Oregon vs. USC
Tom: We've been waiting for this one since the sun was out in Eugene on a regular basis, and temperatures were in the 90's. Those days are a distant memory now, but so too is the matchup of top-5 teams we thought we would get on November 3rd. The Trojans were sleepwalking for much of the 2nd half last Saturday in Tucson, and allowed Arizona to score 26 unanswered points enroute to a 39-36 comeback win. Meanwhile, Oregon was busy putting up 70 on a hapless Colorado squad, while only playing the first string barely the entire first half. We'll likely see Marcus Mariota, Kenjon Barner, Colt Lyerla and the other starters for the majority of this one, but it's hard to argue which team looks like a national championship contender, and which team looks like it's heading for the Holiday or Alamo Bowl. USC leads the conference in penalties, and was flagged 13 times for 117 yards against Arizona, and outside of the Matt Barkley to Marqise Lee connection, has not looked that impressive. Which brings me to the 2011 game at Autzen, where Lee and Robert Woods had their way with freshman cornerbacks Troy Hill and Terrence Mitchell. We certainly won't see a repeat of that, as Oregon's secondary has grown immensely the past year. Mitchell, Ifo Ekpre-Olumu, and John Boyett's replacement Avery Patterson have shown the ability to get the best of any QB/WR combos (see Matt Scott and UA receivers). In addition, De'Anthony Thomas is back in a groove after an electrifying 73 yard punt return against Colorado. Look for DAT to come up big in his return to LA.
Nick: Undisciplined and about to fall into full meltdown mode with a very un-USC third loss of the season, Lane Kiffin better "coach up" his boys who may already be looking ahead to their careers in the NFL. The Ducks roll for a second straight time at the Coliseum.
Dirk: The thing that sticks out most to me in this match-up is the Trojans lack of depth. They are thin on the O-line and at every position on defense. That is a huge advantage for the Ducks. Also based upon what happened last year at Autzen Stadium (38-35 USC win), I think Oregon is very motivated for this one. Chip and the players seemed more serious than normal on Tuesday. I think the Ducks win comfortably.
Phil: It's the game everyone had circled on the calendar at the beginning of the year. The matchup lost some of its luster when USC stubbed their toe earlier in the season, but for Oregon, the game still has National Championship implications. Plus the Ducks are looking for some revenge. I think Marcus Mariotta may be a little too antsy to begin, but he will settle down with the help of a strong run game. Matt Barkley and company will be up to their old tricks and for the first time this season, I think Oregon's starters will have to play in the second half. I see an offensive shootout, until Oregon's defense makes a few big plays in the fourth. That's the difference between last season and this year.
Arizona State vs. Oregon State
Tom: So Cody Vaz will get the start against the Pac-12's leader in total defense, pass defense, and pass efficiency defense. The Devils, though are coming off a last-second, 45-43 loss to UCLA in which redshirt freshman QB Brett Hundley passed for 274 yards and four touchdowns. On the final drive, Hundley moved the Bruins 65 yards in 1:31, going 4-for-7 passing. If the Vaz we saw in Provo against BYU shows up, the Beavers should once again prove that the Sun Devils are fool's gold. In addition, the ASU defense gives up more than 174 yards per game against the run, so expect large doses of RB Storm Woods against the Sun Devils. The bottom line is that the Beavers will get their season back on track at Reser.
Arizona State: 20
Oregon State 30
Nick: On second thought, maybe Cody Vaz should have just continued to start for the Beavs last week in Seattle, if he did, maybe, just maybe the Beavers would be 7-0. If ifs and butts were candy and nuts right? The Beavers shake off a four-turnover funk and again get back to playing clean football and do whatever it takes to collect another 'W'. Belie-Vaz.
Arizona State: 17
Oregon State: 21
Dirk: Mike Riley and company rushed Sean Mannion back into the line-up. Some of his throws against Washington were way off. I was glad to see that Cody Vaz will get the start. If he protects the ball and doesn't get rattled against the Sun Devils' blitz, then he'll be fine. If Jordan Poyer can't play, it could spell trouble for OSU. I would not be surprised to see ASU win the game. Since it is at home, I'll give the Beavers the benefit of the doubt.
Arizona State: 24
Oregon State: 27
Phil: Can this season get any stranger for the Beavers? Just a few weeks ago, Mannion was leading a game winning drive against Arizona. Now he's the backup QB. Nothing against Cody Vaz, I think he is a good game manager, but I didn't like the move to bench Mannion. I think you have to stick with your leader, even if he had a bad game, and it looks to me that maybe Mannion was rushed back from his injury. Nonetheless, this game is huge for OSU. It's never good to lose back-to-back games. It's even worse when it comes after six wins in a row. Just look at Arizona State. Two weeks ago the Sun Devils were feeling good about their season, but two straight losses and now they are a desperate team. To me this game has the same feeling to the Washington game last week. Plus the Beavers limp into the matchup with several injuries, as Jordan Poyer is expected to miss the game. Just too many things going against the Beavs to pull this one off.
Arizona State: 31
Oregon State: 24
After nine weeks, Nick and Phil still have a two game lead over Tom and Dirk. Last weekend, no one in the sports department saw the Beavers loss to Washington coming, so they all missed that game. Dirk won the extra point for being closest to the score. Back to back weeks for Mr. Weishaar. This could be a big separation week though.
1. Nick: 13-2 (16), 2. Phil: 13-2 (13.5), 3. Tom: 11-4 (13.5), 4. Dirk: 11-4 (13)
What do you think will go down this weekend? You can let us know in a variety of ways.
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