NCF Nation: Nick Reed has been doing a series on great college players who didn't pan out in the NFL -- "Simply Saturday," -- which has featured a number of Pac-10 players, including Washington's Steve Emtman and USC's Matt Leinart.

Interesting stuff.

But's Bruce Feldman, who is always working the angles, decided to take a look at NFL stars with so-so college careers, and his list also includes some Pac-12 guys: USC linebacker Clay Matthews, Oregon State wide receiver Chad Ochocinco and California cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.

He ranks Matthews No. 2. Notes Feldman:
No NFL player has better bloodlines than Matthews, but when he was coming up as a recruit he was a wiry, undersized, off-the-radar prospect who reportedly only weighed 166 pounds as a backup LB-TE for Agoura (Calif.) High. Matthews stared to sprout in his senior year, yet still only had one scholarship offer -- from former USC assistant Nick Holt at Idaho.

Sure, Matthews blossomed as a junior and senior. But he never really was seen as the brightest star in the constellation that was the Trojans' 2008 defense.
Still, Oregon's Nick Reed and Oregon State's Victor Butler were the first-team All-Pac-10 defensive ends. Matthews proceeded to wow scouts with his explosiveness and determination. Green Bay drafted the one-time walk-on 26th overall, and he has rewarded them with two spectacular seasons, going to back-to-back Pro Bowls and winning NFC Defensive Player of the Year honors, while helping lead Green Bay to a Super Bowl victory.

Ochocinco rates No. 4.
The Miami native didn't spend much time in the Pac-10 -- just one season at Oregon State. The receiver, then known as Chad Johnson, did flash some big-play potential during his time in Corvallis, catching 33 passes for 713 yards. He also flashed a lot of personality on his way to the draft, as you can tell if you read this old Q&A he did with Mel Kiper Jr., who at one point asks: "When all is said and done, how do you want people to remember Chad Johnson?"

Johnson's response: "As a very humble, nice person who had no off-the-field problems."

I'm not sure how many will recall the Cincinnati Bengals star as "humble," but he certainly has produced, notching seven 1,000-yard receiving seasons and going to six Pro Bowls. In truth, he'd be even higher on this list, but at 33, he has dipped some in the last three years.

Asomugha is No. 5.
Oakland certainly didn't whiff on this pick. Asomugha has emerged as a true shutdown corner, earning trips to the past three Pro Bowls. He's also as good as they come off the field, winning NFL Man of the Year honors, too.

He had a good but not great career for the Bears, getting chosen as an honorable mention All-Pac-10 pick as a senior. Some great individual workouts took a guy who some touted as a fifth-rounder all the way up into the first round when the Raiders selected him 31st overall.

On a personal note, I covered Asomugha's coming-out game: a 34-27 Cal win at Washington in 2002, which ended a 19-game Huskies winning streak in the series. In that game, Cal matched Asomugha, previously a safety, on All-American receiver Reggie Williams. Asomugha's physical style -- read here to see what Williams thought of it -- threw the Huskies' passing game out of sync.

Bet more than a few Cal fans remember that game fondly.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Have you seen Junior's grades? 

  • The NCAA investigation into USC's athletic department is building a case for lack of institutional control, according to this report.
  • Fox Sports Arizona pays tribute to former Arizona State coach Bruce Snyder, who died on April 13.
  • Jonathan Okanes continues his thorough review of California's spring practices with the Bears' secondary, which should be among the nation's best.
  • Checking in with former Oregon star Max Unger in Seattle, and even more here on former Duck Nick Reed. Links courtesy of Addicted to Quack.
  • It's too early to judge new UCLA defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough -- obviously -- but it appears he's bringing more intensity to the Bruins.
  • Former Washington and Oregon quarterback Johnny DuRocher is trying to make a comeback.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Friday! Friday! Friday!

  • California starts spring practices Saturday, and it's time for quarterback Kevin Riley to make a statement. Here's a preview of the running backs -- with Jahvid Best sitting out and Shane Vereen limited, it's opportunity time for youngsters.
  • Adam Grant is finally healthy and ready to help rebuild Arizona's offensive line, but some other guys are hurting.
  • It looks like the NFL made a mistake snubbing former Oregon All-American defensive end Nick Reed at the combine. Lots of good Ducks pro day numbers at the link, too.
  • Oregon State gets ready for its pro day and spring practices... some injury updates too.
  • As expected, two UCLA starters received medical redshirts and will be eligible as fifth-year seniors in 2009.
  • USC's official spring football media guide. And you too could be a Trojan.

Posted by's Ted Miller

One of the charms of college football is the mostly predictable roster rotation. Young guys break through, become stars and then leave after their third, fourth or fifth year. Then a new cast tries to fill the void.

While there are numerous size 36 EEE shoes to fill -- figuratively speaking, of course -- in the Pac-10 this spring, we'll focus on five here.

  Jeff Golden/Getty Images
  It's going to be tough for the Trojans to replace Rey Maualuga.

And because quarterback competitions across the conference are so obvious, we're going to make this a "non-quarterback" category.

Also note that spring is a time for the experimentation. Coaches love to mix-and-match players, so there might be some surprises we didn't anticipate.

Big shoes: USC LB Rey Maualuga

Stepping in: Sophomore Chris Galippo

  • Out goes everybody's All-American Maualuga, in goes everybody's 2006 prep All-American Galippo, a sure tackler who packs a punch at 255 pounds. He had 12 tackles, two coming for a loss, and an interception last season. He saw action as a true freshman before suffering a herniated disk in his back, an injury that also limited him last season. He seemed healthy the second half of the season, but back injuries are tricky. That might be the biggest issue standing between Galippo and future stardom.

Big shoes: California C Alex Mack

Stepping in: Junior Richard Fisher or junior Chris Guarnero

  • Fisher is a former walk-on and a vegetarian. For real. He was listed as the backup behind Mack last season. Guarnero started the first three games at left guard before suffering a season-ending toe injury. He is expected back for spring ball. With a new offensive line coach, Steve Marshall, and lots of returning starting experience -- seven players have started at least one game -- there might be lots of experimenting up front this spring.

Big shoes: Oregon DE Nick Reed

Stepping in: Junior Brandon Bair, junior Kenny Rowe, JC transfer Zac Clark

  • Reed had 20 tackles for a loss and 13 sacks last year (29.5 for his career). His potential replacements had no sacks last season. Some Oregon fans took issue with my suggesting in our "What to watch this spring," that Bair was the frontrunner to replace Reed. I wrote that because Rowe was listed at 215 pounds on last year's depth chart and was almost exclusively a pass-rush specialist. Meanwhile, Clark is an unknown quantity as an incoming JC transfer. On the other hand, Bair is more in the mold of returning big end Will Tukuafu, so perhaps Rowe, who's listed at 230 pounds on the updated roster, and Clark will battle it out. Guessing this one is wide open, to be honest.

Big shoes: Arizona State FS Troy Nolan

Stepping in: Sophomore Clint Floyd leads a pack of possibilities

  • Nolan had 64 tackles and four interceptions playing center field for the Sun Devils' defense, and he'll be the toughest guy to replace for a unit that should be fairly salty next fall. Floyd will get first crack, but junior Max Tabach, redshirt freshman Keelan Johnson and senior Jarrell Holman could make a move.

Big shoes: Oregon State WR Sammie Stroughter (and WR Shane Morales)

Stepping in: Junior Darrell Catchings and redshirt freshman Jordan Bishop

  • Stroughter was the Pac-10's only 1,000-yard receiver last year. Morales added 743 yards, while this duo combined for 15 of the Beavers 25 touchdown receptions. Catchings caught only seven passes but was No. 2 on the depth chart. Bishop was impressive while redshirting, particularly during Sun Bowl practices. And slot receiver James Rodgers figures to see more balls downfield this fall after mostly being a fly-sweep specialist the past two seasons.

Posted By's Ted Miller

Three days, three Pac-10 bowls. Joy.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Oregon State fans probably will feel like a seasick crocodile after reviewing the first item.

  • This from the Corvallis Gazette Times: "RB Jacquizz Rodgers was on his weekly radio show and said his scapula is broken after getting his X-ray back, and it's not an AC joint sprain like originally thought. That pretty much puts him out for the Sun Bowl." Ouch.
  • Just how did Arizona running back Keola Antolin, born in Hawaii, become a child of Las Vegas? Of course, Antolin as well as his teammates -- and most folks who live in Vegas -- are freaking out about the weather: snow. Are you kidding me?
  • Both Arizona and Arizona State may be out with the state's top recruit, who -- surprise -- lists USC among his finalists, along with California and Texas. But the Sun Devils may have a keeper coming in at defensive end. And what about this game with BYU next year -- is it on or off?
  • You know how California has gone back and forth with its starting quarterbacks much of the season? It may not be over heading into the Emerald Bowl. And Jon Wilner evaluates coach Jeff Tedford this season.
  • Oregon defensive end Nick Reed and California center Alex Mack won the Morris Trophy, an award honoring the best offensive and defensive linemen of the Pac-10.
  • Will special teams be the difference in the Sun Bowl? That's where Pitt has an advantage over Oregon State. So, with both Rodgers brothers out, who will step up for the Beavers?
  • UCLA just poached a big-time recruit from USC.
  • Did USC cornerback Shareece Wright resist arrest or is he a victim of overzealous Colton (Calif.) police?
  • It's not a slam dunk that USC quarterback Mark Sanchez will return for his senior season.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Ten things to consider, underline or anticipate heading into the weekend.

1. California OTs vs. Oregon DEs: The California offensive line is expected to be missing three injured starters and a backup who would have started Saturday against Oregon. While left tackle Mitchell Schwartz has been a steady performer all year, the redshirt freshman will have his hands full with Nick Reed, the Ducks' relentless pass rusher. On the other side, Donovan Edwards, a JC transfer who signed in the late summer, will make his first start and will square off against the underrated Will Tukuafu, who has six sacks. Oh, by the way, it also appears that redshirt freshman Justin Cheadle will be stepping in for Noris Malele at right guard.

2. Mark Sanchez will have his way with the Washington pass defense: USC quarterback Mark Sanchez has been inconsistent this year, particularly on the road -- see his uneven effort at Arizona. But he's not on the road Saturday, and visiting Washington will offer him the most inviting pass defense of any BCS conference team. Moreover, the Huskies probably will be missing injured starting cornerback Mesphin Forrester. Sanchez should put up big numbers and then sit out the second half.

3. Will Washington State open up the offense for quarterback Kevin Lopina?: Lopina completed just 6 of 9 passes for 28 yards against USC in a 69-0 humiliation. It seemed like the Cougars coaches opted for a noticeably conservative game plan because they were worried about getting Lopina hurt and didn't want to risk him re-injuring his back in a game they weren't going to win. With the decision to no longer redshirt J.T. Levenseller -- coach Paul Wulff said Levenseller would play at Stanford -- perhaps the handcuffs will be off Lopina and he will run the entire offense.

4. Does Rudy have any magic left? Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter will make his 39th consecutive start at Oregon State with a bum ankle, no running game and a decimated receiving corps. Last year, he was brilliant in leading the Sun Devils back from a 19-0 deficit against OSU, passing for 361 yards with four touchdowns in a 44-32 victory. It's hard to imagine things will go as well in Corvallis against a high-pressure Beavers defense that probably wants redemption.

5. USC's defense will miss safety Kevin Ellison: Ellison, our midseason defensive MVP, is out two-to-four weeks with a torn MCL, so the nation's best defense is without its headiest player for a few games. That won't matter against the Huskies, but it could in upcoming games with California and Notre Dame. Ellison, who will be replaced by junior Will Harris, is the second starter to go down in the Trojans secondary. Earlier, top cover cornerback Shareece Wright was lost to a season-ending neck injury.

6. Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard will regain his form against Washington State: Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard was mostly awful in the loss to UCLA, completed just 5 of 12 passes for 51 yards with an interception. Enter the Washington State defense, which makes everyone look good. While the Cougars are incompetent stopping the run -- 266 yards per game -- their likely attempt to gang up against Stanford's power running game will mean opportunities for Pritchard in the passing game.

7. Moevao and Rodgers: First-team All-Pac-10? Why the heck not? If true freshman running back Jacquizz Rodgers and quarterback Lyle Moevao, the conference's most improved player, continue to put up big numbers, why wouldn't this pair lead the All-Pac-10 team? Rodgers, in fact, with a conference-leading 116 yards rushing per game, is almost a shoo-in. Moevao leads the conference with 254 yards passing per game, but he likely will need to outplay Arizona's Willie Tuitama and USC's Mark Sanchez down the stretch. But if the Beavers make a run at the Rose Bowl, who's to say he won't?

8. Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli may need to throw to beat Cal: It's been a mostly dry fall in Eugene -- as we all know it NEVER RAINS IN AUTZEN STADIUM! -- but it looks like it's going to be a wet one Saturday in Berkeley. While such conditions may not encourage passing, the Ducks' run-heavy, spread-option offense may find the going tough if it is one-dimensional vs. Cal's 3-4 defense. This is a homecoming for Masoli anyway, so know that he'll want to put the ball in the air to impress family and friends.

9. Will Washington play hard for lame-duck coach Tyrone Willingham? It might not matter if the winless Huskies give USC their best shot -- the Trojans are better at every position. Yet it will be fairly obvious in the early-going how much Willingham's players still care. Will they show some pride and fight for themselves and their outgoing coach? A season's best performance might cause some to wonder where the effort was when it could still help Willingham, but if that is indeed what happens know that a team is tipping its helmet to its coach.

10. Quarterback Kevin Riley's mobility will keep Cal in the game with Oregon: It's safe to assume Cal's makeshift offensive line won't be able to consistently handle the Ducks defensive front. If slow-footed Nate Longshore were the Bears quarterback, that would be a huge issue. But Riley can make plays with his feet -- both with rollouts and with scrambles. If the conditions are sloppy, Riley's improvisation skills could become a key element in the game.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Getting deep into this week's games.

Masoli won't run wild vs. California's 3-4 defense: Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli has rushed for 255 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries in the Ducks' last two games, both victories. He's only passed for 189 yards in those games. He's been effective because defenses haven't been accounting for him as a runner -- or at least the accounting has been ineffective. But Masoli's ability to run out of the spread-option is no longer a surprise wrinkle. Moreover, California's 3-4 defense is better cut out for spying on the ball misdirection Masoli uses to lure defenders out of their assignments. The Bears' four linebackers are athletic and experienced, and Oregon's offensive line, though a veteran group, likely will need some time to figure out blocking a scheme they haven't faced this season. Masoli's passing has been hot and cold this year, but he may need to be hot against Cal for the Ducks to win.

It's easy to run on Washington State; Stanford should pass: Talk about tempting. Stanford owns the most physical running game in the Pac-10 with an outstanding offensive line led by center Alex Fetcher and tailback Toby Gerhart. And Washington State offers the 118th-ranked run defense in the land, which surrenders an eye-popping 266.3 yards per game. Stanford could run every play and win going away. But Cardinal quarterback Tavita Pritchard needs to regain his confidence and rhythm. He was out of sorts in the loss to UCLA two weeks ago, completing just 5 of 12 passes for 51 yards with an interception. Stanford is going to win this game and improve to 5-4. But finding a sixth win and earning bowl eligibility is the ultimate goal. That's going to require a passing game, considering the ruggedness of the upcoming schedule: at Oregon, USC, at Cal. So Stanford should force itself to showcase a balanced attack because that's what it will need to get to a bowl game.

Mark Sanchez, Washington's pass defense is like a magical pill for struggling quarterbacks: While the dominance of USC's defense should have been the main story coming out of the Trojans' 17-10 win at Arizona, more than a few folks focused on the continuing inconsistency of quarterback Mark Sanchez. Sanchez completed 21 of 36 passes for 216 yards with a touchdown, interception and costly fumble on the USC 15-yard line and he was off-target most of the night. But Pac-10 schedulers have a gift for him waiting in the LA Coliseum: The milquetoast that is the softest pass defense in all the BCS conferences. Sanchez and his receivers should absolutely feast on Washington, which allows opponents to complete 70 percent of their passes, yields 10 yards per completion and has surrendered 19 touchdown passes. The Huskies have grabbed just three interceptions and recorded five sacks. In other words, a day of target practice with little to no resistance should restore Sanchez's rhythm.

It's shocking to say but Oregon State has the advantage at quarterback: That can't possibly be true, right? Arizona State boasts Rudy Carpenter, who's climbed high on the Pac-10 passing charts and will be making his 39th consecutive start. But Carpenter hasn't been the same since he sprained his ankle. He ranks fourth in the Pac-10 in passing efficiency -- one spot below Beavers quarterback Lyle Moevao, whose 13 touchdown passes vs. eight interceptions bests Carpenter's 9 and 7. Carpenter was the decided difference in the Sun Devils' comeback from a 19-0 deficit for a 44-32 win against Oregon State last year. While Carpenter passed for 361 yards with four touchdowns -- including scoring tosses of 64, 43 and 48 yards -- then-Beavers starting quarterbackSean Canfield hurled five interceptions. Carpenter now faces one of the Pac-10's best secondaries and aggressive pass rushes without the benefit of a quiet home crowd facilitating his line of scrimmage audibles. And the Sun Devils' offensive line and running game? Never mind. Advantage Moevao.

Cal quarterback Kevin Riley's mobility will be critical vs. Oregon's aggressive pass rush: Bears quarterback Nate Longshore played one of his best games in Cal's classic 31-24 win at Oregon a year ago, throwing for 285 yards and two touchdowns. But the Bears' offensive line isn't as good this year and the Ducks' pass rush is even better. That's why it should be a significant benefit having the far more athletic Riley under center. Oregon leads the Pac-10 with 3.5 sacks per game, and ends Nick Reed and Will Tukuafu rank one-two in the conference with eight and six sacks. Meanwhile, the Cal line is beaten up, likely down three starters and a reserve on Saturday. That suggests the Cal quarterback will need to be on the move a lot, and Riley is far better at moving than the slow-footed Longshore.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Before we football... this is big basketball news: Arizona's Lute Olson is reportedly retiring.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Getting deep into this week's games.

Will Arizona go small and get big?: USC's defense hasn't allowed a point in 10 quarters. It's ranked No. 1 in scoring defense and No. 2 in total defense. In other words, the Trojans have the nation's best defense. Only one team had success of any kind against them and that was Oregon State, which used a balanced attack to gain 343 total yards in a 27-21 victory. Balance is the key. Without at least a threat to run, an opposing quarterback is simply fresh meat for a fast USC defense, which can then tape its ears back in the pass rush. The Beavers, however, gashed the Trojans with diminutive true freshman Jacquizz Rodgers, who used his 5-foot-7 frame to his advantage instead of disadvantage. After the game, the Trojans defenders actually complained that they couldn't find Rodgers amid the crowd of large bodies. Just so happens that Arizona boasts two speedy, undersized backs. Freshman Keola Antolin (5-foot-7) burst onto the scene with 149 yards rushing on 21 carries with three touchdowns in the 42-27 win over California. He stepped in for Nic Grigsby (5-foot-10), who fumbled in the first quarter, but Grigsby is solid when he holds onto the football -- see 627 yards rushing and nine touchdowns this year with a 5.9 yards-per-carry average. Considering the Wildcats' offensive line is a more experienced group than the Beavers' was, the question is whether the Trojans have learned to find the little guys who are trying to slice them apart.

Ducks foresee sack time with Rudy: In Oregon's 35-23 win over Arizona State last year, the Ducks sacked Rudy Carpenter nine times, including 3.5 takedowns by end Nick Reed. To say the least, it was a long day for Carpenter. The problem for him this go-around is there are abundant reasons to believe he will be again running for his life ... or limping for his life, considering he's nursing an ankle sprain. The Sun Devils have no running game to slow down Oregon's pass rush; they rank 117th in the nation in rushing. While the inexperienced offensive line has mostly pass protected better than last year's unit that surrendered 55 sacks, it still has yielded 2.5 sacks per game. Meanwhile, Reed is back, leading the Pac-10 with eight sacks this season, and his opposite end, Will Tukuafu, is just behind with six. In fact, Oregon leads the Pac-10 with 3.57 sacks per game. So there's your game: Can Rudy get enough time to pick on the Ducks hobbled secondary? Or will he hobble off the field himself?

Washington's players can make a statement on their feelings for Tyrone Willingham by playing hard vs. Notre Dame: It's not hard to pick apart what's gone wrong with Washington during the Tyrone Willingham Era. That's been going on ad nauseum for nearly two years and it won't end until the school puts his administration out of its misery. What can be said is this: Willingham is a man of integrity who cares about his players and has never been accused of unethical behavior. So how do his players feel about him? We'll see this weekend. While Willingham played off the Notre Dame angle this week, this also is a man of considerable ego and his ego will never be more vulnerable than it will be Saturday. If the Fighting Irish blow Willingham out of Husky Stadium, it will be a humiliating repudiation of him as a coach, at least in terms of popular perception. Thing is, Notre Dame isn't that good and the Huskies aren't that bad. If Washington plays hard for four quarters and fights for its coach, this won't be a blowout.

UCLA's offensive line vs. California's defensive line is a battle of wounded animals: UCLA's offensive line was considered a significant weakness entering the season. Each time coaches shuffled the available bodies and produced a small step forward, adversity seemed to bite back. This week, after starting the same five for consecutive games, it was freshman left tackle Jeff Baca going down with a hamstring injury during practice Tuesday. If he can't go against California, Micah Kia (bad back) likely will replace him, while Mike Harris (bum ankle) would make his first start at right tackle. Meanwhile, Cal's defensive front was forced to burn the redshirt of touted freshman Trevor Guyton against Arizona. With end Rulon Davis and tackle Kendrick Payne out and end Tyson Alualu slowed by a leg infection, the Bears got pushed around up front by Arizona, which gained 404 yards on a defense that had previously given up just 291 yards per game. The advantage here might go to the Bears for a simple reason: UCLA can't win on the road. The Bruins have lost five straight away from the Rose Bowl and 12 of their past 15. The O-line is the area that suffers most in a hostile environment.

You'll know in the first quarter if USC is going to roll: USC went to Oregon State planning to take the crowd out of the game. It didn't happen when the Trojans fell behind 21-0. A fast start at Arizona is a hot topic this week. "It's imperative that we're scoring on that first drive," USC quarterback Mark Sanchez told reporters Tuesday. "That means a lot. For the offense, it gives us confidence. It pumps up the defense. Things just go." While the Wildcats received a confidence boost by whipping Cal, they are not at the point where they won't lose faith against an early show of force from the Trojans. And it's not just a fast start; Oregon got that but then faltered for a moment and USC exploded. The Wildcats will have to be at their focused best -- think that dominant third quarter vs. Cal for an entire game -- to notch the upset. In Arizona's favor: It has won six in a row at home, tied for the longest home winning streak in the conference with USC and Oregon State, and a packed house is expected. A tight score at halftime will keep fans in the stands barking at the Trojans. A big USC lead at the break will send them to University Blvd. for a cold one. Or two.

Emptying the Pac-10 notebook

October, 10, 2008
Posted by's Ted Miller

Factoids, notes and quotes from around the Pac-10...

Curious Stat of the Week...

Which team leads the Pac-10 in third-down conversion rate?

0-5 Washington, at 53.2 percent

Bet you didn't see that one coming.

ARIZONA STATE (2-3, 1-1) at USC (3-1, 1-1)

  • USC is a perfect 8-0 vs ASU this decade, last losing to the Sun Devils in 1999. Over the eight wins, USC has averaged 39.8 PPG.
  • The Trojans are going for their 400th victory at the Coliseum.
  • ASU coach Dennis Erickson has faced USC six times with three different Pac-10 teams, going 1-5.
  • In USC's 44-34 win last year, the Sun Devils mustered just 16 yards rushing and 259 total yards. USC also racked up six sacks.

ARIZONA (4-1, 2-0) at STANFORD (3-3, 2-1)

  • Stanford is only 3-7 at home against Arizona (6-6 in Tucson).
  • Stanford has won four of five in the series.
  • Arizona leads the Pac-10 and is second in the nation in total defense allowing just 226.2 yards per game.
  • Arizona leads the conference in scoring with 43.6 points per game

WASHINGTON STATE (1-5, 0-3) at OREGON STATE (2-3, 1-1)

  • In Oregon State's 52-17 win last year, the Beavers running game accounted for 218 yards and six touchdowns. The Beaver defense picked off seven Cougars passes.
  • Mike Riley is looking for his 50th victory as Oregon State's coach.
  • The Cougars offense has been mostly terrible, but receiver Brandon Gibson ranks second in the Pac-10 in receptions per game (6.0) and third in receiving yards per game (76.7). He's caught at least one pass in 29 straight games, tied with Arizona's Mike Thomas for longest current streak in the conference.

UCLA (2-3, 1-1) at OREGON (4-2, 2-1)

  • UCLA is 14-6 in Eugene.
  • Last year, the Bruins blanked the then-No. 9 Ducks 16-0. The Bruins defense held Oregon -- which lost quarterback Dennis Dixon the week before when it was upset at Arizona -- to 12 first downs and 148 yards total offense and forced four turnovers. UCLA only had 220 total yards.
  • UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft was intercepted four times in the first half of the opener against Tennessee but has thrown just one pick since then and hasn't thrown an interception in three games.
  • UCLA has lost 11 of its last 14 road games and has been outscored 423-160 in those losses, according to the LA Times.

They said it...

Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson on his defense in the second half of last weekend's loss at California.

"We played probably as well as the defense has played since I've been here. We ran to the football, played very physical, very aggressive, created a turnover, did a lot of things and took the run away from them."

USC coach Pete Carroll on Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter

"This guy is going to be a good NFL player. He's going to be a high draft pick I think when guys take a look at him."


  • Arizona and California own the conference's longest winning streaks: two games.
  • The conference is 13-15 in nonconference games with three remaining (USC and Washington vs. Notre Dame; Washington State at Hawaii)
  • California has intercepted 10 passes in five games -- tops in the conference --matching the Bears total from all of 2007.
  • Oregon State has given up the fewest turnovers in the conference, losing the ball only six times in five games. Washington State has the most, yielding 19 turnovers in six games.
  • Arizona has scored touchdowns in 22 of 28 red zone trips.
  • California freshman punter Bryan Anger is 7th in the nation with an average of 45.1 yards per boot. He's the only freshman ranked among the top-17 punters, 13 of whom are juniors or seniors.
  • Oregon defensive ends Nick Reed and Will Tukuafu are Nos. 1 and 2 in the conference in sacks (six and five) and tackles for a loss (both with 9.5), and the Ducks are tops in the conference with 18 sacks (3.0 per game).
  • Washington defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim had three QB sacks last week at Arizona, the Huskies first sacks of the season.
  • In 12 Pac-10 games, the home team is 9-3.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Ten things to consider, underline or anticipate heading into the weekend.

1. USC's backfield rotation is getting simpler: With Allen Bradford suffering a hip injury that has imperiled his season, and Joe McKnight battling a sore knee -- not to mention inconsistency -- the Trojans backfield rotation likely will feature Stafon Johnson and C.J. Gable as options Nos. 1 and 2, with McKnight used as a change of pace guy who doubles as a receiver.

2. Can a freshman tackle handle an All-Pac-10 defensive end?: If UCLA's offense is going to have any success at Oregon, it's going to have to account for end Nick Reed, who was first-team All-Pac-10 in 2007 and is presently leading the conference with six sacks. That falls to freshman tackle Jeff Baca, a former teammate of Reed's at Mission Viejo High School -- and by teammate we mean Baca used to admire Reed from afar. Baca figures to need some help (sliding protection or even a tight end with a max-protection scheme), but the less he needs the better for the Bruins.

3. Welcome to opportunity, Danny Sullivan: Folks didn't give Arizona State much chance at USC even with marquee quarterback Rudy Carpenter, so it is reasonable to assume that if Carpenter can't go the Sun Devils are pretty much doomed. Well, plenty of inexperienced or unknown athletes have stepped up and turned in clutch performances, so why not Danny Sullivan? Let's remember: Stanford, a 41-point underdog a year ago at USC, was led by Tavita Pritchard, an emergency, first-time starter because T.C. Ostrander had suffered a seizure the previous week. What happened in that game?

4. Will Justin Roper retake his spot as Oregon's starting quarterback?: The latest word is that Oregon coach Mike Bellotti and offensive coordinator Chip Kelly are still cogitating over who will start at quarterback for the Ducks against UCLA -- either Jeremiah Masoli, who has started the past three games, or former starter Justin Roper, who hurt his knee at Purdue on Sept. 13. Masoli has been solid in Roper's stead, and there's a possibility he holds onto the job, but Roper should have a lot more knowledge of the offense compared to the first-year juco transfer.

5. Arizona's defense needs to show it can stop a physical running back: It's been mostly roses and rainbows for Arizona during a 4-1 start, but the face plant at New Mexico is still why some doubt the Wildcats and attribute their early success to an easy schedule. For example, Arizona ranks No. 2 in the nation in total defense, but Lobos running back Rodney Ferguson, a 6-foot, 234-pound bowling ball, bullied the Wildcats for 158 yards and two touchdowns. So there is reason to be concerned about Stanford's power running game led by 230-pound Toby Gerhart and a physical offensive line.

6. Is a true freshman the best running back in the Pac-10?: It might be premature to hail Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers as such but he presently leads the Pac-10 with 110 yards rushing per game, which also ranks 14th in the nation. On Saturday, he faces a Washington State run defense that yields 241 yards rushing per game. If Rodgers hangs up huge numbers to pair with his red-letter performance against USC, he'll become a front-runner to earn First-Team All-Pac-10 honors.

7. USC quarterback Mark Sanchez will announce that he's joining the X-Men this weekend: Know how the X-Man Wolverine heals really quickly? Well, so does USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, who appears ready to add a bone bruise to the dislocated knee cap as injuries that failed to keep him from starting a game. Come to think of it, has anyone ever seen Sanchez and Wolverine in the same room? Hmm.

8. Gronkowski and Thomas should run wild against Stanford's secondary: Stanford ranks 112th in the nation in pass defense after giving up 347 yards and three touchdowns to Notre Dame and quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Arizona has a better offense and a lot more weapons than Notre Dame, namely receiver Mike Thomas and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Both of those guys should post huge numbers Saturday.

9. If it comes down to a kicker, Washington State wins: Washington State has notoriously struggled with special teams over the past few years, but kicker Nico Grasu is one of the few bright spots for the Cougars. Meanwhile, Oregon State, which featured former Groza Award winner Alexis Serna for four years, is now floundering with Justin Kahut. Grasu is 5-of-7 with a long field goal of 47 yards and is perfect on his PATs. Kahut is 3-of-7 with a long of 37 and missed a critical PAT at Utah last week.

10. Is there anything else to say about Rick Neuheisel's and Mike Bellotti's relationship?: The first stories of the week were about how Oregon fans and Mike Bellotti hate Rick Neuheisel. But then it turned out that Bellotti and Neuheisel get along well, even play golf together ("Drat!" said reporters). Oregon fans, of course, do dislike Neuheisel for what he did at Colorado and Washington -- you know, compile a 4-1 record against the Ducks. UCLA should be outmanned at Oregon, but don't be surprised if a few coaching tricks keep the Bruins close.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Getting linky with it.

  • Quarterback woes may be the biggest reason the typically pass-happy Pac-10 is struggling. Yet, while conference quarterbacks are hurting, the Pac-10's Throwin' Samoans are not. Four Samoans will start at quarterback on Saturday, and don't think they don't keep up with each other.
  • Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter isn't just doubtful for Saturday's game. He's "very doubtful," according to coach Dennis Erickson.
  • California quarterback Kevin Riley is being a good soldier and handling his demotion behind Nate Longshore as well as, well, Nate Longshore handled his demotion behind Kevin Riley.
  • Oregon receiver Jaison Williams is sorry for his major gaffe against USC, but the receiving corps in general has been out of sorts.
  • Considering Stanford's bowl chances.
  • UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft beware: Oregon pass rush specialist Nick Reed is squaring off against a freshman offensive tackle, Jeff Baca.
  • USC's downfield passing game has improved dramatically. And it appears that both linebacker Rey Maualuga and quarterback Mark Sanchez will be available Saturday against Arizona State.
  • Is this the worst Washington State team ever?

Posted by's Ted Miller

I really labored over some of these.


QB: Rudy Carpenter, Sr., Arizona State
RB: Jahvid Best, So., California
RB: Jeremiah Johnson, Sr., Oregon
TE: Rob Gronkowski, So., Arizona
OL: Alex Mack, Sr., California
OL: Jeff Byers, Sr., USC
OL: Juan Garcia, Sr., Washington
OL: Max Unger, Sr., Oregon
OL: Andy Levitre, Sr., Oregon State
WR: Mike Thomas, Sr., Arizona
WR: Brandon Gibson, Sr., Washington State
K: Thomas Weber, So., Arizona State


DE: Nick Reed, Sr., Oregon
DT: Fili Moala, Sr., USC
DT: Brian Price, So., UCLA
DE: Dexter Davis, Jr., Arizona State
LB: Rey Maualuga, Sr., USC
LB: Brian Cushing, Sr., USC
LB: Zach Follett, Sr., California
CB: Jairus Byrd, Jr., Oregon
CB: Alterraun Verner, Jr., UCLA
FS: Taylor Mays, Jr., USC
SS: Patrick Chung, Sr., Oregon
P: Keenyn Crier, So., Arizona

KR: Ronald Johnson, So., USC
PR: Sammie Stroughter, Sr., Oregon State