Last week was my first time picking every game for the PAC-12, granted it was just to see how I’d do, and as it turned out I did pretty solid (7-1, big thanks to Arizona for my lone loss). With Oregon and USC resting up on their bye week, that means there will only be five games taking place. At least two of them are expected to be close. Unfortunately, the same number of games probably will be over before the second half begins.
Arizona State (3-2) vs. #21 Colorado (4-0) – 10/6 on PACN at 3:00 PM CT
Arizona State came back strong after tough seven point losses at San Diego State and at Washington in back-to-back weeks, crushing Oregon State, 52-24. RB Eno Benjamin went off, to say the least. The sophomore back had a record-breaking night, averaging over 10 YPC, surpassing 300 yards, and scored three times on 30 carries. HC Herm Edwards has done a commendable job at what he’s done so far in his first year with the program. He’s taken a team that was expected to finish well within the lower half of the PAC-12 and has his guys with a record above .500, and a 1-1 record against top 25 teams.
Colorado has been one of the more surprising teams, too. They don’t quite standout anywhere, statistically, but they’re off to a hot start and are the last undefeated team in the conference. One reason you’d maybe want to pump the breaks on how good they may be is the fact that their opponents have a combined record of just 1-16. So this is going to be the first real test for the Buffaloes. Being at home will definitely be an advantage for them, as both of the Sun Devil’s losses have come on the road.
This is the toughest game to call, in my opinion. Colorado has looked great, but they’ve only played extremely bad teams. On the other side, Arizona State has played a much tougher schedule and have looked “off” in a few games. I’m going to take the team that has been more battle-tested. Although I do think it’ll close.
Prediction: 31-26, Arizona State.
#10 Washington (4-1) vs. UCLA (0-4) – 10/6 on FOX at 6:30 PM CT
The Huskies are on a tear, having won four straight after a losing a thriller to Auburn to open their season. QB Jake Browning seems to be doing just fine after torching the BYU defense, silencing any further talks of regression in his play. RB Myles Gaskin continues to be the leader of a dynamic rushing attack. Don’t be surprised if the ground game finishes with over 200 yards. Then there’s the defense. The defense has yet to allow a team to score more than 21 points. Over the past four games, the Huskies’ defense has only given up 9.2 per game. That spells trouble for the team on the other side.
I’ll be honest, UCLA may not win a game this season. The inexperience, and difficulty of schedule just does not mesh well together. The offense and defense both struggle, immensely, as both rank outside of the top 98. After an injury to their starting QB, freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson has taken command of the offense. As a freshman trying to lead one of the least experienced teams in the country, he’s done a pretty decent job. However, this one probably won’t be much of a game. Two opposites collide, and the result will be what you’d expect.
I’ll keep this short and sweet. I don’t think this one will be close. Washington should flat out dominate and begin preparing for their trip to Eugene, Oregon, at halftime.
Prediction: 38-7, Washington.
Washington State (4-1) vs. Oregon State (1-4) – 10/6 on PACN at 8:00 PM CT
The Cougars rallied and had an impressive 28-24 win against a Utah team that featured the top ranked defense in all of college football. That makes me wonder just how many they’ll score against a near nonexistent Oregon State defense. QB Greg Minshew leads the no. 1 ranked aerial assault against the second worst ranked defense. He should be able to throw it all over the yard in this matchup.
The Beavers may not be good, but they’ve been fairly competitive in every game they’ve played. Freshman RB Jermar Jefferson is the player that shines the most for this team, and it’s easy to see why. Jefferson has over 725 yards rushing, averaging 6.9 YPC and has eight touchdowns. Just last week, against Arizona State, he rushed for 254 yards (8.1 YPC) and found the end-zone twice. He’ll get his numbers this week. It’s just a matter of how much he’ll produce.
Washington State really impressed me against Utah. This team is better than most think. At the beginning of the season, I said that Oregon State would be lucky to win more than two games. I’m not about to give them their second dub against this team.
Prediction: 45-21, Washington State.
California (3-1) vs. Arizona (2-3) – 10/6 on FS1 at 9:00 PM CT
The Golden Bears dropped outside of the top 25 after suffering their first loss of the season to the Oregon Ducks, last weekend. They’re looking to find their way back in the win column this week, as they face a rather disappointing Wildcats team. California’s balanced offensive will be key to a victory in Tucson. The Golden Bears average 198 yards through the air and 195 yards on the ground, respectively. Doing so, they’d be able to keep the now seemingly explosive Arizona offense, which ranks 25th overall, off of the field.
HC Kevin Sumlin finally has this offense running efficiently. After their first two losses, the Wildcats have averaged 39 points, racking up 25 first downs, and 517 yards per contest. The Wildcats will need to make sure they don’t turn the ball over and score points when possible because their defense hasn’t looked great and may not be of much help. The team is hovering around the century mark when it comes to total defense and rank 108th against the run. If Cal is able to move the ball and keep the offense off the field, this one may be tough for Arizona.
I’m expecting this to be rather close. I think Cal will keep the ball out QB Khalil Tate’s hands, limiting the amount of damage they’ll be able to do while giving their defense rest. If Arizona’s defense can create some turnovers, they can potentially hand Cal back-to-back losses. That being said, I’m not counting on that happening.
Prediction: 31-24, California.
Utah (2-2) vs. #14 Stanford (4-1) – 10/6 on ESPN at 9:30 PM CT
The Utes have lost two in a row. Avoiding a third straight is going to be a difficult task. The Cardinal are likely to play pretty ticked off after getting beat down by Notre Dame. Utah held a highly explosive Washington State offense, that averaged 42 PPG coming in, to just 28 points. The no. 5 defense in college football is going to have to come to play. Oregon and Notre Dame proved that if you can match the physicality of a Stanford team, you give yourself a good chance. The battle in trenches will have to be won by Utah on Saturday.
The Cardinal very well could be 2-2. The Cardinal defense of old has yet to look that way, which is something I touched on before the season began. I said it’d take a bit of time for them to look like the Stanford defense we’re all used to seeing. Seems like that’s ringing true as of right now. The offense has had its fair share of ups and downs, as well. While star RB Bryce Love, has failed to look like one for the majority of the year, partly due to being tampered by injuries, a new one has emerged in WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside. He could, and more than likely will, give the Utes’ secondary fits. If Love is able to get going, the Stanford offense could be a major challenge for Utah.
I’m expecting this to be a more sloppy and brutal game. Utah hasn’t looked great, and neither has Stanford. Stanford, however, has played the tougher teams of the two. If Love isn’t 100%, look for Arcega-Whiteside’s number to be called. Personally, I think it’ll take a bit for each offense to get going, which will result in a rather low scoring affair.
Prediction: 24-20, Stanford.
First image taken from: http://arizonasports.com/story/1684935/eno-benjamin-historic-asu-rushing-record-yards-after-catch/
Second image taken from: https://www.oregonlive.com/beavers/index.ssf/2018/09/is_jermar_jefferson_the_best_f.html
Third image taken from: https://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2018/9/29/17918834/bryce-love-injury-stanford-notre-dame