Back on September 29, we may have seen a preview of an unlikely Pacific-12 Conference football championship matchup, when the Washington State Cougars hosted the Utah Utes and escaped with a 28-24 victory.
Now, many weeks later, the Cougars lead the North Division, and the Utes lead the South Division. They could be on a collision course for a rematch with just two weeks remaining in the regular season for the Conference of Champions as WSU holds all the cards in an attempt to get the league into the College Football Playoff.
The Pac-12 is making a comeback in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, too, with three teams in currently: No. 8 WSU, No. 17 Washington, and No. 21 Utah. The Apple Cup will have special meaning this year in Pullman, won’t it?
One last note before the regular stuff below: We picked all five games last weekend perfectly, including that Cal upset over USC. Right now, we’re flying high with a 57-18 mark picking games this season. Woo-hoo!
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be happy?
The California Golden Bears beat the USC Trojans for the first time since 2003, and that certainly was cause for celebration in Berkeley—even though the game happened in Los Angeles. Yes, Aaron Rodgers was the Cal quarterback the last time the Bears knocked off the Trojans, and that may be all you need to know about why Cal has the happiest fans in the conference this week. Oh, and with six wins, the Golden Bears are bowl eligible, too.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be mad?
Take your pick between the Trojans fans and … no, it’s the Trojans fans. USC started the season ranked 15th in the preseason poll, but the team now sits at 5-5 on the year overall, 4-4 in conference, and the Trojans still have to play Notre Dame, the No. 3 team in the country right now. If USC wants to make a bowl game, it best be beating UCLA this Saturday in Pasadena.
Big performers from Week 11
Offensively, we’re going to go with WSU QB Gardner Minshew II … again. He threw for 335 yards and two touchdowns against the Colorado Buffaloes on the road in a 31-7 win, but Minshew also ran for a score. He’s not the most mobile of QBs, but check this out: His career yards-per-carry average in two seasons at East Carolina was minus-2.0 yards. That was on a combined 38 carries. This season alone with the Cougars, he has 41 official attempts for 86 total yards and three TDs. He’d never had a rushing TD before this season.
The last four games have seen Cal hold its opponents to an average of just 12.5 points per game. Down 14-0 at halftime on the road against USC, the Bears defense stepped up, led by senior linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk. He totaled 11 tackles against the Trojans, and he both forced and recovered a fumble, too, as Cal registered a safety in the third quarter and then came back to win the game, 15-14.
Unlucky Team of the Week
The Oregon Ducks have had some strange highs and strange lows this season, and it just got worse on Saturday after the Ducks blew a fourth-quarter lead at Utah. Halfway through the final period, Oregon was leading, 25-22, but the Ducks surrendered the final ten points of the game while giving up a total of 521 yards to the Utes offense. After winning just 11 games combined the last two years, Oregon should be happy to be 6-4 right now with a shot at nine total victories in 2018. But somehow, it doesn’t feel that way.
Big picture heading into Week 12
Once again, we have six games on Saturday, as the schedule gets down to the nitty gritty. There are two rivalry games—USC vs. UCLA, and The Big Game in the Bay Area—along with a third that may become one someday (Utah vs. Colorado). Then there are the other games … one of which features Washington State hosting Arizona with a lot on the line.
We will have our predictions for Week 12 on Friday morning.
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