Three contenders have huge showdowns in Week 11 out West, two of which will be on the road. Oregon, after abusing Stanford, must travel to Utah while UCLA, after totally shutting down Arizona, must travel to Washington.
Elsewhere, out in the desert, Arizona State and Arizona are in must-win situations against two totally different opponents. The Sun Devils battle a top 10 foe while the Wildcats should land their first South Division win.
Week 11 Previews and Predictions:
ACC|Big 12|Big Ten|SEC
Pac-12 Week 11 Game Power Rankings
1. Oregon (-8.5) at Utah
10 p.m., ESPN
Playing a team like Stanford normally would provide plenty of body blows, making victory the following week that much more difficult. The question is how many body blows did Oregon really take in its relatively easy win over the Cardinal last week and how will that impact the trip to Salt Lake City? Utah, which is leading the nation at 4.9 sacks per game, will get after the Ducks' offensive line with a myriad of pressure packages and formations. Marcus Mariota has grown accustomed to dancing away from oncoming defenders but his running game has come to his rescue of late. The Ducks are averaging over 250 yards rushing per game since getting left tackle Jake Fisher back four games ago. The Utes will have to stop the run as well as pressure Mariota to stand a chance at the upset. Utah will turn once again to co-starters at quarterback with both Travis Wilson and Kendal Thompson competing for snaps. Wilson struggled last week in the overtime loss to Arizona State but has done an “exceptional job” protecting the football while Thompson gives Kyle Whittingham a more dynamic athlete. Expect the hot hand to get the bulk of the workload against the mighty Ducks.
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2. Notre Dame (+2.5) at Arizona St
3:30 p.m., ABC
Is Arizona State overrated? Is Notre Dame underrated? All of that will be sorted out on Saturday afternoon when two of the more hotly discussed teams in the latest playoff rankings meet in Tempe. The Irish won a back-and-forth high-scoring affair in Arlington last season in which Tommy Rees (sort of) out-dueled Taylor Kelly (362 yds, 3 TD, 2 INT) for the 37-34 win. Now, Everett Golson is under center and will be much tougher to stop than Rees despite the fact he has thrown an interception in five straight games. Jaxon Hood, the Sun Devils’ most veteran defensive player, will not be on the field for ASU so coordinator Keith Patterson will have to get creative in trying to pressure and stop Golson. For all intents and purposes, this is a playoff elimination game for both teams and whoever has the ball last could be the victor. And whichever quarterback protects the ball is likely to be on the field last.
3. UCLA (-5) at Washington
7 p.m., FS1
Last week broke some trends for both UCLA and Washington. For most of this season, the Bruins' defense has struggled to get off the field on third downs, create turnovers or pressure the quarterback. In the win over Arizona, UCLA did all three, sacking Arizona three times and stopping the Wildcats on 14-of-20 third down tries. Washington has struggled on offense all season but posted a season-best 7.5 yards per play last week and rolled up the most yards in a game (442) since beating Illinois in Week 3. Two-way star Shaq Thompson is proving to be extremely effective on offense (215 yards from scrimmage last week) and is expected to play on both sides of the ball against the Bruins. For UCLA, it was the offense and Brett Hundley that slogged through the win over Arizona last week and will now be facing one of the more physical front sevens in the league. On the road in a hostile environment, the Bruins' offensive line may have a tough time stopping a unit that is second in the league in sacks (37.0) and tackles for a loss (67.0).
4. Colorado (+16) at Arizona
8 p.m., P12 Net
Rich Rodriguez’ offense had the worst game of the coach’s short tenure in the desert against UCLA last weekend. Fans should expect a down game from a redshirt freshman every now and then, but seven points and 30 incompletions is unacceptable. Solomon has a great chance to get back on track this weekend against a defense that allows 6.5 yards per play (121st nationally) and 444.1 yards per game (98th). Sefo Liufau and his 304.2 yards of offense per game will try to keep pace on the road but the Buffs will be hard-pressed to match Arizona's output.
5. Washington St (+8) at Oregon St
4 p.m., P12 Net
Most Pac-12 fans felt the pain Cougars nation felt when watching Connor Halliday’s career end last weekend. Luke Falk stepped in and threw for 370 yards in roughly three quarters against USC and will be charged with keeping Mike Leach’s offense churning. Few games are as winnable for Wazzu as Oregon State and the Pac-12’s all-time leading passer Sean Mannion are struggling in a big way. The Beavers have lost three straight and four out of five but will get four of their last five games at home, starting with the Cougars.
Ore. (-8.5) at Utah
ND (+2.5) at ASU
UCLA (-5) at Wash.
Colo. (+16) at Zona
WSU (+8) at OSU