If you don’t have a ticket to the Stanford-Washington game Saturday, you won’t see it live.
For no good reason.
Just great. Here it is November. Crunch time in the Pacific-10 Conference. Two of the five teams with one conference loss butt heads (which, come to think of it, can be a term used to describe those conspiring to keep the UW-Stanford game off the air) and they get as much air play as Central Florida-Akron.
Instead, ABC brings you, in living color, USC-Oregon State, the battle for sixth place in the conference.
ABC locked into the game in the summer and can’t change because Pac-10 rules say that once a network selects a homecoming game, it can’t drop it. No matter how meaningless the game. No matter how enticing other games are. No matter how badly the TV-hugging, college football-mad geeks are wronged.
Fox picked the other Big Game in the conference, UCLA-Washington State, and put it in its 3:30 p.m. slot. That left the 7:15 p.m. slot to Washington-Stanford, a possibility that was blown out of the water because of Washington’s policy of no night games in November.
Safety for the boaters and all that.
Instead, the 7:15 p.m. game is No. 8 Oregon against Arizona State, eighth in the Pac-10, a game that has all the appeal of a lanced boil.
So ABC blew it. Pac-10 rules are anti-fan and Washington can’t be flexible.
And you, the viewer, get the shaft.
Here’s a look at Saturday’s games.
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. at Husky Stadium.
TV, radio: No live TV, KOMO radio (1000 AM).
Stars to watch: Washington – Quarterback Cody Pickett is finally healing from his separated shoulder and is making believers of those who doubted his grit and playmaking ability, especially in the clutch. Tailback Willie Hurst is coming off a career-best 185 rushing yards. Wideouts Paul Arnold, Reggie Williams and Todd Elstrom are emerging as the best trio in the conference. Defensive tackle Larry Tripplett is having another all-conference season, Linebacker Ben Mahdavi is all over the field.
Stanford – Quarterback Chris Lewis is looking anything but a backup to Randy Fasani after leading the Cardinal to consecutive wins against top-five teams Oregon and UCLA. Wow. Stanford can grind it out with backs Brian Allen and Kerry Carter or they can beat teams with big plays, with receivers Luke Powell and former Mariner High School star Teyo Johnson. Defensively, safety Tank Williams lines up everywhere but at nose tackle. Inside linebacker Coy Wire averages 8.3 tackles a game and outside linebacker Anthony Gabriel is a leader in forcing fumbles.
Breaking down the game: Washington may have trouble dealing with Stanford’s balanced offense. The Huskies also have to be better in punt coverage, because Powell is a game-breaker. Kickoff coverage will be just as important, because Allen and Ryan Wells both average better than 25 yards per return. The trick for the Cardinal is to jump on the Huskies early and build a sizable lead by the fourth quarter, when Washington unleashes its game-winning shenanigans. Likewise, the Cardinal defense may have problems with Washington’s offense, which had its best balance last week against ASU.
Bottom line: Stanford is the hottest team in the conference, if not the country. If the Huskies pull this one out, they truly are charmed.
Pick: Stanford, 28-27.
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. at Martin Stadium, Pullman.
TV, radio: KTWB (Channel 10/22), KRKO (1380 AM).
Stars to watch: Washington State – Quarterback Jason Gesser has 20 TD passes and six interceptions. Tailback Dave Minnich gutted out 91 rushing yards against Oregon, despite a recent bout with arthroscopic knee surgery. Receivers Nakoa McElrath and Mike Bush are just plain trouble for secondaries. Defensive ends D.D. Acholonu and Isaac Brown have six sacks apiece. Safeties Billy Newman and Lamont Thompson are among the best duos in the country.
UCLA – Tailback DeShaun Foster is hanging in there as a Heisman candidate, although he needs a couple more monster games to really stand out. Coach Bob Toledo won’t say who his starting quarterback will be, although the injured Cory Paus is a possibility. The Bruins are blessed with great athletes in their front seven, most notably linebacker Robert Thomas, one of the best in the nation.
Breaking down the game: A delicious matchup between WSU’s sizzling offense and UCLA’s stone-wall defense.
Bottom line: The worst thing for the Cougars is UCLA’s loss to Stanford last week.
Pick: UCLA, 27-24.
Arizona at Cal: Both teams deserve better than they’ve gotten. Since a 38-3 pummeling at the hands of Oregon State, the Wildcats have played Washington and USC very tough. Cal, at 0-7, may have Kyle Boller back, but he won’t be enough. Pick: Arizona 31-24.
Oregon State at USC: The Beavers are hard to figure. Just when it appeared they were getting it together, they collapse against ASU and barely beat Cal, 19-10. We like the Trojans because their defense is superior and they haven’t wasted their time playing teams such as New Mexico State and Northern Arizona. Pick: USC, 31-27.
Arizona State at Oregon: The Ducks are 11-point favorites. We’d take some of that action because of Jeff Krohn and Shaun McDonald will give Oregon’s secondary fits. If Delvon Flowers runs for better than 100 yards, the Sun Devils can win and win big. Pick: ASU, 34-31.
Sleeper pick of the week: Michigan State 24, Michigan 20.