This week, however, is one of those weeks that separates the men from the boys. Arizona State, Washington, and Arizona all play schools ranked in the top 12 in the nation (all major conference foes) and just about everyone has a tough game.
Well, except for Oregon, who after blowing out Tennessee in the second half last week gets a scrimmage day against Portland State. Oregon is averaging 60 points a game after their first two - that average might actually go up.
Needless to say, this is the week that will determine the national perception of the Pac-10 for the rest of the season, for good or bad. Our left coast conference gets shafted in the rankings normally, but to put up a bad day the one week everyone is paying attention would only make it worse.
On to this week's schedule. As always, all game times are Pacific time, followed by the network and the pick. Also, the network and whether or not it's on TV is for Portland - some games may be televised regionally, so if you live in a home market, check your local listings. Rankings are in parentheses (AP, USA Today).
7pm - California (29, 24) at Nevada (44, 39), ESPN2 - California
12:30pm - USC (18, *) at Minnesota , ESPN - USC
12:30pm - Nebraska (8, 8) at Washington (NR, 38), ABC - Washington
12:30pm - Arizona State (NR, 40t) at Wisconsin (11, 11), ESPN2- Wisconsin
12:30pm - Washington State at SMU, CBS College Sports - SMU
2:30pm - Louisville at Oregon State (25, 33), Fox Sports Northwest - Oregon State
3:15pm - Portland State at Oregon (5, 6), Comcast Sports - Oregon
7:30pm - Iowa (9, 10) at Arizona (24, 18), ESPN - Arizona
7:30pm - Houston (23, 23) at UCLA, No TV - Houston
8:15pm - Wake Forest at Stanford (19, 19) - ESPN2 - Stanford
* USC is not eligible for the USA Today Coaches Poll because of NCAA sanctions.
That's quite a bit of ranking there, which only goes to illustrate how important this week will be to public perception. And yes, you may also notice I have picked two top-10 teams to go down at the hands of a supposedly lesser Pac-10 opponent, Arizona and Washington. Both of those are Pac-10 home games - had they been on the road I'm just about positive I'd go the other way.
So why pick them that way? Arizona, in my mind, has been very impressive early this year. I think their defense is plenty good enough to contain Iowa's offense, and I believe - as usual - Pac-10 offenses can't be contained by a Big 10 defense.
As for Washington...quite a few eyebrows will probably be raised with this pick. But here's my argument: Nebraska hasn't looked overly impressive in their first two wins. ESPN guys were going on and on about Nebraska's defense stepping up last week...against Idaho. Really? Idaho? That's the measuring stick? Washington has been inconsistent so far, but they seemed to really put things together in last week's blowout win over Syracuse. I'm going out on a limb a bit, but I think the Huskies can take it.
That would give the Pac-10 a 7-3 week if they follow my predictions (as well they should) and two major upsets (in the eyes of those who determine those things). If the Oregon State Beavers can take care of Boise State next week (and I also believe they can), maybe this misconception of Pac-10 weakness can finally get corrected.
Misaki's pick will start next week, when there are regular conference games to pick. Suffice it to say this week she will take Oregon State over Louisville.
The rest of them? She doesn't care too much at this point.