After a week long hiatus and a few departures, the EDN staff is back to predict the results of Pac-12 action this week.
Season Pick’em Standings:
Ryan Beltram: 57-16
Isaac Rosenthal: 57-16
Corey Buchanan: 56-17
Franklin Bains: 53-20
The Ducks offensive line must be breathing a sigh of relief after facing three of the best front-7’s in college football the last three weeks. But more importantly for the Ducks as a whole, because USC triumphed over Stanford, Oregon controls its own destiny to the Pac-12 championship game. Arizona on the other hand has lost back to back home game to UCLA and Washington State and is still void of a win against an above average opponent.
X-factor: Ka’Deem Carey vs. Derrick Malone. As expected, Carey is having himself another awesome year for the Wildcats, already rushing for more than 1300 yards. Malone’s rise as the Ducks most reliable tackler was a little less predictable. It will be interesting to see if his shoulder injury will prevent him from winning one on one confrontations with one of the best RB’s in college football.
Corey: Oregon Franklin: Oregon Isaac: Oregon Ryan: Oregon
Utah(4-6, 1-6) at Washington State(5-5, 3-4) 12:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network.
Utah must fight to keep its bowl game hopes alive against WSU. It’s a shame that this Utah team might not make it to a bowl game due to its ridiculously tough schedule. Because this team is as solid as they come. The Cougars on the other hand must be thankful they beat USC early on or they would similarly have to win out to make it to a bowl game.
X-factor: Utah’s Defensive Front vs. Connor Halliday. Utah’s biggest strengths are run defense and rushing the passer. Unfortunately for the Utes, one of those two strengths will be irrelevant because WSU head coach Mike Leach absolutely refuses to run the ball consistently. However, a sense of predictability will give Utah’s tough D-line, headlined by future all-American Trevor Reilly, the ability to pin their heads down and sprint toward the QB without worrying about handoffs. WSU gives up 2.4 sacks per game. If Utah can sack Halliday four times or more, Utah will likely come out victorious.
Corey: WSU Franklin: Utah Isaac: WSU Ryan: Utah
California(1-10, 0-8) at Stanford(8-2, 6-2) 1 p.m., Fox Sports 1
After losing to USC, Stanford went from being in a home game to decide the Pac-12 title game to a likely a trip to the Holliday or Alamo Bowl. The Cardinal will either be melancholic or motivated to knock the living hell out of the Bears. Speaking of the Bears, Cal football is in dire straits right now. The Golden Bears have not come within 10 points of any opponent this season sans their win over Portland State.
X-factor: Jared Goff vs. The World. The lone bright spot for Cal has been their sometimes spectacular passing game which is ranked tenth in the nation in yards through the air. Goff will likely have to use his golden arm to heave the ball up their, hoping his lucky stars that it falls into the grasp of Chris Harper or Bryce Treggs. But seriously, Cal is absolutely dreadful in every other facet of the game, whereas Stanford is solid other than its sometimes erratic QB. The Golden Bears only hope is utter chaos.
Corey: Stanford Franklin: Stanford Isaac: Stanford Ryan: Stanford
No. 17 Arizona State at No. 14 UCLA 4 p.m., Fox Despite being the highest ranked team of the three teams in the top-3 of the Pac-12 South, UCLA likely must defeat both USC and ASU to reach the Pac-12 title game. ASU only has to win this matchup to make it. At a glance, this game seams like an inevitable shootout. Both teams feature balanced attacks headlined by marquee QB’s. However, both defenses are sneaky good as well. ASU’s opportunistic secondary picked off highly prolific OSU QB Sean Mannion four times and UCLA didn’t allow Bishop Sankey 100 yards rushing or Keith Price 200 yards passing against Washington. Other than a few hiccup games, both teams have more than held their own defensively.
X-factor: UCLA Running Back? The running back position at UCLA has epitomized the “revolving door” cliche this year. Despite THREE injured UCLA RB’s, including starter Jordon James, UCLA was able to rush for over 200 yards against the Huskies. Even better, linebacker Myles Jack had four touchdowns. If Jack can bulldoze his way to the end-zone like he did against Washington last week and Paul Perkins can continue his admirable performance as featured back, UCLA should be able to win this one at home.
Corey: UCLA Franklin: ASU Isaac: UCLA Ryan: UCLA
No. 25 USC(8-3, 5-2) at Colorado(4-6, 1-6) 6:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
One well-executed and gutsy slants call on fourth and two paid off big time for the Trojans. Before this game, this only thing Trojan faithful had to celebrate was the firing of maligned former head coach Lane Kiffin. Now USC has an outside shot at breaking out the champagne in honor of something more substantial: a Pac-12 title. However by outside I mean, in a galaxy far far away. USC must win-out and ASU must lose-out for the Trojans to play the PAC-12 North champ. Colorado may not yet be able to play competitively against the best of em just yet, but after a one win season, four wins isn’t too shabby for the Buffaloes.
X-factor: Marquis Lee vs. Paul Richardson. Who would’ve thought before the year that Richardson would have twice as many receiving yards as Lee. Lee may be the first(or at least the second) receiver off the board in April’s draft, but despite the lack of notoriety, Richardson also looks like an NFL talent. It will be interesting to see who outperforms who Saturday night.
Corey: USC Franklin: USC Isaac: USC Ryan: USC
Washington(6-4, 3-4) at Oregon State(6-4, 4-3) 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
Another year that began with hope and promise that Husky football would retain its former glory is down the drain. Despite having a talented and experienced roster, Washington just hasn’t been able to stop quality opponents. UW has given up an average of 43 point per game against the cream of the Pac-12 crop(Oregon, Stanford, UCLA and ASU). But like Utah, this team is better than its record would indicate. Bishop Sankey is fourth in the nation in rushing and QB Keith Price has a 19/4 TD/INT ratio. On the other side of the coin, the Beavers was sitting pretty with a 5-1 record until its schedule smacked them in the face. Good thing they beat Utah in overtime early on, because they would have had to win this one or beat Oregon to get into the bowl festivities.
The Huskies rank 20th in the nation in pass yards allowed. Sean Mannion ranks number one in the nation in pass yards thrown. It is unlikely that the Beaver defense can stop the Huskies balanced attack but the other side of the ball is still up in the air. Will we see the Sean Mannion who has thrown seven picks in the last two games, or the one who looked like a Heisman candidate?
Corey: Washington Franklin: OSU Isaac: Washington Ryan: OSU