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Pac-10 Football Notes

By Connor Doyle
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday October 10, 2002

Arizona (3-2, 0-1)
Last week: Lost to Oregon 31-14
This week: No. 22 Washington

The injuries suffered to top-line players on the Wildcat's roster is incredible.

After a Saturday's loss to Oregon, it was revealed halfback Clarence Farmer would miss the rest of the season after having surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his knee. Farmer joins cornerback Michael Jolivette (MCL sprain) as All-Pac-10 performers that are likely done for the season. Furthermore, All-Pac-10 middle linebacker Lance Briggs, freshman cornerback Darrell Brooks and a host of other key players missed part or all of the game against the Ducks. While Briggs is expected to be back this weekend, the rest of the list, if not the rest of the roster, is questionable.

Arizona State (4-2, 1-0)
Last week: Lost to North Carolina 38-35
This week: Oregon State (4-2, 0-2)

Head coach Dirk Koetter's defense is a good news/bad news situation. The good news is defensive end Terrell Suggs is the nation's sack leader with 12 so far this season. The bad news is the rest of the defense stunk it up against a mediocre North Carolina team. UNC quarterback Darian Durant passed for 417 yards and five touchdowns against a defense designed to stop the pass by playing five defensive backs at all times (Koetter calls it the 4-2-5, the rest of the world calls it the nickel). True, Durant is a mobile quarterback, the likes of which the Sun Devils won't see too often this season, but things will have to shape up for the defense for this team to win many Pac-10 games.

California (4-2, 2-0)
Last week: Beat Washington 34-27
This week: No. 20 USC

It's been a memorable year already for the Golden Bears. After beating then No. 15 Michigan State in Lansing in the second game of the year, Cal was ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1996. Now, after beating then-No. 12 Washington last weekend, it marked the first time the Bears had beaten two Top15 teams since national rankings were introduced in 1936. Add to that the fact that Cal is a legitimate contender for the conference title after being picked to finish last in the conference in the preseason, and the only possible conclusions are: 1) Jeff Tedford is a great coach; 2) Jeff Tedford sold his soul to the devil, or 3) Michigan State and Washington are the worst ranked teams of all time.

No. 7 Oregon (5-0, 1-0)
Last week: Beat Arizona 31-14
This week: UCLA

It took a 14-7 first-quarter deficit to Arizona for a couple of things to become clear to Oregon head coach Mike Belotti. First, his defense needs to work on its pass coverage, as Wildcats wide receiver Bobby Wade seemed to be permanently open until late in the game when the Ducks had finally worn out the depth-challenged opponents. Second, penalties are a huge problem for this team. The Ducks racked up 13 penalties for 110 yards, usually for no good reason. Oregon could get away with that against Arizona, but the same likely won't be true against the underrated Bruins, who boast what is likely the second-best defense in the conference behind USC, and an offense that won't collapse after one quarter.

Oregon State (4-2, 0-2)
Last week: Lost to UCLA 43-35
This week: Arizona State

Ha! The Beavers' offense, which appeared indomitable in their first four games of the year, has been exposed two games in a row now that Pac-10 play has commenced. The game plan has been simple for both USC and UCLA - pressure quarterback and overload a gimpy offensive line to shut down running game. OSU coaches said they're planning to change things up against the Sun Devils, but the bottom line will still be protecting freshman quarterback Derek Anderson, who has proven to be a wreck with defenders in his face.

Stanford (1-3, 0-1)
Last week: Lost to Notre Dame 31-7
This week: No. 12 Washington State

Note to that one person in the world who didn't think Ty Willingham was the reason Stanford was good: You're wrong. The Cardinal appear not only to be the worst team in the conference, but stand to go 0-8 in conference play if this keeps up. Chris Lewis has been easier to read than Dr. Seuss, Teyo Johnson doesn't seem to appreciate the double-teams coming his way and the defense is absolutely terrible. For the first time in forever, Cal is the prohibitive favorite to take Bay Area bragging rights. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Stanford's going to get their academically-elite butts kicked a bunch of times before the showdown against the Bears.

UCLA (4-1, 1-0)
Last week: Beat Oregon State 43-35
This week: No. 7 Oregon

In the quest to find someone to replace the departed DeShaun Foster, head coach Bob Toledo has turned to Tyler Ebell to start in the backfield over Akil Harris. Ebell earned the nod after scorching OSU for 203 yards in only three quarters last weekend. No word yet on what kind of SUV Ebell has been driving around Westwood.

No. 20 USC (3-2, 1-1)
Last week: Lost to Washington State 30-27
This week: California

The good feelings circulating around the Trojans are starting to disappear. The defense that some called one of the best in the country gave up 512 yards to Washington State and probably lost All-Everything safety Troy Polamalu for this weekend's game against Cal to a sprained ankle in the process. To make matters worse, "Tailback U" amassed a paltry 72 yards on the ground. Pete Carroll fell on the proverbial sword and called his scheming "lousy," but there's no time for self-deprecation with the red-hot Bears coming up this weekend. If USC is going anywhere this year, it's because of the defense.

No. 22 Washington (3-2, 0-1)
Last week: Lost to Cal 34-27
This week: Arizona

No one can say they were really shocked when news came out that the NCAA was sanctioning Rick Neuheisel and his former school, Colorado, for a host of recruiting violations. Rumors have long swirled that Neuheisel, often referred to as "the Golden Boy," for his charm and youthful looks, stretched recruiting rules and in more than one occasion has been directly accused of trying to sabotage rival school's recruiting efforts. But some of those charges finally stuck, and Neuheisel can't make any personal visits to potential recruit's homes until May 2003. More importantly, coaches will be able to use this as a method of turning off recruits from Washington, long one of the best schools at reloading in the Pac-10.

No. 12 Washington State (5-1, 2-0)
Last week: Beat USC 30-27
This week: Stanford

Despite lofty preseason predictions, few anticipated that Washington State would be where they are right now. After beating USC last Saturday, the Cougars are in the driver's seat in the Pac-10 along with Oregon. Now, they'll have to guard against a major letdown against Stanford, where they've won only once in the last 14 years. But head coach Mike Price has proven his ability to motivate his troops, and the 6 1/2 point-spread over the Cardinal seems conservative considering this offense tacked 512 total yards against USC last weekend. And to think Price was clinging onto his job at this point last season.


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