Gold: Final Thoughts and Predictions for Week 5 in the Pac-12
Week 4 went a long way toward beginning to separate the contenders from the pretenders in the Pac-12.
With 3 games between ranked Pac-12 squads, we learned a little bit something about the likes of UCLA and Colorado, and maybe even Oregon State, for that matter.
We learned that the Bruins and Buffaloes certainly don’t have any bulk up front, and we learned that the bulk the Beavers do have might not matter all that much, not with a shallow wide receiver corps and a tentative DJ Uiagalelei.
Week 5 doesn’t have quite the marquee matchups, as USC’s visit to Boulder is the second most interesting game on the schedule. Problem is, the most interesting game comes on Friday night.
Here are some final thoughts and a prediction for every Week 5 Pac-12 game …
No. 19 Oregon State vs. No. 10 Utah, 6 pm Friday, FS1
We’re officially starting to worry about Cam Rising, whose long-awaited 2023 debut continues to be delayed. Will he be back this week? Who knows? Will it matter? Definitely.
The Utah offense can only get away with playing the way it did in Week 4 for so long. UCLA was thought to have the weapons on offense to make it tough on the Utes’ banged-up defense, but the Bruins collapsed under Morgan Scalley’s pressure. That gave Nate Johnson and the Utah offense a long leash, and they needed every ounce of it, scoring just 1 touchdown.
That can’t happen again. And it won’t: Oregon State is more experienced up front than UCLA and the Beavers are hungry after an embarrassing loss to the Utes last year, when they suffered their only truly bad loss of the year, 42-16.
Prediction: Oregon State 17, Utah 16
Colorado vs. No. 8 USC, 9 am, ABC
You thought it was bad for the Colorado offensive line against the Ducks? USC heads to Boulder with the boldest, baddest defensive line in the conference, leading the league in sacks with 16 while ranking 3rd nationally. The Trojans don’t have Tuli Tuipulotu, but Solomon Byrd has been terrific.
USC also has the firepower to neutralize Colorado on the perimeter, and once again, the absence of the Buffaloes’ best player, 2-way sensation Travis Hunter, will sting. With him playing it wouldn’t be close, either, but it would have been fun to see how often USC QB Caleb Williams challenged him.
But even though this likely won’t be close again like last week’s 42-6 Oregon win, that doesn’t make this uninteresting.
The Coach Prime effect once more has his team playing in a marquee nationally televised slot, which will be great exposure for the Williams vs. Shedeur Sanders head-to-head showdown.
Prediction: USC 52, Colorado 17
Cal vs. Arizona State, noon, Pac-12 Network
Kenny Dillingham’s quarterback carousel continues, with Trenton Bourguet back from injury and ready to fill in for the injured Jaden Rashada and Drew Pyne. The bigger fill-in in Tempe may just be Dilly himself. The first-year Arizona State head coach decided to call plays with ASU’s offense stagnant against USC, the Sun Devils actually played the Trojans pretty tough.
Cal’s problem is it is not exactly in a position to capitalize on ASU’s bad QB situation. The Bears aren’t much better under center, nor do they have much clarity. Cal hasn’t announced if Ben Finley will start after he threw 3 picks and 2 touchdowns after starting a 59-32 loss to Washington in Week 4. Sam Jackson V could also get some major time against the Sun Devils.
All in all, this one is a snooze fest.
Prediction: Cal 31, Arizona State 20
Stanford vs. No. 9 Oregon, 3:30 pm, Pac-12 Network
Once the ultimate Pac-12 matchup for about a decade, Stanford has fallen far behind their former rivals to the north. The Cardinal played Arizona surprisingly tough last Saturday, ultimately falling, 21-20.
This one won’t be that close.
Oregon is rolling, coming off a 42-6 beatdown of Colorado that was worse than the final score indicates. The Ducks are favored on the road by 27 points. Where is Andrew Luck when you need him? Bo Nix is going to light up a Stanford secondary that has been decent this year.
Prediction: Oregon 55, Stanford 10
Arizona vs. No. 7 Washington, 7 pm, Pac-12 Network
This feels like a trap game for the Huskies, but I’m all in on them. And I think Arizona is a year away.
The Cats certainly don’t have the manpower to shut down the best passing attack in the country. Michael Penix Jr. has been almost flawless in leading UDub to a 4-0 start. He leads the country in passing yardage (1,636) and passing touchdowns (16), and he just recently replaced Caleb Williams as the odds-on Heisman favorite right now.
Arizona’s quarterback situation is a bit unsettled this week, with Jayden de Laura coming off a lower-body injury against the Cardinal. If he can’t go, the Wildcats have an able replacement in Noah Fifita. But they’d rather be at full strength against one of the conference’s 4 top-10 teams — and the highest-ranked team in the league.
Prediction: Washington 41, Arizona 17