A quick look ahead

October, 13, 2008
10/13/08
7:09
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

A few sentences looking at this week's matchups.

California (4-1, 2-0) at Arizona (4-2, 2-1): Can California maintain its national ranking, something that's been hard for Pac-10 teams outside of Heritage Hall to do? Will Cal tailback Jahvid Best return from a dislocated elbow to challenge Arizona's vulnerable run defense? And who's the Bears quarterback anyway? So there are a lot of questions here. The Bears have won four of five in the series, including last year 45-27 victory that featured Wildcats quarterback Willie Tuitama setting a school record with 61 pass attempts.

USC (4-1, 2-1) at Washington State (1-6, 0-4): This looks like potentially the biggest mismatch among BCS conference teams this season, considering that Washington State has lost four conference games by an average score of 56-8. The Cougars cause may be helped by the return of quarterback Kevin Lopina from a back injury. The Trojans offense mostly sputtered last weekend against Arizona State, causing some to wonder if quarterback Mark Sanchez's knee is giving him trouble. USC has won 32 of the last 36 games in the series, including a 47-14 romp last year in which the Trojans outgained the Cougars 509 yards to 247.

Stanford (4-3, 3-1) at UCLA (2-4, 1-2): If Stanford wins, it almost certainly will earn bowl eligibility. If UCLA wins, it creates an opening for it to get out of the bottom third of the conference. Here's a guess the game won't in any way resemble UCLA's 45-17 blowout win last year, which ruined Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh's debut. For one, the Bruins don't have quarterback Ben Olson, who's injured. He threw five TD passes last year as the Bruins piled up 624 total yards, more than twice what they are averaging per game this year (297). Meanwhile, Stanford only rushed for 52 yards, less than a third of what the Cardinal averages on the ground in 2008 (184) and less than a third of what the Bruins give up on the ground (171).

Oregon State (3-3, 2-1) at Washington (0-5, 0-3): Oregon State is going for its fifth consecutive win in a series the Huskies used to own -- see a 58-30-4 all-time advantage. The Beavers probably would like to see quarterback Lyle Moevao dominate a terrible Washington pass defense that has given up 17 TD passes -- four more than any other conference team -- and is allowing opponents to complete 71 percent of their throws (eight conference teams are holding opponents to 59 percent or less completion rates). Or the Beavers could just hand the ball to Jacquizz Rodgers, the Pac-10's leading rusher, because the Huskies yield 233 yards on the ground per game.

Arizona State (2-4, 1-2)  open date: Next game Oct. 25 vs. Oregon.

Oregon (5-2, 3-1)  open date: Next game Oct. 25 at Arizona State.

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