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Jerry Brewer explains the thinking behind his columns and invites readers to express their views on the sports world.

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August 29, 2008 10:32 AM

The Crystal Helmet, Week 1

Posted by Jerry Brewer

Looking locally

Washington 27, Oregon 21
Why: This is my upset special of the week. Credit this one to the kookiness of season openers. Jake Locker will have a fine game running and passing with accuracy, and the Huskies defense will avenge its embarrassing performance against the Ducks last season. Oh, and there's the obvious reason: UW is desperate to win this game.

Oklahoma State 38, Washington State 31
Why: Sorry, can't write about Mike Gundy's team without screaming, "I'm A Man! I'm FORTY!" OK, now that the goofiness is out of my system ... expect a lot of shaky defense in this game. The Cowboys never play much D, and the Cougars have such a thin defensive unit. The Cougs will play inspired and entertaining football in coach Paul Wulff's debut, but this is a team building for the future.

Opponents in the Huskies' immediate future

BYU 49, Northern Iowa 31
Why: The Cougars, who visit Husky Stadium next week, are primed for a run at a BCS bowl. But Northern Iowa is a big-time foe from the division formerly known as 1-AA. The game will be close for at least a half, maybe three quarters, but BYU is too big, too strong and too determined.

Oklahoma 70, Chattanooga 3
Why: The only why about this game is, "Why is it even being played?" Chattanooga has no chance. It will be similar to the Sooners' opener last season, when they beat North Texas 79-10.

Four games of Pac-10 interest

Tennessee 28, UCLA 6
Why: Quarterback Ben Olson is out, but that's not the biggest problem for the Bruins. It's their offensive line, which is a mess. They won't do anything offensively against the Vols. Tough debut for Rick Neuheisel.

Michigan State 26, California 20
Why: The Bears must replace Justin Forsett and all of their top receivers. Against a Michigan State team headed for greatness under coach Mark Dantonio, they will struggle. Remember the name Javon Ringer. The Spartans running back will probably gain 150 or more yards in this game.

Arizona State 42, Northern Arizona 17
Why: Rudy Carpenter will have a big game. Arizona State is just too athletic. Expect lots of big plays.

USC 31, Virginia 10
Why: The bigger issue isn't who will win, but how USC quarterback Mark Sanchez will look. Is he totally healthy? Can he find his rhythm by the Sept. 13 game showdown with Ohio State? If so, the Trojans have few worries this season. It will also be interesting to see how a relatively inexperienced USC offensive line performs.

Game of the Week

Missouri 28, Illinois 17
Why: The Tigers want to show last season wasn't a fluke, and the Illini must make some early-season adjustments without Rashard Mendenhall. It will be a good game for a while, but Missouri is too good.

The Gas/Brew Challenge

Western Kentucky 20, Indiana 16
Why: For anyone who heard my segment with Mike Gastineau on KJR, you know that we have a bet on a game between my beloved Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and his beloved Indiana Hoosiers.

Surely, we are the only Seattle residents with such a passionate interest in this game.

Here's the best: If Indiana wins, I must praise the Hoosiers in Extra Points next week. If Western Kentucky wins, Gas will read a very glowing report about how the Hilltoppers triumphed during our segment (slated for 6:20 p.m. Tuesday) next week.

So Western has to win. For the sake of interesting Extra Points chatter, Western has to win.

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