The start of the conference games will be in full affect this weekend with two of the games having some significance not only within the conference, but in the rankings. No. 11 UCLA goes into Tempe, Arizona to face No. 15 Arizona State and No. 16 Stanford fresh off a week goes up to Seattle to face unranked-undefeated Washington.
It’s still up in the air whether Brett Hundley will play this Thursday against Arizona State. Head Coach Jim More is still deliberating whether to start him or not. He is waiting on the doctor’s decision to give Hundley the green light. Arizona State will still prepare as if Hundley will start on Thursday. While Hundley’s start may be questionable for this Thursday night, Arizona State’s QB Taylor Kelly is not in question. Kelly will be out due to a right foot injury, which was hurt in the Sun Devils’ win against Colorado back on September 13th.
UCLA will be looking to get redemption from last season lost to the Sun Devils in which they defeated the Bruins at the Rose Bowl (UCLA’s home field) and to top it all got the PAC-12 South Division title. The Sun Devils will be without their dual threat quarterback so they will have to rely on the arm of junior QB Mike Bercovici. Head Coach Todd Graham will need junior RB D.J. Foster to carry the load literary and figuratively for the Sun Devils to have any legitimate success on offense. UCLA will want to big pressure up front to force Bercovici win with his arm, and throw off balance and rattle the his confidence early.
Not sure if he will play, Brett Hundley surely wants to be out on the field, and give the Bruins a different outcome than last season, throwing for 253 yards 2 touchdowns and an interception. But if Jerry Neuheisel gets the start that will make the game a little more balanced, despite his confidence boost for his efforts against Texas. The speculation is clear for ASU; prepare for Hundley, don’t be surprise if you see Neuheisel.
Just coming off a bye week Stanford will be going to Washington to put the first blemish on the Huskies’ season. Stanford already having a loss in conference play; losing to USC at home a few weeks ago will be looking to get back in the thick of things when it comes to the North Division standings. Falling two games in the conference will be hard to get back and have a chance to compete for the North Division title. Washington maybe undefeated but 3 of the games have been at home against less than formidable opponents; the Huskies had to survive a shootout against an Eastern Washington team where the defense allowed 475 passing yards and 7 touchdowns; Illinois who hasn’t been at eh top of the Big Ten in a few years; and Georgia State where they were shut out for the first half. If that is to happen against Stanford it will not be as easy to come back even if playing in Seattle.
Cyler Miles will need to have a balance attack running and passing the ball, against a defense that will be extra ready to keep him contained with an extra week of preparation and having played Army a team who specializes in the run game. QB Kevin Hogan who has come back this season to improve in the pass game since Stanford has been dependent more on the run the last few years have a chance to exploit the Huskies pass defense who has allowed 292 passing yards per game so far this season. Stanford will look forward to having their versatile big play receiver Ty Montgomery challenge Washington’s corners and when place in the Wildcat formation run around the Huskie front seven. Washington will need containment when Hogan is calling signals or whenever Montgomery is behind the center.
How do you bounce back from such a heart-wrenching loss like California experienced last Saturday against Arizona? Blocking out the images of the come back and/or throwing away the tape. California can either learn from the experience or use it fuel to take out their frustration on Colorado. The Buffaloes can try to take advantage of Cal’s shaken confidence and upset Cal on the road. Both teams are looking for their first win the conference play. Sophomore QB Sefo Liufau will look be looking to for his safety net big play receiver Nelson Spruce who had 13 receptions last week for 172 yards and a touchdown. No other receiver caught more than two passes. Liufau will need to spread the ball around a little more because Cal will put four eyes on Spruce so that he won’t break out with a big game.
Cal’s QB Jared Goff who had a big game last week despite the loss will be looking to have a similar performance against a Buffaloes defense who is playing very solidly especially against the pass where they are allowing only average of 190 yards in the air. This will be a chess match for Goff to dissect what Colorado coverage before the snap if he wants to be successful, otherwise RB Daniel Lasco will have to another big game on the ground.
After a week off and time to recuperate from a big upsetting lose to Boston College, USC has ideas of bouncing back against Oregon State. If Oregon State is solely dependent on their QB Sean Mannion they will be right into the hands of the strength of USC’s defense. Granted Mannion is a good quarterback but if there isn’t any run to offset the pressure that USC will put on Mannion Oregon State will have a tough time. Running backs Storm Woods and Terron Ward will need a Tyler Murphy type of performance (QB for Boston College), who rushed for 191 yards on the ground, in order for the Beavers to have a good chance against the Trojans.