Until the last two years, UCLA caused all sorts of problems for Oregon St. coach Mike Riley, and always defeated him. Then, along came Rick Neuheisel to coach the Bruins, and Jacquizz Rodgers to run through and around them. The latter development probably has more to do with the Beavers' back to back wins than the former.
UCLA still has given Oregon St. trouble, playing them tough in the first half the last time the Beavers visited the Rose Bowl, before Oregon St. pulled away from a one-touchdown halftime lead to win 34-6. Then last year, Oregon St. unveiled the "Wild Flying Beaver", and ‘Quizz threw a touchdown pass. The result was an apparently comfortable lead, except the Bruins rallied with two late scores to pull within 26-19.
UCLA has the kind of talented players that make any opponent nervous, and helps account for their back to back wins over ranked opponents from the state of Texas earlier this year.
The fact that the Bruins gave Arizona a close, 29-21 game in the Rose Bowl last week, at first glance, is also a cause for concern.
Reality sinks in however, once one realizes that Oregon St. just played their best game of the year, in beating Cal, a team using their second string quarterback, 35-7.
And in UCLA, we have a team using their second string quarterback, and struggling defensively.
And Arizona couldn't pull away mostly due to having to settle for three field goals. The ‘Cats still rolled up 264 yards on the ground, and threw for 319. With a backup quarterback at the controls.
Immediately before that, the Bruins had suffered a 35-7 loss to that same Cal team that was on the opposite end of that score to Oregon St., and then experienced "death by Ducks", a 60-13 thrashing in which UCLA allowed 582 yards, including 270 rushing.
‘Quizz, who had 152 total yards against UCLA in '08, and 204 combined yards last season, should have a big day. The line is 5, but I think Oregon St. will either have trouble with UCLA, if the Bruins play a great game, or more likely, win going away. The game is highly likely to not be close to the line. Prediction: Oregon St. 38 UCLA 17.
Out of all Oregon State's games so far this season, this one has me the least worried. So I hope the players don't have the same mindset as I do. At the Quarterback position, Breheaut has settled in nicely but he doesn't worry me that much. Especially after our defensive performance last week. I think that is the only position that the Bruins even come close to matching us in talent wise, and even then I would take Katz without a second thought.
The key to this game will be the key to pretty much every game. Give the ball to ‘Quizz, and don't turn the ball over. When the Bruins upset Texas, they had multiple short fields to work with because of UT turnovers. If we consistently put the Bruins on their side of the field to start all of their drives, our defense should be good enough to hold them on most possessions.
Overall, we just need to take care of business and move on. Prediction: Oregon State-24, UCLA-10
The challenge with the Washington-Oregon game is determining how the Ducks will approach the game, making a 35 point spread hard to predict against the outcome. My sense is the Ducks cover a banged up Husky squad that doesn't look anything like what Beaver nation saw in Seattle.
In the Cal at Washington St. game, the challenge is guessing who will show up, after both teams took demoralizing road losses. More talent exists to show up for the Bears, though, but it's hard to see them covering a 14.5 point spread.
Arizona St. at USC is about which coach avoids criticism from his fan base, and the loser won't be avoiding any. USC by 5.5 seems right.
Then there is the Arizona-Stanford game, where the 9.5 line in favor of the Cardinal seems excessive, given that Nick Foles is expected to return for the Wildcats. Stanford has to play a near-perfect game to cover, and also try to open up the margin, which they only sometimes appear to do. With Andrew Luck playing very efficiently, I think they do win, but don't look for them to do so by the projected 10 points.