Previewing the first weekend seems to be a chic blog move these days, so naturally I wanted to do one as well. In this rousing rendition of a week one preview, I will discuss all Pac-10 teams and their matchups.
Interestingly enough, the Pac-10 starts conference play very early this season to make room for non-conferences games later on in the fall.
Oregon State @ Stanford. Thursday, August 28, 6:00 PM Pacific, ESPN2.
Oregon State finished strong last year after getting off to a middling 5-4 start that included a shocking 44-32 loss to Arizona State. OSU was up 19-0 after the first quarter, but could not hold back Rudy Carpenter and the Sun Devils' offense. The Beavers lost their star running back Yvenson Bernard (due to that whole graduation/eligibility thing), but junior quarterback Sean Canfield is still around and ready to connect with Sammie Stroughter.
On the other side of the gridiron, Stanford returns Tavita Pritchard, the QB who led the Cardinal to the astounding upset of USC in Los Angeles. This was the same team that managed to beat Arizona, but couldn't take care of a crippled Notre Dame. The Jekyll and Hyde performances last season couldn't hide their lack of talent, and they finished 4-8 on the year.
OSU will overwhelm the Cardinal, and win by 20.
USC @ Virginia. Saturday, August 30, 12:30 PM Pacific, ABC.
Mark Sanchez is back under center in Trojan-land. Pete Carroll is more than likely going to start him against Virginia this weekend, but USC would not need him to take care of the Cavaliers. Despite a 9-4 record last season, Virginia got off to an unbelievably slow start (which included a 23-3 embarrassment of a loss at Wyoming).
USC, on the other hand, is known for strong starts. Strong starts, strong finishes, strong seasons. You know what I am saying. USC does not go into Charlottesville and pick up anything other than a capital W.
Oklahoma State @ Washington State. Saturday, August 30, 12:30 PM Pacific.
Washington State is a notoriously difficult place to play. ASU barely escaped 23-20 last year. Unfortunately for WSU fans, the game is being played in Seattle. Also, just in case you hadn't already known, Oklahoma State's Head Coach, Mike Gundy, is a 40-year old man.
That's all I need to see. Oklahoma State wins by 50.
Michigan State @ California. Saturday, August 30, 5:00 PM Pacific, ABC.
California and Nate Longshore have waited all spring and summer to avenge their disgraceful collapse from #2 in the country all the way down to unranked in a span of 3 short weeks. The Bears somehow finished 7-6 despite a 5-0 start, which is something I can't see happening again.
Michigan State was also 7-6 on the season, losing every game against ranked opponents. California at least went and took out the erstwhile Tennessee Volunteers. The Bears will win this by double digits.
Northern Arizona @ Arizona State. Saturday, August 30, 7:22 PM Pacific, FSN Arizona.
Hopefully, ASU can treat the Lumberjacks like a legitimate foe, and put them to task early and often. I'd like to see Sam Szakaczy, James Morrison, and Gerell Robinson on the field in the second half quite a bit, giving them experience just in case they are needed more frequently in the future.
The offensive line can also use this game as an opportunity to gel as a unit. ASU will win by 30.
Washington @ Oregon. Saturday, August 30, 7:00 PM Pacific.
Oregon is a sleeper that everyone seems to be writing about, and in that way I don't see them as a sleeper at all. Washington, on the other hand, is returning Jake Locker, who I think would be a great quarterback at a school with talent on the offensive line. Since we're in the "House of Loud" (patent pending), Oregon will take this, but only because it is so Loud™ in Autzen.
Idaho @ Arizona. Saturday, August 30, 7:00 PM Pacific.
Tucson is as close as the Vandals can get to Dennis Erickson these days. As much as I'd like to say that Idaho will storm into town and ruin the Wildcats' season, I just can't do it. Willie Tuitama will have a field day, and probably win by 20 or 25.
Tennessee @ UCLA. Monday, September 1, 5:00 PM Pacific, ESPN.
Ohhhhh boy. This is going to be ugly. UCLA has no real direction yet (give it time), no set quarterback (give it time), and no chance. Tennessee lost to California last year and will not accept another Pac-10 defeat. Going into Pasadena and taking it to the Bruins is just the remedy.