This week sees a big focus on the Pac-12, a potential playoff spot and the Rose Bowl.
USC (7) @ UCLA (16)
A classic rivalry clash between the two LA teams, for the penultimate time in the Pac-12 before they transfer to the Big 10, with lots at stake, and featuring 2 of the most talented QB’s in the game.
The 9-1 USC Trojans are the Pac-12’s last realistic hope for a playoff picture. Their powerful offence has scored over 40 points in all but 2 of their games this season, with the only loss against a Utah team that converted a late 2-point conversion. Without it they would surely be ranked in the top 4 . Their only playoff hope is to win the Pac-12 title and hope they are ranked higher than a one-loss Tennessee or loser of the Michigan / Ohio State game. They are led by QB Sophomore sensation Caleb Williams, who already has the NFL scouts drooling over his 2024 drafting. He has thrown for 3010 yards and an incredible 31 TDs which ranks him 3rd in the nation. He has an array of talented WRs, the best-known being Jordan Addison, who last year while at Pittsburgh won the Biletnikoff award. The Trojans have a strong running attack, but will be hindered by the loss of star RB Travis Dye, however, their powerful offensive line, which is one of the best in the league should see them through and they have plenty of talented backup deputies to step up.
The defence has been solid, they have 15 INTs on the season and their Turnover margin of + 17 leads the country. The star performer of the unit is DL Tuli Tuipulotu who leads the nation in sacks with 11.5
UCLA would have also been a playoff contender but was surprisingly upset by Arizona last week, but still have divisional title and Rose Bowl aspirations. They have their own QB superstar in Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who is a one-man highlight show, known for his spectacular plays both through the air and on the ground. They also have a superstar RB in Zach Charbonnet whose 7.53 yards per attempt leads the nation.
The defence has its own star sack man in LB Laiatu Latu whose 8 sacks rank him 12th in the country.
But for the UCLA defeat to Arizona last week, this would have been the most significant LA derby in recent seasons. The Bruins still have plenty to play for and nothing will give them greater satisfaction than defeating their bitter cross-town rivals. It would be typical of recent Pac-12 seasons, if the conference were to cannibalise itself, with a USC loss, but this Trojans offence is special, and the defence is always good for a couple of turnovers.
USC by 8
Utah (10) @ Oregon (12)
These are two strong teams and this could have been a playoff decider, but recent defeats for Utah at UCLA and Oregon against Washington means that this is now a battle for a spot in the divisional title game and a potential Rose Bowl spot.
Utah has been a nearly team for the past couple of seasons. They are strong in all areas, well coached, and but for a couple of surprise defeats, would be ranked much higher. They still have Rose bowl ambitions, and a win would give them the inside track. They are led by experienced QB Cameron Rising who has put up good numbers without the impressive and eye-catching plays of some of his PAC 12 counterparts. His favourite target is giant TE Dalton Kincaid, who has stepped up after star Brant Kuithe was injured early in the season. However, Kincaid himself has had an injury problem and is a doubt for the game.
The Utes defence has performed well, limiting 7 of their opponents to below 20 points, but have been burned by the high-octane offences of UCLA and USC. The Star performer has been CB Clark Phillips who has 5 INTs, 2 of which have been returned for TDs. #
Until last week’s surprise defeat against Washington, Oregon was the strongest team in the PAC 12, and after their opening-day defeat to Georgia had scored at least 40 points on all their opponents.
The offence is run by rejuvenated QB Bo Nix, who has demonstrated all the skills and talents he had at Auburn, but without the annoying mistakes, as testified by his TD-to-INT ratio of 24 to 5. He has been helped by a dominating OL, who has allowed only 2 sacks on the year, and has helped the Ducks to 29 rushing TDs, 14 of which belong to Nix. RB Bucky Irving leads the team in rushing yards with 831 and is also a threat as a receiver.
Defensively the Ducks have struggled, conceding 30 points or over in 4 games. Most of the problem lies with the QB pressures, they have only registered 15 sacks, which ranks near the bottom (111th) in the nation.
This should be a close game, the outcome will depend upon Oregon overcoming their heart-breaking loss last week. Bo Nix and his offence should score plenty of points, but will the defence be able to stop the Utes?
Utah by 6
Thanks to Andy Normile for producing the College Football Week 12 preview. We are thrilled to have him on board and you can see more of his work here in the Future!
If you want to know where to watch College Football action this weekend you can check out our College Football TV Guide here
Image Credit: SI