I know it’s late in the week, but it’s FOOTBALL FRIDAY!
Lawson blew me out on the picks last week. I nailed the Auburn game but pretty much missed everything else. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’ll post the overall standings on Monday after this weekend’s action. Here are the games, and my picks:
1) San Jose St @ UW – Huskies notch one of their two wins for 2004. It might be closer than expected, but come on – San Jose State winning at UW??? No way. UW 30, SJST 20.
2) Stanford @ Notre Dame – Tough one here. The Irish were humiliated vs. Purdue, but were more likely exposed for just not being very good. Stanford, meanwhile, well, you can make the argument that they are right there and top to bottom, as good as anyone in the conference. I love the Cardinal here. REVENGE from last year! Stanford 28, ND 17.
3) Arizona @ UCLA – The Bruins are better than I thought, that’s for certain. Meanwhile Arizona has played extremely hard all year but don’t have the record to show it. This is their first big road game, and while they’ll play hard again, they’ll also lose….again. UCLA 34, Zona 20.
4) The biggie – CAL @USC – Tempting to say “the wrong team is favored” and I really see this coming down to the last couple of minutes. I can’t help but pick the Trojans, however, with the game at home and USC still mad about last year. Trojans prevail in a shootout, 33-30.
5) Finally, Oregon @ Cougs – Doba said it best earlier in the week, saying how big a game this is, and “if we can get by this one, the schedule sets up well for the rest of the year.” Our Cougs are beat up, though, even with the bye week we have a lot of walking wounded.
Bienemenn will be lucky to get in for 10-15 plays. Boyd is out, Marty Martin is out, Riley Fitt-Chappell will miss the game, and now Matt Mullenix, backup d-lineman, is done for the year with a knee injury. Where it hurts more, though, is that Riley Fitt-Chappell and Troy Bienemenn are both snappers for field goals and punts! Field goals are our gigantic weakness, but not even having the regular snapper? Makes it that much more of a concern. We saw how that hurt last year at USC, as Bienemenn was hurt for the game, and Fitt-Chappell had two horrific snaps that cost the Cougs dearly. Cross your fingers!
On the other side, Oregon is 1-3 but they aren’t as bad as the record indicates. They moved the ball at will against Indiana and dominated statistically, but lost the game by turning it over 7 times (!). They were overwhelmed in the 2nd half vs. Oklahoma, but that was just a 10-0 game at the half and they just wore down. ASU is one of the best teams in the conference, but Oregon moved the ball suprisingly well between the 20’s, yet couldn’t cash in.
They REALLY worry me. Clemens still makes mistakes, but he can also kill you. Their running game has really picked up with Whitehead. Their biggest weakness, though, is that their o-line can be considered a little “soft”, and even according to Belotti, they don’t have a superstar playmaker on either side of the ball. Oregon hasn’t been scoring touchdowns, and are one of the worst red-zone teams in the conference as that lack of playmakers just kills them. Demetrius Williams was hyped coming in, but he has only 1 TD catch. That, my friends, is where the biggest difference is between WSU and Oregon.
We have arguably the best defensive player in the conference in Will Derting, and we know he will be all over the field. But offensively, Jason Hill is a rising star. He is one of the most explosive players in the conference, and with Oregon’s secondary beat up this week, he could have another gigantic game.
On the downside, I’m worried, as usual, about the running game. It makes us SO MUCH BETTER when we can run the damn ball! Minus the regular tight ends, what will that do to the running game? Will we even TRY to run the ball against Oregon’s strong d-line?? Are we going to stick with the shotgun for this week?? The last thing we want is Swogger to throw it 50 times a game on that bum knee.
Ok, add it all up, what do you see? The Cougs will pull it out. It won’t be pretty, it might even be UGLY, but at the end of the day we’ll make more plays and they’ll make more mistakes. Cougs 27, Ducks 20.