This Week In Pac-10 Football
Aug. 19, 2003
LET THE GAMES BEGIN: CALIFORNIA gets a jump start on the 2003 football season with an early game in the BCA Classic against highly-ranked Kansas State at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium on Sat., Aug. 23. A half dozen other teams tee the ball up around the Labor Day weekend. Included are a pair of road matchups featuring Top 20 teams as USC travels to Auburn and WASHINGTON opens against defending National Champion Ohio State at Columbus. ARIZONA STATE, STANFORD and UCLA hold off until Sep. 6 to open the season. Here is a look at the early schedule (Note: Ranking is the AP [media] poll first, followed by the ESPN/USA Today [coaches] poll):
Ranking Game - Sat., Aug. 23 Site Time/TV Series/Last Meeting BCA Classic --/55 CALIFORNIA Arrowhead Stadium (79,451) 6:45 CDT First meeting 7/5 Kansas State Kansas City, MO ESPN
Ranking Game - Thu., Aug. 28 Site Time/TV Series/Last Meeting --/-- Sacramento State Reser Stadium (35,362) 7:00 PDT First meeting t27/31 OREGON STATE Corvallis, OR
Ranking Games - Sat., Aug. 30 Site Time/TV Series/Last Meeting 8/8 USC Jordan-Hare Stadium (86,063) 5:00 CDT Tied 1-1 6/6 Auburn Auburn, AL CBS USC 24-17 (2002)
43/t48 Southern Mississippi Memorial Stadium (73,347) 1:00 PDT First meeting --/55 CALIFORNIA Berkeley, CA
17/19 WASHINGTON Ohio Stadium (101,568) 8:00 EDT OSU 6-3 2/2 Ohio State Columbus, OH ABC OSU 30-20 (1995)
t38/t45 OREGON Davis Wade Stadium (55,082) 8:00 CDT Oregon leads 1-0 --/-- Mississippi State Starkville, MS ESPN2 Oregon 36-13 (2002)
--/-- UTEP Arizona Stadium (56,002) 7:00 MST UA leads 37-11-2 --/-- ARIZONA Tucson, AZ UA 34-21 (1999)
--/-- Idaho Seahawks Stadium (67,000) 7:00 PDT WSU leads 65-17-3 t44/t41 WASHINGTON ST. Seattle, WA WSU 49-14 (2002)
22/23 ARIZONA STATE opens season vs. Northern Arizona at Sun Devil Stadium on Sep. 6 --/-- STANFORD opens season vs. San Jose State at Stanford Stadium on Sep. 6 --/33 UCLA opens season at Colorado on Sep. 6
PAC-10 COACHES' MEDIA TELECONFERENCES: Pac-10 head football coaches will be available on a media teleconference every Tuesday during the football season. The first call will be conducted on Tue., Sep. 2 and the calls will continue every Tuesday through Nov. 18. Each coach is scheduled to be on the line for 10 minutes with the calls starting at 10:00 a.m. PDT/MST. In addition, a taped replay will be available at 3:00 PT/MT following the call and will be available until the next call. Media members may call the Conference office or any Pac-10 SID office to receive the media only number for both the live teleconference or the taped replay. Following is the schedule for the coaches' teleconferences:
Tuesday Call Schedule (PDT/MST) 10:00 a.m. John Mackovic - Arizona 10:10 a.m. Buddy Teevens - Stanford 10:20 a.m. Mike Riley - Oregon State 10:30 a.m. Karl Dorrell - UCLA 10:40 a.m. Pete Carroll - USC 10:50 a.m. Mike Bellotti - Oregon 11:00 a.m. Dirk Koetter - Arizona State 11:10 a.m. Bill Doba - Washington State 11:20 a.m. Jeff Tedford - California 11:30 a.m. Keith Gilbertson - Washington
PAC-10 BOWL GAME ARRANGEMENTS: The Pac-10 has contractual arrangements to send six teams to post-season bowl games. Note that in this 12-game regular season schedule, a team still needs a winning record to participate in a post-season bowl game. An exception to that rule occurs for a team with a 6-6 record if it is the only team available in a conference to fill a berth in a bowl with a contractual tie to that conference. The Rose Bowl will feature its traditional Pac-10 vs. Big Ten matchup, unless the Pac-10 or Big Ten champ is rated No. 1 or No. 2 in the final BCS rankings, in which case it would play in the BCS National Championship Game at the Nokia Sugar Bowl.
Bowl Site Matchup Date TVRose Bowl* Pasadena Pac-10 champ vs. Big 10 champ Thu., Jan. 1 ABCPacific Life Holiday Bowl San Diego Pac-10 #2 vs. Big 12 Tue., Dec. 30 ESPNWells Fargo Sun Bowl El Paso Pac-10 #3 vs. Big Ten Wed., Dec. 31 CBSInsight Bowl Phoenix Pac-10 #4 vs. Big East Fri., Dec. 26 ESPNLas Vegas Bowl Las Vegas Pac-10 #5 vs. Mountain West Wed., Dec. 24 ESPNSilicon Valley Classic San Jose Pac-10 #6 vs. WAC Tue., Dec. 30 ESPN2
*Note: If ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the final BCS rankings, Pac-10 Champion to the BCS National Championship Game at the Nokia Sugar Bowl on Sun., Jan. 4.
PAC-10 TELEVISION: Pacific-10 Conference television partners ABC Sports, Fox Sports Net and TBS Superstation combine to provide extensive coverage of Pac-10 football in 2003. ABC will televise 14 games from Pac-10 sites over the air, while Fox Sports Net will air 12 games and TBS Superstation six games to a national cable audience, giving the Pac-10 a total of 18 home games on national cable. Additional away games involving Pac-10 teams will be televised by CBS, NBC, ESPN and ESPN2. In addition to the Conference television packages, individual schools at times may present games on local over-the-air or cable entities. Some of the games to be televised are selected prior to the season. The remainder of the games will be selected as the season progresses with picks made either six or 12 days prior to the games.
PAC-10 IN THE POLLS: Three Pac-10 teams are ranked in the Top 25 in the pre-season polls, a couple of others lurk just outside the first 25, and a total of eight Conference teams receive some sort of poll support. Following are the rankings of Pac-10 teams in the pre-season AP (media) and ESPN/USA Today (coaches) polls:
USA/ Team (2002 record) AP ESPN USC (11-2 8 8 Washington (7-6) 17 19 Arizona State (8-6) 22 23 Oregon State (8-5) t27 31 Oregon (7-6) t38 t45 Washington State (10-3) t44 t41 UCLA (8-5) -- 33 California (7-5) -- 55
MEDIA TAB TROJANS: USC has been picked to win the 2003 Pacific-10 Conference football title in a pre-season poll of West Coast media members who regularly cover the league. It marks the first time since 1996 that the Trojans have been selected to win the league title in the pre-season poll. USC narrowly edged out ARIZONA STATE in the media voting. The Trojans garnered 10 of 25 first-place votes, with the Sun Devils getting nine. WASHINGTON (4) and OREGON STATE (2) also picked up first-place support. USC tied for the league title last year with a 7-1 Conference record and finished 11-2 overall, capping the year with a 38-17 win over Iowa in the FedEx Orange Bowl. WASHINGTON STATE won the Pac-10 berth in the Rose Bowl last season, but is picked to finish seventh in the media poll this season. The media poll has correctly selected the Conference Champion in 20 of 42 previous polls, including the last three and four of the last five years. Following are the results of the pre-season media poll (points 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, first-place votes in parentheses):
1. USC (10) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227 2. Arizona State (9) . . . . . . . . 224 3. Washington (4) . . . . . . . . . 198 4. Oregon State (2) . . . . . . . . 172 5. Oregon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139 6. UCLA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138 7. Washington State . . . . . . . 107 8. California . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 9. Stanford . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 10. Arizona . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
POLL NOTES: Pre-season media poll has correctly picked the Conference champion 20 of 42 times and has been very accurate of late in correctly identifying the Conference champ the last three years in a row and four of the last five. . . . The last time the poll selected USC to win the league title was 1996. The Trojans finished fifth that season. . . . It is the highest predicted finish for ARIZONA STATE since 1998, when the Sun Devils were picked to finish second behind UCLA. . . . Of all the teams, the pollsters seemed to have the most difficulty predicting how OREGON STATE will fare this season. The Beavers were picked to finish as high as first and as low as ninth. . . . Hope for ARIZONA. The last two years the team picked to finish 10th in the Conference--WASHINGTON STATE (2001) and CALIFORNIA (2002)--has posted a winning record. . . . Six different teams have been the pre-season favorite the last six years. And why not? Five different teams have won the Pac-10 title in the last five years years, and seven different teams have won the title over the last eight years.
SERIES NOTES FOR THE EARLY SEASON GAMES:
CALIFORNIA vs. KANSAS STATE - BCA Classic at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO - Sat., Aug. 23 - 6:45 CDT/4:45 PDT - ESPN - The Series: First meeting.
SACRAMENTO STATE at OREGON STATE - Thu., Aug. 28 - 7:00 PDT - The Series: First meeting.
USC at AUBURN - Sat., Aug. 30 - 5:00 CDT/3:00 PDT - CBS - The Series: USC and Auburn have split two previous meetings. Auburn defeated USC 16-7 in the Citrus Bowl following the 1986 season, and the Trojans prevailed 24-17 in the teams' season-opener at Los Angeles last year. . . . Last Year: USC and Auburn opened the season on a hot Labor Day night at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Trojan QB Carson Palmer scored on a 1-yard sneak with 1:26 to play to give USC a 24-17 win. Palmer passed for 302 yards and one TD in his first step toward the Heisman Trophy. The Trojan defense controlled the game in the second half. After allowing Auburn 246 yards in the first half, USC's defense held the Tigers to just 35 total yards in the second.
SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI at CALIFORNIA - Sat., Aug. 30 - 1:00 PDT - The Series: First meeting.
WASHINGTON at OHIO STATE - Sat., Aug. 30 - 8:00 EDT/5:00 PDT - ABC - The Series: Washington and Ohio State have met nine times with the Buckeyes leading the series by a 6-3 count. All of the meetings came in the regular season. The teams have alternated wins in the last six meetings. Washington has lost three of the four games played at Columbus, including the last two. . . . Last Meeting: Washington and Ohio State last met early in 1995 at Columbus with both teams then, as now, ranked in the Top 20. The Buckeyes ground out a methodical 30-20 win by handing the ball off to Eddie George 36 times. George made the most of it by rushing for 212 (5.9) yards and two TDs.
OREGON at MISSISSIPPI STATE - Sat., Aug. 30 - 8:00 CDT/6:00 PDT - ESPN2 - The Series: Oregon and Mississippi State have met just once with the Ducks taking a 36-13 win at Eugene last year. . . . Last Year: Oregon and Mississippi State opened the season at Eugene in newly expanded Autzen Stadium. Duck QB Jason Fife, making his first career start, passed for three touchdowns and ran for another in directing UO to a 36-13 win. The Oregon defense limited MSU to 12 first downs, 31 yards rushing and 223 yards total offense. . . . Coaching Note: Mississippi State head coach Jackie Sherrill had a brief stopover on the West Coast as head coach at Washington State for one season (1976).
UTEP at ARIZONA - Sat., Aug. 30 - 7:00 MST/PDT - The Series: Arizona and UTEP have met an even 50 times with the Wildcats holding a 37-11-2 advantage. They are former mates in both the Border and Western Athletic Conferences. Arizona has won the last 11 meetings dating back to 1971. In 27 games played at Tucson, Arizona leads 20-6-1. . . . Last Meeting: Arizona and UTEP last met in 1999 at Tucson with the Wildcats winning 34-21. Arizona rushed for 396 yards and piled up 553 yards total offense. RB Trung Canidate led the way for the Cats with 202 yards rushing.
IDAHO vs. WASHINGTON STATE at Seahawks Stadium, Seattle - Sat., Aug. 30 - 7:00 PDT - The Series: Neighboring Washington State and Idaho have met 85 times dating to 1894 with the Cougars leading the series 65-17-3. The teams have split the last four meetings with WSU taking the last two. This marks the first time the teams have squared off in Seattle. . . . Last Year: Washington State and Idaho met early in the season at Pullman with the Cougars rolling to a 49-14 win. The Cougars amassed 517 yards total offense with multiple offensive heroes. QB Jason Gesser threw three TD passes, FL Devard Darling had two TD receptions and scored another on a reverse, and RB Jonathan Smith rushed for 121 yards and three TDs on just 12 carries (10.1). Idaho QB Brian Lindgren passed for the Vandals' two scores.
PAC-10 NOTES ENTERING THE 2003 SEASON:
NEW COACHES: Four new coaches will grace Pac-10 sidelines this season, which furthers a changing of the guard that has seen every Pac-10 school except Oregon turn over its head coach in the last three years. Oregon's Mike Bellotti, entering his ninth year as head man of the Ducks, is the dean of Pac-10 coaches by far. Four new head coaches on the job in the Pac-10 is the most since that same number in 1987. . . . While four new coaches seems like a lot, all the new guys have deep Pac-10 ties and two of them have been head coaches in the league before. Mike Riley returns for his second tour of duty at Oregon State. He served as OSU head coach in 1997-98 and is given much of the credit for laying the foundation that has led to the renaissance of Beaver football in recent years. Riley has spent the last four years in the NFL, three as head coach of the San Diego Chargers. . . . Likewise, Keith Gilbertson has been around the league for some time. He served as head coach at California from 1992-95, was also head coach at Idaho (1986-88), and has served two different stints as UW offensive coordinator. . . . Bill Doba takes over at Washington State, but has been with the Cougars the last 14 years before being elevated from defensive coordinator this season. . . . UCLA's Karl Dorrell was an outstanding wide receiver for the Bruins in the mid-1980s and has apprenticed 15 years as an assistant coach, most recently with the Denver Broncos. His collegiate coaching stops include Washington and Colorado.
OUT OF OUR LEAGUE: Pac-10 teams compiled a good 32-15 (.681) mark against non-league opponents in 2002. The Pac-10 is a stellar 84-34 (.712) vs. outsiders over the last three years.
THE MISSES: The Pac-10 scheduling format call for eight home games--four home and four away--which means each institutions misses one other league foe. Following are the Pac-10 'misses' for 2003:
Arizona-Stanford Arizona State - Washington California-Washington State Oregon-USC Oregon State-UCLA
CONFERENCE NOTES: The Pac-10 sent a record seven teams to bowl games last year. . . . These first two weeks find the Pac-10 playing road games against three pre-season Top 10 teams--Caliifornia vs. No. 7 Kansas State at Kansas City, USC at No. 6 Auburn and Washington at defending National Champion and No. 2-ranked Ohio State. Later September action finds UCLA at pre-season No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 4 Michigan at Oregon as Pac-10 teams take on five of the top seven teams in the pre-season polls, with four of those contests on the road. . . . The balance of the Pac-10 is illustrated by the fact the league has had five different champions the last five years and seven different winners over the last eight years. . . . The Pac-10 had eight of the 32 first-round picks in the 2003 NFL draft. The Big 12 was next with six first-round selections. . . . The Pac-10 has long been known as a league proficient at the forward pass, but last year was something special. Three of the top four single-season passing performances in Conference history occurred last season. Washington's Cody Pickett became the first QB in league history to pass for more than 4,000 yards when he unloaded for 4,458 aerial yards. USC Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer posted the third-best passing year in Conference history with 3,942 yards, and Andrew Walters of Arizona State had the fourth-best mark ever with 3,877 yards. Both Pickett and Walters are back this season and candidates for major awards.
ARIZONA: Six of Arizona's seven home opponents and 10 of 12 overall played in a bowl game last year. . . . Nevertheless, the Cats hope for a fast start with four of the first five games at home. . . . Arizona lines up in a new defense for the first time in a decade. Out is the trademark double-eagle flex, in is a 3-4 alignment. . . . Arizona has a revamped coaching staff with new offensive and defensive coordinators--Mike Deal (offense) and Mike Hankwitz (defense). . . . While replacing 3,000-yard passer Jason Johnson is an obvious priority, the Cats know they need an improved running game to get the offense rolling. A promising group of young running backs and four starters returning on the offensive line should help.
ARIZONA STATE: The Sun Devils return 17 starters from last year's 8-6 team, most in the Pac-10. Included are nine offensive starters. In fact, ASU loses just two players from last year's offensive two-deep. . . . ASU has been picked to finish second in the Pac-10 in the annual preseason media poll. USC just edged out the Devils for the top spot in close voting. . . . QB Andrew Walter passed for an ASU single-season record 3,877 yards last year. That's the fourth-best season mark in Pac-10 history. . . . Four starters return to what was a young and speedy secondary last season. That unit is expected to be one of the best in the Pac-10. . . . P Tim Parker led the Pac-10 in punting last year with a 42.7-yard average and earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors.
CALIFORNIA: The Golden Bears return just eight starters from last year's 7-5 team, fewest in the Pac-10. Cal has a mere two starters back on defense. . . . That 7-5 followed a 1-10 mark in 2001 and earned rookie head coach Jeff Tedford Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors. Included were three wins on the road against ranked teams for the first time ever. . . . California has put in new Momentum Turf at Memorial Stadium. . . . Honorable mention All-Pac-10 OT Mark Wilson has started every game for the past three seasons--34 in a row and counting. . . . Cal's Aug. 23 opener vs. Kansas State is the earliest start to a season ever for the Bears. . . . 10 of Cal's 13 opponents were bowl teams in 2002.
OREGON: Ducks must replace some big play performers such as WR Keenan Howry and TB Onterrio Smith, but eight starters return on offense and the foundation is there as the offensive line returns intact. All five starters are back led by seniors C Dan Weaver and OG Joey Forster. . . . Now entering his ninth year as the Ducks' head coach, Mike Bellotti finds himself the 'dean' of Pac-10 head football coaches. . . . ILB Kevin Mitchell is the Pac-10's top returning tackler (114) and has posted 100+ stops the past two years. . . . PK Jared Siegel garnered first-team All-Pac-10 and second-team All-America honors last year as a sophomore. With good reason. Siegel converted 20-of-24 field goal attempts and was perfect on three attempts greater than 50 yards, including one from 59 yards against UCLA that tied the Pac-10 mark for longest in a Conference game.
OREGON STATE: Beavers boast some returning offensive firepower. Check the numbers--TB Steven Jackson led the league in rushing by more than 500 yards with 1,690 yards, seventh-best season in league history. Plus QB Derek Anderson passed for 3,313 yards and 25 TDs, both school records, and FL James Newson had 74 receptions for 1,284 yards and 12 TDs. No other team in the league returns a 1,000-yard rusher, 3,000-yard passer and 50-catch receiver. . . . Newson also has caught a pass in 25 straight games, tied with Washington WR Reggie Williams for longest such streak in the Pac-10 entering the season. He already is the OSU career receiving yards leader (2,266) and needs just 22 more catches to become the Beaver receptions leader. . . . Of course, those record-setting offensive numbers don't happen without a sturdy offensive line and the Beavs' projected tackle-to-tackle starters for 2003 average 6-foot-4 1/2, 318 pounds. . . . PK Kirk Yliniemi connected on 15-of-16 field goal attempts (93.8%), including two from 50 yards. He added 30 poinds in the offseason in an effort to muscle his kicks even further. . . . OSU has won 22 of its last 25 home games.
STANFORD: Cardinal returns 8 starters on defense. Included are its top six linebackers from a year ago, all of whom saw time in the starting lineup. . . . Stanford faces eight bowl teams from 2002. . . . Card has tough early going with three of first four on road, including trips to BYU, Washington and USC. . . . Stanford hopes a return to full health of QB Chris Lewis (shoulder) and WR Luke Powell (ankle) will revive an offensive unit that fell to 10th in the Pac-10 in total offense (311.4) and ninth in scoring offense (20.5) last year, after leading the Pac-10 in both categories in 2001. . . . Card returns just one starter on the offensive line--OT Kirk Chambers. In fact, Chambers is the only offensive lineman on the roster who has started a game at Stanford.
UCLA: Bruins play 12 games in 12 weeks making them the only Pac-10 team without an open date in the season this year. . . . New head coach Karl Dorrell will begin his head coaching career by taking the Bruins to Colorado, where he served as offensive coordinator from 1995-98. . . . Bruins also have a road trip to pre-season No. 1-ranked Oklahoma. . . . WR Craig Bragg, who led the Bruins with 55 receptions last year, also led the Pac-10 in punt returns last year with a 16.0-yard average. . . . With 994 yards rushing last year, TB Tyler Ebell barely missed becoming just the third freshman in Pac-10 history to top the 1,000 yard mark (Darrin Nelson of Stanford in 1977 and Ken Simonton of Oregon State in 1998).
USC: Trojans enter the season with an eight-game winning streak carried over from last year. It's USC's longest winning streak since winning 10 in a row in 1988. Trojans scored at least 30 points in each of those last eight games. . . . Troy's 11 wins and final poll ranking of No. 4 last season were its best in each category since 1979. . . . USC faces eight teams that played in bowls last season. . . . Last season, SC led the Pac-10 in total offense and total defense, scoring offense and scoring defense.. . . . SE Mike Williams set Pac-10 freshmen records for receptions, receiving yards and TD receptions last year with 81 for 1,265 yards and 14 TDs. . . . And USC has not just one, but two 1,000-yard receivers returning in Willians and FL Keary Colbert, who had 71 receptions for 1,029 yards last season. However, no other wide receiver on the roster other than Williams and Colbert caught a ball last year. . . . Trojans are +32 in turnover margin the last two years (+14 in 2001, +18 in 2002). . . . The USC defense held nine of 13 teams under 100 yards rushing last year and no individual runner hit the 100-yard mark against the Trojans. . . . Meanwhile, the Troy offense had its most points (465) and touchdowns (60) since 1972.
WASHINGTON: QB Cody Pickett became the first 4,000-yard passer in Conference history when he put up 4,458 yards last season. He shattered the Pac-10 season passing list by almost 500 yards (old record--3,968 by Ryan Leaf of Washington State, 1997). . . . Pickett also became the first to top 4,000 yards total offense in a season (4,273). . . . With first-team All-America WR Reggie Williams also back, the Huskies boast perhaps the nation's most dangerous pass-catch duo. Williams had 94 catches for 1,454 yards and 11 TDs last year. Just a junior, Williams is already the UW career leader in receptions (149) and yards (2,247). . . . Williams and Oregon State FL James Newson enter the season with 25-game reception streaks, longest current runs in the Pac-10.
WASHINGTON STATE: Cougars are 20-5 over the past two seasons, 13-3 in Pac-10 play. Both marks are best among Pac-10 teams over that span. . . . Cougars enter the season coming off consecutive 10-win seasons for the first time ever. . . . Cougs are gunning for third straight bowl appearnace for the first time ever. . . . TB Jermaine Green led the league in yards per rush last year, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. . . . On the other side of the ball, CB Jason David led the league in interceptions with seven. . . . QB Matt Kegel, taking over for All-Pac-10 QB Jason Gesser, completed 14-of-14 passes in WSU's first scrimmage of the fall. . . . In the blood. Frosh RB Kevin McCall's father played at Oregon, he had uncles play at Arizona and ASU, and a cousin play at OSU. All of them were running backs like Kevin.
QUOTE: Washington OT Khalif Barnes on the need for intense practices: 'In 2000 when we won the Rose Bowl, practice was on every day, all practice. Guys had headaches, broken fingers, broken ribs, but they were still out there hitting. It was fun.' (Craig Hill, Tacoma News Tribune)
CURRENT STREAKS: Longest overall winning streak - 8 games - USC Longest Conference-game winning streak - 6 games - USC Longest home winning streak - 9 games - USC Longest road winning streak - 4 games - Washington State