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It’s been a wild few days in the world of college football, and the Pac-12 Conference has been at the center of the action. After more than two years without a win, the University of Arizona finally was able to come out victorious against a depleted Cal team, missing 24 players to COVID-19.
Speaking of, the NCAA almost made it through the entire regular season without any cancellations due to the pandemic until this week. USC at Cal was postponed until Dec. 4, the day after the Pac-12 Championships, due to the outbreak among the Bears program.
There’s a couple of different things in play that would allow both Oregon and Utah to clinch their respective divisions this weekend, but it won’t be easy for them. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect from this week’s slate of games.
No.24 Utah @ Arizona – Noon
Last week, Arizona (1-8 overall, 1-5 conference) snapped a 20-game skid with a 10-3 win over Cal. Scoring the lone touchdown of the game with just over two minutes remaining, Arizona was able to take the lead and nab its first win since Oct. 5, 2019. Don’t let the score fool you, though, as it was far from a defensive battle. With around two dozen players missing for Cal because of COVID-19 protocols, it was far from their best performance.
This week Arizona will face a much harder test against Utah (7-2 overall, 6-0 conference), as they look to clinch the Pac-12 South with a win (and a loss by Arizona State). There’s not much to say about this matchup, other than Utah is much stronger in pretty much every metric there is. Expect Utah to cruise to a win.
Britt’s Pick: Utah
Shane’s Pick: Utah
Spread: Utah -24.5
Moneyline: Arizona +1200/Utah -2500
Stanford @ Oregon State – 3:30
Stanford (3-6 overall, 2-5 conference) has had moments showing insane potential to be a threat within the conference. However, injuries have ransacked the roster, leaving the Cardinal limping to the finish. The Beavers, on the other hand, have had a much better season than most people outside of Corvallis anticipated. Right now, they’re only one game away from being bowl-eligible, a huge accomplishment for the Beaver squad.
Oregon State is sitting at no. 37 in the FBS for total offense, racking up an average of 441.2 yards per game. More specifically, the Beavers are absolutely shredding the ground game this year. They’re currently leading the Pac-12, and sitting at no. 9 in the FBS, averaging 229.9 yards per game. This doesn’t stack up well against Stanford, who currently has the worst rushing defense in the conference and is only three spots above dead-last, giving up 232.1 yards per game on the ground alone. Expect the Beavers to defend the dam.
Britt’s Pick: Oregon State
Shane’s Pick: Oregon State
Spread: Oregon State -12
Moneyline: Stanford +375/Oregon State -510
Arizona State @ Washington – 5:00
Arizona State (6-3 overall, 4-2 conference) has struggled on the road this year, dropping two of their three road games so far. In both of the losses away from home, the Sun Devils essentially beat themselves with penalties and the turnovers. Speaking of turnovers, the Sun Devils have specifically struggled with fumbles, something they’re going to have to pay close attention to based on the game’s weather forecast.
Expect Arizona State to attack the run game for two different reasons. First, Jayden Daniels has struggled to look comfortable in recent weeks. He’s been far less productive this season than originally expected. Second, the Sun Devils have established themselves as a strong rushing offense. They’re tied for no. 24 in the FBS for average rushing yards per game with 201.6.
Stopping the run is a flaw for Washington (4-5 overall, 3-3 conference), who is giving up an average of 195 yards per game. That’s why they have one of the top passing defenses in the country. Nobody needs to pass the ball on them that frequently when they can establish the run.
The Huskies are very reliant on freshman quarterback Dylan Morris. Morris has shown the potential to wreak havoc; however, he’s also shown he’s still not fully comfortable. Right now, the Huskies are averaging 216.8 passing yards per game, putting them in the middle of the Pac. However, Washington has struggled to establish the run, averaging only 115.3 yards per game. Expect the Sun Devil defense to eat that stat up, as they’re also currently ranked no. 24 in the nation for total defense.
Britt’s Pick: Arizona State
Shane’s Pick: Washington
Spread: Arizona State -5.5
Moneyline: Washington +190/Arizona State -235
Colorado @ UCLA – 7:00
It’s been a rough season for Colorado (3-6 overall, 2-4), as they’ve never quite been able to find an offensive identity. Right now, the Buffs are ranked no. 126 for total passing yards with an average of only 138.4 yards per game. Their ability to run the ball isn’t much better, as they’re ranked no. 99 with only 131.9 yards per game. They’re going to be in for a long night against UCLA (5-4 overall, 3-3).
The Bruins had success early this season but have struggled to remain on the same upward trajectory. Regardless, the Bruins are one victory away from bowl eligibility and should be able to break the six-win threshold this week. Right now, the Bruins are averaging 415 total offensive yards per game. Knowing Colorado has struggled to stop the run and UCLA is currently no. 28 in the FBS for rushing with just under 200 yards per game, expect the Bruins to pound the rock.
Britt’s Pick: UCLA
Shane’s Pick: UCLA
Spread: UCLA -18
Moneyline: Colorado +600/UCLA -900
Washington State @ No. 3 Oregon – 8:30
Washington State (5-4 overall, 4-2) is looking to close out the final three weeks on a high-note following a tumultuous overall season. It’s going to be a huge task, but Stanford showed earlier in the year stopping Oregon (8-1 overall, 5-1) isn’t impossible.
Right now, Washington State is averaging just under 260 passing yards per game, the second best in the Pac-12 behind USC. But the Cougars don’t run the ball as well, only averaging 115.7 yards per game. Oregon’s defense may be sitting at no. 59 in the FBS allowing an average of 369 yards per game, but they’re much stronger at shutting down the run game than the pass. Things may work in favor for Washington State if they’re able to execute right, which would make the race for the Pac-12 North an interesting one.
From Oregon’s perspective, the Ducks are sitting in the middle of the conference for passing yards, averaging around 222 yards per game in the air. On the ground, though, they’re much stronger, even without running back CJ Verdell. Their ability to run the ball has them at no. 17 in the FBS rankings at 218 yards per game.
Washington State’s defense is average, no more and no less, but they’re slightly better at stopping the pass than the run. Oregon is going to have to be careful in this game. They may be favored and playing at home, but they can’t get caught off guard by overlooking this Washington State team. A win for the Ducks, along with a loss for their rivals at Oregon State, would allow Oregon to claim the Pac-12 North.
Britt’s Pick: Washington State
Shane’s Pick: Oregon
Spread: Oregon -14
Moneyline: Washington State +450/Oregon -630