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November 1, 2006
Best matchup: Arizona State at Oregon State. In a week with no marquee conference matchup, we'll take this game as the one to watch. Both 5-3 teams have recovered from embarrassments early in the season to put together modest win streaks. Whichever team can keep the momentum going will clinch a bowl bid.
Worst matchup: USC at Stanford. Think that one defeat will turn into a losing streak? Probably not. The Trojans will take out some frustrations on Stanford, one of only three winless teams in Division I-A.
The pressure is on: UCLA coach Karl Dorrell. The Bruins collapsed after their near-victory at Notre Dame by allowing 23 points in the second half to Washington State in a 37-15 loss at home. An opportunity for an upset on the road over the Irish has now turned into a three-game losing streak, and the road doesn't get any easier with a trip to Cal this week and remaining games against Arizona State, Oregon State and USC.
Upset alert: Arizona State over Oregon State. The Beavers are a favorite at home over the Sun Devils after the defeat of USC, but this is the same team that was routed by Boise State earlier in the season. Arizona State has improved since its nightmare run of Cal, Oregon and USC. (Plus, check out Arizona State's record against the Beavers in the key stat below).
Most to gain: Oregon State. How could the Beavers have more to gain after toppling USC? With the win over the Trojans, Oregon State has put together a three-game winning streak and erased the memory of the thumping by Boise State earlier this year. By beating Arizona State this week, the Beavers would be poised to go into the Oregon game with a 7-3 record and six-game win streak. Oregon State faces Stanford and UCLA the two weeks prior to playing the Ducks.
Most to lose: Washington. The Huskies looked like they would return to bowl eligibility before the season-ending injury to Isaiah Stanback. That is still a reachable goal with a game against Stanford, but Washington (4-5) needs to beat either Oregon or Washington State. After taking Cal and Arizona State to overtime and losing the last two weeks, the Huskies are on thin ice.
Who's hot: Alex Brink, Washington State quarterback. Over the last two weeks, Brink set a school record by completing 87 percent (20 of 23) of his passes against Oregon. Against UCLA last week, he completed 28 of 38 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns.
Who's not: Oregon State against Arizona State. The Beavers are 1-9 against the Sun Devils in their last 10 meetings.
Must see TV: UCLA (4-4, 2-3 Pac-10) at No. 10 Cal (7-1, 5-0 Pac-10), 8 p.m. Eastern, ABC
Backup who could have an impact: Jeremiah Johnson, Oregon running back. Johnson was impressive when starter Jonathan Stewart left with an abdominal injury. Johnson ran the ball 17 times for 86 yards with three touchdowns. Johnson has filled in admirably for Stewart throughout the year, leading the team in touchdowns with eight.
Key stat: Minus-1. USC's turnover margin this season. The Trojans have been at least plus-18 in each of the last four years.
Take the line: Oregon is a 13?-point favorite over Washington at home. Take Washington. The Huskies have gone to overtime the last two games against Arizona State and Cal while taking USC down to the wire. Oregon, on the other hand, isn't immune to a collapse with Dennis Dixon's recent struggles, Jonathan Stewart's injuries and an inability to stop the run. Season: 4-5.
They said it: "I get over things quickly, but it took me a while to get over that. The next day I was better, but still down."
Injury update: No decision has been made on whether to play Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama (concussion), but he has been cleared for contact. ? Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart (abdominal strain) carried the ball only two times last week against Portland State and is uncertain for this week's game against Washington. ? Washington State quarterback Carl Bonnell, starting in place of Isaiah Stanback, was knocked out of last week's game against Arizona State with a shoulder and neck injury but should return against Oregon. ? Oregon State running back Yvenson Bernard (ankle) could return against Arizona State. ? UCLA wide receiver Brandon Breazell (ribs) and linebacker Aaron Whittington (ankle) will be day-to-day after leaving the Washington State game early. Backup running back Khalil Bell (ankle) is doubtful.
Worth noting: Chris Henry will start at running back for Arizona after losing the first-string job to Chris Jennings in the second game of the season. ? Arizona State was penalized a season-high 16 times against Washington. ? UCLA is on its first three-game losing streak since 2003. ? When Huskies starting quarterback Carl Bonnell went down with an injury against Oregon, Coach Tyrone Willingham elected to go to Johnny DuRocher rather than burn the redshirt year of heralded true freshman Jake Locker. ? Washington State entered the AP poll at No. 25, the first time the Cougars have been ranked since the end of the 2003 season.
Looking back: The day nine Pac-10 teams have been waiting for finally happened when Oregon State ended USC's 27-game conference win streak with a 33-31 victory in Corvallis. The Washington State Cougars are the conference's surprise team with a 6-3 record after a 37-15 rout of UCLA on the road.
Freshmen who impressed: Oregon freshman cornerback Jarius Byrd had an interception against Portland State. The 55-12 final score allowed the Ducks to get freshman quarterback Nathan Costa into the game. He was 3 of 3 for 51 yards.
Bowl watch: Cal (7-1), USC (6-1), Oregon (6-2) and Washington State (6-3) are all bowl eligible. Arizona State (5-3) needs one more win. Oregon State (5-3), with a 13-game schedule, needs two more wins.