After consecutive 3-2 prediction weeks, let's see if I can get the ship righted in getting my record improved from 6-4 as five big conference showdowns are coming up, along with a big Cardinal opportunity. Washington will be the lone bye team.
#2 Oregon @ Arizona (Thursday Night!) Don't forget to mark your calenders, as this game takes place tomorrow night, and not Saturday. After a 42-16 drubbing last season, in favor of the Wildcats, the Ducks will surely be more prepared for Arizona, as they look to keep hopes of a spot in the inaguaral college football playoffs. I mean, last year, the Ducks were 9-1, UoA was 3-4, yet, the result was unexpected. This year, both sides are coming in 4-0 with a victory during their lone, respective conference games.
Marcus Mariota may be the best quarter back in the conference, but freshman Anu Solomon has the potential to reach that plateu within a few years of experience being sprinkled on. Though, the Heisman hopeful, and front runner, will be the focal point of major national outlets, Solomon will be required to have a great game to keep the Cats in it for as long as possible. A quick comparison has Mariota throwing for 1,135 yards, 13 touchdowns, 0 picks and completing 74%, while, Anu is at 1,454 yards, 13 touchdowns, 3 picks and 63.4% completion. Both can also run the ball, as Mariota has 33 carries, 214 yards, 6.5 average and 3 finishes, to Anu's 39 carries for 167 yards, 4.3 average without a score.
The 'Cats will also be relying on freshman Nick Wilson at the RB position, who has 482 yards through the first four games on 77 carries, good for four scores and 6.3 yards per carry. His counterpart, Freeman, has 48 carries, 261 yards, 5.4 per and 5 scores.
If you like offense, this should be a matchup to not be missed either, as Oregon is averaging 555.2 yards of offense, while, the UoA is at 593.8, good for the sixth highest in the entire nation, though, the Ducks are averaging 48.5 points to 42.
My pick is the Ducks escaping with a 31-24 victory, as the inexperience of Solomon/Wilson costs them in the clutch.
#14 Stanford @ #9 Notre Dame While the Cardinal's hopes for a playoff bid have been put on life support, a victory over the 9th ranked Irish, in South Bend, would provide them with a spark that may throw them back into the fray for a spot. Considering the four victories for the Irish are against opponents, combining for 7-11, and the Cardinal are 4-1 in the last five matchups, that should be the case, if played on paper.
Notre Dame has scored over 30 points in every game, to this point, a trend that will be hard to continue as the Cardinal have the top scoring defense, giving up less than touchdown, 6.5, per outing, and allowing a meager 198 yards per game, also to lead the nation. Needing to force Folston into mistakes, while Hogan provides a step up on offense will be the recipe for success.
Give me the Cardinal here, winning by a 21-10 margin.
Utah @ #8 UCLA 62-27 was the margin that brought the Bruins back into the top ten, after dropping from being ranked seven during the pre-season. A road win, nonetheless, against Arizona State, who was #15 prior to kick-off. A win versus the Utes isn't guaranteed, however, as Utah has a solid road win against Michigan already, and it's lone blemish is a 1 point loss to the Cougars of Washington State.
Though UCLA racked up 580 total yards, they gave the Sun Devils 626, and were blessed with untimely turnovers, for the Devils, en route to the drubbing. Led by Hundley and Ishmael Adams, both of which won Pac-12 player of the week honors, the two need to produce versus the Utes, who are coming off their lone loss, after leading 21-0 after the opening quarter, and 27-14 early in the final period.
An all time 6-0 record for UCLA, at home versus Utah, should improve as the Bruins take this won 37-21.
Arizona State @ #16 USC Rebounding from a bad loss at Boston College, USC looks to improve to 3-0 in the conference, after beating Oregon State 35-10 last week, while, ASU looks to recover from the 62-27 home drubbing at the hands of the Bruins.
Taylor Kelly is unlikely to be cleared for the second consecutive week, giving Mike Bercovici his second career start, a week after going 42-68 for three scores and 488 yards. A stat line that looks great, but toss in two picks and a lost fumble, and the glamour disappears a bit. Add in the score and it just looks shocking how one can put up great numbers, yet, lose so badly.
In Tempe, last year, the Trojans lost 62-41, matching the most USC has ever given up, though, the loss of Wilson may be too much for Arizona State to overcome. DJ Foster needs ot have a bounceback game, after being held to a total of 35, last Thursday for ASU to have a chance.
I like the Trojans to take this one, 33-17.
California @ Washington State Neither side has much hopes of winning the conference, but a win here would be big for both sides, namely, the Wazzou Cougars. Coming off a nice, comeback win in Utah, the Cougars nearly upset the Ducks the prior week at home, a win here would help steer Washington towards a bowl bid, though, with games @ Stanford and home versus USC/Arizona remaining, it'll be a tough road. Halliday needs to have a great showing and continue his great year.
For the Golden Bears, a hail mary in Tucson continues to be the lone blemish, as they beat the Buffaloes 59-56, in double overtime, to rebound from Anu Solomon's prayer. Keeping possession will be key for the Bears to notch their 4th overall victory, and climb to 2-1 in conference play. A tough schedule lies ahead, with home matchups versus #8 UCLA, #2 Oregon, #14 Stanford, #18 Brigham Young and a road visit to #16 USC left.
I like the Cougars here, to take it 28-17.
Oregon State @ Colorado Being led by Mannion, the Beavers were shut down by USC, dropping a 35-10 decision, and need to get back on the winning track, with two games left before a trip to Stanford. While, the Buffaloes are coming off a double-overtime loss, dropping them to 0-2 in conference play, they will be looking for their first win to avoid dropping to 0-3 in the Pac-12. A game that won't have much aesthetic value, should have the Beavs taking it 38-31.