September 6, 2007

Pac-10 Breakdown: Sammie returns to action

MORE WEEK 2 BREAKDOWNS: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | SEC

Fox's Pac-10 picks
Thursday's Game:
Oregon State 27, Cincinnati 24
Saturday's Games:
Cal 45, Colorado State 21
Arizona 21, Northern Arizona 7
Michigan 20, Oregon 17
Boise State 35, Washington 24
UCLA 21, BYU 17
Washington State 31, San Diego State 13,
Arizona State 27, Colorado 14
Last week's record: 7-1

Best matchup(s): BCS hopefuls go through the Pac-10 this week. Two non-BCS teams hoping to reach major bowl games play on the road in the Pac-10. Boise State takes its 14-game winning streak to Washington, where the Huskies appear more formidable with Freshman of the Week Jake Locker at quarterback. And BYU, who shut out Arizona until the final minute last week, travels to UCLA. Another matchup to watch will be the return of wide receiver Sammie Stroughter against Cincinnati cornerback Mike Mickens, who had two interceptions last week against Southeast Missouri State.

The pressure is on: Oregon. How would you like to be in Ducks coach Mike Bellotti's shoes right now? His team is a seven-point underdog, but many expect the Ducks to handle Michigan, which was on the losing end of the one of the biggest upsets in college football history last week. There's also pressure on inconsistent quarterback Dennis Dixon, who is a similar run/pass threat in the spread offense as Appalachian State's Armanti Edwards was last week.

Newcomer who could have an impact: Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski. Mike Stoops wasn't pleased with his offense in a 20-7 loss to BYU last week. Opening up the offense against Northern Arizona could mean more opportunities for Gronkowski, a true freshman. He had one catch for 17 yards against BYU.

Key stat: 2. Receptions by Oregon State freshman wide receiver Darrell Catchings in the Beavers' 24-7 win over Utah. No other Beavers wide receiver had more than one reception. With Stroughter out, tailback Yvenson Bernard led the Beavers with four catches against the Utes.

They said it: "They're going to be on heightened alert. I liken it to people being prepared for terrorist attacks now."

-- Oregon coach Mike Bellotti, on a Pac-10 school sneaking up on a Big Ten team on the road.

Injury update: USC will use an off week to heal. Linebacker Brian Cushing (ankle), tailback Chauncey Washington (shoulder), offensive tackle Sam Baker (rib), wide receiver Patrick Turner (neck) and cornerback Josh Pinkard (knee) are hoping to be healthy for next week's game at Nebraska. Arizona State expects to have wide receivers Rudy Burgess (calf) and Brandon Smith (foot) back for Saturday's Colorado game. UCLA fullback Chane Moline went through contact drills this week for the first time since breaking a bone in his wrist and could play against BYU. UCLA cornerback Rodney Van missed a day of practice this week with a sprained ankle. Washington State starting cornerback Chima Nwachukwu (thigh bruise) missed a day of practice this week but is expected to play Saturday against San Diego State.

Worth noting: Oregon State's Stroughter, who took a leave of absence during fall camp, will play against Cincinnati, as a backup wide receiver and punt returner. The Beavers will continue their quarterback rotation against Cincinnati. Sean Canfield will start, with Lyle Moevao in reserve. But the Beavers sufferd a big loss when guard Jeremy Perry, an All-Pac-10 selection, suffered a lower leg injury last week. He is expected to miss about six weeks. With his sixth career punt return for touchdown against Tennessee, DeSean Jackson is two short of the NCAA record held by Texas Tech's Wes Welker (2000-03) and Oklahoma's Antonio Perkins (2001-04). Lou Groza Award winner Alexis Serna has added punting to his duties this season for Oregon State. He averaged 33.1 yards per kick on seven punts last week. Arizona State was penalized five times for 40 yards in its rout of San Jose State last week. Last season, the Sun Devils averaged eight penalties for 64.2 yards per game. Sonny Dykes' arrival at Arizona had minimal impact on the Wildcats' offense in Week One. In its 20-7 loss to BYU, Arizona didn't score until the final minute and had only 255 total yards; it averaged 253 last season. Stanford quarterback T.C. Ostrander is the Pac-10's passing leader after the first week. He passed for 331 yards, completing 27 of 59 passes, in a loss to UCLA.

MORE WEEK 2 BREAKDOWNS: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | SEC

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