The Andrew Luck juggernaut hits the Palouse this week where the Stanford Cardinal will try and keep things perfect and not focus on the real game that takes place the first week in November against Oregon.
And, Id say thats a pretty good idea for the Cardinal. Washington States not going anywhere this year BUT ... they are about 10 minutes from being undefeated, they are vastly improved from the gimme win team they were, they have nothing to lose, theyre playing at home, and if a visiting team -- even a team as good as the Cardinal -- decides to chalk this one up before its played, we could see the biggest upset in college football this year.
That said, I dont think Stanford will chalk it up before its played. Im just sayin...
PREVIEW: No. 7 Stanford vs. Washington State
Stanford is good, and its not only because of Andrew Luck. The defense hasnt been soundly tested yet and probably wont be this week either, but its showing that it has the goods. And, as to Luck, one of the things -- and there are many -- that you have to love about this guy is that all the notoriety and Heisman hype hes getting is being done while hes playing entirely within the system. Not that he cant, but he hasnt yet been asked to go out and win a game for Stanford. Hes that special.
The Cardinal will roll in Pullman.
I do think the game in Eugene bears watching. True enough the Ducks dont lose at home (they havent since 2008), but I could see them pushed in this game with ASU. The Sun Devils are one of the few left coast teams that can match up with Oregons speed and that -- as they say in boxing -- gives them a punchers chance.
There are two factors that will decide this game:
1). How much of a drop off is there at running back for Oregon without the presence of LaMichael James?
2). Can ASU actually get through an entire game without stepping on its own body parts? The Sun Devils inevitably self-destruct in big games -- usually by stupid penalties.
So, my answer to No. 1 is: Not much. The Ducks have two other running backs who may not be LaMichael James, but arent far behind either. And to No. 2: I dont think so.
PREVIEW: No. 18 Arizona State vs. No. 9 Oregon
Oregon fans will bait visiting teams into mistakes that are far more disciplined than ASU. Somewhere along the line the Sun Devils will shoot themselves in the foot.
It's not out of the question for ASU but Im taking Oregon and the toughest home crowd in the conference.
Falling on their face at Nebraska not withstanding, the Washington Huskies are a team that is suddenly looking capable of beating anyone. The win against Cal and on the road at Utah has the Huskies believing in themselves. Steve Sarkisian is a great motivator, excellent at identifying talent, and is quickly bringing a once-proud program back to where the locals feel it belongs. No problem for the Dogs against Colorado and dont look now but theyll be 5-1.
If the season only started in October the Oregon State Beavers would be undefeated. The Beavs just dont show up until the leaves turn. They get BYU in Corvallis this week. Im still a believer despite an 0-4 start. Beavs win ... Beavs win!
The Pac-12 week winds up with Utah at Pittsburgh. The Utes are bruised and beaten. The move from the Mountain West has been a bigger one than anyone expected. Pitt wins. Im not watching.
Once again -- thats the way I see it. If Im wrong, as always, Ill deny it.
Barry Tompkins is a frequent contributor to CSNBayArea.com and Chronicle Live.