There is a full slate of conference games this week, starting tonight, in the Pacific-12 Conference. ESPN’s College GameDay is headed for the Best Coast, too, as the No. 12 Oregon Ducks invade Pullman to face the No. 25 Washington State Cougars, and the No. 15 Washington Huskies try to salvage their season against the Colorado Buffaloes.
This is the fourth game in a row for the Ducks against a ranked opponent, and if Oregon wins, it could ride the momentum all the way to the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2014 when it reached the title game against Ohio State. Yet if the Cougars win, that opens up the Pac-12 North Division for both WSU and Washington.
Then there’s the Pac-12 South matchup between USC and Utah, which will play a big role in determining which school makes it to the conference title game against the North champion. If the Trojans win, it could be clear sailing for them to the title game, even though USC has no shot at the CFP right now.
After a rough week of predictions, our overall record sits at 41-11 right now. That is probably good enough to clinch a “winning season” already, but we want more. So, here’s a quick look at the Week 8 games in the Conference of Champions!
Stanford at Arizona State (6 pm Thursday): The Sun Devils are 3-0 at home this season, and even in two road losses to quality teams, they’ve hung tough. Overall, ASU is not a great team, but without Bryce Love at full strength, the Cardinal have been mediocre themselves. The star running back is expected to play tonight, and that should be the difference in the game for Stanford to finally, perhaps, get its season back on track. The Cardinal would need some help, but the team can still run the table and make it to the conference championship. The players are smart enough to know that. Stanford 35, Arizona State 31.
Colorado at No. 15 Washington (12:30 pm Saturday): The Buffs lost their shot at a perfect season last week against the Trojans, but there is still a lot to play for in Colorado’s eyes. An 11-1 season is a possibility, which means the Huskies will get a tough fight. A lot depends on how Washington recovers emotionally from the blown game in Eugene last weekend. It helps the Huskies are at home for this one, and that should make the difference. If the game was in Boulder, we’d be flipping this pick. Washington 31, Colorado 24.
California at Oregon State (1 pm Saturday): This is the Toilet Bowl of the season, featuring the only two conference teams without a league win right now. Remember when the Golden Bears were ranked for a split second? Seems painful now to remember. This is another game where home-field advantage helps, as it is not likely a lot of Cal fans are going to make the drive up I-5 to Corvallis. Oregon State 41, California 38.
No. 12 Oregon at No. 25 Washington State (4:30 pm Saturday): This is the first time College GameDay will be in Pullman, despite the WSU flag flying at 200-plus straight editions of the ESPN show. Oregon probably has more talent, and the Ducks probably are the better team. But last year, there was a similar situation with the Trojans visiting for a Friday night game on ESPN, and the Cougars pulled off the upset. Also, WSU is coming off a bye week, and Oregon may crash from its emotional home win over Washington. That gives the Cougs a solid chance here. Washington State 41, Oregon 31.
USC at Utah (5 pm Saturday): This could turn out to be the best game of the week, in truth. The Utes are one of the best-coached teams in the country, and to beat them at home, you have to be perfect. There’s little that The Trojans have done perfect on the field this season, especially on the road. Remember those ugly losses at Stanford and Texas? USC has won three straight since then, but don’t be fooled. Utah 31, USC 17.
Arizona at UCLA (7:30 pm Saturday): The Bruins have played much better the last two weeks, and they look to continue that progress in the desert against the Wildcats. Arizona is going to be one of those borderline bowl teams in 2018, and to make a bowl, it needs to win this game. We’re giving the coaching edge to UCLA, and that means the Bruins will pull off the “upset” in the Saturday night heat of Tucson. UCLA 31, Arizona 28.
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