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Pac-12 Football: Week 13 Preview

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It’s Rivalry Week.

Utah v Washington Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Territorial Cup

Arizona State (6-5, 5-3 Pac-12) vs Arizona (7-4, 5-3 Pac-12)

Sat. 11/25 2:30 PM MT PAC12

ESPN Matchup Predictor: Arizona State 50.3%

The Territorial Cup. Arizona State vs Arizona. Sun Devils vs Wildcats. This game didn’t look like it would mean much in terms of Pac-12 prestige, but now both teams are bowl eligible fighting for second place in the Pac-12 South, which seemed absurd for both teams at the beginning of this season.

The quarterback play is also more interesting now that Manny Wilkins has improved night-and-day since last season and the emergence of Khalil Tate is unprecedented. Wilkins already has more passing touchdowns and passing yards that he did last season and he has also improved his touchdown-interception ratio. Running backs Kalen Ballage, Demario Richard, and maybe a little Eno Benjamin sprinkled in will keep Arizona’s front seven busy and N’Keal Harry and Kyle Williams will do some damage in the Wildcats’ secondary.

For Arizona, the rise of Khalil Tate from a backup quarterback to a Heisman candidate is unheard of and the fact that he’s having almost all of his success on the ground is an achievement in itself. Tate ran for 327 and four touchdowns in his first game and ran for 1,207 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns in his first six games as a starter. There are running backs who have played and started the entire college football season who don’t have as many yards or touchdowns as Tate. And the craziest thing about Tate is that he’s only a sophomore. No matter who you are or what team around the country you are rooting for on Saturday, you have to tip your cap to Tate and respect him because he is a once in a lifetime athlete. The firepower on offense for both teams has all the makings of a shootout. There’s a lot at stake in this game, but not just because this is a rivalry game, but because it could have implications of whether Todd Graham will be back next year for the Sun Devils.

Final Predictions: Arizona State 48 - Arizona 45

The Civil War

Oregon (6-5, 3-5 Pac-12) vs Oregon State (1-10, 0-8 Pac-12)

Sat. 11/25 5:00 PM MT ESPN2

ESPN Matchup Predictor: Oregon 92.9%

It’s clear why Oregon is favored to win this game, but if you still have questions just look at both team’s record and that should answer all of them. Oregon finally has Justin Herbert back after he was out five weeks with a collarbone injury and with Herbert, Royce Freeman, Tony Brooks-James, and Kani Benoit all healthy this game could get ugly fast. However, last year was a different story when the Beavers defeated the Ducks in Corvallis 34-24. Granted both teams finished the season 4-8, but the Ducks were on an eight-game winning streak in the Civil War and Beavers victory over the Ducks in 2016 was their biggest win of the season. Oregon could run away with this one and it could get ugly early in Corvallis.

Final Prediction: Oregon 56 - Oregon State 24

Rumble in the Rockies

Colorado (5-6, 2-6 Pac-12) vs Utah (5-6, 2-6 Pac-12)

Sat. 11/25 8:00 PM MT FS1

ESPN Matchup Predictor: Utah 64.8%

The Buffaloes and the Utes will square off in the Rumble in the Rockies and will be playing for bowl eligibility on Saturday. Utah will have its hands full trying to contain senior running back Phillip Lindsay and Colorado will have the same problem with trying to contain sophomore dual-threat quarterback Tyler Huntley. Lindsay is the No. 7 rusher in the country with 1402 yards on the ground and 13 rushing touchdowns. Utah began its season 4-0, but it has been a rough patch for the Utes and have gone 1-6 sine their hot start. From suffering a right arm injury, to throwing four interceptions in one game it has been a rough year for Huntley. However, there is still hope for him with the Utes. Huntley has thrown for four touchdowns twice this season, one of those occasions was without an interception, and he has also ran for as many as two touchdowns in a game. Huntley may be inconsistent, but the fact that he’s a dual threat quarterback makes him a lethal weapon for the Utes.

Final Prediction: Utah 27 - Colorado 21

The Bear Bowl

UCLA (5-6, 3-5 Pac-12) vs Cal (5-6, 2-6 Pac-12)

Fri. 11/24 8:30 PM MT FS1

ESPN Matchup Predictor: UCLA 69.4%

UCLA and Cal may not be ranked, but these teams are playing for a lot more than just a victory. Both teams are 5-6 and a victory on Friday means one of these teams is going bowling. Josh Rosen and the Jim Mora-less UCLA Bruins are coming off a tough loss to the USC Trojans in a game in which Rosen outplayed Darnold, but the Bruins couldn’t stop Ronald Jones in the running game. Ross Bowers will lead the Golden Bears into Pasedena, but Bowers isn’t the only threat on this Cal offense. UCLA’s mediocre defense, ranked No. 125 in the country, has its work cut out for them in trying to defend the one-two punch of Patrick Laird and Vic Enwere in the run game along with wide receivers Vic Wharton III, Kanawai Noa, and Jordan Veasy. However, Cal’s defense isn’t much better, ranked No. 95 nationally, so expect this game to be a shootout.

Final Prediction: UCLA 42 - Cal 34

Battle for the Legends Trophy

No. 8 Notre Dame vs No. 21 Stanford

Sat. 11/25 6:00 PM MT ABC

ESPN Matchup Predictor: Stanford 50.1%

Notre Dame and Stanford will play for the Legends Trophy on Saturday when these two teams meet in Palo Alto. This game will feature Bryce Love and Josh Adams, two top-15 running backs, according to ESPN.com, who are currently or have been Heisman candidates throughout this season. Adams is the work horse of the Fighting Irish offense has been the cornerstone for Notre Dame’s success this season. Adams was a top-5 rusher in the country and on the path to New York, but has been shut down by opposing teams recently and has only accumulated 172 yards in the past three weeks. He was injured during the first quarter of the Wake Forest game, but hasn’t missed a start this season.

Wimbush struggles against zone coverage in particular which is something I expect Stanford defensive backs coach Duane Akina and the Cardinal secondary to use to its advantage on Saturday. Love is the bolt of lightning for the Cardinal offense and will more than likely head to New York as a top-3 candidate for the Heisman Trophy. Love is having a sensational 2017 campaign and is the second best rusher in the nation with 1,723 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns. Stanford has had problems at the quarterback position this season, but have found success with sophomore K.J. Costello under center. Both teams have decent defenses (ND defense ranked No. 50, Stanford defense ranked No. 63) and it will be interesting to see which team can contain the opposing running back if at all.

Final Prediction: Notre Dame 34 - Stanford 24

The Apple Cup

No. 13 Washington State vs No. 17 Washington

Sat. 11/25 6:00 PM MT FOX

ESPN Matchup Predictor: Washington 84.4%

This matchup looked like it had the potential to be the site of College Football Gameday up until Week 7 when both teams were upset. Washington was ranked No. 5 at the time and Washington State was ranked No. 8 until the Huskies were upset by the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Cougars were blown out by the Cal Golden Bears.

But here we are in Week 13 and these two teams are still ranked, which should make this one of the more entertaining games in the Pac-12 this weekend. Myles Gaskin is coming off of a career game as a receiver as he racked up 114 yards and a touchdown as he led the Huskies in receiving and rushing on Saturday and added two rushing touchdowns in the overtime win over Utah. Gaskin will along with WR/PR Dante Pettis will be key factors to a Huskies win Saturday. Quarterback Jake Browning has been inconsistent throughout this season. He’s thrown for 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, but will need to make sound decisions at home if the Huskies want to represent the North in the Pac-12 Championship game.

Luke Falk has been consistent for most of this season, but was benched on two occasions. Despite being benched, he hasn’t missed a start this season and was one of the top-five passers in the country until the loss to Cal when he threw five interceptions and zero touchdowns. Both teams have top-15 defenses (Total defense: Washington No. 5, Washington State No. 14, according to ESPN.com) and despite the high-powered offenses, this game may not be high scoring.

Final Prediction: Washington 28 - Washington State 24