Washington at USC and Stanford at Oregon highlight the Pac-10 slate.
Arizona State at Oregon State
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. PT
This will be a measuring stick game for both teams. Are the Sun Devils really the competitive team that gave both Wisconsin and Oregon a run for their money? How good (or bad) are the Beavers? They are 1–2 but both of their losses have come to top-10 teams (TCU and Boise State). There are a couple important things to note with OSU. Most important is the condition of explosive wide receiver James Rodgers, who was knocked out of the Boise St. loss last week with a concussion. His status for the game is up in the air. Also, can tailback Jacquizz Rodgers return to form? After averaging 1,347 yards over his first two college seasons, the junior has amassed just 253 in the first three games of 2010. He will be tested again against the Sun Devils’ stout run defense.
Stanford at Oregon
Saturday, 5:00 p.m. PT
This suddenly is one of the games of the year in college football, so much so that ABC moved the game to prime time. It was originally scheduled to begin at 11:15 p.m. EDT. The Ducks remember last year’s loss at Stanford well. Oregon was coming off a stunningly easy 47–20 rout of USC the week before but was rolled by the Cardinal, 51–42. The Ducks would like to atone for that loss, which at the same time would give them the upper hand in the conference race. Both teams are coming off strong road wins, although the Cardinal looked a lot more efficient in dispatching Notre Dame than Oregon did against Arizona St. The Ducks needed the benefit of seven turnovers to notch a nine-point win over the Sun Devils.
Washington State at UCLA
Saturday, 12:30 p.m. PT
While the Oregon machine kept pumping and Stanford abused Notre Dame on the road, it was still UCLA that was the talk of the conference after last weekend. Left for dead two weeks earlier, the Bruins stunned the college football universe by stomping No. 7 Texas on the road, 34–12. UCLA’s defense, which features a high level of talent, has finally played to its potential the past two weeks. Meanwhile, UCLA’s pistol offense is slowly coming around, especially the running game. Running back Johnathan Franklin had 116 yards rushing against the Longhorns, who entered the game with the top-ranked run defense in the country. Backup Derrick Coleman added another 94 yards on the ground. The Cougars? Well, they continue to be the Cougars. They lost at home last week to USC, 50–16.
Washington at USC
Saturday, 5 p.m. PT
This will be a good test to see where these teams stand. The Huskies, considered by many to be one of the sleeper teams in the country, are 1–2 after getting embarrassed at home by Nebraska two weeks ago. The Trojans, meanwhile, are 4–0 but still haven’t won too many converts. Washington quarterback Jake Locker, coming off a horrible 4-for-20 performance for 70 yards and two interceptions against Nebraska, needs a bounce-back game badly, not only for the team’s sake but also for his NFL draft stock. The Trojans simply displayed too many flaws in their first three victories against Hawaii, Virginia and Minnesota. And it’s always hard to evaluate any team against Washington State. A quality win over Washington might start finally winning some critics over.