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November 22, 2006
Best matchup: USC's pass defense vs. Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn. The Trojans locked down Cal's passing game last week by allowing only 176 yards through the air. Although the Trojans' pass defense is ranked fifth in the Pac-10, USC has intercepted five passes in the last three games and leads the conference in pass efficiency defense.
Worst matchup: Oregon State running back Yvenson Bernard vs. Oregon's run defense. Bernard shook off an ankle injury to run 36 times for 168 yards against Stanford last week. Oregon, ranked second to last in the Pac-10 in rush defense, allowed Arizona's Chris Henry to approach 200 yards on Saturday.
The pressure is on: Oregon. The Ducks go into the Civil War with an identical record as Oregon State. The Beavers are a minor surprise at 7-4. Oregon has lost the last two games to USC and Arizona, scoring a total of 20 points. A loss to rival OSU would cap a disappointing season that saw Oregon lose to the Wildcats, Washington State and Cal.
Upset alert: Arizona State over Arizona. After beating Washington State, Cal and Oregon, Arizona is a favorite at home over the struggling Sun Devils. But never underestimate the inconsistent Pac-10.
Most to gain/BCS implications: USC will need to defeat Notre Dame if it hopes to pull ahead of Michigan in the BCS standings. A loss would knock the Trojans out of the national title hunt for the first time in four seasons.
Most to lose: Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter. After the season opened with so much optimism, Koetter's job could be in jeopardy if the Sun Devils' coach loses his sixth game of the season to rival Arizona. A loss would give Arizona State a 3-6 Pac-10 record and 2-4 road record.
Who's hot: Arizona running back Chris Henry. Earlier this year, he was benched for a walk-on. Henry has revived the Wildcats offense with a total of seven touchdowns in his last three games against Washington State, Cal and Oregon. He ran for a career-high 191 yards against the Ducks on Saturday.
Who's not: Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart. After running for more than 120 yards in five of the first nine games of the season, Stewart has dropped off considerably. In the last two games, Stewart has combined for 68 yards on 25 carries.
Must see TV: Notre Dame (10-1) at USC (9-1), 8 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, ABC.
Backup who could have an impact: Oregon quarterback Brady Leaf Leaf has split time with starter Dennis Dixon (six interceptions) in the last two games. Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said he would likely make a game-time decision regarding who would start against Oregon State.
Key stat: 7. Arizona is plus-7 in turnover margin to lead the Pac-10. It's a spot customarily held by USC, which is plus-4.
Take the line: Oregon State is favored by a field goal over an Oregon team that has fallen apart in recent weeks. The home team has won this rivalry nine years in a row, giving the Beavers the edge. Given Oregon's problems at quarterback, pick the Beavers to cover the spread. Season: 5-7
They said it: "I ignore it because I think it is completely ridiculous that Coach Koetter's job would even be in question. I think Coach is a great coach. He prepares us every week to be ready to play. I think if the blame falls anywhere on this team it falls on me or our offense right now. We haven't been executing like we should be. All coach can do is get us ready to play and put us in the best situations. If we don't take advantage of that, that's our fault."
Injury update: Arizona State wide receiver/cornerback Rudy Burgess is day-to-day with a high ankle sprain. Defensive end Tranell Morant is doubtful with a knee injury. ? After having two concussions this year, Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama took himself out of the win over Oregon after a big hit in the second quarter. He is expected to return against Arizona State. ? Oregon wide receiver Jaison Williams (back) is questionable for Oregon State. ? USC wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett (mild concussion) did not practice Monday but expects to play against Notre Dame. Freshman running back Emmanuel Moody (ankle) is not likely to return before the bowl game.
Worth noting: Washington quarterback Johnny DuRocher's football career is apparently over after doctors found a non-cancerous brain tumor during a routine test following a concussion. He said he could play baseball once he recovers from surgery. ? USC is 19-0 in November under coach Pete Carroll. ? The Trojans have outscored opponents 100-19 in the last three games. ? The home team has won the last nine meetings between Oregon and Oregon State. ? Stanford led only one time at home this season with a 7-0 advantage in the first quarter against Oregon State. It lasted for 2:30 before the Beavers tied up the score on the way to a 30-7 win. ? The Civil War between Oregon and Oregon State is being played on a Friday for the first time since 1927.
Looking back: USC captured its unprecedented fifth consecutive Pac-10 title with a 23-9 win over Cal. Washington won't make a bowl game and Washington State (6-6) might not either after losing 35-32 to the Huskies in the Apple Cup. The hottest team in the Pac-10 is Arizona, which has defeated Washington State, Cal and Oregon in consecutive weeks.
Freshmen who impressed: USC running back C.J. Gable had 91 rushing yards and 36 receiving yards in the Trojans' 23-9 win over Cal. The performance earned him Rivals.com National Freshman of the Week honors. ? Oregon defensive backs Walter Thurmond and Jairus Byrd led the Ducks in tackles against Arizona. Thurmond had 14 tackles and Byrd had eight. ? Oregon State linebacker Keaton Kristick had three tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery against Stanford.
Bowl watch: USC (9-1) has clinched at least a berth in the Rose Bowl with a win over Cal (8-3). Oregon State (7-4), Oregon (7-4), UCLA (6-5), Arizona (6-5), Arizona State (6-5) and Washington State (6-6) are all bowl eligible. Pac-10 teams know two opponents in bowl games with BYU accepting a bid to the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 21 and Hawaii accepting a bid to the Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24.