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PAC-12: Week 12 Preview

Cal vs USC 

Both Cal and USC are coming off of byes hoping to continue their winning ways.  Cal had a strong performance against Oregon State winning 45-3.  Daniel Lasco rushed for a career high 188 yards.  The win was big for the Bears’ morale breaking a game losing streak.  With a win this weekend against USC; this will make the Bears bowl eligible, which they haven’t been the past two years.

Not trying to look pass their counterpart California, but USC wants to end this season with wins against their rivals UCLA and Notre Dame.

USC quarterback Cody Kessler has had a solid season and his main target Nelson Agholor has been the epitome of consistency all season with 66 receptions for 863 yards and 8 touchdowns.  But the back bone of the Trojans has been running back  Javrius Allen with over 1,1oo yards rushing; 5.7 yards per carry and 8 rushing touchdowns.

The Bears still rank at the bottom of the conference on defense and the Trojans will exploit a weak Cal secondary.  The Bears try to outscore the teams they play, but their lack of solid depth on defense will be the difference when USC plays at another gear and Cal will not be able to stop the Trojan offense in the late part of the game.

Washington vs Arizona

Who knows if Arizona kicker Casey Skowron would have made the last second kick against USC, we might be talking about them being in contention for a playoff berth.  But you can’t go in reverse.  The Wildcats can make their case on the field last three games of the season.  First they have to face Washington, who is coming off a dismal lost to UCLA at home.

Arizona trail behind USC and UCLA by a half game with loses to both (USC 28-26 and UCLA 17-7), and a one game behind arch rival Arizona State who is in the driver seat for the PAC-12 South title and a berth in the PAC-12 championship game.

Arizona QB Anu Solomon 460x threw for four touchdowns and used his legs effectively rushing for a season high of 115 yards last week against Colorado.

The Wildcats forced 4 turnovers against the Buffaloes, and will be hoping for a repeat performance this week against Shaq Thompson and the Washington Huskies.

The ironman RB/LB Shaq Thompson, who averages over 7 yards per carry and had 100 yards rushing against UCLA in a lost, will be looking to change this week’s outcome and cut off any chance that Arizona is hoping for an opportunity to play in the conference championship game.

The defense has really struggled with the loss of their defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha to injury.  Hau’oli Kikaha will be back on the field this week but the Huskies lost cornerback Marcus Peters, due to numerous run-ins with the coaching staff.  So John Ross their top receiver has been switched over to play corner; where he has been playing all week in practice.

Utah vs Stanford

Even after all the recent setbacks and tough games that remain on Stanford’s schedule, Head Coach David Shaw is still optimistic about their bowl chance.  That’s all it’s been for the Cardinal this season; a rollercoaster of optimism.  Stanford started the season coming off back-to-back Pac-12 championships and the only team in the country with four straight BCS bowl berths. Now the Cardinal are just trying to become bowl-eligible, and despite Shaw’s self-assurance, even that’s no longer a sure thing with games against Utah on Saturday and finishing the season at improved rival California and a rejuvenated UCLA team. The Cardinal need to come away with a win in one of those games to even become bowl-eligible.

Utah is also coming off a disappointing loss to the Ducks, giving up 24 unanswered points after the Kaelin Clay mishap in the first half; and giving up 21 unanswered points in the fourth in a 51-27 home defeat last Saturday.  The Utes had been coming off a 19-16 loss to Arizona State.

While Utah has dropped out of the Pac-12 title chase, Stanford is trying to focus on saving its season and not worrying about where it ends. Saturday is Senior Day, after all, when many of those who have helped build the program into a national contender will be playing their last game at Stanford Stadium.

Travis Wilson led last year’s win over a then Cardinal team, going 23 of 34 for 234 yards and two touchdowns. He threw for only 57 yards on 12-of-22 passing against the Sun Devils before throwing his first two interceptions of the season last week.

Devontae Booker was held to 65 yards rushing against the Ducks, breaking a string of five straight 100-yard games, but was effective in the pass game catching two spectacular passes, one turning into a touchdown against Oregon.

Booker and Wilson now face a Stanford defense which is the Pac-12’s best, holding opponents to 16.1 points and 281.1 total yards per game.

Arizona State vs Oregon State

Getting the respect of the playoff committee being ranked 6, on the outside looking after their big win against the Irish last Saturday; Arizona State looks to continue to build on their momentum with a stretch of games against the Pac-12 North’s two bottom teams, Washington State and this Saturday at Oregon State where they haven’t won in the last four game in Corvallis.

The Sun Devils have continued to take steps forward this year and are back atop the South division in the PAC-12, rebounding from the 62-27 loss to UCLA back in September with five consecutive victories; with four against ranked opponents.

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The Sun Devils should be able to get their offense in high gear. The Beavers have given up 40.7 points per game in their last three and more than 500 total yards in two straight.

Oregon State is hoping to avoid a fifth consecutive loss after allowing Washington State freshman Luke Falk to throw for 471 yards and five touchdowns in last Saturday’s 39-32 home loss.

Running back D.J. Foster will try to build on his first 100-yard effort since Week 3 as he faces an Oregon State team that gave up 673 on the ground over a three-game stretch before taking on the air raid offense of Washington State.

Taylor Kelly is coming off his best performance in three games since returning from his foot injury. The Kelly was 17 of 28 for 224 yards with three touchdowns and one interception against the Irish last Saturday.

The Sun Devils had given up 12.0 points per game in their last three games and played well last Saturday before allowing 28 unanswered points. They are rank second in the conference against the pass (231.2 yards per game) heading into this Saturday’s game against Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, who now owns the PAC-12 record for career passing yards with 12,873.

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