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Pac-10 Preview and Predictions, Week #3, Part 1

September 13 is a busy day for Pac-10 football, with ten separate games on the docket. There are no conference matchups to speak of, but some pretty interesting games to dissect nonetheless.

The games start quite early on Saturday, beginning with a 9 AM Pacific start for California. The Pac-10 is playing six road games, an unusual sight in big conference college football these days.

Allow the predictions to begin with the first 5 games slated for Saturday, with the final 5 to be prognosticated upon tomorrow.

#23 California Golden Bears @ Maryland Terrapins. 9:00 AM Pacific, ESPN.

Maryland is having serious trouble finding a quarterback who won't throw interceptions. In a 24-14 loss to Middle Tennessee last week, QB Chris Turner threw 3 interceptions against only one touchdown. Their defense isn't creating turnovers either, causing only one lost fumble. When the quarterback for Middle Tennessee can throw 41 times and not get picked once, you know you're in trouble.

On the other side of the coin, California is riding high after a 66-3 decimation of Washington State in Pullman. Jahvid Best, their star running back, picked up 200 yards on the ground and pulled apart the overmatched Cougars. Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley split time at quarterback, but only because Longshore was the garbage time QB.

This game has all the makings of another road blowout for California. Maryland gave up 118 yards on the ground last week against the victorious Blue Raiders (this is a team that lost to Troy in the first week of the season)  and could not create opportunities on defense.

Prediction: California 52, Maryland 20

Continued with lowly Washington State at the lowly Baylor...

Washington St. Cougars @ Baylor Bears. 9:30 AM Pacific.

As previously mentioned, Washington State lost 66-3 to California at home. Baylor was beaten 41-13 by Wake Forest the first week of the season, but they came back strong last weekend with a 51-6 win over Northwestern State (Louisiana). But considering that no one has ever heard of Northwestern State, we can't use that as a useful stat.

The Cougars have to keep an eye on Bear QB Robert Griffin, who is sporting a 187.09 QB rating and a 68.4% completion percentage. Wazzu has very little firepower and very little chance of stopping the run or the pass.

Prediction: Baylor 34, Washington St. 14

#16 Oregon Ducks @ Purdue Boilermakers. 12:30 PM Pacific, ABC.

Pac-10 vs. Big Ten, game one. Saturday will decide conference supremacy until, most likely, the Rose Bowl.

Oregon QB Justin Roper is back under center after dealing with symptoms from a concussion he sustained in the preseason. LeGarrette Blount came up big against Utah State, carrying the ball 132 yards for two touchdowns.

Purdue isn't a slouch of a team, though. They are 1-0 after beating Northern Colorado on Saturday, led by QB Curtis Painter. His career stats are monumental, totalling up to 8,763 passing yards and 54 touchdown passes. He is one of the few quarterbacks with enough experience to lead a team back late in the fourth quarter when all hope seems to be lost.

I think this is going to be a good game. Purdue has home-field advantage, but Oregon has an edge in talent. This comes down to the final 5 minutes.

Prediction: Oregon 35, Purdue 31

UCLA Bruins @ #18 Brigham Young Cougars. 12:30 PM Pacific.

UCLA had an opportunity to rest after their grueling victory against Tennessee in week one, led by the gutsy Kevin Craft. BYU, on the other hand, played on the road in Seattle against Washington, and barely escaped with the victory.

BYU has to be pleased to be at home for this game, as UCLA is a bigger test than Washington, penalties on Jake Locker notwithstanding. Former ASU QB Max Hall looked great under center for the Cougars. His line? 30/41, 338 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT. RB Harvey Unga punished the Husky defense on the ground with 136 yards gained.

BYU is very enigmatic at this point, in my opinion. We have no idea if this team is a legitimate contender, or another Hawaii (at this point, can anyone believe that the 2007 Hawaii team was legit? They barely beat Washington as well, in a game that pushed ASU out of the BCS bowl discussion).

But then again, so is UCLA. I think they are going to come back down to earth soon, and Saturday just might be the day.

Prediction: BYU 45, UCLA 28

Hawaii Warriors @ Oregon State Beavers. 1:00 PM Pacific.

Oregon State has been dealt a tough hand so far this year, with tough losses to Stanford and Penn State. Since Sean Canfield was forced out of the starting quarterback role with a sore shoulder, Lyle Moevao has stepped in and played admirably. Canfield is back on the field and practicing with the second team, which can only spur both the QBs to play better.

Hawaii is running with a new coach, but they still have Tyler Graunke, the QB you know from Hawaii's 2007 national broadcast victory over Nevada. The Warriors lost 56-10 at Florida the first week of the season, and their win over Weber State did not remove the doubts I have about their talent. I foresee Oregon State coming out and getting their first victory of the season.

Prediction: Oregon State 42, Hawaii 35

Check back tomorrow for the rest of the schedule, including my Ohio State/USC prediction.