After a week of upsets and dramatic shakeups in the polls, college football will likely return to normalcy this weekend. The Pac-10 is on center-stage this week as four of the top teams in the conference, each with one loss, battle.
No. 13 Stanford at No. 10 Washington, 3:30 p.m, Saturday: Stanford comes into Husky Stadium buoyed by the news of its latest position in the BCS poll. Now ranked sixth, the largest jump this week, moving up eight spots after upsetting previously unbeaten UCLA 38-28 in Palo Alto.
This week the Cardinal hits the road, still led by backup quarterback Chris Lewis. Lewis, replacing the injured Randy Fasani, threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns against UCLA. The win gave Stanford its best start since 1992.
Washington heads into the contest with the familiar feeling of narrowly escaping its second loss of the season, having beaten Arizona State on a John Anderson field goal as time expired. It was the Huskies” fifth, fourth- quarter comeback this season.
In the win at Arizona State, running back Willie Hearst ran for 185 yards. This weekend Hearst meets a steadily improving Stanford defense that held leading Heisman Trophy candidate DeShaun Foster to 77 yards last weekend. The Washington defense has been declining all year. Stanford can score points on anyone and will need to score early and often to take the crowd out of the game. The bet here is that the Cardinal pull this one out.
Stanford 37, Washington 26
No. 11 UCLA at No. 19 Washington State, 5:00 p.m., Saturday: Last week, UCLA”s dream season came crashing down, as the Bruin”s fell behind Stanford and could not catch up. Now ranked ninth in the BCS, the Bruins travel to Washington State without starting quarterback Cory Paus, who is nursing a sore thumb. Redshirt senior Scott McEwan, who led three second-half scoring drives at Stanford last weekend, will make his first start.
Washington State is 12 in the BCS this week, having fallen from the ranks of the unbeaten, after a 24-17 loss to Oregon last week. The Cougars” high-powered offense which was averaging 492 yards per game came up short against the Ducks, gaining just 392 yards against a weak Oregon defense. Quarterback Jason Gesser threw for 249 yards, but had only 50 yards at halftime.
This week Washington State will need to score, which should be difficult against UCLA”s staunch defense. But that defense was embarrassed last week. Washington State will also have to try and contain Foster, who is still leading the nation with 144 yards per game. Foster should be determined to get his Heisman candidacy back on track, and UCLA will show they are still one the nation”s premiere teams.
UCLA 28, Washington State 17
No. 14 Florida State at No. 24 Clemson, 3:30 p.m., Saturday: Florida State rebounded from a tough start to its season by dominating surprising Maryland last weekend, 52-31. Quarterback Chris Rix silenced his critics, at least for a week, by throwing for 350 yards and five touchdowns. Even more amazing was Rix”s average of 23 yards per pass, and an average of one touchdown every third pass.
Similarly dominating was Woodrow Dantzler of Clemson, who rebounded from the worst game of his career two weeks ago against North Carolina to lead his team past Wake Forest 21-14. Dantzler accounted for 320 of his team”s 391 yards, throwing for 211 and rushing for 119.
Without much hype, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden is four wins short of Penn State”s Joe Paterno”s new all-time victories record. With his Seminoles back on track, Bowden might very well catch Paterno in the same year Paterno set the benchmark.
Florida State 42, Clemson 21
No. 7 Tennessee at Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m., Saturday, NBC: Two of college football”s most storied programs meet Saturday in South Bend. Tennessee comes into the contest No. 7 in the BCS after a 17-10 win over South Carolina. The win put the Volunteers into a tie with Florida in the SEC”s eastern division.
Carlyle Holiday will start at quarterback for the Irish, despite missing the final drive of last week”s 21-17 loss at Boston College. Even with Holiday, the Irish should not be very competitive.
The Volunteers are 3-2 all-time against Notre Dame, one of four major college programs to have a winning record against the Irish.
When the dust settles on this one, another win can be added to Tennessee”s ledger.
Tennessee 35, Notre Dame 7