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Pac-12 Football: Week 9 Preview and Predictions

We take you through week nine in Pac-12 football with predictions for how the conference will fare.

NCAA Football: Stanford at Washington
Washington Huskies cheerleaders and mascot run onto the field
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

No. 4 Washington (7-0, 4-0) vs. No. 17 Utah (7-1, 4-1) 12:30 p.m. Oct. 29 FS1 --- ESPN Matchup Predictor: Washington 79.2 %

The best of the North and South square off in what could be the most decisive battle all year long in the Pac-12. If the Utes win, they maintain first place in the south and could knock Washington out of first place in the north. If the Huskies win, College Football Playoff hopes look even greater, and No. 21 Colorado finds itself at the top of the Pac-12 South.

In a road game like this for the Huskies, it comes down to who has the better players and team as a whole. Washington has the better quarterback. Sophomore Jake Browning has completed 68.6 percent of his passes this season with an immaculate 26 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

In the sophomore’s past two games alone, he’s combined for 12 touchdowns and no interceptions. Browning and his top-notch offense that averages 48.3 points per game should pick apart Utah’s defense.

The Utes have found themselves a new offensive weapon in senior running back Joe Williams. Williams came out of retirement two games ago and ran a school record 332 yards with three touchdowns last week against UCLA.

This game could very well be a battle down to the last minute. Washington is overall the more talented and higher scoring team that should win this game.

Final Prediction: Washington 30, Utah 28

California (4-3, 2-2) vs. USC (4-3, 3-2) 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27 ESPN --- ESPN Matchup Predictor: USC 83%

Three wins in a row, a bye week and then a home game in the LA Coliseum serves as the best position the Trojans have been in all season. They defeated then-first in the Pac-12 Arizona State, nipped past Colorado, and then man-handled Arizona in Tucson, AZ. California shouldn’t serve as much of a threat to USC granted the fact that the Golden Bears have yet to win a true road game this season.

Freshman quarterback Sam Darnold and junior wide receiver Juju Smith-Schushter are almost invincible together. Darnold is tied with Louisville’s Lamar Jackson for the nation’s best QB rating at 91.6. Smith-Schushter’s 565 receiving yards are 208 more than any WR on the team.

Senior quarterback Davis Webb and the Golden Bears are bound to have success in their superb pro-pass offense, but must be weary of junior defensive back Adoree Jackson and company. USC over powers California to get a big home win and possibly jump up to second place in the Pac-12 after this weekend.

Final Prediction: USC 46, California 35

NCAA Football: Southern California at Utah
USC Trojans defensive back #2 Adoree Jackson and #27 running back Lance Mudd celebrate
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford (4-3, 2-3) vs. Arizona (2-5, 0-4) 8:00 p.m. Oct. 29 FS1 --- ESPN Matchup Predictor: Stanford 63%

Quarterback health has been extremely unlucky all season long in the state of Arizona. Both Arizona and Arizona State have had three different quarterbacks start a game and the Wildcats have even had to place senior tight end Matt Morin in the quarterback position. The good news for the Wildcats is week one starter junior Anu Solomon and sophomore Brandon Dawkins are back from injury.

Dawkins is likely the starter for Saturday and has more than just confidence on his side. Even while battling through injury, he’s averaged 327 yards per game (omitting the UCLA game), and ranks ninth in the nation with a 83.2 total QBR. The junior contributes almost equally with his feet and arm and has the potential be a huge game changer.

The Stanford Cardinal have struggled offensively, and junior running back Christian McCaffrey still has yet to score a touchdown in a true road game in his collegiate career. The Cardinal have put up 22 points in its last two games and had four turnovers last week against Colorado. The Wildcats are the superior team offensively and should upset the Cardinal at home on homecoming.

Final Prediction: Arizona 31, Stanford 27

NCAA Football: Grambling State at Arizona
Arizona Wildcats quarterback #13 Brandon Dawkins
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State (5-3, 2-3) vs. Oregon (2-5, 0-4) 2:00 p.m. Oct. 29 PAC12 --- ESPN Matchup Predictor: Oregon 63.4%

It’s been 10 meetings since the last time the Sun Devils have won against the Ducks and with Oregon in one of its worst seasons in recent history, it’s Arizona State’s best chance to capture its first Pac-12 road victory and establish bowl eligibility.

If banged up sophomore quarterback Manny Wilkins (shoulder) can play this Saturday, that’s good news for the Sun Devils. If freshman Dillon Sterling-Cole is in, then ASU will have to embrace the rookie quarterback. The Sun Devils had Wilkins for just the first half of the first quarter against Washington State and still put up 32 points.

Oregon’s defense has given up at least 40 points in every Pac-12 game so far, the offensive numbers should only rise for Arizona State. Defensively, ASU is equipped to stop the Ducks. Running is Oregon’s specialty and luckily for the Sun Devils, ASU owns the No. 1 rushing defense in the Pac-12.

The Ducks have a brand new quarterback in freshman Justin Herbert, coming off a six touchdown performance against California. He will be making the third start of his career this Saturday. Junior running back Royce Freeman and the run-crazy ducks are hungry for their first Pac-12 win. This will be a close one.

Final Prediction: Arizona State 43, Oregon 41

Washington State (5-2, 4-0) vs. Oregon State (2-5, 1-3) 7:45 p.m. Oct. 29 ESPN2 --- ESPN Matchup Predictor: Washington State 84.8%

A perfect Pac-12 record and a possible six game win streak is on the line for Washington State, who could find itself in sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 North after Washington and Utah square off. The Cougars look scary good.

Their offense is remarkable with junior Luke Falk at quarterback. Last week against ASU, he led an offense that scored 24 unanswered points and led the entire second half. Falk had a game to remember last season against the Beavers passing 407 yards for six touchdowns torching the OSU defense and winning 52-31.

The Beavers just got stomped on by Washington 41-17 and can only hope to keep up with Washington State.

Final Prediction: Washington State 35, Oregon State 21