By Rusty Simmons
As Cal prepares for a bounce-back game against Colorado State on Saturday, it has an extra burden on its shoulders. The Pac-10 is 0-5 against the Mountain West Conference, having been outscored 177-89. "We have enough to worry about in taking care of our stuff," coach Jeff Tedford said. "I don't think we need to worry about trying to carry the torch for the conference." Arizona State lost at home 23-20 in overtime to heavy underdog UNLV on Sept. 13, the same day three other Pac-10 teams fell to squads from the non-BCS conference: Arizona lost 36-28 at New Mexico, Stanford lost 31-14 at TCU and UCLA got pounded 59-0 at BYU. The prior Saturday, BYU beat Washington 28-27 in Seattle. "Damn, I didn't know that," senior right guard Noris Malele said. "First and foremost, it's about us and our program, but anytime you play out of conference, it's great to represent the Pac-10." Other than the nation's No. 1 team, USC, the Pac-10 has become the pundits' whipping boy. Oregon lost at home to non-BCS Boise State, Washington State's only win came against FBS team Portland State and Cal lost to a Maryland team that struggled with Delaware and lost to Middle Tennessee State.
"It sucks, but the Pac-10 is going to be competitive no matter what," sophomore quarterback Kevin Riley said. "Teams are going to bounce back and step up for league play."
Briefly: Tailback Jahvid Best (chest) took part in full drills for the first time since being injured Sept. 13 at Maryland and was deemed healthy by Tedford. ... Tailback Shane Vereen (ankle) continued to progress, making cuts but not participating in contact drills. ... Receiver Marvin Jones (knee) has been ruled out for Saturday's game.