- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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The pressure is mounting as the season reaches the tail stretch. Quarterback play will be vital. And if you noticed, we had a bit of a quarterback theme going on in the blog this week. Be it because of injury or performance issues from the previous starters, we'll have three fresh faces starting this week and the return of another once thought to be a stop-gap. (We're working under the assumption that neither Zach Maynard nor Matt Scott is going to start this week).
So for your Thursday poll question, which relatively inexperienced quarterback is under the most pressure to perform?
Kevin Hogan, Stanford: He's making his first career start against one of the top defenses in the country. No doubt, Oregon State's Scott Crichton will be bearing down on him. The Beavers' secondary will also be much stingier than Colorado's. By the way, the only thing at stake is Stanford's continued Rose Bowl hopes.
Cody Vaz, Oregon State: Just as Hogan has to face a wicked defense, Vaz must do the same. He likely won't get much help in the run game, since the Cardinal are tops nationally against the run, and the Cardinal defense can be just as opportunistic as his own. Same stakes apply for Vaz and the Beavers when it comes to the North Division/Rose Bowl race.
B.J. Denker, Arizona: With the concussed Scott taking it easy in practice this week, Denker has been getting the reps. Scott has been listed as doubtful in Arizona's weekly injury report. So while Denker faces a youthful Colorado squad that hasn't had much success this season, this game is still a game that could get the Wildcats to bowl eligibility. And for a team that missed the postseason last season and has a new coach and new systems on both sides of the ball, that's an important step in the right direction.
Allan Bridgford, California: He has to face an Oregon defense that is probably a bit salty after being ripped by the national media for allowing 51 points to USC's offense (no matter that there are at least three first-round draft picks there, but hey, people see what they want to see). Cal's season has been, without question, a disappointment. But Bridgford could salvage the season by pulling off one of the biggest upsets in college football this season.