The Pac-12 is reeling from losing its easiest path to the College Football Playoff last week, with Oregon falling to Stanford in overtime. Worse than that, Pac-12 officiating has again become a talking point. The more things change, the more they stay the same…
This week, one third of the conference has a bye, and only three games are going to be played on Saturday. Oregon State has wins over Washington and USC under its belt, and all of the sudden we’re going to get to see how the Beavers play as favorites for most of the rest of the season, instead of the plucky underdogs they’ve been for Jonathan Smith’s entire tenure.
While I’m not sure we’ll have any world-shattering events take place in week 6 of Pac-12 play, let’s still take a look at the matchups and give you an outline of what to expect…
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.
Stanford at #22 Arizona State (Friday Night)
Kickoff: 7:30PM Pacific
Opening Odds: ASU -11.5
What’s at stake: David Shaw said a lot of things before this season started. Many of them were about his team being better than the national media expected (and they have been), but some of them were about the Arizona State Sun Devils violating the dead period during the Covid-19 pandemic. When ASU’s Herm Edwards was asked to respond to David Shaw’s comments, he pointed out that Shaw didn’t have anything to say when the two were together before Pac-12 Media Day. While there’s plenty at stake on the field for both teams in this game, the budding off-the-field feud between Shaw and the ASU program adds an interesting element.
Some might find the fact that Stanford is a heavy underdog coming off an upset of the #3 team in the country to be a surprise, but the Cardinal are giving up over 5 yards a carry in the run game, and offensively, they’ve lost Brycen Tremayne for the season, which accounts for 21% of their receiving yards and 45% of their receiving TDs this year. Considering the strengths of Arizona State are their run game and the secondary, this is a recipe for a blowout Sun Devils win. Historically, however, David Shaw is 4-1 against ASU, and with this being a Friday night game, you can never be too sure of the outcome.
Our Picks: Ralph likes Arizona State to Cover, George is rolling with Stanford.
Oregon State at Washington State
Kickoff: 1:00PM Pacific
Broadcast: Pac-12 Network
Opening Odds: Oregon State -3.5
What’s at stake: Oregon State is 4-1 with seven games left, and considering they haven’t won more than five games in the last seven seasons, it’s staring to feel like this could be an extremely special season. Nine different Beavers have an interception on defense, and B.J. Baylor is running like he’s this year’s Jarek Broussard. So why are they only a 3.5 point favorite in Pullman? Well, Wazzu seems to be a completely different team when Jayden de Laura is at quarterback. The Cougars have had a lead in the second half of all three of their losses, and maybe last week’s 21-6 win over Cal showed this team that they have the ability to close an opponent out. If Max Borghi and Deon McIntosh can combine to give Washington State equal or greater offense than Baylor gives the Beavers, the Cougars have a legitimate shot to defend homefield and get the upset.
Our Picks: Ralph and George both have the Beavers covering the -3.5.
Utah at USC
Kickoff: 5:00PM Pacific
Opening Odds: USC -3
What’s at stake: Utah hears every single year that they can’t win at Southern California, and Utes fans are absolutely sick of it. Under Kyle Wittingham, Utah is 0-5 on the road against USC, and there’s no reason to believe that it’s any kind of regional curse, as the Utes usually smash UCLA at the Rose Bowl when they play. The Trojans are barely favored, and last time they were at home, they were dominated by an Oregon State team that hadn’t won at USC in 60+ years. Perhaps this is the year Utah joins the club?
In order to win, and not fall behind in the race for the Pac-12 south, the Utes are going to need to practice ball security (they had four turnovers in last year’s loss), and keep the time of possession lopsided. USC has the ability to move the ball down the field to Drake London in a hurry, and while you’re not going to shut London down completely, you can keep Slovis uncomfortable enough to not have the time to get the ball out of his hands.
Our Picks: Ralph and George both think USC continues to keep Kyle Wittingham winless at the Coliseum. Trojans -3.
UCLA at Arizona
Kickoff: 7:30PM Pacific
Opening Odds: UCLA -16
What’s at stake: Two weeks of preparation for Jedd Fisch after keeping things close against Oregon has many people that cover the Pac-12, and people in the national media, convinced that this game could be an enormous trap for the Bruins. Jordan McCloud’s mobility is a big key to keeping drives alive for Arizona, but if they want to compete against UCLA, they’re going to need to greatly exceed the 3.3 yards per carry they’re averaging as a team on the season. Defensively, the Wildcats are going to need to force some turnovers- something Dorian Thompson Robinson has drastically cut back on in 2021. For UCLA, the narrative went from “could they go undefeated” to “who will the next coach be” in a matter of three weeks. The defensive backfield is struggling mightily, and it would be an enormous embarrassment for the program if they continue to fall apart against an Arizona team that currently is averaging 1.5 less yards per pass attempt than UCLA’s defense has allowed on the season.
Our Picks: Ralph and George both picked the Bruins in a blowout.
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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.