenure at Tulane look positively Bobby Bowden-esque.
FB Helmet
USC 51-13

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QB Kyle Boller (profile)
TB Tyler Ebell (profile)
QB Jason Gesser (profile)
QB Jason Johnson (profile)
QB Drew Olson (profile)
QB Cody Pickett (profile)
DE Terrell Suggs (profile)
QB Andrew Walter (profile)
S Terrence Whitehead (profile)
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