Saturday, October 29, 2011

Predictions: Stanford-USC, UCLA-Cal

Stanford-USC

SC fans are dreaming. Their Trojans really don't have a chance of beating Stanford. These fantasies flowered after the Trojans won last week in South Bend. So what, they beat Notre Dame. Does that all of a sudden make them a Pac12 titan?  The Trojans whipped a team that's thoroughly overrated, a young mistake-prone team whose reputation is largely based on a 31-13 win over Michigan State. There's only one problem. Michigan State is as overrated as Notre Dame. Beating Michigan State, the class of a weak Big 10, means very little. SC's 6-1 record is all flash. There's not a victory over a top-notch team among those six.

Not that Stanford's 7-0 is full of meaningful wins. There's just one--that thrashing last week of Washington, 65-21.  But Stanford has been an unstoppable force, dominating and bullying its opponents. The Cardinal piled up a school-record 446 yards against Washington, pounding a pretty good team. Stanford's secret weapon is its offensive line, featuring tackle Jonathan Martin,  guard David DeCastro and a trio of monster tight ends. The maestro of this offensive machine is Andrew Luck, the best QB in America. Throw in a formidable defense and you have a team that's just too much for the Trojans.

UCLA-Cal

This one is easy. It has nothing to do with Xs and Os. It's all about the mindset of the UCLA players. They either play their hearts out for coach Rick Neuheisel or, as they did last week in the Arizona debacle, slip into an I-don't-care swoon.

Something ugly is going on between the UCLA players and the coaching staff. If the wound has healed, UCLA--even undermanned because of suspensions following the Arizona fight--could turn this into a close game.  But if the UCLA players play like they did in Arizona, the Bears romp and Neuheisel is one step closer to the exit.  Will a forceful, focused UCLA team show up? Highly unlikely. Those wounds are too deep to heal in ten days.