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Pac-12 Football: Week 9 preview and predictions

Let’s see what the Pac-12 has in store this week as we could see a new No. 1 in the Pac-12 South

NCAA Football: Oregon at Stanford Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Leadoff Blowout

No. 20 Stanford (5-2, 4-1 Pac-12) vs. Oregon State (1-6, 0-4 Pac-12) Thurs. Oct. 26 6 PM MT ESPN

ESPN Matchup Predictor: Stanford 96.2%

The Cardinal are coming off of a bye that has given them an extra week to prepare for the struggling Oregon State Beavers. Quarterback Darrel Garretson has taken over the reigns for the Beavers the last four games ever since Jake Luton was carted off of the field against Washington State and was later diagnosed with a thoracic spine fracture, which ended his season. The Cardinal, however, show no signs of slowing down. Bryce Love remains the No. 1 rusher in the country and as the front-runner in the Heisman race. The Cardinal outmatch the Beavers in every category across the board and if Oregon State can’t produce points then this could get ugly before halftime.

Final Prediction: Stanford 52 - Oregon State 10

The game that could decide the Pac-12 South

No. 21 USC (6-2, 4-1 Pac-12) vs. Arizona State (4-3, 3-1 Pac-12) Sat. Oct. 28 7:45 PM MT ESPN

ESPN Matchup Predictor: USC 60.2%

The No. 21 Trojans are coming off an embarrassing loss to No. 9 Notre Dame in South Bend. And while USC has been taking blows, Arizona State has been winning and has made almost unprecedented improvements from last season to this season. Despite not having senior linebacker Koron Crump for the past five weeks, the Sun Devils have still managed to shut down then-No. 5 Washington and defeat Utah by 20 points. Sam Darnold hasn’t lived up to the hype that he received during the preseason and will need to make better decisions this weekend against an ASU defense that has played lights out recently and has only allowed 17 points the last two weeks. And believe it or not, the Sun Devils actually have a better defense (No. 79) than USC (No. 99). Running back Ronald Jones II needs to play a lot better than last week, as Jones II only ran for 32 yards against the Irish, which was his worst game all season. Jones II will need to be more efficient in order to set up Darnold, Deontay Burnett and company in the passing game. Three keys for the Arizona State will be to establish the run with the thunder and lightning combination of Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard, Manny Wilkins has to use his athleticism and not force throws and ASU needs to get the ball to N’Keal Harry early and often.

Final Prediction: ASU 35 - No. 21 USC 31

Up in the air

Utah (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12) vs Oregon (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) Sat. Oct. 28 2:45 PM MT PAC12 Network

ESPN Matchup Predictor: Oregon 73.5%

The quarterback situation with Utah has kept opposing teams guessing in terms of who the starter will be each week. It’s been a seesaw effect with senior captain Troy Williams losing his starting job to sophomore junior college transfer Tyler Huntley to start the season. Huntley suffered a right arm injury, which gave Williams the job back against Stanford. Then Williams lost the job again to Huntley last week. However, Huntley threw four interceptions last week, so who knows who will start this week for the Utes.

Oregon has had its fair share of ups and downs too, as the Ducks have had to face injuries to quarterback Justin Herbert, running backs Royce Freeman and Tony Brooks-James. Freeman fortunately hasn’t missed a game since he suffered a lower leg injury against Cal, but Brooks-James will be out this week with a concussion. Despite his injury, Freeman is still the No. 8 rusher in the country. LB A.J. Hotchkins is questionable with a leg injury and LB Kaulana Apelu is ruled out with an ankle injury. Freeman is going to have to be the work horse he’s been all season and put the Ducks on his back in order to lead them to victory.

Final Prediction: Oregon 27 - Utah 17

California (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) vs Colorado (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) Sat. Oct. 28 11:00 AM MT PAC12

ESPN Matchup Predictor: Colorado 56.4%

Cal and Colorado are both coming off loses to Pac-12 opponents, but one of these teams will earn its second conference win after this week. Phillip Lindsay has been the unquestioned leader of this Colorado offense and is the No. 6 rusher in the country with 1,093 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Buffaloes are another Pac-12 team that has had quarterback problems this year. Head coach Mike MacIntyre told the Denver Post that he would have a quarterback competition this week after they were shut out by Washington State 28-0. Redshirt sophomore Steven Montez played the first half of last week against the Cougars and went 4-for-13 with 21 yards and redshirt freshman Sam Noyer went 7-for-18 with 53 yards. It should be interesting to see who MacIntyre gives the nod to on Saturday. Cal, however has has had almost no problems at quarterback this year with senior Ross Bowers, who is the No. 17 passer in the country with 1,997 yards. Junior Vic Wharton is the leads of the WR unit with 552 yards and three touchdowns, but the Golden Bears are deep at the position with senior Jordan Veasy and redshirt sophomore Kanawai Noa. Defense will be a problem for both teams as it has been all season. Cal’s defense is ranked No. 116 nationally and Colorado’s is No. 112.

Final Prediction: Cal 38 - Colorado 27

Upset Alert

No. 15 Washington State (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12) vs. Arizona (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) Sat. Oct. 28 6:30 PM MT PAC12 Network

ESPN Matchup Predictor: Arizona 53.3%

On paper, Washington State outmatches Arizona, and although the Cougars have a top-25 defense they haven’t faced a dual-threat quarterback the same caliber as Arizona’s Khalil Tate. Last week, quarterback Luke Falk rewrote the Washington State record books once again. Falk became the winningest quarterback in school history with 25 career wins after the Cougars shutout the Buffaloes on Saturday. The different style of play by these two quarterbacks should make this one of the most entertaining games of the weekend.

Final Prediction: Arizona 42 - Washington State 38

Major Disappointment on a major network

No. 12 Washington (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) vs. UCLA (4-3, 2-2 Pac-12)

Sat. Oct. 28 7:45 PM MT ESPN

ESPN Matchup Predictor: Washington 90.9%

When this game first showed up on the schedule many people thought this would be the site of College Gameday. Josh Rosen has been the backbone of UCLA, but he hasn’t been able to lead the Bruins to victory because of their defensive struggles. Aside from their shocking loss to the Sun Devils, the Huskies have been very successful on both sides of the ball. Washington has the best defense in the country, limiting opponents to just 10.6 points per game, and the Huskies have a very versatile offense, loaded with with Jake Browning, Myles Gaskin and Dante Pettis.

Final Prediction: No. 12 Washington 49 - UCLA 24