Pac-10 Preview: Wk 11

Barkley leads USC into the desert while Oregon tries to stay undefeated.

Barkley leads USC into the desert while Oregon tries to stay undefeated.

Washington State (1-9, 0-7) at Oregon State (4-4, 3-2), Saturday, 1:00 p.m.

The Beavers are expected to win, and had better win, if they entertain thoughts of going to a bowl game. After Saturday, Oregon State closes the season against USC, at Stanford and against Oregon. Those arguably are the three best teams in the Pac-10. The Beavers are 4–4, meaning they need two more wins to become bowl-eligible. They should have no problem at home against the Cougars, although Washington State had its most competitive Pac-10 game of the season in a 20–13 loss to Cal last weekend. The Cougars led at halftime for the first time since early in the 2008 season. Even without star wide receiver James Rodgers, Oregon State’s offense should be much too much for the Cougars’ lowly defense. Running back Jacquizz Rodgers needs 194 yards to break into the top-10 on the all-time Pac-10 career rushing list.

Oregon (9-0, 6-0) at California (5-4, 3-3), Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

The Ducks’ quest for a national championship has hit the home stretch. Oregon has three games left. Win them all and it surely will be playing in the BCS title game in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 10. Two of the three are on the road, where the Ducks haven’t been quite as dominant this season. But Oregon has still won all of its road games handily and is a heavy favorite to do so again against the Bears, who had trouble putting away Washington State last week. That being said, Cal has been dominant at home this season, going 4–0 and outscoring opponents 189–34. The Bears’ defense ranks 12th nationally (299.56 yards allowed per game) and has given up just two touchdowns at home this season. But Cal also hasn’t played an offense that plays anywhere near the level of the Ducks, who lead the nation in points per game (54.67) and yards per game (567.22)

Stanford (8-1, 5-1) at Arizona State (4-5, 2-4), Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck has been picking up steam in the Heisman Trophy conversation and has an opportunity to produce against a pretty good defense. Luck ranks seventh nationally in passing efficiency (163.37). He also plays behind a physical and effective offensive line, which should have success slowing down the Sun Devils’ impressive defensive front. The Cardinal are ranked sixth in the latest BCS standings. They can go to the Rose Bowl if Oregon plays in the national title game against a team from a non-BCS conference. If a team like TCU is shut out of the BCS championship game, it will go to the Rose Bowl. The Sun Devils had yet another competitive loss last week, losing on a late field goal to USC, 34–33. Three of ASU’s five losses this season have come by three points or less.

USC (6-3, 3-3) at Arizona (7-2, 4-2), Saturday, 5:00 p.m.

The Wildcats’ loss to Stanford last week effectively knocked them out of the Pac-10 race. Now, Arizona simply wants to get to the best bowl game possible. That will be a challenge with its final three games against USC, Oregon and Arizona State. Arizona was dominated by the Cardinal last week and will be eager to bounce back against the Trojans. Arizona managed just 17 points in the return of quarterback Nick Foles from a dislocated kneecap. Foles threw for 248 yards and a touchdown on 28-of-48 passing. The Wildcats hope to improve those offensive numbers against a USC team that continues to play stunningly ineffective defense. USC edged Arizona State last week simply because it had the ball last with a reasonable amount of time left. The Trojans are seventh in the Pac-10 in scoring defense (28.4 points per game), eighth in total defense (423.8 yards allowed per game) and dead last in pass defense (276.4 yards allowed per game).

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Athlon previews Week 11 of the Pac-10 slate. USC travels to Arizona while Oregon tries to remain unbeaten.

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