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Pac Mentality: What to look for in Week 12

By Saturday night, we could know the participants for the second Pac-12 Championship Game. Oregon hosts Stanford and could clinch the North with a win, while the South will be decided by the USC-UCLA game in Pasadena.

Arizona State is fighting for bowl eligibility for the second straight season, and Utah needs a win over Arizona to keep hopes of extending their decade-long bowl appearance streak alive.

It should be a great week of football. Let’s dive in…

Ranking the Week 12 games:

6. Washington State at Arizona State – We’re still not sure why Connor Halliday will be on the bench and Jeff Tuel will start for the Cougars at quarterback. It was Halliday who threw five touchdown passes against UCLA last week. And it was Halliday who riddled ASU’s secondary for 494 yards and four TDs last year. But who are we to question Mike Leach?

5. #25 Washington at Colorado – Since getting torched by Arizona in Tucson last month, Washington’s defense has shown up big-time. During their three-game winning streak, the Huskies have allowed an average of just 15 points per game. Colorado will be hard-pressed to score that many Saturday.

4. California at #16 Oregon State – The Beavers have come crashing down to Earth, having lost two of their last three. But Mike Riley’s team should get back in the win column this week against a Cal team that’s circling the drain.

3. Arizona at Utah – The Utes are 8-1 in bowl games during their current nine-year postseason run…but if they don’t beat the Wildcats in SLC, that streak will come to an end.

2. #18 USC at #17 UCLA – It’s the battle for the Pac-12 South. USC has been a huge disappointment after being picked by many to play in the BCS Championship Game, and turnovers have been a giant reason for it. The Trojans have turned the ball over 13 times in their last three games. They won’t get away with that against UCLA, who has forced 25 turnovers this season.

1. #13 Stanford at #2 Oregon – The Ducks can win the North for the second straight season with a win. This matchup is a beautiful contrast of styles, with Oregon’s flashy non-stop offense and Stanford’s grind-it-out workmanlike approach.

Here’s what to watch for in Week 12:

The November blues – The only group that’s had it worse in the month of November than Arizona State and Washington State is the world’s turkey population. Since 2009, Arizona State is a woeful 1-12 in the month of November while the Cougars are just 2-10, including a 37-27 win over the Sun Devils in Pullman last season.

Will Matt Scott play, Part II – The mystery surrounding Scott’s condition continues. Arizona is bowl eligible already, so technically their game against Utah is meaningless to them. It might make more sense to allow the senior another week of rest to get ready for the annual Territorial Cup game the following week against Arizona State. B.J. Denker was adequate in his start against Colorado, but was bolstered by Ka’Deem Carey’s record-setting rushing day. Utah’s defense is just a little bit better than CU’s. Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez did tell Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf that Scott is “looking better every day.” Scott’s presence could be the difference in the game.

Oh no, not again! – Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey ran around, through, over and by Colorado’s defense last week on the way to a Pac-12 record 366 yards rushing. Could that record be in jeopardy this week? Probably not, but Washington’s Bishop Sankey has been one of the big reasons the Huskies have turned it around. The sophomore has run for 351 yards and four touchdowns in the last two weeks, and easily could top the 200-yard mark against the hapless Buffs.

Oregon’s injuries – There are many that believe the only team that can beat Oregon is Oregon. Considering that they’ve won 13 in a row and have outscored opponents by an average of four touchdowns during that streak, it appears that they are unlikely to harm themselves with turnovers, mistakes and shoddy play. But Oregon is really banged up heading into this Stanford game. Running back Kenjon Barner and quarterback Marcus Mariota both played through injuries last week against Cal, while safety Avery Patterson will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Defensive linemen Wade Keliikipi , Taylor Hart, Dion Jordan, Isaac Remington and Ricky Heimuli are all banged up to various degrees. Maybe the multitude of injuries will slow down Oregon? It’s something to keep an eye on but I wouldn’t bet on it.