Two rights and two wrongs with the week four picks puts the season record at 28-10 heading into a seven game slate of games this weekend. Colorado hosts Chip Kelly and the UCLA Bruins to start the parade on Friday with Stanford and Washington stepping out of conference play to visit Notre Dame and host BYU, respectively. First a quick recap of last week’s results.
Friday, Sep 21
USC 39 – Washington State 36 (pick: WSU 38-17)
Cougar transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew threw for 344 yards and three touchdowns, completing 37 of 52 attempts and for most of the night WSU was the better team. Trojan quarterback J.T. Daniels found a rhythm in the second half, matching Minshew with three scoring strikes of his own as USC erased a 13-point deficit to get the win in the Coliseum. USC blocked a WSU field goal attempt with less than two minutes remaining that would have sent the game into overtime.
Saturday, Sep 22
Washington 27 – Arizona State 20 (pick: Washington 34-13)
The Washington defense held the Sun Devils to 268 total yards of offense and Husky quarterback Jake Browning connected with eight different receivers on his way to 202 yards passing and three scores. ASU’s Eno Benjamin and quarterback Manny Wilkins each scored a touchdown rushing, Benjamin collecting 104 yards on 26 carries.
Arizona 35 – Oregon State 14 (pick: Arizona 45-32)
Khalil Tate, Arizona’s dual-threat quarterback hardly broke a sweat in the Wildcats thorough thrashing of the Beavs. Attempting only 17 passes, last years’ conference offensive player of the year completed nine for a pair of touchdowns, Tate was never forced to beat the Beavers with his feet, instead handing the ball off to a pair of running backs J.J. Taylor and Gary Brightwell for the ground yardage. And it came in bunches. Taylor rolled up 284 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 27 carries; Brightwell added another score with 113 yards on 13 touches.
Stanford 38 – Oregon 31 (OT) (pick: Oregon 28-23)
If you play like Oregon did for the bulk of the ballgame and you will win far more than you will lose. A bobbled pass reeled in for a touchdown, a by-the-rule-book interpretation of a play that two inches to the right would have resulted in another Oregon touchdown, and clearly a poor center snap that offered a breath of life to a team that was about to go down for the third time. Eliminate any one of those plays and the Ducks are in the top-10 this week heading to Berkeley.
Friday, Sep 28
UCLA @ Colorado
The Buffaloes have the early inside track to the southern division crown and have been the consistently most impressive team in the south. The Bruins on the other hand, have been a disaster as they embrace the Culture of Chip… and their fortunes are unlikely to be reversed in Boulder. Colorado by a bunch – 38-17.
Saturday, Sep 29
BYU @ Washington
A possible trap game for the Dawgs… BYU was probably playing over their heads a bit in their 24-21 win at Wisconsin and had they not faltered in a 21-18 home loss to Cal would be 4-0 and ranked higher than their current slot at #20. So far it has been a very good Washington defense coupled with an adequate if not spectacular offense that have the Huskies at 3-1 and ranked 11th. It’s a formula that may not be good enough to defend their Pac-12 north crown but it is a 1-2 punch good enough for a 31-21 win on Montlake.
USC @ Arizona
In the early going each team looked to be on the brink of complete disarray and it is true the recent success each has found hasn’t fully resolved those initial doubts, leaving disarray as a still viable option. One of these two my forestall that fate for a week but until one or the other begins to demonstrate the available talent is playing up to potential it will only be delaying the inevitable. In Tucson, it is the Wildcats who avoids that fate for the moment, sending the Trojans back to LaLaLand and the soap opera that is SoCal with a 35-24 loss.
Oregon State @ Arizona State
This won’t go well for the Benny’s. ASU is more talented and has a deeper roster on both sides of the ball and it won’t take long for the Sun Devils to show it. ASU 48-17.
Utah @ Washington State
Yes, defense is Utah’s calling card but it is hard to imagine the Ute’s offense keeping up with the Cougs’ Air-Raid attack. And given the middle-of-the-road offensive production seen so far from Utah, it is not like the WSU offense will have to be lights out… just effective to come away with a 33-13 win in Pullman.
Stanford @ Notre Dame
If the Cardinal were a bit lucky to escape with a win over the Ducks, they will have to be better offensively if they are to upset the Irish this weekend in South Bend. Give Oregon’s defense plenty of credit for shutting down the Stanford running attack but as K.J. Costello and J.J Arcega-Whiteside demonstrated, the Cardinal are capable of winning games through the air. Expect Stanford to run the ball a bit better and for the passing game to give the Cardinal first downs and field position when needed. Stanford 37-28
Oregon @ California
Two possible scenarios here for the Ducks – obviously complicated by the fact California will be coming off a bye week. Either Oregon is unable to fully divorce themselves from a disappointing loss to Stanford and play with a cloud over their head for at least the initial stages of Saturday’s game against the Bears, or they come out with their hair on fire seeking to prove the manhandling they gave the Cardinal for most of the game last week is the new normal for the Oregon offense. Defensively Oregon should have the upper hand. However, if the game takes the first track and the Ducks gift the California defense with turnovers, mishandled snaps or penalties the Bears will make life very difficult. If on the other hand, Oregon comes out of the tunnel and executes with the physicality and precision they demonstrated last week and can sustain it for the full four quarters, it is an easy Oregon win. Let’s go with the latter… Ducks 42-21.
~ Rick Morgan