Ah, the day after Thanksgiving. Such a strange contrast of activities. Half the state embarks on the 2 a.m. human stampede that is Black Friday, while the other half mails it in and sleeps off the Thursday feast before going back for round two (or three, or four, or...).
That being said, I hope everything had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Hopefully we can use some of this newfound holiday cheer to reverse the failing football fortunes in Arizona. With the combined losing streak now stretched to nine games, we're almost reaching critical mass. Another 0-3 week may just cause the state spontaneously combust. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be too surprising.
Arizona State -13 vs. UCLA
Alright, the battle for 8th place in the Pac-10. This should be a barnburner.
The Bruins have been following the patented-Sun-Devil-path through the college football season. Win enough early in the season so that people think you may actually be half-decent, then once you've got them fooled -- lose, lose, lose. These teams are almost mirror-images of mediocrity.
The UCLA attack has been listless, to say the least; though the revolving door at quarterback surely hasn't helped matters. At this point, the backfield tandem of Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman has been the only noteworthy aspect of an otherwise anemic offense.
But someone has to win. ASU has lost two in a row, while UCLA's streak remains at one. Doesn't it seem like the Bruins are due for another losing streak? In the case of a toss-up, go with the home team.
Intern Prediction: Arizona State 24, UCLA 17
Arizona +19 @ Oregon
The toughest test for the Oregon Ducks' run to the title game probably comes this Friday, when the Wildcats take their talents to Eugene. If last year's matchup - a double overtime 44-41 thriller -- is any indication, this game is going to have some fireworks.
Still, while both teams are significantly better than their previous incarnations, it seems safe to say that the Ducks have taken a much bigger leap than the Wildcats. Running their record to 10-0, the No. 1 team in the country has smashed everyone in their path, winning by a whopping 33.5 points per game. Quite frankly, that is absurd. Madden-esque.
Running back LaMichael James has amassed 18 total touchdowns and may win this year's Heisman Trophy. Meanwhile the Darren Thomas - Jeff Maehl connection has made the Ducks fans forget all about that guy named Jeremiah Masoli.
With the Eugene crazies out in full effect, it may be a struggle for Arizona to even keep this one close.
Intern Prediction: Oregon 48, Arizona 30
It's been said before, but I'm going to repeat it because my brain just can't wrap itself around the idea: both the Cardinals and the 49ers are 3-7, yet they're only two games back from the division lead. Simply incredible. Ladies and gentleman, the NFC West. (Here's a fun game to play: combine each NFC West team's current streak. What's it come to? Nine losses in a row. Nice.)
With five consecutive losses - two of which came within the plushy confines of University of Phoenix Stadium - the Cardinals morale seems to be at an all-time low. Just take a look at Adrian Wilson's response when asked if he was going to give his teammates any motivational speeches:
"What's the point of doing that if they're not going to listen? It will just fall on deaf ears and you'll be right back to square one. Guys have to be their own motivator. You can't motivate somebody else to play and to not make a mistake."
Not the best thing to hear. The team's massive frustration is clearly beginning to bubble up to the surface as the season goes on. Continuous losing is taking its toll on the veterans that have grown accustomed to the winning way.
Meanwhile, across the division the 49ers have pulled a reverse-Cardinals. After starting the season 0-5, they have managed to somewhat right the ship, posting a 3-2 record in their last five games. Quarterback Troy Smith has performed reasonably well in his three starts, winning two of them and compiling a 90.8 QB rating.
Still, like always, with the Cardinals it's a "feel" thing. Logic goes out the window. You can't predict them; you just go with your gut. Maybe I'm blind, but I think they can pull something crazy out under the bright Monday lights.
They'll win, but it'll be in some sort of outrageous classic-Cardinals fashion, and we'll all have lost a few years off our lives by the end of it.
Intern Prediction: Cardinals 27, 49ers 26
Last week's record: 1-0
Total record: 16-9