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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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September 20, 2007 11:08 AM

Week four picks

Posted by Bob Condotta

Another 8-2 week left me 23-4 --- and probably most of you as well, I would suspect, given the relative lack of upsets in the Pac-10 last week and a lot of creampuff games.

Now it gets hard, however, as we get solidly into what figures to be a pretty unpredictable conference season (other than the top, of course):

ARIZONA AT CAL: Actually, this one seems pretty easy. The Wildcats are reeling and Mike Stoops' seat is getting hotter and hotter (maybe that's why his face always seems so red on the sidelines --- or maybe it's just watching his offense). Worse, Arizona figures not to have any chance to catch Cal looking unawares after the way the Wildcats beat the Bears in Tucson last year. Arizona's pass defense is surprisingly bad, so the Bears should be able to score at will, something Arizona can't do. Cal 41, Arizona 17.

WASHINGTON STATE AT USC: Okay, so another pretty easy one. Looks like WSU's offense is even better than advertised, which might bode well for the Cougars down the line. And the matchup of WSU's passing game against a USC secondary that has been the Trojans' only apparent weakness so far (at least statistically) means the Cougars may move the ball at times. Bill Doba says he will simplify the WSU defense this week, hoping to let his players play a little more freely. But nothing figures to do much good this week. USC 38, WSU 16.

OREGON AT STANFORD: Two teams that may be a lot better than we thought. I don't think you can discount what Oregon did against Michigan merely by saying the Wolverines aren't as good this year as they've been in the past. Oregon's offensive numbers are really pretty staggering --- 46.3 points and 519 yards per game. Dennis Dixon is playing like the All-Pac-10 QB (and like UW fans have to hope Jake Locker becomes pretty soon). Stanford, though, is showing lots of signs of life under Jim Harbaugh and I don't think any game in Palo Alto will be easy this season. But Oregon just has too much firepower. Oregon 41, Stanford 21.

OREGON STATE AT ARIZONA STATE: Oregon State hasn't won at ASU since 1969, which despite OSU's sordid history for much of that span is still pretty amazing. Heck, OSU has won five times at Husky Stadium in that same span (four since the formation of the Pac-10). So if the odds mean anything, you'd think OSU is due. On the other hand, ASU simply seems to be a little better, and is playing at home, and has the revenge factor after taking a 44-10 beating in Corvallis last season. Just not sure yet OSU's QBs are good enough to win a road game like this. Other than that, the key battle is whether an OSU run defense that is allowing just 27.7 yards and 0.9 yards per attempt can stop an ASU ground attack averaging 218 yards per game. Something has to give. Says here it will be the Beavers. ASU 31, OSU 21.

As always, I'll have the pick on the UW game on Friday.

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Posted by Chris Miller

12:04 PM, Sep 20, 2007

Last week 7-3. Season 22-5.

Here are my Week 4 picks:

Cal 48, Arizona 24 - Cal will put up a lot of yards against a defense trying to find it's identity. Arizona's offense is showing a lot more life lately, but Willie Tuitama will throw 3 Int's because of being behind all day long. Cal Cruises.

Oregon 38, Stanford 20 - Oregon's offense is getting sharper, and looking tougher and tougher to stop. It is a rhythm offense where an injury could do severe damage to their momentum. This won't be their blow up week where everything falls apart (it is coming). Stanford will continue to improve and I was very impressed with their kicker last week who hit two 50+ yard FG's against SJSU.

USC 52, WSU 17 - USC is riding high after last week, and now it's time to defend another Pac-10 championship, something they are making a habit out of. WSU has played two very bad defenses the last two weeks, and USC will throw all of their timing and confidence off course. WSU cannot stop the deep ball as Luke Swan and Tyler Donovan proved in Week 1.

UCLA 31, UW 28 - It is very difficult for me to pick against us, but in reality I should've picked Ohio St. last week. I feel the Huskies have a great shot at winning this week, and on paper I have us getting the edge. I think Marcel Reece has a huge opportunity to have a big day and the surprise factor of Locker will get us a lot of 1st half momentum. But football games aren't won on paper. The "ghosts" that have haunted us against UCLA seem to never go away. Two years ago when we lost the 21-17 heartbreaker, I felt like a family member just died. I didn't go out in public for a couple weeks. Nearly every year when we lose to these guys you look back and say, "How did that happen?" To sum it all up, I'm picking them to protect myself mentally from a big let down. Going into kickoff, I feel as if we are slightly the better team and I really like our chances. I would much rather be wrong on my prediction than pick us to win and be heartbroken again. Just a little reverse psychology.


Posted by Nuss

12:08 PM, Sep 20, 2007

I think the Oregon/Stanford matchup is the most intriguing of the week.

I have to agree with your assessment of Oregon. I was convinced Dennis Dixon was a vastly overrated quarterback, but he's looked awful good -- he's been a much better passer than I thought he would be. I'm curious to see how Stanford stacks up with the Ducks. I think it will tell us a lot about how far the Cardinal have come.

Posted by Chris Miller

12:08 PM, Sep 20, 2007


Arizona St. 27, Oregon St. 24 (OT) - The Beavers got a nice chance to get back in sync last week. Also the Beaver front 7 has been tenacious all year. This is going to be a good game and the Sun Devils will be surprised early, but the Devils rally and win in OT.

Posted by Everett fan

12:47 PM, Sep 20, 2007

Chris M - I know where you're coming from - bet $10 against your team, and if you lose the ten, you are happy; if your team loses, at least you get paid for it. Compensation. (PS - I've never actually done that, but the thought occurred to me decades ago.)
This game will be won as a function of which coaching staff made the best preparations/adjustments this week (and updated them during halftime).

Posted by Husky Fan In New York

12:55 PM, Sep 20, 2007

CM, it's called an emotional hedge but I don't really like to do it. I just don't see UCLA scoring 31 when they scored just 21 two years ago with a better offense. Now, we have a better defense and they don't have Drew Olson, Maurice Drew, and Marcedes Lewis. Plus, Tavega is out. I'm seriously taking the Dawgs and the money line. Taking them and the points just to cover my back too.

Posted by Chris Miller

1:06 PM, Sep 20, 2007

Everett Fan & HFNY- I agree with everything you are saying and I have felt the same way several times before the UCLA game for plenty of years. Hopefully this is finally the year we break through down there, and I would love to hear everyone say, "I told you so" to me. I would love to be wrong here obviously. As many issues as they are having, the less excuses we have to not win. I believe with Jake being so competitive and hates losing, he will have a great day with a lot less mistakes. But our defense has some holes they could easily find. Plus we need Cowan to be really limited, because if he feels able enough to run we could be in trouble. I thought he was clearly better than Olson if not for his injury. I'm hoping Daniel Teo'-Nesheim has his best day and injures Cowan so we can see what their Freshman can do. The nice thing is we don't have to play a perfect game to win, but neither do they.



Posted by HarborDawg

1:09 PM, Sep 20, 2007

I like the way you think HFINY.
This game is not going to be close...problem is I can make myself believe either team will get whacked.
That said, like Chris, I see Marcel having a big day, I see an efficient pass offense opening up the running game for both Jake and the good Rankin and I see fewer mistakes. Dawgs pull away, Bruins pack it in and we win 30 - 17.

Posted by rickdawg

1:10 PM, Sep 20, 2007

I agree with Nuss. I have a weird feeling about the Oregon/Stanford matchup. Oregon thinks they're the best team in the country which they ain't, and those uni's are so UGLY. There's going to be a Dennis Dixon meltdown one of these weeks in which he starts distributing the ball to the defense through a balanced mix of fumbles, interceptions, and broken plays. Brady Leaf will reappear to add a turnover to the mix. Yo, Ducks. The cherry picking is over. Stanford 35, Oregon 31.

Posted by Brad

1:17 PM, Sep 20, 2007

I didn't think UW could beat Ohio State. But I think they'll win by a couple scores against UCLA. They beat UCLA last yr and almost beat them the yr before. And I think Washington is a much better team this yr than last and I think UCLA is about the same. And they don't have Hickman this season, who was a pain in the rear for the Huskies. And I know Cowan has experience, but he hasn't even been practicing at full strength all season. I think this is advantage Huskies. And I think you have a motivated Locker who wants to redeem himself.

Posted by old dawg

2:25 PM, Sep 20, 2007

I feel rather strongly that the game could get ugly, but either way. The key for the dogs is simply to eliminate as many mistakes as possible, and to simply work the game plan.

It's impossible to put any confidence into predictions about which UCLA will show up. They have a huge amount of talent, but they have so many unknown factors that their performance could range anywhere from world beaters to the little sisters of the poor...

Thus the Dawgs need to focus on the game plan and play within themselves...take advantage of opportunities with scores and not just move the ball between the 20's...shake off the glitches...and make the Bruins earn every inch.

In other words, play like the Dawgs of old. With enough body punches, the Bruins are likely to lose their taste for contact. Don't allow them hope that they can do anything at all without paying a high price. Having a big heart is the great equalizer when faced with a disparity in talent. Sure, the Dawgs have speed and talent...but the Bruins can devise a gameplay to beat that. There is no defense against an opponent that has more heart than you.

Heart. Locker, Homer, Garcia...etc.

Given the choice, I'll happily take the guys we have and let the chips fall where they may.

Posted by HarborDawg

2:30 PM, Sep 20, 2007

Well said od

Posted by ex-pat dawg

3:23 PM, Sep 20, 2007

old dawg says it all. this team might be like the '58 dawgs, who played tough and put a big hurt on the opposition every game, even though their record was middling. but the year after they blew people out of the water.

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