Homecoming in Tempe and Week 9 in Pac-12

Oct 26, 2011, 8:44 PM | Updated: Oct 27, 2011, 4:16 pm

We head into the last weekend of October, and things are
starting to look a little more clear in the Pac-12–or
maybe half of it.

The Pac-12 South sees 21st-ranked Arizona State clearly in
the catbird seat, while the intrigue is still thick in the
North, with Stanford and Oregon still undefeated in
conference play closing in on their November 12th meeting
in Northern California.

Week 9 is jam-packed, literally, as all twelve
conference teams are in action. And even better, they’re
all playing on Saturday. The last three Thursdays (Cal-
Oregon, USC-Cal, UCLA-Arizona) haven’t exactly been
glowing advertisements for the competitive nature of the
conference. Those games were decided by an average of
28.3 points.

So let’s dive into week nine in the Pac-12…

The Game of the Week

#6 Stanford (7-0, 5-0) at USC (6-1, 3-1) –
Saturday at L.A. Memorial Coliseum – Los Angeles,

I have to (begrudgingly) give credit to Lane Kiffin, who
has done a nice job of keeping his USC team focused
despite the fact that there’s no hope of a postseason
reward. The Trojans’ only slip-up to this point is a 43-
22 loss at Arizona State in a game that was much closer
than the score would indicate and a game that USC actually
led deep into the third quarter. But Stanford appears to
be on a mission, a message they sent last Saturday in
dismantling Washington 65-21. The Cardinal ran for 446
yards against the Huskies, but that will be a little
tougher this week as USC’s run defense is 11th in the
nation, yielding just 91.1 yards per game. Something’s
gotta give. It’ll be USC’s defense.

Stanford 36…USC 21

The rest of the schedule

Colorado (1-7, 0-4) at #21 Arizona State (5-2, 3-
1) – Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium – Tempe, AZ

Much of the talk in Tempe this week has been about
maintaining focus. The Sun Devils find themselves in
first place in the Pac-12 South and their next closest
eligible competition is UCLA, who just got thumped by a 1-
5 Arizona team. The Sun Devils should be comfortable
favorites in all 5 of their remaining games, including
this week against banged-up Colorado. The Buffs have given
up 145 points in consecutive losses to Stanford,
Washington and Oregon while scoring 33. Their best
running back (Rodney Stewart), best receiver (Paul
Richardson) and starting quarterback (Tyler Hansen) all
could miss this game. The plus side for CU? At least
it’ll be warm in Tempe on Saturday.

Arizona State 41…Colorado 13

Washington State (3-4, 1-3) at #7 Oregon (6-1, 4-
0) – Saturday at Autzen Stadium – Eugene, OR

This will be a strange feeling for Oregon. They’ll be
playing a conference game against a team whose uniforms
are more ridiculous than theirs. Seriously, Washington
State? You get the full makeover treatment from Nike, and
this is what you come up with? Eesh.
Anyway, the only thing that’s been uglier than Wazzu’s
threads has been their recent history in Eugene. Their
last three losses at Autzen have been by 46, 46 and 39
points. With LaMichael James and Darron Thomas possibly
returning to action, that margin sounds about right.

Oregon 52…Washington State 13

California (4-3, 1-3) at UCLA (3-4, 2-2) –
Saturday at The Rose Bowl – Pasadena, CA

I’ve been following this conference for a long time. I’ve
previewed every week of conference play for the last three
years. I’m ready to admit now, I CAN’T FIGURE OUT THE CAL
GOLDEN BEARS! What a weird team. Cal looked horrible in
back-to-back losses to Oregon and USC, and then turned on
the jets in a 34-10 blowout of Utah last week in which
their defense held Utah to 178 yards and forced four
turnovers. My saving grace this week is, I have figured
out UCLA. This team stinks out loud. Many joked last
week that Rick Neuheisel would be fired as their head
coach at halftime of their blowout loss to Arizona. He’s
still around, but the ticking of the clock is getting
louder and louder.

California 31…UCLA 20

Oregon State (2-5, 2-2) at Utah (3-4, 0-4) –
Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium – Salt Lake City,

How are you enjoying the Pac-12 thus far, Utes? Not too
much. In fact, Utah and Colorado, the other conference
newbie, are a combined 0-8 in conference play. And now
Oregon State comes to town, seemingly having figured out
their struggles that saw them start the season 0-4. The
Beavers have turned it around behind the play of
youngsters. Quarterback Sean Mannion and defensive Scott
Crichton, both redshirt freshmen, and true freshman
Malcolm Agnew have fueled the Beavers to two wins in three
games. The old saying about Mike Riley teams is that they
get better as the season wears on, right? More proof of
that will be provided this week.

Oregon State 27…Utah 21

Arizona (2-5, 1-4) at Washington (5-2, 3-1) –
Saturday at Husky Stadium – Seattle, WA

A match of two teams who were on opposite sides of
blowouts last week. The Huskies had some believing that
they were ready to take the next step and upset Stanford.
Umm, no. The Cardinal ripped apart the Huskies, but that
doesn’t mean Steve Sarkisian’s team isn’t good. Running
back Chris Polk leads the Pac-12 in rushing and should
find a lot of room to operate against Arizona’s defense,
which allows 173.3 yards per game on the ground, and has
already seen opposing runners Joseph Randle of Oklahoma
State, Stepfan Taylor of Stanford and Oregon’s LaMichael
James gash them for big yardage. The ‘Cats might be
flying high after breaking their losing streak, but
they’ve got their hands full with Polk an UW quarterback
Keith Price.

Washington 38…Arizona 27

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Homecoming in Tempe and Week 9 in Pac-12