Pac-10 Preview: Wk 9

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Oregon's trip to SoCal highlights Pac-10 play this weekend.

Oregon's trip to SoCal highlights Pac-10 play this weekend.

Arizona at UCLA, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. PT

UCLA’s season is teetering on desperation. It wasn’t long ago the Bruins were the talk of the Pac-10 after their road upset of Texas. But they are now coming off back-to-back blowout losses to Cal and Oregon and have lost starting quarterback Kevin Prince for the season. UCLA has also suspended four starters for games during the past two weeks. Other than that, things are peachy in Westwood. The Wildcats are coming off an impressive blowout of Washington, despite playing without starting quarterback Nick Foles, who sat out with a dislocated kneecap. Foles may be available Saturday, but with the way backup Matt Scott played against the Huskies (18-for-22, 233 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions), he probably won’t be needed.

California at Oregon State, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. PT

This will be a head-to-head battle for All-Pac-10 running back honors. Oregon’s LaMichael James has probably wrapped up one of the tailback spots. This game features the two leading candidates for the other spot — Cal’s Shane Vereen and Oregon State’s Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers is third in the Pac-10 in rushing, tied for second in touchdowns and fourth in all-purpose yards. Vereen is fourth in rushing, first in touchdowns and third in all-purpose yards. The Beavers lost their first game without star receiver James Rodgers, and their offense is still adjusting. The Bears, meanwhile, must prove they can win on the road. They are 4–0 at home this season but 0–3 away from Memorial Stadium. A win could go a long way in solidifying Cal’s bowl hopes this year.

Washington State at Arizona State, Saturday, 4:00 p.m. PT

The Sun Devils were feeling pretty good about themselves until Cal sliced them up last week. Now, Arizona State must recover against an improving Cougars team. Washington State still is clearly the worst team in the Pac-10, but they also clearly are much more competitive than they have been in each of the past two seasons. They lost by just 10 last week on the road at Stanford, although made it closer with a flurry of late scoring. Still, ASU is reeling after last week and must be careful not to let the Cougars stay close late in the game. Freshman wide receiver Marquess Wilson has been a revelation for WSU. He leads the Pac-10 in receiving yards per game (99.5).

Stanford at Washington, Saturday, 4:00 PT

Call it the Top-10 Draft Pick Bowl. Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Washington’s Jake Locker, considered possibly the top two quarterback prospects in the country, will play on the same field at Husky Stadium. But Locker might not be at his best. He’s played the last two weeks with thigh and hip injuries and isn’t 100 percent. Still, he’s been good enough to play, and has still played well at times. But overall, Locker’s passing efficiency rating of 131.4 is good for just ninth in the Pac-10. Luck, meanwhile, keeps rolling along with the kind of productive season most expected. He’s thrown 19 touchdown passes with five interceptions and is second to USC’s Matt Barkley in passing efficiency in the Pac-10.

Oregon at USC, Saturday, 5:00 p.m. PT

Is this the Ducks’ toughest remaining obstacle in the way of an undefeated season? Many observers think so. The Trojans haven’t been playing at a Pete Carroll-esque level for most of this season, but they are coming off an eye-poppingly thorough 48–14 dismantling of Cal. USC is 5–2 with both losses coming on field goals as time expired. Still, the Trojans generally haven’t played the brand of defense that had become familiar during the past decade, and they will need to be at their very best against Oregon’s offensive machine. After Saturday, Oregon has two remaining road games — at Cal and at Oregon State. The Beavers aren’t the same team without star receiver James Rodgers, so this is likely the toughest test remaining on the Ducks’ schedule.
 

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