Hopefully, it will be a quiet and productive weekend for the Pacific-12 Conference in college football, with no major matchups on the schedule for the league—although some of the national dominoes could keep falling that will open up chances for the champion of the Conference of (real NCAA) Champions to get into the College Football Playoff this winter.
The Pac-12 has two teams ranked in the non-sensical Associated Press poll’s Top 8 right now, and if both Oregon and Utah keep winning, one of them should have a good shot at making the CFP. Overall, conference strength is strong, as Jeff Sagarin’s conference rankings have the league’s North Division at No. 4 overall in the nation right now.
Schools like Washington and USC need to keep winning as well in order to boost the conference’s overall profile nationally. Both the Huskies and Trojans are on the verge of cracking the Top 25 again sometime soon after earlier setbacks.
Our 49-23 mark in predictions this year doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, but this is what we have going on this weekend in the Pac-12 football realm.
Stanford at Washington State (1:30 pm Saturday): The Cougars are all alone in the basement of the North Division, and they need to win this game to get bowl eligible. It helps WSU to be at home, as the Cardinal are just 1-3 on the road this year. But neither team is really any good. A lot of teams have exploited WSU this year, and Stanford should be well coached enough to do the same. Still … The Cougars might have enough in the tank to win this one, despite their coaching disadvantage. Washington State 31, Stanford 24.
Arizona State at Oregon State (4:30 pm Saturday): We like the direction the Beavers are heading, and we don’t really believe in Herm Edwards. On paper, this should be a close one, yet on the field in Corvallis, we like Oregon State a lot. Strangely, the Beavers are just 1-4 at home this season, but that’s a schedule-strength quirk. The Sun Devils have lost three straight, as well. Oregon State 44, Arizona State 38.
UCLA at No. 8 Utah (5 pm Saturday): The Utes have a lot to play for, but so do the Bruins, who sit just one game behind Utah in the South Division, surprisingly. Could this be an upset-watch kind of game? Sure, but it will not be, not on the Utes’ home field. The UCLA schedule has been soft recently, allowing the Bruins to be more competitive than they probably are in reality. They’re still a year away. Utah 38, UCLA 21.
Arizona at No. 6 Oregon (7:30 pm Saturday): The Wildcats have lost four in a row, and that’s not how you want to roll into Eugene when the Ducks are national-title contenders again. The Arizona defense is porous, and the Oregon offense is excellent. This has mismatch written all over it. Oregon 56, Arizona 28.
Southern California at California (8 pm Saturday): What is with the late start in Berkeley? The Trojans are a half game behind Utah in the South Division and hold the tiebreaker. They have a lot to play for still in 2019. The Golden Bears broke a four-game losing streak at home last week, thanks to officiating, perhaps. The Cal defense is stifling at times, and the USC offense is averaging over 30 points per game this season. Can the Bears pull off an upset at home? We say yes. Cal 28, USC 24.
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