No matter what happens this weekend, I can 100 percent guarantee that it will not come even remotely close to the last five weekends.
Not even if I go to the best party ever. Going undefeated in beer pong? No big deal. Breaking ankles at the Rec Center? That’s an everyday occurrence. Hooking up with the hottest chick on campus? Well, that one I can’t do till winter term (when my girlfriend gets here)—among other reasons.
So why will this weekend pale in comparison to any other this fall? It will be the first Saturday since Sept. 12 without an Oregon Ducks football game.
So what is a Duck fan to do?
Spend the weekend watching inferior college football teams and hoping for the teams ahead in the rankings to drop faster than Mike Singletary’s pants in the 49ers’ locker room.
But fortunately, next weekend will more than make up for it. I’ll be making my first journey up to Seattle to watch the Ducks in Husky Stadium. Best $46 I’ve ever spent.
With no Oregon game to preview today, I am relegated to the rest of the Pac-10.
Once again, the Pac-10 has failed to deliver multiple national title contenders. With Cal being a shocking disappointment and USC once again losing to an unranked team, there is more mediocrity than ever.
With all the parity in the conference, only one team has started to separate itself from the rest of the pack—Oregon. But keep in mind, the three teams the Ducks have played so far are 0-8 in the Pac-10. Washington and USC will make or break the season for the Autzen faithful.
On to this weekend’s games.
Washington at Arizona State
I’m still trying to figure out this Sun Devil team. I’m not sure if they’re decent or flat-out bad. They blow out two awful teams at home, as expected, and then lose by a field goal at Georgia, a loss that looked a lot more impressive then than it does now.
Arizona State outplayed Oregon State on paper, outgaining the Beavers 406 to 295, but the three fumbles killed them. But more embarrassing than either of those losses was the 27-14 win over Washington State. Unless you have seen the Cougars play, you cannot appreciate how truly bad they are. Anything less than a blowout is officially a disappointment.
Meanwhile, the Huskies have regained a bit of their momentum after the Stanford loss by putting a solid game together on the road at Notre Dame and then a miracle win against Arizona. With a big matchup looming against Oregon next Saturday, it will be interesting to see if the Huskies let down against a lesser team.
Prediction: Washington 34, Arizona State 17
Cal at UCLA
There is a legitimate chance that at least one of these teams will end up not bowl eligible.
After starting the season scorching hot, the Golden Bears have fallen flat on their face. Granted, at Oregon and home against USC is an almost unfair way to start Pac-10 play, but it looked as if Cal didn’t even bother to show up to either of those games. They didn’t score a single touchdown and were outscored 72-6.
But don’t worry, Cal fans, you can still make the Emerald Bowl.
UCLA, meanwhile, would be lucky to make the Las Vegas Bowl. Needing three more wins to gain bowl eligibility, the Bruins still have to play Cal, Arizona, Oregon State, Washington, and USC. Assuming they beat Arizona State and Washington State, I don’t know which team they could beat for that elusive sixth win.
Prediction: Cal 24, UCLA 17
Stanford at Arizona
Just when I start to buy the Cardinal, the Quizz Show comes along and stumps Stanford. I still like the direction Jim Harbaugh has his team heading, but a Rose Bowl appearance this year looks out of the question.
They certainly have the pieces, with Andrew Luck, Toby Gerhart, and Ryan Whalen, but it seems like they don’t have the mentality of a winner—which makes sense, considering they haven’t been good since the beginning of the decade.
Arizona has a pretty impressive résumé, with their only slip-ups coming on the road to an extremely overrated yet undefeated Iowa team and to the Huskies in a heartbreaking loss in Seattle.
This will probably be the most competitive game of the week, because I think both of these teams are stuck in “good but not great” purgatory.
Prediction: Stanford 31, Arizona 28
USC at Notre Dame
I am so tired of this matchup. It hasn’t been close since the famous “Reggie Bush push” in 2005, and the Fighting Irish haven’t been half as good as the hype in over a decade, despite being given every advantage by the NCAA. Jimmy Clausen is for real, but they haven’t had a dominating win all season. I don’t think it starts here.
The Trojans, although overrated at No. 6, have so much talent that they can get by with only mediocre quarterback play. But for USC to be taken seriously as a title contender, Matt Barkley will have to show that he can make plays and not just be a game manager. Maybe he can learn a thing or two from his QB counterpart and fellow No. 1 overall recruit on Saturday.
Prediction: USC 34, Notre Dame 24