Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Five things to consider, underline or anticipate heading into the weekend.
Jahvid goes for the rushing title: There are a couple of reasons California shouldn't be yawning before facing Washington. For one, the Bears were humiliated by the Huskies last year, 37-23, in Seattle, surrendering an eye-popping 334 yards rushing. Second, tailback Jahvid Best needs 171 yards rushing to win the Pac-10 rushing title, meaning the Best player on the field should get plenty of touches. That also won't bode well for the Huskies -- will they even show up? -- keeping things reasonably close.
Any chance Craft can create art? UCLA's only chance against USC is a near-perfect day. The distance, however, between "perfect" and what the Bruins have been doing on offense this season -- particularly embattled quarterback Kevin Craft -- is a Grand Canyon-like chasm. Craft has thrown 12 interceptions in his last four games. Touchdowns? Zero. Three of his picks were returned for scores in the 34-9 loss to Arizona State, and his fumble led to a fourth touchdown. And yet ... what if the Craft from the fourth quarter of the Tennessee or Stanford games shows up against the Trojans? Two years ago, expectations were low for sophomore Patrick Cowan, but he pulled a rabbit out of his helmet and led the Bruins to a 13-9 victory that knocked the Trojans out of the national title game.
Can Arizona win a close one? Arizona has won six games this year. Smallest margin of victory? 15 points (vs. California). The Wildcats have lost five. Largest margin of defeat? Ten points (Oregon). When Arizona wins, it rolls. But when the screws tighten, it goes belly up. In fact, the Wildcats are 5-16 in games decided by a touchdown or less over the past four seasons under Mike Stoops. Two of those defeats are included in their three-game losing streak vs. rival Arizona State. The home-standing Wildcats are favored by 10 1/2, so there's the potential for this not to be close. But, if things stay tight, will there be worried looks or set jaws on the home sideline?
Will Sarkisian's dance with Washington be a distraction? While the Trojans defense has been reliably dominant in every game save one this season, the offense has been decidedly inconsistent. Some fans, in fact, have been impatient with offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, even though the Trojans rank second in the conference in both scoring (38.4 points per game) and total offense (451 yards per game). News broke Thursday evening that Sarkisian is the next Washington head coach. Two potential negatives for the Trojans: 1. Has Sark been able to focus on game planning against a good UCLA defense; 2. Will his imminent departure distract his players, particularly quarterback Mark Sanchez?
Rudy vs. Willie, take four: Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter hasn't had the season most imagined for him. Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama hasn't put up huge numbers like many thought he would. But Tuitama has been more consistent and statistically impressive than Carpenter. Ah, but Carpenter is 3-0 vs. Tuitama in Territorial Cups. No ASU quarterback has gone 4-0 against UA. After the 5-6 Sun Devils' desperation to earn bowl eligibility, this is the lead item of this year's game. Carpenter has outplayed Tuitama in the series -- see his 5:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio compared to 4:3 for Tuitama. Will their finale be different or more of the same?