What not to miss in the Pac-12 during Oregon’s bye week
After this week’s Pac-12 conference games, every team in the conference will have officially entered Pac-12 play.
With No. 2 Oregon and Arizona receiving byes for the week (both teams meet next week on Thursday night in Eugene), the remaining 10 teams will play one another and take a step closer to the Pac-12 championship game at Levi’s Stadium.
The games feature a top-15 showdown between No. 11 UCLA and No. 15 Arizona State in Tempe, Arizona. It’s a game that’s expected to be high-scoring and end with a clear front runner for the Pac-12 South crown.
Here’s a list of what to watch for the Pac-12 this week.
Players to Watch
John Ross, Washington wide recover: The speedy wideout is one of the most dynamic athletes in the conference and it shows with his insane 37.3 yards per catch and three touchdowns on six total catches. Ross, though battling a leg injury, has the potential to steal away the game from No. 16 Stanford. But first he needs to find his way onto the field.
Jared Goff, California quarterback: Goff is the best quarterback in the conference that you haven’t heard of. The sophomore with the maturity of a senior has completed 65 percent of his passes for 890 yards and 10 touchdowns to lead the Golden Bears to a 2-1 record. How Cal responds after its heartbreaking loss to Arizona last week will depend on the maturity of the sophomore leader.
Matchups to Watch
Oregon State tight end Connor Hamlet vs. Stanford’s defense backs: Standing 6-foot-7 and weighing 266 pounds, Hamlet is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. If Oregon State is going to shock the conference and pull off the upset, Hamlet is going to have to make the tough catches against Stanford’s vaunted defense and keep the chains moving for the Beavers, and hopefully, allow the running game to open up.
Washington State defensive line vs. Utah offensive line: Travis Wilson is a very talented quarterback for the Utes, so stopping him will be like cutting the head off a snake. If Washington State can repeat last week’s seven sack performance against Marcus Mariota and the Ducks, look for the Cougars to take complete control of the game and emerge from Utah with a rare victory.
Games to Watch
Washington vs. No. 16 Stanford: The winner of this game will quickly establish itself as Oregon’s main challenger to the Pac-12 North Division crown. Stanford already has a loss (vs. USC) so the Cardinal really can’t afford another loss, while Washington is looking to establish some sort of identity in new head coach Chris Petersen’s first year.
No. 18 USC vs. Oregon State: The Beavers haven’t won in Los Angeles in over 50 years, so the timing for a much needed victory couldn’t come at a better time. Oregon State is looking to establish itself as a true threat in the tough Pac-12 North and a victory over a Pac-12 South front runner could do just that. Meanwhile, the Trojans are coming off their first loss of the year, so expect the Trojans to get back to their rough style of play after being pushed around against Boston College two weeks ago.
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