Things to watch in the Pac-12 Conference this week:
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 8 Oregon (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) at No. 13 Utah (6-1, 3-1), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (Fox)
The clash between the Ducks and the Utes isn’t an elimination game in the conference race. But it’s close. The loser will have two conference losses and likely need some help over the final month if they want to make it to Las Vegas for the conference title game. Utah is coming off last week’s 34-32 win at No. 24 USC where Bryson Barnes stepped into the spotlight at quarterback. It is his show moving forward after Utah ruled Cam Rising out for the season (knee). The Ducks posted a convincing win over Washington State last week. While Bo Nix gets most of the headlines for the Ducks, the game may come down to how much success running backs Bucky Irving and Jordan James and Oregon’s Pac-12 leading run game can have against a Utah defense giving up just 78 yards and 2.97 yards per carry.
No. 11 Oregon State (6-1, 3-1) at Arizona (4-3, 2-2), Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
This will be a sneaky good late-night tilt in the desert. Outside of unbeaten Washington, no team in the conference controls its path to Las Vegas more than Oregon State. The Beavers already have wins over Utah and UCLA and still have Washington and Oregon to come. That means Oregon State can’t afford any slipups. The Beavers are 13-1 since the start of the 2022 season against unranked opponents. Arizona had last weekend off following its 44-6 thumping of then-No. 19 Washington State on the road. The win over the Cougars was a breakthrough for Jedd Fisch’s squad. All three of the Wildcats losses this season have been by seven points or less and two in overtime.
Colorado (4-3, 1-3) at No. 23 UCLA (5-2, 2-2)
After a week off, Colorado coach Deion Sanders and the Buffaloes get their first chance to erase the bad taste from their second-half collapse and eventual overtime loss to Stanford. It won’t be an easy task facing UCLA and the No. 1 defense in the conference. The Bruins are allowing 283 total yards and less than 15 points per game. The Bruins are favored by 17 ½ points, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
PLAYER TO WATCH
How does the Heisman Trophy campaign of Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. get back on track? Penix was slowed down for the first time this season last week against Arizona State, throwing two interceptions and failing to throw a touchdown. The Huskies (7-0, 4-0) are at Stanford (2-5, 1-4) and Penix will be facing a Cardinal defense that is 132nd nationally giving up 315.9 yards per game through the air.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
No. 24 USC (6-2, 4-1) visits California for the 110th time in the history of the rivalry and the last time as members of the Pac-12. The Trojans will be trying to avoid their second three-game losing streak in the past three seasons. Cal has lost seven straight against ranked opponents. ... Washington’s 14-game win streak is the third longest in school history and the second-longest active streak in the country, trailing only Georgia. ... Washington State WR Lincoln Victor had a school-record 16 catches last week vs. Oregon. The Cougars (4-3, 1-3) visit Arizona State (1-6, 0-4) this week, a week after the Sun Devils forced four turnovers but couldn’t pull off the upset against Washington.
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