Last week in the Pac-12 proved to be a good one as UCLA narrowly beat Utah on a Thursday night in Salt Lake. Stanford and Washington proved their status as some of the top teams in the conference as they battled in a tight game, with Stanford ultimately prevailing. However, my record took a hit as I only went 3-2, putting my season record at 24-3. This week also has a top 25 matchup with Oregon and Washington, and will be the first time since 2010 that Lane Kiffin isn’t coaching USC. Expect to see some great games and great plays, but before we watch the games, let’s take a look at my Pac-12 week 7 preview and predictions:
Arizona @ USC
Both Arizona and USC are coming off bye weeks, following losses to Washington and Arizona State respectively. All eyes will be on USC this week, since this will be the first game where Lane Kiffin won’t be on the Trojan sideline. USC named Ed Orgeron as their interim coach, and all reports coming out of USC say that the team is having fun and ready to play up to Coach Orgeron’s expectations. They will need to do just that if they plan on beating Arizona and their rushing attack. The jury is still out on Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker as he had been running the ball well, but has been very unimpressive throwing the ball. He will have quite the task on Thursday as he looks to silence his critics. For USC, running back Silas Redd looks to play in his first game all season on Thursday, which will only help Cody Kessler and Co. I do expect to see a rejuvenated USC team come Thursday. Since it’s a home game, I’ll take the Trojans to beat the Wildcats.
USC 27 Arizona 17
#2 Oregon @ #16 Washington
What a tough stretch for the Huskies. After losing a heartbreaker to a top five team in Stanford, they host the second ranked Ducks on Saturday. Lately, Oregon has been dominating Washington, winning the last nine previous match-ups. If Washington is going to have any chance at winning this game, they are going to need to cut down on their penalties. They are one of the worst teams in the nation in penalty yardage, averaging 91.8 per game. They will also need their defense, who has played exceptionally well thus far, to come ready to play. They will look to slow down the Duck offense, which is arguably the best offense in the country. Oregon will have their first true test this season against a ranked opponent, as their previous games haven’t even been competitive. I expect Washington to give Oregon their best game so far as Bishop Sankey looks to lead his side, but in the end, the Ducks will prove their dominance over the Huskies and extend their streak of wins over Washington to ten.
Oregon 41 Washington 27
#5 Stanford @ Utah
Utah has had a tough two week stretch, having played UCLA last week and then hosting number five ranked Stanford. Utah also lost a heartbreaker to UCLA as they flirted with the possibility of upsetting the Bruins, but it is hard to win a game while throwing for six interceptions. Stanford, on the other hand, comes into this game a week after beating Washington, with their quarterback Kevin Hogan posting some pedestrian numbers. He only threw for 100 yards, including one interception, and he only ran for 24 yards. Utah will be bringing pressure as they have forced 18 sacks this season, putting them in the lead of the Pac-12. We will see if Hogan can bounce back and be the quarterback that we love to watch or continue on his mediocre path. However, I do think that Stanford will escape Salt Lake with a win, mainly because of their stout defense.
Stanford 34 Utah 24
Colorado @ Arizona State
Colorado comes stumbling into this one after being blown out in their last two games and not winning a game in over a month. Quarterback Connor Wood has yet to find his early season form where he looked to be one of the best surprises in the Pac-12. But lately, he hasn’t been the same and has thrown only two touchdowns along with four picks in their last two games. After losing to Notre Dame and dropping out of the Top 25, Arizona State looks to get back on track. Wide receiver Jaelen Strong is continuing to impress with over 500 yards through five games, including three touchdowns. I expect Arizona State to win at home as they try to get back into the Top 25 rankings.
Arizona State 38 Colorado 14
California @ #11 UCLA
Head Coach Jim Mora has been using the 43-17 defeat they had to Cal last year as motivation for this year’s players. He has been harping on his kids not to overlook teams as the Bruins were 25th in the nation when they got blown out by Cal. As for Cal, their schedule just keeps getting harder and harder for first year coach Sonny Dykes. This will be the fourth ranked opponent they have faced, and two of them are ranked in the top five. Jared Goff and Chris Harper will look to beat UCLA through the air as Goff threw for over 500 yards against Washington State. After letting Connor Halliday throw for 521 yards, Cal will also need to tune something up in their secondary. I think Brett Hundley and the Bruin offense will have no problems with the Cal defense. Expect to see a wide margin of separation between these two teams by the fourth quarter.
UCLA 45 Cal 17
Oregon State @ Washington State
Expect to see a lot of passing in this one. Both quarterbacks are top ten in the nation for passing yards per game with Sean Mannion averaging 403.6 yds and Connor Halliday averaging 332.2 yds. One thing you won’t see in this game is rushing, since both teams are ranked 121st and 122nd in the nation respectively. Oregon State looks forward to having running back Storm Woods back after a concussion he suffered in their victory over Utah. Brandin Cooks is looking to be the best wide receiver in the nation. He is making a strong case for the Biletnikoff Award, amassing over 800 yards and nine touchdowns. The Cougars will need Halliday to be in command of their offense, meaning no interceptions. This will be difficult, since he has had the interception bug all year. The secondary of Oregon State will be tested, as they are led by cornerback Steven Nelson who is tied for first in the nation in interceptions with four. I expect Oregon State to beat the Cougars, with big days from Mannion and Cooks.
Oregon State 38 Washington State 24