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November 15, 2006
Best matchup: Cal at USC. Don't judge the Bears on last week's loss to Arizona. Cal should be better prepared when it goes to Los Angeles on Saturday with a trip to the Rose Bowl on the line. The Bears are in a unique position of bringing more starpower into the game with Marshawn Lynch and DeSean Jackson. The Trojans are playing to keep their national championship hopes alive.
Worst matchup: Oregon State at Stanford. Don't judge the Cardinal on last week's win over a wounded Washington team. Stanford remains one of the worst teams in college football.
The pressure is on: Karl Dorrell and Dirk Koetter. Both coaches are looking to salvage the season by stringing together some wins at the end of the year. Arizona State would like to go into the Arizona game following consecutive wins. The same goes for UCLA before facing USC on Dec. 2.
Upset alert: Can Arizona pull off its third upset in a row? This week the Wildcats would have to pull it off on at Autzen Stadium, but Oregon has been maddeningly inconsistent all year.
BCS implications: Cal at USC. The BCS implications don't get any bigger than this. Cal wins and goes to the Rose Bowl. USC wins and gets one step closer to the national championship game.
Most to gain: Arizona. The Wildcats' goals to reach a bowl game this year appeared to be washed away after a 3-5 start, but back-to-back wins over ranked Washington State and Cal teams have brought the Wildcats within one game of postseason eligibility. A win over Oregon on the road would be another major step for Mike Stoops' team.
Most to lose: Washington State. The Cougars were once 6-3 with a realistic shot of winning out for a nine-win season. That won't happen after consecutive losses to Arizona and UCLA. Washington State needs to save face with a win over Washington in the Apple Cup.
Who's hot: Cal wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson has punt returns for touchdowns in each of the last two games. Against Arizona on Saturday, Jackson had 259 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. His four punt returns for touchdowns this season and five in his career are Pac-10 records.
Who's not: Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon. The junior quarterback is 29 of 48 for 239 yards with three interceptions and a fumble in his last two games against Washington and USC.
Must see TV: No. 17 Cal (8-2, 6-1) at No. 4 USC (8-1, 6-1), 8 p.m. Eastern, ABC
Key stat: 239 minutes, 51 seconds. Time Stanford went without an offensive touchdown before Richard Sherman's 74-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter against Washington.
Take the line: UCLA's defense could pose problems for Arizona State, but Rudy Carpenter is coming off his best game of the season against Washington State. The Sun Devils are a 3?-point favorite at home, but take Arizona State to cover the spread against a UCLA team that is winless on the road. Season 5-6.
They said it: "These last few games really do feel like playoff games to us. We want to see if we can put it together." -USC coach Pete Carroll on the next three games against Cal, Notre Dame and UCLA.
Injury update: UCLA quarterback Ben Olson (knee) is back in practice, but Patrick Cowan will start this week against Arizona State. ? USC running back Emmanuel Moody (ankle) could miss the Cal game. ? Washington State linebacker Scott Davis (wrist) missed the second half of the Arizona State game but will try to play against Washington. Wide receivers Jason Hill (ankle) and Michael Bumpus (ankle) missed the Arizona State game and are questionable for the Washington. Hill did not practice Monday. ? Washington quarterbacks Carl Bonnell and Johnny DuRocher were both injured in the Stanford loss. The Huskies are waiting for medical clearance for both to see who will start against Washington State.
Worth noting: USC defensive end Lawrence Jackson sacked the quarterback three times against Oregon for his first sacks of the season. ? Against USC on Saturday, Oregon coach Mike Bellotti challenged the review of a Brady Leaf touchdown pass to Jonathan Stewart. Officials ruled that Stewart stepped out of the end zone before catching the pass, but Bellotti won a challenge that the ball was tipped before Stewart caught the pass. USC coach Pete Carroll was annoyed - not by the decision, but that the review took 15 minutes. ? Washington and Washington State are considering moving their rivalry game to another date after playing 12 games without an off week this season. ? UCLA coach Karl Dorrell called his team's 13 penalties against Oregon State "not characteristic" of the Bruins. UCLA had not committed more than nine penalties in a game all season.
Looking back: It was a week of upsets in the Pac-10 last week as Stanford picked up its first win of the season over Washington and Arizona knocked off Cal 24-20. Arizona State's offense finally showed some life in a 47-14 rout of Washington State. USC, though, remains the team to beat with a 35-10 win over Oregon.
Freshmen who impressed: Stanford wide receiver Richard Sherman had the Cardinal's best receiving day of the year against Washington with six receptions for 177 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown. ? Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond recorded his first career interception against USC. Trojans cornerback Taylor Mays countered with his second pick of the year.
Bowl watch: USC (8-1) and Cal (8-2) will face each other for the Pac-10 title and BCS bid on Saturday. The Bears and Trojans should be joined in the postseason by Oregon (7-3), Arizona State (6-4) and Washington State (6-5). Oregon State (6-4), Arizona (5-5) and UCLA (5-5) are still looking for one more win, while Washington (4-7) will be home for the holidays for the fourth year in a row.