As the Pac-12 gets ready to kick off week 5 of the season, and the second week of conference play, we’re getting a clearer picture of who the contenders and pretenders might be.
We know that USC is going to be fighting for a bowl appearance, and not a conference title. We know that Oregon State has found their QB. We know that Cal’s fans are going to be haunted by the 2021 version of their team’s inability to finish. We know that Washington was wrong about keeping Sean McGrew on the bench all along. We know that the winner of UCLA/ASU this week might be Oregon’s only competition to win the conference.
But there’s still plenty that we don’t know, and in week 5 we’re going to learn an awful lot…
Make sure to check out this week’s Pac-12 Apostles Podcast, or just click play on the Spotify link below while you read the article below.
USC at Colorado
Kickoff: 11:00AM Pacific
Broadcast: PAC-12 Network
Opening Odds: USC -7
What’s at stake: One galaxy-brained way to look at the rest of the season if you’re a USC fan is to think to yourself that now that Donte Williams doesn’t have the pressure of walking the undefeated tightrope in order to earn the job, the Trojans can just go out and play. I say whatever you need to tell yourself to stay invested in this season after Oregon State won its first game on your homefield in 61 year, you gotta do it. Look, Colorado can’t move the ball through the air, so if they do it against the Trojans even half as well as Chance Nolan did, the problems run so much deeper than alleviating Clay Helton of his position. As far as Colorado goes, you have to keep building. You went from going scoreless on two games’ worth of drives, and then managed to score 13 points in Tempe. Double that against the Trojans at home and you might still be in the fight for a bowl.
Our Picks: Ralph and George both like USC to cover
#3 Oregon at Stanford
Kickoff: 12:30PM Pacific
Opening Odds: Oregon -8
What’s at stake: For Oregon, everything is on the line all the time. They’ve played Stony Brook and Arizona closer than they should have in the last two weeks, and so a fast start would be helpful against a Stanford team that is starting to find its identity with Tanner McKee under center. We don’t know if Oregon is vulnerable to the run, and you can bet that David Shaw is going to put that to the test in hopes of keeping the pace of the game at a crawl. If the game ends up a shootout, I’m not sure they have the firepower to keep up with Oregon.
Our Picks: Ralph is taking Stanford to cover, George, as always, is swimming with the Ducks.
Washington State at Cal
Kickoff: 2:30PM Pacific
Broadcast: Pac-12 Network
Opening Odds: Cal -7.5
What’s at stake: Cal could easily be 4-0 with 3-4 plays going differently. Washington State has had a second half lead in all three of their losses. The level of unmet expectations and disappointment in this contest is immeasurable, but alas! Someone HAS TO WIN!!! On the other end of that fact… Bowl hopes end for the loser… in week 5.
Our Picks: Ralph likes Cal -7.5, George is taking Wazzu.
Washington at Oregon State
Kickoff: 6:00PM Pacific
Broadcast: Pac-12 Network
Opening Odds: Oregon State -1.5
What’s at stake: Oregon State can go from “fun story” to “legitimate contender” with a win over Washington, and if you harken back to last season’s win in the game formerly known as the civil war, that’ll be the three game run that USC fans will use to convince themselves they’re happy about Jonathan Smith being the most logical choice to be their next head coach. In all seriousness though, the Beavers have a chance to finally show that talent development is superior to talent collection, and become the Pac-12 North’s version of Utah. Washington’s Jimmy Lake is in the unenviable position of replacing Clay Helton as the person who is coaching each game to avoid the rage of the base. Unless Lake wants to avoid pitchforks, and not the Sun Devil kind, he needs his team to play to their potential and take care of business in Corvallis.
Our Picks: George is all in on Oregon State, Ralph is giving the Huskies one last chance.
Arizona State at #20 UCLA
Kickoff: 7:30PM Pacific
Opening Odds: UCLA -3.5
What’s at stake: Herm Edwards has had success against lots of Pac-12 opponents, but in their last two contests, Chip Kelly has put on a coaching clinic. This year, both teams are 3-1 with solid defenses and very good running games. This game is going to come down to which skinny dual-threat QB makes the biggest play in the biggest moment. For Dorian Thompson Robinson, this is a legacy game. For Jayden Daniels, this is to give him the opportunity to have his own set of legacy games in an attempt to sweep the LA schools and beat Utah en route to a Pac-12 South title.
Our Picks: George likes the Bruins, Ralph is being stubborn and sticking to his “ASU goes 11-1” preseason prediction.
Who are the Pac-12 Apostles?
The Pac-12 Apostles is a podcast for fans who love the Pac-12 conference. George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden are committed to the honest and fair conversation about the conference. Join us by becoming a Pac-12 Apostle. Subscribe and share the podcast.
Please leave a rating and review of our podcast on iTunes! We record a podcast once a week with emergency episodes when necessary. Our podcasts are always heavy on Pac-12 football. But we make it a point to also try and cover the other notable Men’s and Women’s Pac-12 sports. We cover recruiting and any other major storyline in the Pac-12 universe.
George Wrighster is a former Pac-12 and long-time NFL tight end. As a television/radio host, opinionist, and analyst, who is UNAFRAID to speak the truth. Contrary to industry norms he uses, facts, stats, and common sense to win an argument. He has covered college football, basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB since 2014. Through years of playing college football, covering bowl games, coaching changes, and scandals, he has a great pulse for the conference and national perspective.
Ralph Amsden is a sportswriter and podcaster. He is the publisher of Rivals’ ArizonaVarsity.com, and was previously the managing editor of the Arizona State University Rivals affiliate, DevilsDigest.com. Wyoming born, Arizona raised, and now based in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife and four kids, Amsden made his mark in Arizona sports media through investigative reporting, and being one of the first people to leverage social media and the podcast medium to grow his platform. In addition to his podcasts, he is the Content Director for UnafraidShow.com. Ralph might be sub-.500 in spousal disputes and schoolyard fights, but whether the topic is food, movies, music, parenting, politics, sports, television, religion, or zoological factoids, he’s always UNAFRAID to square up.