Oregon vs Cal
Cal coming off of back to back losses could easily be 6-1 right and eligible for a bowl game. An incompletion here a completed pass there; they could have been giving Oregon battle for the top spot in the North division this weekend. Now they are just going to give the Ducks a fight to play as spoiler for Oregon to drop them from consideration for the College Playoff.
California took UCLA to the brink, but an interception thrown by Jared Goff erased their opportunity.
It’s a new week, and the Ducks are coming into town where Cal as an opportunity again to play spoiler in front of their fans. But Oregon has other ideas. The Duck offense look to be on track with two monster wins against UCLA and Washington. Against UCLA, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota used his legs to blow pass the Bruins and last week against Washington; it was true freshman Royce Freeman who ran over and through the Huskie defense scoring 4 touchdowns.
Goff has played fairly well, spreading the ball around. He will have to do it again, because Oregon will try to keep Cal running back Daniel Lasco contained and running in between the tackles because he is dangerous when he gets outside and in the open field. Oregon corners All-American Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and senior Troy Hill will be asked to get through the blocks and disrupt the wide receiver and bubble screens.
Oregon will have to do what they do best; run the ball with Freeman, Tyner, and Mariota. Mariota will need to take advantage of the slower less talented secondary of Cal and occasionally throw over the top to his speedster receiver Devon Allen.
Oregon has to be convincing to impress the committee if they want considerable votes for a spot in the playoff.
USC vs Utah
The USC Trojans will be rolling into Salt Lake City with a lot of confidence and momentum on a little win streak and their quarterback Cody Kessler having a school record breaking performance last week against Colorado throwing for 7 TD passes.
USC Head Coach Steve Sarkisian is hoping that passing game can stay effective to keep the pressure off of their running back Javorius Allen. The Trojans will have to have Kessler step up again with running back Allen up against a stout run defense of Utes this Saturday night. Allen averages 130 yards per game, and has a serious challenge against a defense that ranks second in the conference in run defense holding opponents to 114 yards per game allowed.
On the other side, Utah despite having some upheavals regarding their quarterback s Kendall Thompson and Travis Wilson; the Utes have a good running back of their own, Devontae Booker, who averages 123 yards per game just behind Javorius Allen. Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham still has some uncertainty whether he will start Travis Wilson or Kendall Thompson. Kendall Thompson made his first start of the season last week; Thompson was only 4 for 8 for 17 yards and an interception, while Travis Wilson was 5 for 10 for 45 yards. So they had to depend on Devontae Booker, who had 229 yards and 3 touchdowns; including the game-winner for 19 yards.
USC leading receiver Nelson Agholor needs to have a big all-around game both in the passing game and also on special teams returning punts. If USC spreads the offense out with 3 to 5 receiver and Kessler can get the ball to them effectively, that will open up the offense by taking 7 to 8 men out of the box for Utah, which will give Javorius Allen the opportunity to have big runs.
Arizona State vs Washington
The Arizona State Sun Devils has gotten over the hump, because the Stanford Cardinal had their number last season beating them twice. Arizona State redeemed themselves with a backup quarterback Mike Bercovici, who has really stepped in the roll as a winning QB after the lost to UCLA. But this is what they call in the NFL, “a quarterback controversy”. Taylor Kelly is better and ready to play after being out for the last 3 games with a right foot injury. So should Head Coach Todd Graham start Kelly? It’s still up in the air. Graham hasn’t made any decision yet as to whom will get the start, and the number of reps Kelly will get if he decides to go with Bercovici.
In three games, Bercovici has thrown 62 percent for over 13oo yards and 10 touchdowns. He has been more than efficient, while getting two straight wins against tough teams (USC and Stanford). So will it be smart to take the job from hmi now when he’s doing so well?
This week will not be an easy task for the Sun Devils going on the road to Seattle to play a Husky team that just got out played against Oregon. The Huskies’ defense, who have been solid and disruptive to offenses by causing pressure and creating turnovers; was a non-factor last week. They will have to get back to their swarming to the ball; causing havoc ways or, whether it is Kelly or Bercovici; the Arizona State offense will put up the same type of game Oregon had.
Washington linebackers Shaq Thompson and Hau’oli Kikaha have to cause turnovers and give their offense the short side of the field; not allowing ASU running back D.J. Foster to have any effectiveness in the run game.
Washington quarterback Cyler Miles will have to play better than he did against Oregon. His backfield partner Dwayne Washington was taken out of the game with a rib injury, and is questionable for Saturday’s game. So Miles will need to be sharp getting the ball to his receivers Jaydon Mickens and John Ross III if they are going to have any success offense.
Arizona vs Washington State
Washington State having an extra week to prepare for Arizona that gave them the chance to get their defense healthy to try and keep up with the most surprising player so far in the PAC-12, quarterback Anu Solomon. Solomon as led the Wildcats to a 5-1 record. Their lone loss two weeks ago against USC on a last minute missed field goal by kicker Casey Skowron. As a freshman Solomon is un-rattled by the pressure. He has a never say die attitude and always finds a way to give his team a chance to win the game. None more prevalent than the comeback win against Cal and going into Autzen Stadium and leading the Wildcats to a win over then No. 2 Oregon.
Washington State will do what they always do which is to try and outscore the other team, and the quarterback Connor Halliday has been up to the task to throw over 60 time and 500 yards, but their defense can’t get off the field. If they want to any chance, defensive coordinator Mike Breske will have to find a way to stop Arizona on 3rd down and/or create turnovers.
UCLA goes on the road to Boulder to face a Colorado team that have some many questions to how can they improve their defense? And other than Nelson Spruce, who can they look too to make plays for them?
Stanford is out of contention for the PAC-12 Championship at this point let alone the playoff after losing last week to Arizona State. So now for David Shaw and the Cardinal; it’s about just salvaging some semblance of respect as a team and prepare for a possible bowl bid when they go up against Oregon State in Palo Alto.