TOP-10 MATCHUP: POSSIBLE BATTLE FOR THE NORTH?
No. 7 Stanford (3-0) vs. No. 10 Washington (4-0) - 6:30 p.m. MT, Sept. 30, ESPN —- ESPN Matchup Predictor: Washington 60.8%
Not only is this astronomical battle between two top-10 teams and the best in the Pac-12, but it is to break a tie in a 96-year-old series. The Huskies and Cardinal are locked up at 41-41-4 against each other and will settle the tiebreak this Friday.
The Washington Huskies have an incredibly efficient quarterback in Jake Browning, who has the second best quarterback rating in the Pac-12. His 14 touchdowns and two interceptions are deadly efficient statistics, and it’s mainly due to his lightning fast receivers junior John Ross and sophomore Chico McClatcher. Stanford will have neither starting cornerbacks sophomore Quenton Meeks nor junior Alijah Holder, who were both injured against UCLA. This gives the Huskies a huge advantage in the air, offensively.
Stanford, unlike Washington’s soft schedule, has worked its way to quality wins against both UCLA and USC, as well as Kansas State. The Cardinal have not scored over 27 points in a single game this season compared to Washington’s 45.75 points per game, however Stanford does have Heisman hopeful junior running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey didn't have a "big game" against UCLA, as he was held without a touchdown, but still managed 138 yards on the ground, and will make a huge impact on Friday against the Huskies.
Stanford faces a tough task on the road in Dawg territory and will be handed their first loss of the season.
Final Prediction: Washington 27, Stanford 24
MAROON & GOLD FACE CARDINAL & GOLD IN CRUCIAL CONTEST
Arizona State (4-0) vs. USC (1-3) - 5:30 p.m. MT, Oct. 1, FOX —- ESPN Matchup Predictor: USC 71.2%
The Sun Devils are off to their best start since 2007, while the Trojans flaunt their worst record since 2001. The difference is No. 1 Alabama, No. 7 Stanford and No. 18 Utah: each teams USC has faced and lost this year. For ASU, the Sun Devils have yet to play a ranked team, and don’t currently have one on their schedule until Nov. 10 vs. Utah. The Trojans have had trouble away from home against top-25 opponents, now they face an unranked opponent at home in front of a crowd of angry USC fans desperate for a win.
Redshirt freshman Sam Darnold will lead the Trojan attack with All-American junior wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and hard-hitting senior running back Justin Davis. Darnold has yet to be sacked this season, and it helps to have a massive offensive line that has an average height of 6-foot-5. The Sun Devil defense has given up an average of 46 points against Power Five offenses and has yet to play a Power Five team on the road.
USC has too much talent and is in dire need of a Pac-12 home win. Sun Devil fans won’t like this, but a skilled group of Trojans will pull ahead and never look back.
Final Prediction: USC 38, Arizona State 31
THE BEST PASS OFFENSE IN THE PAC-12 MEETS UTAH’S GUT-WRENCHING DEFENSE
No. 18 Utah (4-0) vs. California (2-2) - 3:00 p.m. MT Oct. 1, Pac-12 —- ESPN Matchup Predictor: California 56.6%
California has proven its ability to beat ranked teams at home after a 50-43 statement win over then-No. 11 Texas. The Utes are following a home comeback win against USC, and face their toughest test to keep their season perfect as they travel into Berkeley. Utah only allows 15.74 points per game, while California averages 45.5 ppg.
The Utes have improved since week one. They combined for eight turnovers against BYU and San José State, then turned around and had just one against USC. Junior quarterback Troy Williams finally looks comfortable with his team as he and senior receiver Tim Patrick connected for 100 yards last game including a touchdown pass with just 16 seconds to go on to win the game.
The confident Utes will be flying in with a defense that has enough to stop the wrath of senior quarterback Davis Webb.
Final Prediction Utah 37, California 34
NORTHWEST RIVALRY RENEWED: TWO TEAMS IN A DESPERATE NEED FOR A WIN
Oregon (2-2) vs. Washington State (1-2) - 6:30 p.m. MT, Oct. 1, Pac-12 —- ESPN Matchup Predictor: Washington State 57.6%
The Ducks have been through thick and thin already, and they’re just four games into this season. The loss of junior running back Royce Freeman for the last two games has been a huge contribution to Oregon losing two in a row for the first time since 2007. The Ducks are looking to get revenge against the Cougars who beat them in overtime last season in Eugene.
Washington State can score. The Cougars have averaged 42 points and 393 pass yards per game, yet are 1-2. A poor record against two FCS teams and Boise State is not good for their resume, and junior quarterback Luke Falk will need to have a monstrous game if he wants to beat the hungry Oregon Ducks.
Back-to-back losses and the return of Freeman fuels the Ducks enough to be due for a big road win. Oregon’s offense will explode in this one, scoring 50 plus points to fly past the Cougars.
Final Prediction: Oregon 52, Washington State 41
SHOULD BE EASY PEAZY FOR THE BRUINS
Arizona (2-2) vs. UCLA (2-2) - 7:30 p.m. MT, Oct. 1, ESPN —- ESPN Matchup Predictor: UCLA 82%
A tough home loss to Stanford should lead to a big win for the UCLA Bruins, who return to the Rose Bowl with a huge chip on their shoulder. Now at .500 and at the bottom of the Pac-12 South, the Bruins will need a win to keep their hopes of a Pac-12 Championship berth alive.
UCLA has too much talent to throw away its season this Saturday night. With NFL-caliber quarterback Josh Rosen and 6-foot-3 sophomore running back Soso Jamabo, the Bruins should have no problem with Arizona.
Arizona gave No. 10 Washington a scare at home, but they are now in Bruin territory for this lop-sided matchup. UCLA wins big.
Final Prediction: UCLA 35, Arizona 21
COLORADO: BIGGEST SLEEPER IN THE PAC-12
Oregon State (1-2) vs. Colorado (3-1) - 11:30 a.m. MT, Oct. 1, Pac-12 —- ESPN Matchup Predictor: Colorado 90.5%
The Buffaloes are riding high after a 41-38 win over Oregon on the road. Whether senior quarterback Sefo Liufau is healthy for this game or not, freshman Steven Montez who shined in his first ever start last week, is prepared to lead the Buffs to another win.
Last Saturday, Montez had 468 total yards and four touchdowns alone in the air and on the ground against the Ducks. However, he did fumble the ball once and accounted for two interceptions. If Montez plays again, trust Colorado to score big and capitalize on its offensive mistakes.
The Beavers will do what they can. Colorado is just too sound offensively and will come away with the win.
Final Prediction: Colorado 42, Oregon State 17
Picks entering the week: 41-6