What a season! It all comes down to one game, really, in Santa Clara, CA, tomorrow night as the Utah Utes and the Washington Huskies face off for the Pacific-12 Conference football title at Levi’s Stadium.
How did we get here? Feel free to review the archives of this season to experience it all again. The Conference of Champions will not be participating in the silly College Football Playoff in 2018, but that doesn’t matter. There’s a Rose Bowl berth on the line, and that’s more important than a mythical national championship not sanctioned by the NCAA.
Oh, and there’s another game going on this weekend in the Bay Area, too: The Big Game is happening on Saturday in Berkeley. This is the end of the regular-season schedule, so to speak, and our predictive record is 66-21 this season. There are still bowl games to predict, of course, but that’s a pretty fat mark to brag about in the meantime.
No. 17 Utah at No. 11 Washington (5 pm Friday): On September 15, the Huskies went to Salt Lake City and beat the Utes, 21-7, and both teams are playing a lot better now than they were then. However, Washington’s season is about redemption now, and Utah’s season may have already reached its pinnacle. The Utes won the Pac-12 South for the first time ever, and Utah also posted a huge comeback win last week over in-state rival BYU. The Utes might be spent, content with all they’ve accomplished this season, even if Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham is one of the best in business—trained at the feet of Urban Meyer—and won’t let his team slag off now. But the Huskies are led by Chris Petersen, who is a little better as a head coach. Washington started the season in the Top 10 and fell out because of three fluky road losses by a combined ten points. To think the Huskies can still reach the Rose Bowl and post a Top 5 finish means the kids from Seattle will be very motivated still. The Rose Bowl still means more to the Pac-12 teams than anything else. Washington 35, Utah 17.
Stanford at California (12 pm Saturday): The Cardinal have won eight straight in this series, but the Golden Bears are stronger than they’ve been in years. Both teams are 7-4, with Stanford one game ahead of Cal in the Pac-12 North Division standings. The Golden Bears have won four of their last five, the one loss coming on the road in the rain at Washington State. In those five games, the Cal defense has surrendered an average of just 14 points per game. That’s stingy. Meanwhile, the Cardinal have scored 97 points in their last two games combined. Something’s gotta give, and usually it’s a good defense that triumphs in these situations. The Golden Bears will be able to shut down both the Stanford running and passing games and win this one. California 24, Stanford 21.
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