Pac-10 schedule rankings (cont.)
Posted: Thursday June 21, 2007 2:01PM; Updated: Thursday June 21, 2007 4:24PM
Behind the ranking: UCLA has a winnable road schedule until the finale against USC on Dec. 1. The Bruins open at Stanford and also travel to Utah, Oregon State, Washington State and Arizona. Three of those teams didn't play in a bowl last year. Home games against BYU and Notre Dame round out UCLA's nonconference schedule, but both teams could step back from last year's win totals.
Toughest game: USC has revenge on its mind on Dec. 1 when the Bruins come to the Coliseum. UCLA knocked the Trojans out of the national championship picture last year with a 13-9 win in the regular-season finale.
Cakewalk: Opening the season with a conference road game can be a rough way to start the season, but not when that opener is at Stanford.
Trap game: UCLA goes to Oregon State on Sept. 29 before a homestand against Notre Dame and Cal. Given UCLA's road woes last year, this one could be trouble.
Changes from last season: The Bruins started the season 0-4 on the road last year, including a loss to Washington. An improved UCLA team should manage a better start with Stanford and Utah leading the road schedule this year.
8. Oregon State
Behind the ranking: The Beavers' nonconference schedule doesn't stack up to the others in the Pac-10. However, at least Oregon State's first two opponents, Utah and Cincinnati, won bowl games last year. With a new quarterback replacing Matt Moore, Oregon State will be challenged early. Home-field advantage helped Oregon State beat USC last year, but the Beavers must face USC, Cal and rival Oregon on the road in 2007.
Toughest game: Throw in the revenge factor, and Oregon State's Nov. 3 road game against USC might get ugly.
Cakewalk: Oregon State should pile on the points against Division I-AA Idaho State (2-9) on Sept. 15.
Trap game: Boise State and Cal, which defeated Oregon State by a combined score of 83-27, can tell you Oregon State wasn't sharp early last season. Cincinnati could find out for itself when the Beavers head east Sept. 6.
Changes from last season: Oregon State paid dearly for its trip to Boise State last year with a 42-14 loss, but got a boost to a 10-win season by beating Hawaii in its 13th regular season game. The Beavers are back to a 12-game season this without the trip to Hawaii.
Behind the ranking: Cal got its tough nonconference road game out of the way last year and paid dearly for it. Tennessee demolished the Bears 35-18 at Neyland Stadium last year. The Volunteers return the favor this year by coming to Berkeley. Along with Tennessee, Cal benefits from having its biggest conference game in Berkeley against USC. The Bears have to make the tough road trip to Autzen Stadium to face Oregon and another to in-state rival UCLA. Cal is tied with Arizona State with only six teams on the schedule that went to a bowl game last year, fewest among Pac-10 teams.
Toughest game: The USC game at the end of the season could have Pac-10 championship ramifications, but we're going to pick the opener against Tennessee. The Vols embarrassed Cal in Knoxville last year in a game the Bears didn't appear to be prepared to play. The pressure is on to avenge last year's game and save some face on Sept. 1.
Cakewalk: After a road trip to Colorado State on Sept. 8, the Bears end their nonconference schedule with a home game against Louisiana Tech (3-10) on Sept. 15.
Trap game: In the last two seasons, Cal has been caught looking ahead to USC by losing at Arizona and at Oregon. That could happen again this year at home against Washington State on Nov. 3 or on the road against Arizona State on Oct. 27.
Changes from last season: Cal is glad to face Tennessee at home this year after last year's rout. USC and Oregon State are in Berkeley this year, meaning the Bears get to play two teams with double-digit wins in 2006 at home this year.
10. Arizona State
Behind the ranking: Arizona State is one of two Pac-10 teams (Cal is the other) to play just six schools that went to bowls last season. It plays only two of those teams in the first seven games. Dennis Erickson's tenure begins with four consecutive home games, including dates with Colorado (2-10) and San Diego State (3-9). Among eight home games, the Sun Devils also benefit from having most of the tough conference games at home. Cal, USC and rival Arizona must make the trip to Tempe.
Toughest game: Oregon embarrassed Arizona State 48-13 last year. Now the Sun Devils have to try to return the favor at Autzen Stadium.
Cakewalk: The game with San Diego State on Sept. 15 will be the last tuneup for Erickson and quarterback Rudy Carpenter before the conference season begins.
Trap game: Arizona State plays only four road games, so this is tough. Our pick is a home game against Washington on Oct. 13. The Sun Devils will be happy to be home after two weeks on the road at Stanford and Washington State. After facing the Huskies, ASU has an open date then the gauntlet of Cal, at Oregon, at UCLA and vs. USC. If they look ahead at all, the Sun Devils could be in trouble.
Changes from last season: Arizona State's home-and-home with Colorado probably isn't what the school had in mind when they scheduled it. The Sun Devils handled Colorado 21-3 last year in Boulder. The Sun Devils will be glad to have eight home games this year after losses to Cal, Oregon State and USC on the road last year.