Conference play is finally here. After an exhilarating non-conference slate for the last year of the PAC-12 as we know it, we have finally arrived at the most anticipated time of the year for not only PAC-12 fans, but fans of college football across the country because of how good the level of competition is this year in the “Conference of Champions”.
Up until this point, the PAC-12 still has eight remaining undefeated teams, the most of any conference in the country. This week will feature a total of three top 25 matchups
#19 Colorado (3-0) @ #10 Oregon (3-0)
One of the biggest games in the country will take place on ABC in Eugene when Deion Sanders and his Colorado Buffaloes take on the high flying Oregon Ducks led by Heisman hopeful Bo Nix. Colorado come into this game as heavy underdogs and will be without two-way superstar Travis Hunter, but are hoping they can pull off an all-time stunner in a hostile road environment led by quarterback Shedeur Sanders. Meanwhile, this Oregon team will look to make a national statement with millions watching to see how they can try to hand Colorado their first loss of the season. In the end, I believe the Ducks have too much firepower and depth on both sides of the ball and pull away beginning in the third quarter and cruise to a comfortable win.
My pick: Oregon – 45 Colorado – 28
#22 UCLA (3-0) @ #11 Utah (3-0)
The other game that will be taking place during the mid-day window will be between UCLA and Utah on FOX in Salt Lake City. During these first three games, Utah has managed to find different ways to win even without quarterback Cam Rising and now there is a possibility that he might make his long awaited return on Saturday. Meanwhile, UCLA is entering this game with a superstar true freshman quarterback in Dante Moore going up against a well coached and experienced Utes defense who have already been tested once against Florida. This should be an absolutely amazing game until Utah scores late.
My pick: Utah – 28 UCLA – 24
Arizona (2-1) @ Stanford (1-2)
Two teams that appear to be on different trajectories this season face off in Palo Alto when Arizona takes on Stanford. The Wildcats could very easily be another 3-0 team if it weren’t for a 31-24 loss on the road at Mississippi State in overtime as they look to have another high flying offense, specifically their passing game. Meanwhile, Stanford is fresh off a loss at home to Sacramento State and are still trying to find their identity this season. Arizona is looking to take care of games like this rather quickly before their schedule gets much more difficult to try and give themselves a chance to make a bowl game. With this in mind, I think Arizona will win this game comfortably.
My pick: Arizona – 38 Stanford – 14
#14 Oregon State (3-0) @ #21 Washington State
In my opinion, this is the game of the week in the conference and is one of the most underrated games in the country considering each team’s “brand” in college football. Oregon State is traveling to Pullman to take on Washington State, the two remaining members of the “PAC-12” in a game with many storylines circulating around it. Cougars quarterback Cam Ward has been electric so far and has not thrown an interception so far this season. Meanwhile, the Beavers have the conference’s leading rusher in Damien Martinez who will look to have another 100+ yard game. The key matchup here to watch is Wazzu’s subpar running game versus Oregon State’s run defense. I believe this will be a gut wrenching battle, but the Beavers secure a late win in Pullman for the first time since 2013.
My pick: Oregon State – 33 Washington State – 27
#5 USC (3-0) @ Arizona State (1-2)
Another pair of teams that are certainly on different paths at this moment in time. USC is the talk of the town these days with the reigning Heisman winner at quarterback in Caleb Williams and aspirations of making the College Football Playoff in the last year in the PAC-12. Meanwhile, Arizona State is recovering from a devastating home shutout loss against Fresno State where the Sun Devils had 8 turnovers and are completely decimated by injuries. This has “blow out” written all over it.
My pick: USC – 55 Arizona State – 10
Cal (2-1) @ #8 Washington (3-0)
One team that has a very strong identity and another that has been tough to figure out so far face off in Seattle as Cal takes on Washington. Cal battled tough at home against Auburn but then the next week was down 17-0 at home against Idaho. On the other side, Washington’s offense is as explosive as it was last year and maybe even better led by Heisman candidate Michael Penix and are putting up absolutely ridiculous numbers. I don’t see this game being particularly close for very long.
My pick: Washington – 48 Cal – 17
(Current PAC-12 standings as of Sept. 22, 2023)
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