Athlon Sports previews Week 13 of the Pac-12 season.
The Week 13 slate across the country is pretty sad, but the Pac-12 Conference is here to save college football.
Four of the six Pac-12 games feature point spreads that are less than a touchdown and the other two feature teams that need to hold serve at home to keep their respective Pac-12 championship game hopes alive.
Pac-12 Week 13 Game Power Rankings
1. USC (+3.5) at UCLA
8 p.m., ABC
You gotta love when a plan comes together, right? On what might be the worst weekend for college football nationally, the Pac-12 South Division title could hang in the balance between two powerful SoCal rivals. The Bruins control their own destiny and are two wins away from returning to the conference title game. A USC wins opens the door for a head-spinning number of outcomes. What’s even more exciting is the way both teams are playing currently. Over the last month, both Cody Kessler and Brett Hundley have been unstoppable. Hundley has been dynamic on the ground and has taken care of the football through the air while Kessler has methodically dissected every defense he’s faced with a plethora of talented weaponry. Both against the run and on the scoreboard, the Trojans' defense has been tougher and more consistent but UCLA’s unit is rounding into form after holding Arizona and Washington’s passing games in check. Jim Mora is 2-0 against USC and a third straight win could keep the Bruins' College Football Playoff hopes alive.
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2. Arizona (+4) at Utah
3:30 p.m., ESPN
Both teams were lucky to walk away with wins in Week 12 and both still cling to slim Pac-12 South Division title hopes (yes, a five-way tie is still possible). Utah will use a stingy defense, near-perfect special teams and home-field advantage to attempt to rattle Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon. After a blistering start, the depth and grind of a nine-game Pac-12 schedule is starting to take its toll on the young starter. He posted his worst showing of the season three weeks ago against UCLA and wasn’t much better last week against Washington — both of which bear similarities to Utah defensively. Look for another low-scoring game in which a late mistake by a flustered quarterback makes the difference. And if it goes to overtime, Kyle Whittingham’s bunch would be very comfortable.
3. Stanford (-5.5) at Cal
4 p.m., FS1
As wild as it sounds, The Big Game could decide bowl eligibility for both teams. Stanford visits UCLA next week while Cal hosts BYU, so the only guarantee for either team is the winner of the 117th meeting will go to the postseason. Stanford has won the last four meetings (David Shaw has never been defeated by Cal) but the Bears had their own run of dominance in the series, taking seven out of eight from 2002-09. A loss would punctuate a very disappointing season for Shaw while a win for Cal could earn Sonny Dykes Pac-12 Coach of the Year votes. It’s a classic offense vs. defense matchup between two long-standing rivals. Sit back and enjoy.
4. Colorado (off) at Oregon
4:30 p.m., P12 Net
The Ducks are two wins away from playing for a Playoff berth and possible Heisman Trophy. Which might be just the right amount of time to get the oft-injured offensive line healthy. Center Hroniss Grasu won’t play this weekend but Andre Yruretagoyena could return to action. Marcus Mariota — who has 10 touchdowns in two career games against Colorado — is playing as well as anybody in the nation and should have no issues with the 106th-ranked defense. Unfortunately for Colorado, rising star quarterback Sefo Liufau may be limited after suffering a concussion two weeks ago. Jordan Gehrke is ready if needed.
5. Washington St (+16) at Arizona St
1 p.m., P12 Net
Todd Graham’s team is down but not out of the Pac-12 South race as the Sun Devils will be rooting hard for USC this weekend. The Sun Devils gave up a season-high 247 yards rushing to Oregon State in the upset last weekend and will be facing a totally different offense Saturday. Led by backup QB Luke Falk, the Cougars have had two weeks to prepare since their own, much more successful trip to Corvallis two weeks ago. Falk threw for 471 yards and five touchdowns in his first career start, a win over the aforementioned Beavers.
6. Oregon St (+6.5) at Washington
10:30 p.m., P12 Net
The Beavers played easily their best and most complete game of the year in the win over then-No. 6 Arizona State. Sean Mannion was efficient and the running game posted a season-high 247 yards. Washington continues its downward fall, losing for the fourth time in five games, the latest in painful fashion in Tucson. In the preseason, this game was thought to determine second or third place in the North Division. Now, the loser is likely to finish in last.
|Braden Gall||Mitch Light||David Fox||Steven Lassan|
|USC (+3.5) at UCLA||USC, 34-31||USC, 38-35||UCLA, 28-24||UCLA, 31-27|
|Zona (+4) at Utah||Utah, 30-25||Utah, 30-27||Utah, 27-21||AZ, 27-24|
|Stan. (-5.5) at Cal||Stan., 30-28||Cal, 34-20||Cal, 28-14||Stan., 31-30|
|Colo. at Ore.||Ore., 49-17||Ore., 47-17||Ore., 49-21||Ore., 50-17|
|WSU (+16) at ASU||ASU, 34-27||ASU, 37-27||ASU, 35-17||ASU, 41-27|
|OSU (+6.5) at Wash.||UW, 24-23||UW, 23-20||OSU, 28-21||UW, 31-24|