The majority of Pac-12 teams are finally entering conference play this week, and while a select few have already squared off against division opponents, we will at long last get the first real look of where everyone fits in.
There are some extremely interesting games this weekend as well, which will likely tell us a lot about a few teams that we don’t seem to know much about. You have No. 24 UCLA traveling to play Stanford, and USC hosting Oregon State. There is also the barn-burner between Colorado and Arizona State, two teams with high upside and low floors.
While the Oregon Ducks will wrap up the action against Arizona on Saturday night, there will be a full day of Pac-12 action leading up to the big game in Autzen. Here is how we think things will shake out in the Pac:
Washington State Cougars at Utah Utes (-15)
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Utah has been one of the more disappointing teams in the Pac-12 so far this season, dropping back-to-back games to BYU and San Diego State. There was an early belief that they might be able to make some noise in the South Division and contend for a spot in the Pac-12 Championship, but that seems in doubt right now. As for Washington State, they have losses to both Utah State and USC this season, with a lone win against Portland State. Their loss to USC a week ago was extremely embarrassing, as they gave up 45-unanswered points to a backup QB and were blown out after taking an early 14-0 lead. In a game that will be played in the altitude of Salt Lake City, it feels safe to say Utah will be able to bounce back and win an easy one. Give me Utah 31, Washington State 13.
No. 24 UCLA Bruins (-4.5) at Stanford Cardinal
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In my opinion, this is the marquee game of the weekend for the Pac-12 slate. UCLA suffered a heartbreaking loss to Fresno State last week, but they still hold onto a Top-25 ranking despite the defeat. Stanford, on the other hand, lost an embarrassing season-opener against Kansas State, but came back with impressive wins over USC and Vanderbilt in back-to-back weeks. While UCLA feels like a team that is the favorite to make it to the Pac-12 Championship from the South Division, Stanford could definitely stay in the mix should they keep things pointing in the right direction. For the Ducks, this is also a great preview for what they’ll see Week 5 when they travel to Palo Alto. Give me Stanford 28, UCLA 24.
California Golden Bears at Washington Huskies (-7.5)
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Both Washington and Cal have been pretty disappointing this season, with the Huskies having high hopes coming in, but quickly suffering the worst defeat in program history in Week 1, losing to the Montana Grizzlies at home. For Cal, not many people expected them to be great this year, and they’ve looked as advertised, dropping games against Nevada and TCU, beating Sacramento State last week. In a game that only diehard fans will watch, I expect Washington go get a relatively easy win at home, with their offense getting closer to back on the right track again. Give me Washington 35, California 14.
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What a wild couple of weeks it has been for USC. Head coach Clay Helton was fired two weeks ago, and then QB Kedon Slovis went down early against Washington State last week, leading the way for Jaxson Dart to take over. Dart actually looked great, and like he would be able to take over as the potential starter for the Trojans, but a knee injury has reportedly knocked him out for the time being. That’s a lot of drama and noise to focus on. As for the Beavers, they actually look competent, winning two of their games so far, beating both Hawaii and Idaho, and losing to Purdue. There should be some confidence that Oregon State can stay in this game and give USC a real fight. In the end, I like the Trojans at home, though. USC 31, Oregon State 27.
Colorado Buffaloes at Arizona State Sun Devils (-14)
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Arizona State came into the season with high hopes, but they’ve fallen a bit after a loss to BYU last week. We also had some respect for Colorado after a Week 2 game against No. 5 Texas A&M where they stuck close with the Aggies, losing 10-7. However, their 30-0 blowout loss to Minnesota last week was disappointing. This feels like a game that Arizona State should be able to win relatively easily, while they look to prove that they are still a team to beat in the South Division. Give me the Sun Devils, 28-10.