UCLA and Southern Cal have something to learn about making schedules if this is their idea of breathers.
Coming off games against nationally ranked Tennessee and Nebraska, No. 18 UCLA probably would like to have an easy one for its Pac-10 opener. So who do the Bruins invite into the Rose Bowl this weekend? Washington State, which is 2-0 and ranked 22nd.Across town, No. 19 USC, coming off tough outings against No. 17 Washington and No. 5 Penn State, did only a bit better than UCLA. The Trojans opened the door to Baylor, which is unranked despite starting 3-0.
The UCLA-Washington State game is one of five matching ranked teams. The showcase of the five is No. 7 Colorado, which routed No. 16 Wisconsin last week, calling on No. 4 Michigan. Also No. 13 North Carolina is at defending national champion and third-ranked Florida State, Washington is at No. 6 Miami and No. 25 Indiana is at Wisconsin.
The rest of the Top Ten features No. 2 Nebraska at home to lightly regarded Pacific, Rutgers at Penn State, No. 8 Arizona at Stanford, Purdue at No. 9 Notre Dame and East Tennessee at No. 10 Auburn.
In other games involving ranked teams, Tulane is at No. 11 Alabama, Southern Mississippi is at No. 12 Texas A&M, No. 15 Texas is at TCU, Houston is at No. 20 Ohio State, No. 23 Tennessee is at Mississippi State and Western Carolina is at No. 24 North Carolina State.
No. 1 Florida, fresh from a 31-0 thrashing of Tennessee at Knoxville, and No. 21 Oklahoma are idle.
Last season, UCLA knocked out Washington State, which knocked out Bruins quarterback Wayne Cook, to no avail.
"I'm looking forward to playing a full game against them," said Cook, who went out in the first quarter of a 40-27 victory because of a bruised kidney.
UCLA ran up the points against the Cougars a year ago and Cook sees no reason to worry about offense this time, even though Washington State hasn't allowed a touchdown in the last 10 quarters.
A very large part of the arsenal returns this week for the Bruins. J.J. Stokes, who caught two TD passes against Washington State last year, has been out with a bruised left thigh. He's expected to see limited action.
Washington State coach Mike Price agrees with that.
"It's been awhile since we've given one up. We're working real hard to keep the slate clean. UCLA will be a real challenge," Price said.
Baylor coach Chuck Reedy isn't about to ballyhoo the Bears for national honors just for beating Louisiana Tech, San Jose State and Oklahoma State. USC likely will tell him where his team really stands.
"Obviously they're the most talented team we've played this year, without question," Reedy said. "I doubt there's anybody better we'll play all year.
But after last week's 38-14 loss to Penn State, in which Johnson was sacked six times, USC is taking nothing for granted.
"They're a good team," coach John Robinson said. "It's hard to tell much on their first two games, but in the last game (14-10 over Oklahoma State), they did some things. Their defense looks very good.
Speaking of North Carolina, the Tar Heels are up against it facing Florida State, which has yet to lose a league game since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference three season ago. The Seminoles, 3-0 in the ACC already this year, could take a stranglehold on a third straight league title by making North Carolina league victim No. 20.
"It could be the championship, but I think there are too many teams who haven't declared themselves out of it yet," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. "I would say whoever wins this ballgame, their odds are going to jump way up."