Dane Miller’s Week 11 Pac-12 Football Previews

Posted on November 11, 2021


  By Dane Miller, SportsPac12

Daylight Savings Time is in effect, which means games kick off slightly earlier or later than normal, depending on which time zone you are watching from.

Pac-12But with no game on Friday, the Conference kicks off Week 11 with a daytime matchup in the desert, when No. 24 Utah faces Arizona.

Later in the day, Stanford travels to Corvallis to play Oregon State, and Arizona State takes on Washington in Seattle. The night matchups feature Colorado and UCLA, along with Washington State at No. 3 Oregon.

Once again, the national focus will be on the Ducks and the implications on the College Football Playoff.

Some media members continue to spout the narrative that UO should somehow be below Ohio State or Cincinnati, making the matchup with the Cougars one that will be watched closely.

I preview all five games below, and our football writers’ picks appear at the bottom.

Arizona football Pac-12No. 24 Utah at Arizona

Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ
Saturday, November 13
11:00 AM PT, Pac-12 Network

Coming off their first win in two years, the Wildcats face one of the hottest teams in the country. The Utes have won five of their last six, and running back Tavion Thomas has played a large role in the success.

The redshirt-sophomore has 12 touchdowns over the stretch and is averaging almost six yards per carry. That’s a problem for the No. 9 run defense in the Pac-12, as the Cats allow 4.34 yards per attempt.

Utah QB Cameron Rising | Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Utah has the Conference’s No. 1 scoring offense, putting up 35.4 points per game. Cameron Rising is completing 63.5 percent of his attempts and has a 12-to-2 touchdown to interception ratio.

But its Rising’s mobility that makes the Ute offense so potent. He carries the ball a handful of times per game, evading pressure and knocking off 7.2 yards per rush.

Arizona defensive coordinator Don Brown could be forced to keep a safety on Rising as a constant spy, further isolating the UA secondary on passing plays.

The result could be chunk plays through the air that lead to gashing runs, with the Wildcat defense out of sorts.

Stanford at Oregon State

Reser Stadium, Corvallis, OR
Saturday, November 13
2:30 PM PT, Pac-12 Network

The Beavers appear to be the benefactors of a “Get Right” game, as reports indicate that Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee is unlikely to play in Corvallis.

The Cardinal’s offense is inept without the gunslinger, primarily due to its nonexistent run game. True freshman Ari Patu is set to get his first career start, and enters Reser Stadium having completed just one pass for -3 yards.

Oregon State RB B.J. Baylor | Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The Beavers convert 51.8 percent of their third down attempts, compared to the Tree’s 34.2 percent. Stanford allows 29.7 points per game and only puts up 22.9, a dangerous combination on the road.

But perhaps most importantly, the Cardinal have the nation’s fourth-worst run defense and are facing the No. 10 rushing offense in the country.

B.J. Baylor and Deshaun Fenwick should get back on track with over 100 yards each, as OSU puts up more than 450 yards of total offense.

Washington football pac-12Arizona State at Washington

Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA
Saturday, November 13
4:00 PM PT, FS1

Off-the-field distractions have dominated the headlines coming out of Seattle this week, but there’s a game to be played on Saturday.

Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory is the acting head coach for the matchup with Arizona State, while Junior Adams takes over the play-calling duties after offensive coordinator John Donovan was fired.

The shuffling of responsibilities within the staff could result in a poor on-field performance, as the players and coaches adjust to their new roles.

Arizona State running back Rachaad White | John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The matchup to watch is UW’s run defense against the ASU running backs. Rachaad White posted over 200 yards and three touchdowns on USC, and Washington has the No. 11 run defense in the Pac-12.

The perfect storm of circumstances doesn’t bode well for the Dawgs. Even if Gregory schemes up a plan to stop White, Arizona State has Chip Trayanum, Daniyel Ngata, and Jayden Daniels to make up for it.

And facing the Antonio Pierce-led ASU defense, Dylan Morris or Sam Huard figure to be dealing with pressure all night. Look for the Sun Devils to win the turnover battle and run wild in the Emerald City.

Colorado at UCLA

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
Saturday, November 13
6:00 PM PT, Pac-12 Network

The Buffs are hot, but the Bruins had a full week to prepare for CU’s offense.

UCLA defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro faces what might be a career-deciding matchup when his defense squares off against Brendon Lewis and the Colorado running backs.

The freshman struggled most of the year, but gained confidence against USC and hasn’t looked back.

Since facing the Trojans and not counting the game at California, Lewis has compiled the impressive stats many expected of him: eight touchdowns and zero interceptions while averaging 201 yards passing per game.

Colorado QB Brendon Lewis | Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

That’s a dangerous combination for Azzinaro’s 4-2-5 scheme that has struggled to defend the pass. If Lewis plays with the same confidence, the Buffs have a slugger’s chance of pulling off the upset.

But Dorian Thompson-Robinson has reportedly returned to practice and appears set to start. His presence should open lanes for Zach Charbonnet and Brittain Brown, as the duo are substantially more effective with DTR’s threat to run.

Chip Kelly’s offense should play well enough to win, yet the success of Azzinaro’s defense is what figures to decide the game.

Oregon Ducks Logo Pac-12Washington State at No. 3 Oregon

Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR
Saturday, November 13
7:30 PM PT, ESPN

The eyes of the Conference and the night-owls on the East Coast will be focused on this matchup. Each week, the Ducks appear to be featured in the Game of the Week in the Pac-12, and this showdown is no different.

The Cougars have found success in Jake Dickert’s second year commanding the defense. His 4-2-5 scheme is executed efficiently by his players, and the system goads opposing coordinators to go against their strengths.

Designed to stop the run, Dickert’s defense invites a pass-heavy game plan, but his secondary is disciplined to keep opponents out of the end zone.

Oregon’s Travis Dye | Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Setting aside the USC game, Dickert’s unit is allowing just 19.1 points per night. The scheme slows down the run while WSU’s Run-and-Shoot puts up points, causing opposing coordinators to play from behind.

Left to claw their way back into games, opponents tend to abandon the run and pass the ball more than they planned.

Yet, the scheme was exploited by Joe Moorhead in Pasadena when the Oregon offensive coordinator utilized short passes and wide receiver screens as substitutes for run-plays. The Bruins didn’t react with any adjustments, and the Ducks ate them up.

But Dickert is several levels more advanced than Jerry Azzinaro. To out-scheme WSU’s version of the 4-2-5, Moorhead must have something else under his sleeve.


SportsPac12 Football Writers Week 11 Game Picks




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