Close Games Pace Pac-10, Stanford Still Struggles

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If the first full slate of Pac-10 games is any indication of what the rest of the year will be like, the conference might have to mandate seat belt use for spectators.

Four of the five conference games played last weekend were decided by less than four points. Despite the close games, there were no upsets. The higher-ranked team won in each of the games.

Saturday will feature four conference games, three of which should have major implications for the championship race.

No. 6 Oregon, No. 10 Washington State and Arizona State remain the only unbeaten members of the Pac-10. At least one of those three teams will lose that distinction this weekend, when the Ducks (6-0, 2-0 in the Pac-10) return home to battle the Sun Devils (5-2, 2-0).

Both teams are coming off close wins, with Oregon squeaking by UCLA 31-30 and ASU beating Oregon State 13-9.

Saturday's game was a classic example of déjà vu for the Ducks and Bruins. UCLA kicker Chris Griffith missed a potential game-winning 46-yard field goal with less than two minutes left.

A year earlier, Griffith missed a 50-yard kick on the final play of a 21-20 Oregon win.

"We knew they didn't have a very strong field-goal kicker," Oregon linebacker David Moretti said.

The Bruins (4-2, 1-1) will try to rebound this weekend when they face Cal.

Oregon rides the nation's second-longest winning streak into their battle with the Sun Devils, who are coming off a gruesome victory over OSU. The Beavers were held to only 15 yards rushing on 33 attempts, a 0.4 yard-per-carry average.

ASU will be lucky to shut down Oregon's running game in the same way. The Ducks lead the Pac-10 with 170.1 rushing yards per game.

OSU (4-3, 0-3) gets a bye week to prepare for Cal on Oct. 26.

No. 22 Washington hung on for a close win last Saturday, beating Arizona 32-28. A heroic effort by receiver Reggie Williams enabled the Huskies (4-2, 1-1) to score a late victory against the Wildcats (3-3, 0-2).

Williams hauled in eight passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns, one of which was the game-winning score.

Williams and his teammates might need a spectacular performance this weekend if Washington hopes to beat No. 19 USC in Los Angeles. The Trojans (4-2, 2-1) have yet to lose at the Coliseum.

Running back Sultan McCullough, the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week, will look to build off of his workhorse performance against the Bears.

McCullough carried the ball 39 times for 176 yards and a touchdown, notching the most rushing attempts by a Trojan since 1987.

In the only contest decided by more than four points, No. 10 WSU (6-1, 3-0) dismantled Stanford 36-11. Quarterback Jason Gesser continued to post astronomical numbers, completing 17 of 23 passes for 297 yards and three touchdowns.

Gesser's 58 career touchdowns passes place him in a tie for ninth on the Pac-10's all-time list. But he will not have a chance to break the tie this weekend because his team has a bye.

The Cardinal (1-4, 0-2) must deal with the shame of being the only Pac-10 team with a losing overall record.

However, it will have a chance to climb out of the cellar this weekend when it battles Arizona.


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