Five for five with the picks for week nine lifting the season tally to 44-21 as the schedule hits November. California, Stanford, Washington State and Arizona State take the week off with the rest of the conference facing off on Saturday. First up is a quick recap of last week’s perfecto….
Friday, October 25
USC 35 – Colorado 31 (pick: USC 45-10)
The Buffaloes came out swinging and nearly landed a haymaker on the visiting Trojans. Trailing 31-21 after three quarters USC rallied back with a pair of Kedon Slovis to Michael Pittman Jr. touchdown passes, the last from 37-yards out with 2:15 left in the game.
Saturday, October 26
Utah 35 – California 0 (pick: Utah 37-10)
The Utah defense pitched a shutout and the offense put the game away with a 21-point second quarter and the Utes continue to pass the “eye test’ with flying colors.
Stanford 41 – Arizona 31 (pick: Stanford 27-23)
The return of K.J. Costello to the starting lineup gave the Stanford Cardinal a much needed jolt offensively passing for three touchdowns and running back Cameron Scarlett added two more on his way to 105 yards rushing, sending the Wildcats to a third straight loss. Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran for another but was intercepted twice.
UCLA 42 – Arizona State 34 (pick: UCLA 38-33)
Suddenly nobody wants to play the Bruins. The Chipsters had Arizona on the deck for the count before yielding 22 fourth quarter points to make the final margin deceptively respectable. Running back Joshua Kelly literally carried the load, rushing for 164 yards and four touchdowns on 34 carries. And the Bruins are 3-2 in conference play and have control of their own fate in the southern division.
Oregon 37 – Washington State 35 (pick: Oregon 44-23)
C.J. Verdell and the Oregon offensive line put all the X’s and O’s together just in time against Washington State to snap Oregon’s four-game losing streak to the Cougars. With a career high 257 yards rushing and three touchdowns, Verdell consistently found chunks of yards behind a phalanx of Oregon downfield blocking. His breakaway 89-yard touchdown run was paved by WR Juwan Johnson sealing off a linebacker and safety with one block while TE Hunter Kampmoyer absolutely pasted the defensive end with a block back against the flow of the play. Oregon fans accustomed to flash are beginning to embrace head coach Mario Cristobal’s smash.
Saturday, November 2
Utah @ Washington
With a bye week after a home loss to Oregon, the Huskies are at a cross road. If Washington hopes to salvage something of their 2019 season a win over the 9th-ranked Utes is a must. With designs on the southern division title, Utah needs to win out and have someone – Oregon??? – knock off USC. The first part of that equation starts with a 33-23 win in Seattle.
Oregon State @ Arizona
With a decent defensive outing the Benny’s could walk out of Tucson with a second straight win on the road. After firing both the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach after the Wildcats loss to Stanford a week ago, Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin has any number of fires to put out but his concerns aren’t limited just to the defensive side of the ball. Offensively the Wildcats have been constantly inconsistent and occasionally incompetent. The question is if the Beavs can take advantage of the disarray. Maybe – but Tate creates some unique issues for a suspect defense so the call is with the home team by a touchdown, 41-34.
Colorado @ UCLA
Colorado quarterback Steven Montez had the Buffs on the verge of a stunning upset a week ago only to see it slip through their hands and must now face the red hot Bruins in Pasadena. UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is flourishing under head coach Chip Kelly’s tutelage and running back Joshua Kelly has emerged as the Bruins’ workhorse in the backfield and that combination should be enough for UCLA to pick up a third straight win, 38-27.
Oregon @ USC
The Trojans have what is widely considered to be the best corps of receivers in the Pac-12 although one should expect a vigorous argument from the nearest Coug. After injuries ravaged his lineup through the first month of the season, USC head coach Clay Helton has settled things down and the Trojans have become a dangerous football team, particularly once true freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis acquainted himself with all those soon-to-be NFL receivers he has in the huddle. Michael Pittman, Jr., Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown have combined for 140 of USC’s 200 pass receptions thus far, good for 16 touchdowns. As they did against the Cougars, the Oregon offense will need to control both the ball and the tempo in an effort to keep those guys on the sidelines and when USC does have the ball, pressure on Slovis will be key. With five interceptions and 11 sacks, Slovis has faltered when under fire and that’s where the Ducks find enough an advantage to come away with a 34-28 win in the Coliseum.
~ Rick Morgan