Gold: Previews and predictions for Week 12 in the Pac-12
All eyes are on Oregon State this week and next as the Beavers get set to embark on the toughest two-step tango in the country.
But the rewards for the Beavs may be plentiful if they can knock off No. 5 Washington and No. 6 Oregon in back-to-back weeks.
For now, we’ll just focus the Huskies, who bring their high-powered offense to Corvallis this week.
Here are my final thoughts and predictions for Week 12 of the Pac-12 slate…
Washington State vs. Colorado, 7:30 p.m., FS1 (Friday)
The Bowled Out Bowl kicks off on prime time on Friday night with Prime Time hoping his team doesn’t get booted from postseason consideration.
Needing 2 wins to become bowl eligible, Deion Sanders’ Colorado Buffaloes are hungry and impatient for their first win since Week 6. Problem is they may be playing a team even hungrier and more impatient, as the Cougars haven’t won since a terrific 4-0 start.
Wazzu has lost straight, the last of which coming in embarrassing fashions against the Cal Bears, 42-39. Then again, that’s not as bad their 10-7 loss to Stanford a week prior.
Both teams are getting standout play from their quarterbacks — Cougars QB Cam Ward has 3,157 passing yards and 20 touchdowns to 5 interceptions, while Shedeur Sanders is a hair behind in yardage with 3,144 but has an astounding 26-to-3 TD/INT ratio — but neither defense is playing up to bar.
Prediction: Washington State 27, Colorado 21
No. 17 Arizona vs. No. 22 Utah, 11:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
The Wildcats are streaking but have their stiffest test in a while with the Utes coming into town. Forget stiff test, this might just be a litmus test to see how far Arizona has truly come.
Three straight wins over ranked opponents was one thing. Beating Colorado with a game-winning drive and last-second field goal was tougher that it should’ve been, but provided some late-game resolve.
But beating Utah, no matter how banged up the Utes are, would be a true feather in Jedd Fisch’s cap. It would be the team’s 5th straight win and give the Cats a good chance at a 10-win campaign, which would be almost unfathomable at the start of the season.
The Utes, losers of 2-of-3 — though those losses came to No. 6 Oregon and No. 5 Washington — are just looking salvage a solid record to propel themselves into the Big 12 with a high ranking next year.
I think Arizona has more to play for, but you can’t ever doubt Kyle Whittingham.
Prediction: Arizona 30, Utah 28
USC vs. UCLA, 12:30 p.m., ABC
The Battle of Los Angeles feels like little more than a light skirmish now that the stakes are so low for both teams. What started off as a season with so much promise for both teams has utterly collapsed into a pile of hubris and poor decisions. It’s almost like the La Brea Tar Pits opened and swallowed L.A. football’s hopes and dreams.
Even with 4 losses in 5 games and the aftershocks of Alex Grinch’s firing, the Trojans still feel like they’re in a better place than UCLA, which could bid goodbye to Chip Kelly after the game. Should Kelly survive the game, it doesn’t appear as if he’ll survive the season. And perhaps for good reason — the Bruins are coming off a 17-7 loss to an Arizona State team with precious little depth and talent. It was truly an inexplicable result.
USC’s issues are much more…explicable? The Trojans defense stinks, no matter the play-caller, and hero ball hasn’t worked in recent weeks for Caleb Williams.
In USC’s regular-season finale before a strange Week 13 bye — oh, and its final matchup in the Pac-12 before packing its bags for the Big Ten along with the Bruins, not to mention Washington and Oregon — I like the Trojans to want it just a bit more.
Prediction: USC 38, UCLA 24
Arizona State vs. No. 6 Oregon, 1 p.m., FOX
Call it the Jekyll and Hyde offense. Two weeks after beating Washington State convincingly, 38-27, and one week after following that up with a resounding 55-3 loss to Utah, the Sun Devils bounced back to beat the Bruins in surprising fashion.
Can they surprise Oregon?
Absolutely not. Come on.
If this game is not a massive blowout like the matchup with Utah, I’d be shocked.
Prediction: Oregon 58, Arizona State 17
Stanford vs. Cal, 3:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
The shine has worn off the Big Game, with the Bay Area blahs combining for just 7 wins. Both teams have had their moments this year, but they’re bad.
But speaking of having something to play for, Cal is at least in the running for a bowl bid, something that just might save Justin Wilcox’s job. The Bears have won 4-of-5 in the series and come in with some momentum after defeating Wazzu last week.
Stanford, though, regressed in a big way after their win over the Cougars the week before. Against Oregon State, the Cardinal fell behind 14-0 and 28-7 before the defense just collapsed. They face another top running game in the Bears after being torched by the Beavers for 277 yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground.
Prediction: Cal 24, Stanford 17
No. 11 Oregon State vs. No. 5 Washington, 4:30 p.m., ABC
The Pacific Northwest’s positive alternative to the Hollywood Horror Story, this matchup is the unquestioned game of the week, with the Beavers vying to play spoiler.
Although, with major aspirations of their own, is the spoiler label really accurate. Oregon State is really good, DJ Uiagalelei is playing keep away with no picks in more than a month and the running game is clicking.
If they can hit some long balls against the Huskies, we could see an upset.
On the other hand, the Home Run Huskies know how to take it deep a time or two.
It’ll be exciting to see the Michael Penix Jr. and Rome Odunze/Ja’Lynn Polk fireworks display versus the more methodical offense of Oregon State.
It sure says something that the Beavers are actually favored over the undefeated Huskies.
Prediction: Washington 37, Oregon State 31