By Arlie Rahn
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Although California did not pull off the upset against No. 5 Southern Cal, it also showed the Trojan offense was mortal. The mediocre Golden Bear defense held USC's Heisman Trophy hopeful Keyshawn Johnson to under 100 yards receiving (5 catches for 57 yards), something no team has managed in Johnson's last 12 games. But more impressive was the fact that they kept him out of the end zone.
"They were double-covering him," USC head coach John Robinson said. "We probably should have gotten him the ball more ... we were frustrated a lot."
The Cal defense allowed USC only 12 points in the first half and kept the Golden Bears in striking distance by trailing only 12-7 at halftime.
"I thought my guys played their asses off," Cal coach Keith Gilbertson said. "I was impressed. They came to play. We just lacked consistency on offense. It was difficult to stay in drives, and I think part of that is credited to their defense."
Down 26-10 in the fourth, Cal receiver Na'il Benjamin attempted to kickstart the Bears' lackluster offense by returning a punt for 55 yards and a touchdown. But it was to no avail, as the Golden Bears could not score again.
"I think we did some good things (Saturday) against USC," Benjamin said. "But there are a lot of things that could have gone better for us Ÿ we could have gotten downfield better and been more successful on third downs. I think we have progressed a lot since San Diego State, Fresno State and the other games."
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The 15th-ranked Washington Huskies had their chance to establish themselves as the dominant team they were three years ago when they squared off against No. 23 Notre Dame. With the pollsters' apparent love for the Fighting Irish, a win may have skyrocketed the Huskies into the top 10. But it was not to be.
Late in the fourth quarter, down 22-21, Washington quarterback Damon Huard threw a key interception which left the Huskies stranded in the land of mediocrity.
"This one we let get away in the end," Washington head coach Jim Lambright said. "It's one that you would like to step into the role of the individuals on the field that were in opportunities to make plays and couldn't. I was just so pleased with the way we're playing and it looked like we were going to win it, and then the wheels fell off."
Even though the game was close, the Huskies blew one of their best chances of the season to prove that their program was back on the map.
"It hurts, it hurts," Lambright said. "You compete to move yourself up nationally, and we had a chance but could not make it happen."
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The second-best rusher in the nation last Saturday was a guy named Rashaan. And while he doesn't have a Heisman under his belt, Washington's Rashaan Shehee might have given Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz flashbacks of the Irish's 41-27 Fiesta Bowl disaster last season at the hands of another Rashaan, ex-Colorado running back and '94 Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam.
Shehee, filling in for an injured Leon Neal, gave the Fighting Irish defense more than it could handle, running for 191 yards on 32 carries and two touchdowns.
"I'm very pleased with the way Rashaan played," Lambright said. "It doesn't surprise me, that's the kind of player that Rashaan is."
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While this weekend will feature three tough games Ÿ Washington State at Southern Cal, Washington at Stanford and Arizona at UCLA Ÿ the biggest one may be No. 15 Oregon at Cal. In the past decade, the Ducks have not fared well at Berkeley. In fact, they have a three-game losing streak at Memorial Stadium and have not won there since '86.
"There is a certain amount of payback involved with going back down there," Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti said. "California played USC as tough as anybody this year. They had a chance to win that game. Obviously, I think they have made tremendous strides."
While Cal is coming off of a tough loss to the Trojans Ÿ a game where the Bears led 7-6 in the second quarter Ÿ Oregon might be a bit overconfident after beating up on Division I doormat Pacific. Plus, this Cal team knows that an 0-3 start in the conference with road games against UCLA and Stanford still looming would just about take it out of bowl contention.
"We have progressed, but we still have some more to do," Benjamin said. "We definitely need a win against Oregon."
The key could be the Cal running game. A performance like the 55-yard rushing total against the Trojans last weekend might make Cal quarterback Pat Barnes' life miserable against Oregon's "Gang-Green" defensive attack.
"We need to establish some sort of running game before we can be successful throwing the ball," Gilbertson said. "But still you'd have to say (Barnes) was streaky. There were a couple of decisions I'm sure he'd like to take back, but it's hard for a quarterback to go out and throw a perfect game Ÿ especially against a team the caliber of USC."
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WSU quarterback Chad Davis and Stanford's Chris Draft (linebacker) and Eric Abrams (placekicker), were named Pac-10 players of the week yesterday.
Davis passed for 274 yards and three touchdowns, to lead the Cougars to a 40-14 win over Oregon State. Draft had 18 tackles in Stanford's 30-28 victory over Arizona State. Abrams converted all three of his field goal tries along with three point-after attempts in that same Cardinal victory.
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