Athlon Sports previews Week 14 of the Pac-12 season.
It’s pretty simple for Pac-12 fans.
Oregon has clinched the North Division title regardless of what happens in The Civil War but need to win twice to lock up a spot in the first College Football Playoff.
Down South, UCLA is in control. Beat Stanford and Jim Mora’s bunch gets a rematch with the Ducks. A Bruins loss, however, makes this Territorial Cup arguably the most anticipated meeting in the desert in the history of the rivalry.
Pac-12 Week 14 Game Power Rankings
1. Arizona St at Arizona
Fri., 3:30 p.m., FOX
Todd Graham and Rich Rodriguez know each other extremely well as they enter what could amount to the most important Territorial Cup in history. This, of course, hinges on Stanford upsetting UCLA (see below), but even if this ends up just a battle for second place, it will be heated. It’s a great rivalry that is made better by the history between the two head coaches (Graham coached under RichRod at WVU and is 2-0 against his former boss) and the gravity of the situation. Both teams are eyeing a 10-win season and both will need their quarterback to overcome adversity to get there. Taylor Kelly hasn’t been particularly sharp since returning from injury, but was brilliant bringing his team back from a two-touchdown deficit against Washington State last weekend. Anu Solomon has been brilliant all season but is dealing with a foot issue that, if he is able to play, would likely limit one of his key assets – his mobility. With the Sun Devils' ability to attack the quarterback and create turnovers, Solomon — or backup Jesse Scroggins — will have to distribute the football quickly and accurately to beat their in-state rivals.
2. Stanford (+4.5) at UCLA
Fri., 3:30 p.m., ABC
Jim Mora has had issues with Stanford, losing all three meetings to David Shaw. But this is the best UCLA team he’s had since getting to Westwood, while Shaw brings with him to Pasadena the worst Stanford team of his head-coaching tenure. Brett Hundley is playing the best ball of his career, either topping 300 yards passing or 100 yards rushing in five consecutive games and throwing just one interception over his last four games. Stanford scored 38 in a win over Cal last weekend but don’t be fooled, the Cardinal still have major offensive issues. Holding USC (276) and Arizona (255) to season lows in total offense over the last three games is no easy feat, so UCLA should have a major advantage when its defense is on the field. With a Pac-12 title hanging in the balance, the Bruins might be the only team that can beat the Bruins this weekend.
Listen to the Rivalry Week predictions podcast:
3. Notre Dame (+7.5) at USC
3:30 p.m., FOX
Any momentum USC built up with wins on the road over Utah and Washington State came to a screeching halt against UCLA last weekend. The Irish have been at a dead stop for what feels like a month, losing three straight and four out of five. Both defenses have shown elite talent among the starters, but their lack of depth has been exposed in November. This historic and normally important rivalry game is surprisingly lacking in national relevance but viewers should still tune in to watch the quarterback play. Cody Kessler is wildly underrated and has been excellent all year while no one knows what to expect from Everett Golson on any given snap. This feels like it could be a wild and memorable showdown despite the game meaning very little to the college football landscape.
4. Oregon (-20) at Oregon St
8 p.m., ABC
The Civil War has come a long ways since 0-0 but likely won’t be as exciting as the one-point thriller from last season. Marcus Mariota and the Ducks have clinched a spot in the Pac-12 title game but are still playing for a national title and a Heisman Trophy. Oregon's offense is clicking right now, rushing for between 264 and 269 yards in four straight games while scoring no fewer than 44 points during this span. The Beavers need to pull the upset to get bowl eligible and are at home, but too much is at stake for the Ducks to overlook their archrival.
5. BYU (+4.5) at Cal
4:30 p.m., P12 Net
Sonny Dykes has done an excellent job this season in Berkeley but Cal missed a great shot at home against an archrival to get bowl eligible. Finishing the season with three Pac-12 wins was a solid step in the right direction but the Bears would likely be disappointed if they lost three straight chances to get to the postseason for the first time since 2011. A win over BYU would change the entire complexion of the offseason.
6. Washington (-3.5) at Washington St
10:30 p.m., FS1
The Apple Cup is a fantastic rivalry and has given fans some memorable moments over the past few seasons. While Mike Leach enters his third such meeting, Chris Petersen is enjoying his debut in the important Evergreen showdown. Leach catapulted his team into a bowl game in 2013 on the strength of a wild comeback victory in '12 while the 10-point win by Washington last year was Steve Sarkisian’s final game in Seattle. Petersen has his team playing better with excellent balance on offense — UW has been over 200 yards rushing and passing in three out of its past four games and its 8.2 yards per play last week was a season high by a large margin. Leach’s team, despite the loss to ASU, did play better last weekend, posting 622 yards on 100 offensive snaps. Anything can happen when these two get together.
7. Utah (+9) at Colorado
1 p.m., P12 Net
The Buffaloes are winless in the Pac-12 and will have to play arguably the best game of their season to beat the Utes in Boulder. Sefo Liufau didn’t start against Oregon but came on at the beginning of the second half once the game was out of hand. Jordan Gehrke is Mike MacIntyre’s backup option (he was 9-of-18 for 64 yards). Utah has lost three out of four and is trying to erase the memory of what was its worst showing of the season against Arizona last week. The 520 yards and 7.54 yards per play allowed against the Wildcats were the most the Utes had given up this season while the 42 points were the second most.
|Braden Gall||Mitch Light||David Fox||Steven Lassan|
|ASU at Zona||ASU, 34-30||AZ, 28-23||AZ, 38-28||ASU, 34-30|
|Stan (+4.5) at UCLA||UCLA, 31-13||UCLA, 26-20||UCLA, 27-17||UCLA, 27-20|
|N. Dame (+7.5) at USC||USC, 40-20||USC, 35-21||USC, 24-21||USC, 38-27|
|UO (-20) at OSU||UO, 45-24||UO, 41-21||UO, 44-33||UO, 45-24|
|BYU (+4.5) at Cal||Cal, 33-31||Cal, 34-20||Cal, 28-20||Cal, 38-34|
|UW (-3.5) at WSU||UW, 30-28||UW, 41-29||UW, 35-19||UW, 34-31|
|Utah (+9) Colo||Utah, 31-17||Utah, 33-21||Utah, 27-13||Utah, 34-20|