Around the Pac-12, Week 10
No. 21 USC (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12) at Colorado (1-8, 0-5 Pac-12) (Friday, 6 p.m.) ESPN
Fresh off one of the best games in recent Pac-12 (and Pac-10) memory, a 56-48 triple-overtime loss to No. 4 Stanford, the Trojans will visit Boulder to face a considerably less challenging foe. The Buffaloes have lost six games in a row, five of them by double digits. They sit at the bottom of the NCAA standings in nearly every major category — 98th (out of 120) in rushing, 111th in points scored, and 117th in points allowed. If they’re able to recover from the Saturday’s devastating loss, USC should have little trouble taking advantage. Although susceptible on defense, USC has improved as the year has progressed, from beating woeful Minnesota by two points in the season opener to beating Notre Dame and almost upsetting a top-five team in the last two weeks.
No. 4 Stanford (8-0, 6-0 Pac-12) at Oregon State (Saturday, 12:30 p.m.) ABC
Barring an epic letdown, which is a possibility considering the magnitude and intensity of their win over USC, Stanford should roll against an overmatched Beaver squad. The Cardinal are third in the nation in scoring, 13th in points allowed and are only two weeks removed from recording a school-record 446 rushing yards against Washington. Oregon State, meanwhile, allowed 225 yards on the ground to Utah in a 27-8 loss to the Utes a week ago. While they may be able to take advantage of an injury-ravaged Cardinal squad (linebacker Shayne Skov, kicker Jordan Williamson, tight end Zach Ertz, and safety Delano Howell are key contributors expected to be out), the Beavers’ best chance for an upset will lie in their strong passing attack. Oregon State is 22nd nationally in passing yards per game, while Stanford ranks seventh in the conference in pass defense.
Washington State (3-5, 1-4 Pac-12) at California (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) (Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
Last weekend, the Bears inexplicably lost 31-14 to a UCLA team that had all but given up on coach Rick Neuheisel. The problem for Cal, as it has been all season, was turnovers. Golden Bears quarterback Zach Maynard threw four interceptions against UCLA and has now tossed 10 picks on the season. That’s why Cal coach Jeff Tedford, for the first time this season, claimed he would at least consider replacing Maynard with backup Allan Bridgford, although all signs point to Maynard getting at least one more opportunity to prove his competence. Washington State may present an opportunity for Cal’s offense to regain its swagger. The Cougars are ninth in the league in points allowed (32 per game) and even worse defending the pass, ranking 11th in opponent’s passing efficiency. However, Washington State’s offense could pose problems for Cal’s 60th-ranked scoring defense — the Cougars are 33rd nationally in scoring offense.
Utah (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) at Arizona (2-6, 1-5 Pac-12) (Saturday, 4 p.m.)
Utah bounced back from a blowout loss to California with a 27-8 win over Oregon State last weekend. They might face a more difficult test in an Arizona squad that’s better than its record indicates. The Wildcats have played well in the two games since former coach Mike Stoops was fired, first beating UCLA 48-12, then suffering a competitive 42-31 loss to a Washington team already bowl eligible. Although it does have a suspect defense, Arizona’s offense is one of the league’s best. The Wildcats and quarterback Nick Foles rank third nationally in passing offense and 88th in the nation in scoring offense. In many ways, Utah is the polar opposite of Arizona. The Utes have a strong defense (ranked 28th nationally in points allowed), but an anemic offense (ranked 100th in passing and 88thin points scored). With starting quarterback Jordan Wynn out for the year with a shoulder injury, Utah has relied heavily upon running back John White IV, who has rushed for 915 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
No. 20 Arizona State (6-2, 4-1 Pac-12) at UCLA (4-4, 3-2 Pac-12) (Saturday, 4:30)
Although UCLA delayed the seemingly inevitable firing of head coach Rick Neuheisel by notching a surprising win over Cal last weekend, the Bruins will still face a major talent deficit against the Sun Devils. UCLA has moved the ball well on the ground at times (they rank 34th nationally in rushing yards per game), but the Bruin passing attack has been inconsistent at best and is a main reason why UCLA is ranked only 82nd nationally in points scored. The defense, which was touted as one of the conference’s better units in the preseason, has also struggled, allowing an average of 31.9 points per game, ranking the Bruins 92nd in the nation in points allowed. Arizona State, conversely, rebounded from its loss to Oregon a few weeks back with a 48-14 shellacking of woeful Colorado last weekend. The Sun Devils feature a balanced offensive attack, led by quarterback Brock Osweiler (2,275 yards passing, 17 touchdowns) and running back Cameron Marshall (632 yards rushing, 12 touchdowns). Vontaze Burfict leads a Sun Devil defense that has allowed 20 points or fewer in three of its past four games and ranks 29th nationally in points allowed.
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