With the constant media blitz coming out of State College, Pennsylvania surrounding the Jerry Sandusky mess and Joe Paterno firing, actual football has been put on the back burner by many. Of course, not by everyone--most of the Penn State community puts football above everything else, including morality, but I digress.
It's another full slate of conference games this week in the Pac-12, and for all intents and purposes, the conference championship game takes place this week (sorry ASU and UCLA fans).
So after a 4-2 record in picking games last week, let's jump in...
The Pac-12 Game of the Week, err, Year
#6 Oregon (8-1, 6-0) at #3 Stanford (9-0, 7-0)- Saturday 6:00 p.m. at Stanford Stadium - This is it. The game of the year in the Pac-12, and it's a great contrast of styles. The glitz, glamor and speed of Oregon against the deliberate, no-nonsense Cardinal. The Ducks have been in high-gear since a season-opening loss to LSU, putting up an average of 48.4 points per game in their last eight contests. And LaMichael James is back at full strength following his gruesome elbow dislocation. James ran for 156 yards on 25 carries in last week's win vs. Washington.
The only thing that concerns me about Stanford at this
point is the quality of their schedule, which is ranked
the 73rd-toughest in the nation by Jeff Sagarin's computer
rankings. But then again, they have Andrew Luck, so that
sort of quells that concern. This game should be a
classic and provide everything that LSU-Alabama didn't
last weekend. Translation: offense. The last two
Stanford-Oregon games have averaged 88 total points.
Stanford 40...Oregon 37
The rest of the Pac-12 schedule
Arizona State (6-3, 4-2) at Washington State (3-6, 1-5) - Saturday 8:30 p.m. at Martin Stadium - How will ASU react after a lackluster and difficult loss at UCLA last week? Good question. The Sun Devils haven't exactly been a juggernaut on the road this year, going 1-3 away from Sun Devil Stadium. The good news for them is that Washington State is in another tailspin. The Cougars have lost 5 straight and have sputtered in the running game, averaging 81 yards per game on the ground in their last four.
This is a huge game for Arizona State if they wish to play
in the Pac-12 Championship Game in three weeks. I think
the Devils will respond.
Arizona State 38...Washington State 21
Arizona (2-7, 1-6) at Colorado (1-9, 0-6) -
Saturday 12:40 p.m. at Folsom Field - Two teams
playing out the string in Boulder. The Wildcats streak of
consecutive bowl appearances will end at three after their
loss to Utah last Saturday. The 'Cats were sloppy in the
game too, committing 3 turnovers and nearly 100 yards in
penalties. They've lost two straight and have made their
36-point win over UCLA in interim coach Tim Kish's debut
three weeks ago a very distant memory. But they're way
better off than CU. The Buffs have lost 7 in a row, have
given up 42 or more points in five straight games and are
playing their 11th of 13 straight without a bye week.
Welcome to the Pac-12, Jon Embree. The Wildcats offense,
even with a questionable Juron Criner, should feast on the
Arizona 44...Colorado 30
Washington (6-3, 4-2) at #18 USC (7-2, 4-2) -
Saturday 1:45 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum -
Good game for Homecoming at SC. The Huskies come into the
game wondering what went wrong in their pass protection in
last week's loss to Oregon. QB Keith Price was sacked six
times in the game. He had been sacked only 16 times in
the previous 8 games. And the Washington pass defense
will be tested by USC's Matt Barkley, who has 9 touchdown
passes in his last two games, and a career-high 28 for the
season. Only Houston's Case Keenum and Kellen Moore of
Boise State have thrown more.
USC 34...Washington 28
Oregon State (2-7, 2-4) at California (5-4, 2-4) -
p.m. at AT&T Park in San Francisco - I'm done
trying to figure out Cal. They've got more personalities
than Clinton Portis on press conference day. But Oregon
State is flat out bad at this point, having been outscored
65-21 in consecutive defeats to Utah and Stanford. Cal
should roll and become bowl eligible in the process.
Cal 31...Oregon State 17
UCLA (5-4, 4-2) at Utah (5-4, 2-4) - Saturday 4:30
p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium - UCLA is in the
driver's seat for the Pac-12 South title. Let that sink
in. A team that looked absolutely disorganized and
disinterested just three weeks ago in Tucson has
rebounded with wins over Cal and ASU, and now controls
its own destiny in the division. Utah has righted the
ship, winning three of their last four. Quarterback Jon
Hays isn't putting up huge number for the Utes, but has
thrown four touchdowns without a pick in their last two
games. It'll be interesting to see how Utah's defense
deals with the suddenly potent UCLA option running game.
QB Kevin Prince has run for 224 yards in the last two
weeks, and the Bruins have averaged 254 yards on the
ground in those games. I like Utah at home in a close one.
Utah 27...UCLA 24