Posted on November 4, 2021
Utah travels to Stanford on Friday, Cal heads to Arizona for a Noon kickoff on Saturday, and Oregon State takes on Colorado late in the afternoon.
But most eyes will be on No. 4 Oregon, as the Ducks take on Washington on ABC. The bitter rivalry figures to produce a hard-fought game that could be reduced to a defensive slugfest.
And capping off the night, Arizona State takes on USC in a game that’s always circled on the Sun Devils’ schedule.
I preview all five matchups here, and our Senior Writers’ picks appear at the bottom.
Utah at Stanford
Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA
Friday, November 5
7:30 pm PT, FS1
The Utes enter Stanford Stadium having won four of their last five, averaging 35.8 points per game over the stretch.
On the opposite end of the momentum pendulum, the Tree have lost four of their last five and are scoring just 21.8 points per night during the period.
The dichotomy could be on full display Friday night, as Tanner McKee must deal with the Pac-12’s No. 5 passing defense.
Without any semblance of a run game, Stanford’s quarterback could have his hands full with Utah blitz schemes from the opening drive of the game.
On the other side of the ball, the Cardinal face a balanced Ute offense that can score on the ground and through the air. Cameron Rising’s mobility has yet to be contained this season, with the Utah captain averaging 7.9 yards per carry.
Mix in Rising’s 12-to-2 touchdown to interception ratio, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the game gets out of hand early.
Look for Utah to put up over 500 yards on the second-worst defense in the Conference.
California at Arizona
Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ
Saturday, November 6
Noon, Pac-12 Network
Winless in Tucson since 2004, the Bears face an Arizona team that could be without hybrid quarterback-receiver Jamarye Joiner.
The Tucson-native was injured against USC last weekend, potentially eliminating a pivotal aspect of Jedd Fisch’s offense: the wildcat.
If Joiner can’t go, the success of Arizona’s offense figures to come down to its ability to run the ball using its traditional Pro Style formations. But California has the No. 2 run defense in the Pac-12, complicating Fisch’s gameplan.
The Wildcard is Will Plummer’s confidence.
The UA quarterback looked like a different player at the Coliseum, appearing to find his groove against the Trojans’ defensive schemes. If Plummer scores three touchdowns and doesn’t turn the ball over, the Wildcats might have a chance.
Yet, a strong day from Arizona’s offense might not be enough if its defense doesn’t slow down Chase Garbers. The senior leader is in top form with 17 touchdowns on the year and over 2,300 yards of total offense.
Garbers will face pressure from UA’s press-man blitz schemes, but his mobility should be enough to secure the win.
Oregon State at Colorado
Folsom Field, Boulder, CO
Saturday, November 6
4:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network
For the third week out of the last four, Oregon State hits the road to take on an opponent away from Corvallis. And after dropping its previous two road games, the Beavers can’t stumble in Boulder.
Colorado has confidence after putting up 29 points on Oregon’s defense, but this is a matchup OSU shouldn’t lose. The Buffs have just a single win over an FBS program and have been outscored nearly 2-to-1 in those contests.
Brendon Lewis played well against the Ducks and Arizona, yet the freshman has struggled outside of those games.
Former Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year Jarek Broussard is averaging just 44.9 yards per game, and second-string Alex Fontenot is putting up 28.5 yards per night.
Without a consistent passing attack to open up lanes for the backs, the Oregon State defense should limit Colorado to 20 points or less.
And facing the Conference’s No. 10 rushing defense, B.J. Baylor and Chance Nolan should have a field day. Assuming the Beavers limit turnovers, Nolan figures to pass the ball less than 20 times while Baylor rushes for more than 150 yards.
No. 4 Oregon at Washington
Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA
Saturday, November 6
4:30 pm PT, ABC
It’s common sense to avoid inflammatory remarks before a rivalry game, and Jimmy Lake’s disparaging quote about Oregon’s academics can only be described as unwise.
The Ducks don’t need extra motivation to bring their A-Game to Seattle, and the comment added fuel to a fire that was already fully raging.
The consequences could be felt on Saturday, as the Pac-12’s second-worst run defense faces the Conference’s second-best rushing offense.
The Huskies have struggled to slow down opposing running backs all season, allowing 178.5 yards per game.
Travis Dye and the Oregon offensive line figure to eat against UW’s front seven, with Anthony Brown gashing Lake’s defense for pivotal first downs and long runs.
The result could be a lopsided Oregon victory with the Ducks dominating time of possession and scoring a touchdown each time they enter the red zone.
On offense, Dylan Morris has taken care of the ball over the past two games. But the UO secondary is light-years ahead of Arizona and Stanford’s. First half turnovers could put Washington in a hole early, and it might never crawl out.
USC at Arizona State
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ
Saturday, November 6
7:30 pm PT, ESPN
The USC-Arizona State rivalry is arguably the product of a Sun Devil-centric perception. In other words, ASU places more importance on this matchup than USC.
The Trojans have several other rivals to focus on, while the Sun Devils only have Arizona. The unbalanced animosity between the two programs makes for a unique rivalry game, with Arizona State ready to fight and USC somewhat overlooking the Sun Devils.
Both programs are in the midst of disappointing seasons that have fallen short of expectations, but Sun Devil Stadium is sold out for the matchup.
Leading ASU running back Rachaad White has reportedly returned to practice this week, and USC quarterback Jaxson Dart appears primed to start.
The battle to watch is the SC offensive line against Antonio Pierce’s front seven. If the Sun Devils get penetration on running plays and pressure the quarterback when throwing, its secondary should generate interceptions.
But if Graham Harrell’s quarterbacks are allowed time in the pocket, they have the skill to torch the ASU secondary.
The production of Keaontay Ingram might be an X-Factor, with the USC running back either keeping Pierce’s play-calling honest or allowing the defensive coordinator to go all-in on pass blitzing.
SportsPac12 Football Writers Week 10 Game Picks
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