Week Six of the Pac-10 season and we finally have a full slate of conference games. All ten teams are playing, and playing another Pac-10 team. Crazy how long it takes for that to happen with non-conference games and byes.
Last week with my picks I went 3-1 - the lone miss Washington's upset of USC - to put me at 30-8 on the season. For those curious this is straight up, not against any spread. I'm not a gambler. Though if I were this week I'd take Oregon and the points, and take the over for total points in the game - just sayin'.
Let's look at that Washington upset last week. What did we learn? Is SC really not that good? Is Washington better than they seemed, and perhaps their loss to Nebraska was the anomaly in their early season schedule? Are they actually a factor this season?
Now for this week's tier breakdown.
Tier 1 - Oregon
Tier 2 - Stanford, Arizona
Tier 3 - Oregon State, USC, Washington, UCLA
Tier 4 - Arizona State, California
Tier 100 - Washington State
Stanford and USC each dropped a tier with losses, and inexplicably Cal moved up one despite not playing. Why? Just feels right - go ask the voters why Arizona is suddenly a #9 team in the nation, jumping six spots on a bye week. Who knows.
Teams seem to be shaking themselves out. I believe there is still a decent break in quality between Tiers 2 and 3 - as of now - but Tiers 3 and 4 are pretty close. I may not think ASU and Cal are as good as most of the rest of the conference, but they are still dangerous on a nightly basis.
Of the three teams in Tier 3 I think OSU is most likely to make the jump up to Tier 2, and a win this week in Tucson would do just that.
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).
12:30pm - UCLA (33t, 36t) at California, Fox Sports Northwest - UCLA
2pm - Oregon (3, 3) at Washington State, Comcast Sports - Oregon
4pm - Oregon State (31, 35) at Arizona (9, 11), Versus - Oregon State
5pm - USC (28, *) at Stanford (16, 18), ABC - Stanford
7pm - Arizona State at Washington, Fox Sports Northwest - Washington
* USC is not eligible for the USA Today Coaches Poll because of NCAA sanctions.
(Note: ESPN has the Oregon State-Arizona game improperly listed as starting at 3pm Pacific. It is 4pm. Also, the Oregon game being live on Comcast was a decision made just Friday - it was originally going to be tape delayed on Comcast Sports. Sorry Portland State, whose game was going to be shown in its entirety starting at 12:30pm.)
Did I reach on a couple of those? Well, maybe. The UCLA pick has more to do with my opinion of California than it does of the Bruins, but UCLA has proven they have solid defense and can move the ball. Cal, on the other hand, has poor direction on offense under quarterback Kevin Riley.
The other reach is picking Oregon State. Part of that is thinking the Wildcats have not earned their ranking - they are good, but they sure aren't that good. The other part is Oregon State gets James Rodgers back on offense this week after a fantastic game by quarterback Ryan Katz and solid play by the other receivers like Markus Wheaton and Jordan Bishop. The defense is also improving very quickly. If the linebackers can continue to keep running backs in front of them and the line gets pressure on Nick Foles, the Beavers will have an excellent shot to win this game. I respect the Wildcats' defense, but if Katz is under control he has as many weapons at his disposal as any quarterback in the nation. Should be a great game.
Once again Misaki will pick the Beavers. I'm starting to think she's not taking this seriously. Does that look serious to you?