This Week in Pac-10 Football
Sept. 5, 2006
NEXT UP: Nine Conference teams take on non-league opponents. OREGON STATE starts it out with a Thursday night game at Boise State. Home games on Saturday, Sept. 9, find WASHINGTON STATE playing host to neighbor Idaho, Minnesota at CALIFORNIA, Nevada at ARIZONA STATE and Rice at UCLA. Hitting the road are WASHINGTON at Oklahoma, STANFORD at San Jose State, ARIZONA at LSU and OREGON at Fresno State. USC has the week off.
ARIZONA: One thing Wildcats want to upgrade this season is pressure on opposing quarterbacks after registering only 24 QB sacks last year. The Cats posted three sacks in opening win vs. BYU, two by JC transfer DE Louis Holmes for minus-15 yards. Holmes also forced a fumble for the Cats. Veteran OLB Spencer Larsen had the other sack, one of his game-high 12 tackles. . . . PK/P Nick Folk was runaway winner of Pac-10 special teams player of the week for his role in 16-13 win against BYU. Not only did he kick the game-winning field goal from 48 yards out with one second to play, his third field goal of the night, he also averaged 56.0 yards on four punts and three of his five kickoffs were touchbacks. . . . In BYU win, veteran Syndric Steptoe had 143 all-purpose yards with six receptions for 93 yards, a key fourth-quarter run for six yards and a couple of kickoffs for 44 yards.
ARIZONA STATE: Sun Devils won their two Pac-10 titles and Rose Bowl berths in 1986 and 1996 and are hoping the every 10 years deal holds up in 2006. . . . Sun Devils have only met Nevada twice before, playing games at Reno in 1946 and 1947. ASU lost both games, including a 74-2 licking in 1946. . . . Devils have longest current winning streak among Pac-10 teams at a modest three games. . . . Soph QB Rudy Carpenter picked up right where he left off last year in Devils' opening win. Carpenter completed 70.8% (17-24) of his passes for 261 yards and a pair of TDs. . . . ASU defense posted nine QB sacks in the opener, most in a game in coach Dirk Koetter's tenure. OLB Derron Ware, making his first start, registered three of the sacks.
CALIFORNIA: TB Marshawn Lynch is the nation's second-leading returning rusher in terms of rushing yards per game after averaging 124.6 yards per game in '05. . . . WR DeSean Jackson has taken over punt return duties for injured Tim Mixon. Jackson returned only one punt last year, but he took it 49 yards for a TD. In Cal's opener Jackson made more noise as a receiver with 4 receptions for 87 yards, including a 40-yard TD reception. . . . Golden Bears have home opener vs. Minnesota this week. Cal is 3-0 vs. Big Ten teams under coach Jeff Tedford.
OREGON: Conference win against Stanford means the Ducks will sit atop the Pac-10 standings for a time as there are no further Conference games until Sept. 23. . . . Win against Stanford raised Oregon's record to 10-2 in season openers under coach Mike Bellotti. . . . TB/KR Jonathan Stewart made some noise as a kickoff returner last season as a freshman, bringing back two of 12 returns for TDs. He brought back his only return in the Ducks' opening win against Stanford 54 yards. This year the Ducks are looking for Stewart to make his biggest impact as the starting TB, and he did not disappoint in win vs. Stanford, rushing 22 times for a career-high 168 yards (7.6-yard average) and two TDs. That makes him the Week One rushing leader in the Pac-10.
OREGON STATE: Beavers have split two previous games played at Boise State, winning in 1989 (37-30) and losing in 2004 (53-34). OSU is 4-1 overall vs. the Broncos. . . . Coach Mike Riley on TB Yvenson Bernard, who averaged 120.1 yards per game in rushing for 1,321 yards as a sophomore last year and went for 124 yards and two TDs in OSU's opening win: 'He's the best runner we have, he's the best blocker we have, he's one of the smartest players we have. I mean, he's got all the stuff.' . . . Stellar TE Joe Newton is back in the lineup after being sidelined with injuries in 2005. He pulled in two TD receptions in OSU opener. . . . Sammie Stroughter brought back a punt 51 yards for a TD in the opener, first punt return for a TD for OSU since 2003.
STANFORD: Cardinal is only Pac-10 team to play first two games on the road. Newly-constructed Stanford Stadium will make its debut for the Cardinal home opener against Navy on Sep. 16. The new stadium will seat 50,000 spectators. . . . Brothers LB Udeme Udofia and NT Ekom Udofia are the first pair of brothers to start at the same time for Stanford since Dave and Mike Wyman in 1983. . . . 6-7 WR Evan Moore returned to action at Oregon after missing most of last season with a hip injury. He pulled in four receptions for 62 yards and teams with WR Mark Bradford (9 catches, 108 yards and a TD at Oregon) to give QB Trent Edwards a pair of standout WRs.
UCLA: Bruins lost the fewest turnovers in the Pac-10 last season (just 16) and continued the trend with no turnovers in season-opening win vs. Utah. . . . The long-awaited first start of QB Ben Olson was a resounding success as he completed 25 of 33 passes (.758) for 318 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in 31-10 win vs. Utah. That is the most passing yards by a Bruin QB in his first start since 1990 (Tommy Maddox). Olson was named Pac-10 offensive player of the week for his performance. . . . Bruin defense did not allow Utah a third-down conversion attempt (0-11). CB Alterraun Verner provided the big plays on defense with a 34-yard interception return for a touchdown and forcing and recovering a fumble and returning it 18 yards.
USC: C.J. Gable became the first true freshman to start a season opener at tailback for the Trojans when he lined up on the opening play in SC's 50-14 win at Arkansas. He rushed 51 times on 11 carries and scored the Trojans' first TD of the season on a three-yard run. USC spread the rushing around at Arkansas with six different running backs getting carries as the Trojans rushed for 192 yards. . . . USC led the Pac-10 and was second in the nation in turnover margin last year and started the season at Arkansas 5-0, forcing five turnovers, giving up none. . . . PK Mario Danelo was good on 3-of-3 field goal attempts at Arkansas extending his streak to 14 consecutive made. . . . And speaking of toes, kickoff man Troy Van Blarcom had eight touchbacks on his nine kickoffs at Arkansas.
WASHINGTON: Win in opener against San Jose State was first time Huskies have won opener since 2001. . . . QB Isaiah Stanback had 270 yards total offense, completing 16 of 25 passes for 168 yards and a TD and adding a career-high 102 yards rushing and another TD. . . . The Huskies rushed for an even 300 yards against San Jose, with Stanback and TB Louis Rankin (145 yards and two TDs) both topping the 100-yard mark. . . . On the other side of the ball, UW allowed San Jose State just 50 yards rushing on 29 carries (1.7 yards per rush). . . . All three of P Sean Douglas' punts were downed inside the 20-yard line vs. San Jose.
WASHINGTON STATE: WSU and Idaho are neighbors, sitting just across the Washington-Idaho border from each other. The old rivals have played 88 times dating back to 1894. . . . WSU will play its first four games in four different stadiums with road games at Auburn and Stanford, this week's home game at Pullman vs. Idaho and a home game vs. Baylor next week at Qwest Field in Seattle. . . . With a TD reception in opener at Auburn, WR Jason Hill upped his career touchdown reception mark to 26. That's tied for ninth on the Pac-10 career list and just six off the Pac-10 record of 32 (Ken Margerum, Stanford, 1977-1980).