The Ultimate Schedule: Pac-10

August 28th, 2009

Pac-10 Scheduling “Rules”:

-         Three non-conference games

-         Nine conference games


Week 1: Oregon @ Boise State (September 3rd)


There’s a bit of bad blood between these two stemming from Boise State’s win in Eugene a season ago. QB Jeremiah Masoli was knocked out of the game on what some thought to be a suspect hit, and with the mandate that teams have to shake hands before the game there could be some interesting conversations at that time. The Broncos, who were a very young team in 2008, return the bulk of their key contributors with QB Kellen Moore being one of the best signal callers out west. Both teams head into the season thinking BCS and rightfully so, given the amount of talent on each roster. Expect a high-scoring game that will entertain a national television audience.


Other Games Considered: Maryland @ California (9/5), Central Michigan @ Arizona (9/5)


Week 2: USC @ Ohio State (September 12th)


Was there any doubt as to which game would be chosen for this weekend? And it got far more interesting with the announcement today that freshman QB Matt Barkley will open the season as starter. The Buckeyes will be hungry for revenge after last season’s embarrassing showing in the Coliseum. Terrelle Pryor is firmly entrenched as the starter for Ohio State, who will be looking to strike a blow for themselves and the Big Ten in front of a prime-time audience. More than a few of the players on the field will eventually play on Sundays, underscoring the amount of talent at the fingertips of Pete Carroll and Jim Tressel.


Other Games Considered: Stanford @ Wake Forest (9/12), UCLA @ Tennessee (9/12)


Week 3: Cincinnati @ Oregon State (September 19th)


The Beavers host a Cincinnati team coming off of a Big East championship and eleven wins in 2008, and despite the loss of ten defensive starters Brian Kelly’s team is every bit the threat to repeat. In their last meeting (2007) Cincinnati forces seven Beaver turnovers in a 34-3 beating in the Queen City. But Oregon State is a more talented team this time around, one that should be better at avoiding early-season blowout losses. The Beavers will likely be favored, but they’d better be careful against a team that has the “Rodney Dangerfield” complex going. Very few give the Bearcats a chance in defending their conference title, and you probably know what the prevailing opinion of Big East football is too.


Other Games Considered: Arizona @ Iowa (9/19), Utah @ Oregon (9/19) and California @ Minnesota (9/19)


Week 4: California @ Oregon (September 26th)


The last time the Golden Bears visited Oregon viewers were treated to one of the wilder games of the 2007 season. DeSean Jackson made some big plays for Cal, but the game wasn’t sealed until the Ducks fumbled on the goal line late in the fourth quarter. Cal has won the last three games in the series with both wins in Berkeley coming by double digits. Last year’s game featured eight combined turnovers, but despite five turnovers the Golden Bears won by ten thanks to winning the time of possession battle and getting their defense off of the field on third down (Oregon was 4-18 on third down). If they can do that again Cal will have a good chance to leave Eugene with their fourth straight win over the Ducks.  


Other Games Considered: Arizona @ Oregon State (9/26), Arizona State @ Georgia (9/26)


Week 5: USC @ California (October 3rd)


Even though they return home things don’t get any easier for the Bears, who can accurately look at this two-game stretch as make or break for their conference title hopes. USC has won seven of the last eight meetings, with the lone Cal win being the 34-31 overtime triumph in 2003. USC won last season’s meeting 17-3 due in large part to their run defense, holding the Golden Bears to just twenty-four yards on the ground. Jahvid Best was held to thirty yards and quarterbacks Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley played poorly, not making up for Cal’s struggles on the ground. When you’re outgained 411-165 you will most likely head home with the loss; Cal hopes to not duplicate last year’s effort.


Other Games Considered: UCLA @ Stanford (10/3), Oregon State @ Arizona State (10/3)


Week 6: Stanford @ Oregon State (October 10th)


Last year’s meeting came in the regular season opener for both, and the Beavers were their usual early-season selves in the 36-28 loss in Palo Alto. The Cardinal won despite giving up twenty-nine first downs and over four hundred yards through the air thanks to a +3 turnover margin. The game also featured twenty combined penalties for 182 yards, a stat usually indicative of the season’s first weekend. In the previous meeting in Corvallis Stanford was a minus-4 in the turnover department, losing 23-6. Obviously winning the turnover battle goes a long way in determining the winner of a football game; it seems to be taken to another level in this series.


Other Games Considered: Oregon @ UCLA (10/10), Arizona @ Washington (10/10)


Week 7: Bye Week (October 17th)


The best game on the schedule this weekend is USC’s trip to Notre Dame. But since three non-conference games have already been selected it’s time to take a week off. Stanford/Arizona and California/UCLA are intriguing games as well, however.


Week 8: Oregon State @ USC (October 24th)


Oregon State beat USC in Corvallis last season, essentially knocking the Trojans out of the national title race because people didn’t know how good the Beavers would become. Rest assured that neither USC nor the media will underestimate Oregon State when they arrive in Los Angeles, but the series hasn’t been a kind one for OSU all-time. USC leads the series 58-9-4, with none of Oregon State’s three wins at USC coming since 1960. Jacquizz Rodgers became a household name last year, rushing for 187 yards in the win. Expect the USC lines to be challenged in practice leading up to the rematch; they were by and large outclassed by Oregon State in the trenches. 


Other Games Considered: UCLA @ Arizona (10/24), Arizona State @ Stanford (10/24)


Week 9: USC @ Oregon (October 31st)


The Trojans then head north to take on an Oregon team that beat them in Eugene two seasons ago. Things didn’t go so well for the Ducks last season, who were soundly defeated in Los Angeles 44-10. Oregon ran for just sixty yards, catching an angry USC team that had just lost at Oregon State the previous week. How well Oregon runs the football will determine whether or not this is a close game. Also, with two young quarterbacks USC’s turnover count will be a key. Oregon picked off Mark Sanchez twice in their 24-17 win in 2007, and there’s no telling what the wild environment at Autzen Stadium can do to Matt Barkley and/or Aaron Corp.


Other Games Considered: California @ Arizona State (10/31), UCLA @ Oregon State (10/31)


Week 10: Oregon State @ California (November 7th)


Since getting blown out at home in 2006 the Beavers have won the last two meetings in the series, most recently a 34-21 win in which the Golden Bears managed just eleven first downs. Oregon State was successful on defense thanks to their harassing of Kevin Riley, and the Rodgers brothers made big plays on the other side of the ball. And the last meeting in 2007 came on a day in which the Golden Bears had a chance to rise to number one in the national rankings…only to have the Beavers spoil their fun when Riley lost track of the clock and time ran out without Cal getting one more shot at the end zone.


Other Games Considered: Oregon @ Stanford (11/7), Washington @ UCLA (11/7)


Week 11: Arizona @ California (November 14th)


The Wildcats have won two of the last three meetings in this series, including a 42-27 triumph in Tucson last season. Cal quarterbacks failed to complete half of their passes, and Arizona blitzed the Golden Bears 28-3 in the third quarter to put the game away. Keola Antolin gashed California to the tune of 149 yards and three touchdowns on a night in which Nick Grigsby was in the dog house for ball security issues. Neither team performed very well on third down, going a combined 5-28, a sign of either solid defense or subpar offense. Arizona should know what to expect from either Matt Scott or Nick Foles by mid-November, and the same goes for Cal with Kevin Riley, which should make for an entertaining contest.


Other Games Considered: Arizona State @ Oregon (11/14), Stanford @ USC (11/14)


Week 12: Bye Week (November 21st)


There’s only one rivalry game on this weekend, with Cal and Stanford playing for The Axe. Arizona State at UCLA could be an intriguing game, especially if both are still in need of wins to ensure bowl eligibility. All in all, it’s a good opportunity to rest up for two weeks of heated rivalry games.


Week 13: Arizona @ Arizona State (November 28th)


The battle for the Territorial Cup isn’t the season finale for the Wildcats, who get to visit USC the following weekend. But just like last season’s meeting someone could need a win here to ensure bowl eligibility. Last year it was the Sun Devils in that situation, and the Wildcats took great joy in making sure that Dennis Erickson and company would be home for the holidays. Arizona State was flat-out bad offensively, managing just 162 yards of offense in the 31-10 loss. One lesson learned from 2008 for Arizona State: if you can’t run the football you’re not going to win. Injuries, among other things, rendered their rushing attack virtually non-existent last season. Bragging rights are worth more than enough in a game like this; whether or not it means even more remains to be seen.


Other Games Considered: UCLA @ USC (11/28), Washington State @ Washington (11/28)


Week 14: Oregon State @ Oregon (December 3rd)


The “Civil War” gets the Thursday night primetime slot, with the Beavers looking for revenge after last year’s 65-38 beating. Every time you looked up there was another Duck running into the end zone, with Oregon finishing the night with 385 yards on the ground and 694 yards of total offense. Oregon State may have gone into the game smelling a bouquet or roses; Oregon promptly beat them over the head with said bouquet. From 1997 to 2006 the home team won each game in the series; the Beavers broke that streak with an overtime win in Eugene in 2007. Just like last season there is the possibility for something more than bragging rights being on the line with both teams harboring dreams of a trip to Pasadena. Should be fun.


Other Games Considered: Arizona @ USC (12/5), California @ Washington (12/5)