Time For Some Pac-10 Answers
It is time for college football to get into the meaty part of its schedule, and that means we should start to get answers to some of the big Pac-10 biggest questions.
1. Just how good IS Oregon? Are the Ducks as overpowering as they’ve looked, outpointing three teams 189-3? Or is it more a result of New Mexico, Tennessee and Portland State all being creampuffs to some degree? Well, we’ll find out Saturday night when Chip Kelly’s revved up offense and stingy defense play at Arizona State. The Sun Devils are no world beaters, but they did come within a point of upsetting ranked Wisconsin last week. If the Ducks go to Tempe and blow out ASU, then the rest of the Pac-10 better watch out.
2. What’s up with Arizona? The Wildcats beat up on lowly Toledo and The Citadel, which is no big deal. But then they rattled Iowa’s cage, knocking off a team some people thought could contend for the national title, 34-27. Now they get Cal at home and they’re favored to win handily. But this kind of Pac-10 opener can be tricky, and Mike Stoops’ teams have stumbled in games like this before. This team should be too talented for that to happen. Now we find out if that’s true.
3. Can Stanford keep going? The Cardinal and quarterback Andrew Luck haven’t even had to take a deep breath yet, but now they have an interesting challenge at Notre Dame. If Jim Harbaugh’s team is legitimate, it wins this game handily. If it gets intimidated by the aura in South Bend and struggles, well, then it isn’t as good as some people think.
4. Will USC provide any more clues? Probably not. The Trojans are expected to beat up on overmatched Washington State. If they do, no one will be overly impressed. But if they don’t, ah, that’s a different story. If they struggle in this one, the way they’ve struggled somewhat in all three previous 2010 games, then it’s time to start seriously worrying about Lane Kiffin’s kids.
5. Can Oregon State knock off Boise State? This is a big national showcase for both teams. Boise should be too strong at home, but never discount Mike Riley’s coaching ability in a game of this magnitude, athough traditionally, the Beavers are usually a lot better team in November than they are in September.
6. Will UCLA hang in at Texas? We wrote about this in yesterday’s blog. The Bruins are catching the Longhorns when they’re most vulnerable. Whether that will be enough to make it a game or not remains to be seen.
PICKS OF THE WEEK — It took a remarkable comeback by Houston to beat the Redskins by three points and get us a push (or tie) and keep our record undefeated. But it’s still only been two weeks, and beating the spread just seems to get more difficult each time. But that’s all supposed to be part of the fun, right? Yeah, right.
RECORD LAST WEEK: 1-0-1 OVERALL RECORD: 3-0-1
STANFORD (Minus 4) AT NOTRE DAME — This is the team I’ve been hyping all summer, so I’m not getting off now. Notre Dame can be dangerous, especially in South Bend, where everything from the leprechaun to the, uh, questionable calls often go against you. But my sense is that Andrew Luck and Co. are playing at a whole different level than Brian Kelly’s still-evolving Irish at this point. USC has demonstrated over the years that if you play your A-game, winning convincingly at Notre Dame is not as difficult as it once was. I expect Stanford to play its A-game.
BALTIMORE (Minus 10) vs. CLEVELAND — The Browns, with Seneca Wallace at quarterback, could only score 14 points at home against KC. So how many do you think they’ll put on the board against the ravaging Ravens defense in Baltimore? I know Joe Flacco is coming off two bad games at quarterback, but Ray Lewis and friends will create so many scoring opportunities with sacks and turnovers, that shouldn’t be a problem this time.
— STEVE BISHEFF