Monday, September 21, 2009

Rivals: Can Best and Cal Take Control of the Pac-10?

Mike Huguenin

A week after snapping a 15-game losing streak that had been the nation's longest, Washington won its second in a row by shocking 20-point favorite USC.   This week, the real fun in the Pac-10 begins. USC's loss means control of the league race is there for the taking, and Round 1 comes this Saturday, when California is at Oregon.  efore the season, that looked to be one of the best games of the season, but the Ducks' opening loss to Boise State removed some of the luster. Now, some of the luster has been restored by USC's loss, especially considering Cal plays host to the Trojans on Oct. 3. In other words, Cal can seize control of the race -- and all but eliminate USC -- with victories in its next two games.

Cal looked a little shaky Saturday in beating Minnesota, but running back Jahvid Best ran to the rescue with five touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter. Cal had lost eight of its past nine on the road before the win over the Golden Gophers.  "We tried to make a statement that we're going to be road warriors this year," defensive lineman Tyson Alualu told reporters after the game. "It's a different team than last year."  Cal coach Jeff Tedford figured the fact that the game was won in the fourth quarter will help his team. "I think it will give us a boost and give us a little bit of confidence," he said.

Best agreed, saying, "Next week we're going into Oregon, and that's going to be another hostile environment. I'm kind of glad that they came back and kind of tested us ? so when another team does that to us, we know how to handle it."


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