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October 4, 2006
All eyes on Berkeley: The Pac-10 race will start to sort itself out Saturday. The marquee matchup will be between Oregon and Cal ? a game in which Ducks coach Mike Bellotti takes on his old offensive coordinator, Jeff Tedford. The two teams often compete for the same recruits and now they're competing for conference supremacy. The middle of the conference will also start to sort itself out with Washington State taking on Oregon State and Arizona facing UCLA.
Best matchup: Cal cornerback Daymeion Hughes vs. Oregon wide receiver Jaison Williams. With 28 catches for 462 yards and four touchdowns in four games, Williams has entered the upper echelon of Pac-10 wide receivers. This week, he and quarterback Dennis Dixon will face Hughes. The Cal standout is second in the country with five interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns.
Worst matchup: Stanford's run defense vs. Notre Dame running back Darius Walker. Walker and the Irish running game started to show some life against Purdue's soft defense. He'll feast on another weak defense against the Cardinal, who is allowing 282.8 rushing yards per game.
The pressure is on: Oregon State. The Beavers' two wins have come against Eastern Washington and Idaho. The two losses have been blowouts to Boise State and Cal. Oregon State needs a win over a respectable Pac-10 team to avoid dipping under .500 and dropping two league games.
Upset alert: Arizona over UCLA. Remember what happened last year? (Arizona won 52-14).
Most to gain: The winner of Oregon at Cal. Both teams are looking to re-gain some respect. Oregon wants to prove it doesn't need an officiating error to beat a top team. Cal wants to completely erase memories of its loss to Tennessee in Knoxville. The winner will move to the top of Pac-10 alongside USC.
Most to lose: Arizona. The Wildcats were supposed to be the breakout team in the conference this year, but Washington proved otherwise. The Huskies improved to 4-1 last week with a win over Arizona. This week, Arizona will face a UCLA team that it dismantled 52-14 a year ago. A loss to the Bruins would be Arizona's third consecutive in the Pac-10. It would also put a serious damper on the Wildcats' chances for their winning season since 1998.
Who's not: Arizona's run game. Outside of the Wildcats' offensive explosion against Stephen F. Austin, Arizona is averaging 0.9 yards per carry (88 carries, 79 rushing yards) this season.
Must see TV: No. 11 Oregon (4-0, 2-0 Pac-10) at No. 16 Cal (4-1, 2-0 Pac-10), 8 p.m. Eastern, ABC
Backup who could have an impact: Oregon defensive end Dexter Manley came off the bench to have three sacks against Arizona State. He could have an increased role this week with end Matt Toeaina playing tackle in the absence of Cole Linehan. The Ducks are still looking for a No. 2 receiver behind Jaison Williams. Derrick Jones could become that player.
Take the line: Cal is favored by 7? over Oregon. The Ducks might not win, but it should come down to a touchdown or less. Season 2-3.
They said it: "I apologize to our fans. We should be paying them for making them sit through that."
Injury update: Cal defensive tackle Brandon Mebane was limited against Oregon State last week with a slightly sprained ankle. ? Oregon defensive tackle Cole Linehan is out until at least the bowl game with a broken foot. ? USC wide receiver Chris McFoy (shoulder) is out 4-6 weeks. Defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis could return this week after missing three games following arthroscopic knee surgery. Guard Chilo Rachal is questionable with a sprained ankle. ? Washington State defensive tackle Faveae'l Ahmu is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his left foot.
Worth noting: Arizona held a players-only meeting Sunday following the 21-10 loss to Washington on Saturday. ? Cal wide receiver DeSean Jackson has a touchdown catch in seven consecutive games, tied for the longest active streak in the country. ? Oregon redshirt freshman cornerback Terrell Ward had an interception in his first career start. ? Oregon has allowed a 100-yard rusher in three of four games this season. The exception was 0-5 Stanford. ? Oregon State's Sammie Stroughter leads the nation in punt return average (22.9) and is the only player with two punts returned for touchdowns. ? The last coach to beat USC at the Coliseum was current Washington coach Tyrone Willingham while at Stanford on Sept. 29, 2001. He is 3-8 overall against the Trojans.
Looking back: It turns out Washington, not Arizona, is the rebound team of the Pac-10 after beating the Wildcats on the road. USC could be showing some signs of weakness with a narrow win over Washington State. Arizona State appears to have fallen out of the conference race after back-to-back blowouts to Cal and Oregon.
Freshmen who impressed: Arizona State true freshman safety Ryan McFoy was one of the few bright spots for the Sun Devils last week with six tackles and a forced fumble against Oregon. Two freshmen made their first starts against UCLA last week. Linebacker Will Powers had one sack after replacing Udeme Udofia. Running back Toby Gerhart had 12 carries for 32 yards in the absence of injured starter Anthony Kimble. UCLA fullback Chane Moline ran for two touchdowns against Stanford.
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