Pac-12 Apostles: South Division Disaster, CFB Playoff Paths, QB Carousel Continues, Week 4 Preview and Picks

On this episode of the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast, George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden recap a disastrous week for the Pac-12 South, and debate what, if any, paths forward there might be for a College Football Playoff berth. Also, which conference is in a worse spot right now- the ACC or the Pac-12? The guys give their power rankings, then recap last week’s action before previewing the first week of conference play, and giving their picks. Other topics include 2022 QB Justyn Martin decommitting from Cal, Utah’s Charlie Brewer quitting football altogether, the QB controversy at USC, and which head coaching candidates stand out one week into the Trojans’ search.

Apple Podcasts // Spotify // PocketCasts // Google Play // Stitcher // RadioPublic // iHeart

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.

Pac-12 Apostles Week 3 Preview and Picks

After Oregon’s massive win last week, and Stanford’s toppling of the Clay Helton regime, it’d be nice to get a week of uneventful Pac-12 wins against lesser competition- but there are a couple of serious opponents on the docket this week. ASU is trying to keep BYU from going 3-0 against the Pac-12 South, Colorado hopes to finish the task they weren’t able to last week vs Texas A&M, with the Buffaloes matching up against USC Head Coaching candidate P.J. Fleck and the Golden Gophers, while both Washington and Utah will try to bounce back against solid Group of 5 competition.

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.

Minnesota at Colorado

Kickoff: 10AM Pacific

Broadcast: PAC-12 Network

Opening Odds: Colorado -2

What’s at stake: What’s at stake: Last week Colorado, behind the effort of a bunch of players from the state of Texas, nearly took down the mighty Texas A&M Aggies. Minnesota isn’t Texas A&M, but the Buffaloes don’t have a large portion of their roster from the Twin Cities who are out to prove they should have been recruited by the Golden Gophers. It’s going to be a difficult task for Karl Dorrell to get his team up emotionally for this game, but if he can do it, then it will prove that leading a top-5 team for 98% of the game was no fluke. Minnesota has shown that they’ll give up yards in the passing game if you’re good enough to attack their defensive backs- is Brendon Lewis ready to level up in his third ever start?

Our Picks: Ralph has Minnesota winning straight up, while George is taking Colorado to cover

Idaho at Oregon State

Kickoff: 12:30PM Pacific

Broadcast: Pac-12 Network

Opening Odds: Oregon State -28.5 (self made line)

What’s at stake: You have to beat Idaho. You just have to. Do the Vandals have some talented players? Oh yeah. There’s a good chance TE Hayden Hatten leaves the entire Beavers coaching staff wondering how they missed on his recruitment back when he was Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler’s #1 receiver. But still, anything less than a four-touchdown win is going to be an embarrassment. .

Our Picks: Ralph and George both have Oregon State covering 28.5

USC at Washington State

Kickoff: 12:30PM Pacific

Broadcast: FOX

Opening Odds: USC- 8.5

What’s at stake: After making waves by firing Clay Helton this week, USC is in a strange place in which Athletic Director Mike Bohn has essentially told the Trojan football team that they’re better off without their head coach. Interim Head Coach Donte Williams is walking a tightrope of perfection to even be considered as a candidate to take over permanently, and QB Kedon Slovis is fighting to restore his reputation as the next great USC QB. On Washington State’s end, this is the perfect opportunity to drown out some of the distractions of Nick Rolovich’s mysterious vaccination status and showcase his talented offense to a national audience.

Our Picks: Ralph and George are both on Washington State at home +8.5.

Sacramento State at California

Kickoff: 1:00PM Pacific

Broadcast: Pac-12 Bay Area

Opening Odds: Cal -24 (self created)

What’s at stake: You can make the argument that Cal has coached their way to an 0-2 start. The Golden Bears had a late lead at home against Nevada, and special teams miscues kept them from claiming a victory at Texas Christian. Cal needs this game as much as any Pac-12 team needs a win. Sacramento State is coached by former Cal QB Troy Taylor, who amassed 8,126 career passing yards and 51 touchdowns during his time in Berkeley, is not someone you want to take lightly, or else you might be considering him as your next hire because you allowed him to shock the world.

Our Picks: Ralph and George have Cal -24.

Arkansas State at Washington

Kickoff: 1:15PM Pacific

Broadcast: Pac-12 Network

Opening Odds: Washington -16.5

What’s at stake: The Huskies, who many picked to win the Pac-12 North, have started 2021 by showcasing one of the worst offenses in all of college football. They’ve left Sean McGrew and Kamari Pleasant to wither on the bench despite the fact that the RB duo averaged 20 touches and 2 TDs per game in 2020. They’ve managed to earn unofficial visits from a few talented recruits on Saturday, and if those recruits see unhappy players, and a non-functioning offense, it’s going to severely handicap Jimmy Lake’s ability to infuse the roster with the talent they’ll need to keep pace with rival Oregon. Last week Arkansas State surrendered 55 to Memphis- if Washington can’t even get half of that, then it’s time to hit the panic button.

Our Picks: Ralph likes Washington to get back on track and cover, George has Arkansas State +16.5

Utah at San Diego State

Kickoff: 4PM Pacific

Broadcast: CBS Sports Network

Opening Odds: Utah -7.5

What’s at stake: What’s at stake: Utah QB Charlie Brewer has lost 8 consecutive games away from his home field dating back to last year at Baylor. San Diego State has bullied nearly half the Pac-12, including blowing out the team that gave BYU a better game than Utah did (Arizona). The Utes aren’t exactly at their best historically when visiting Southern California, either. This game has all the hallmarks of a Mountain West upset, so a win by Utah will probably be a pleasant surprise to the fan base, and conference as a whole.

Our Picks: Ralph likes the Utes, George is taking the Aztecs at home +7.5

Stony Brook at #4 Oregon

Kickoff: 4:30PM Pacific

Broadcast: Pac-12 Networks

Opening Odds: Oregon -36 (self created)

What’s at stake: Oregon just can’t afford a let down of any kind. After winning at Ohio State, the lens the Ducks will be judged through for the rest of 2021 will be whether or not they’re worthy of College Football Playoff consideration. The best thing that can happen here is a 3-4 touchdown first quarter lead so that the young Ducks get some meaningful in-game experience.

Our Picks: Ralph and George are taking Oregon -36 in a line we completely made up.

Northern Arizona at Arizona

Kickoff: 7:00PM Pacific

Broadcast: Pac-12 Arizona

Opening Odds: Arizona -21.5 (self created)

What’s at stake: Seeing online debates about whether or not University of Arizona fans should storm the field if they beat 0-2 FCS Northern Arizona at home to end their 14-game losing streak is a brand new level of depressing. For Arizona, the task is simple- taste success. They’ve switched to Will Plummer as their starting QB, a mobile athlete that is going to need to show accuracy and quick decision making on short to medium routes to secure the job leading into Pac-12 play.

Our Picks: We’re both on Arizona -21.5.

#19 Arizona State at #23 BYU

Kickoff: 7:15PM Pacific

Broadcast: ESPN

Opening Odds: ASU -3.5

What’s at stake: Arizona State fans are starting to wonder if QB Jayden Daniels has another gear beyond speedy game manager. Herm Edwards has long said that nothing travels better than defense and a running game, but the time has come for Arizona State’s third year gunslinger to prove that he’s special. BYU dominated Utah last week by getting an early lead, and then taking advantage of the opportunity to rush the passer. ASU can’t get down early if they want to avoid that trap, and they need to keep the Cougars out of the red zone and settling for field goal attempts, because the red zone is where the BYU offense is at its best.

Our Picks: Ralph likes ASU to win by a touchdown, George thinks ASU can win, but that BYU will cover the 3.5

Fresno State at #13 UCLA

Kickoff: 7:45PM Pacific

Broadcast: Pac-12 Network

Opening Odds: UCLA -11.5

What’s at stake: George thinks UCLA is worthy of top-10 consideration, and if they dominate Fresno State, they’ll probably get it. The Bruins had two weeks to prepare for a team that put a scare into Oregon, and for people to take the Pac-12 seriously, this and the ASU game are the two that are the most important, as you’d likely see three Pac-12 teams in the top 15 in the country.

Our Picks: Bruins -11.5, to the moon.

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.

Pac-12 Apostles: Clay Helton Fired, Interviews with Ryan Abraham and Mario Cristobal, Week 2 Recap, Week 3 Preview

Clay Helton Fired, Replacement Candidates

On this episode of the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast, George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden get into the not-so-surprise announcement of Clay Helton’s firing, and Donte Williams’ elevation at USC following the Trojans home blowout loss to Stanford. George also interviews Ryan Abraham, publisher of the 247 USC affiliate site, USCFootball.com, as well as the co-host of the Podcast of Champions, to discuss the state of the Trojans. After recapping last week’s games, George interviews Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal, and the guys reconvene to preview and pick the upcoming week’s slate of games.

Apple Podcasts // Spotify // PocketCasts // Google Play // Stitcher // RadioPublic // iHeart

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.

Pac-12 Apostles Week 2 Preview and Picks

The Pac-12 North thoroughly embarrassed the conference last week, which has created a pressure-cooker for the entire conference heading into week 2- a slate of games that Jon Wilner has called “the biggest of the season.”

George Wrighster and I already went through and picked each game in this week’s Pac-12 Apostles Podcast (Spotify link below), as did our friends Bryant Conger and Rob Bowron over at 12Pac Radio. Here, I’ll list each game, our picks, and what’s at stake for each Pac-12 team.

#12 Oregon at #3 Ohio State

Kickoff: 9AM Pacific

Broadcast: FOX

Opening Odds: Ohio State -14.5

What’s at stake: This might be the Pac-12’s only chance to have a signature out-of-conference win in 2021. Yes, UCLA dominated LSU, but you can almost guarantee Ohio State finishes the season in the top 10, and the same can’t be said for Ed Orgeron’s Tigers. Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal and offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead made an interesting gamble when they decided Anthony Brown was going to be the guy at QB this year, and now Brown is going to be on the biggest stage he’s likely ever had as a starter, in front of two dozen NFL scouts. Perhaps the biggest thing at stake is the recruiting high ground, as Ohio State just beat Oregon for J.T. Tuimolaou, a consensus top-10 prospect in the class of 2021 out of the state of Washington.

Our Picks: Ralph, George, Bryant and Rob are all in on the Ducks to cover the original +14.5, but the line has moved to as low as +10.5.

California at Texas Christian

Kickoff: 12:30PM Pacific

Broadcast: ESPNU

Opening Odds: TCU -10.5

What’s at stake: Cal looked as if they were about to put Nevada away last week, but they abandoned the run game and found themselves on the wrong end of a 21-17 score. While this game would provide solid bragging rights, and relieve a little bit of the external pressure on head coach Justin Wilcox for five consecutive seasons of diminishing offensive output, a loss wouldn’t do much to affect the Golden Bears ability to compete within the Pac-12 North.

Our Picks: Ralph, George, Bryant and Rob are all in on Cal +10.5

#5 Texas A&M at Colorado

Kickoff: 12:30PM Pacific

Broadcast: FOX

Opening Odds: Texas A&M -17

What’s at stake: The reputation of Boulder, Colorado. I’m not sure anyone expects the Buffaloes to beat the Aggies, but after solid wins at home against UCLA last year, and Nebraska the year before, I feel like we’re on the precipice of respecting Boulder as one of the tougher environments to go into and come away with a win. Colorado also has continued to recruit Texas through their third straight coaching regime, and a respectable showing against a top 5 team out of the Lone Star state definitely wouldn’t hurt the progress and inroads they’ve made.

Our Picks: Ralph, George, and Rob have Colorado +17, Bryant has Texas A&M -17

Portland State at Washington State

Kickoff: 3:00PM Pacific

Broadcast: Pac-12 Network

Opening Odds: We invented a line of Wazzu -28.5

What’s at stake: The current narrative, and I believe it’s completely fair, is that Nick Rolovich actually interfered on behalf of Utah State last week and lost Washington State the game. Not only do the Cougars need to put Portland State away early, they need to pile it on just to hit the snooze button on the already growing mob of alumni calling for Rolovich’s head. This is also a good chance for Washington’s State’s staff to publicly acknowledge that RB Max Borghi is one of the best players in the conference, and is deserving of more than 12 touches.

Our Picks: Ralph and George have Washington State -28.5

Washington at Michigan

Kickoff: 5PM Pacific

Broadcast: ABC

Opening Odds: Michigan -6.5

What’s at stake: Jimmy Lake lost to an FCS at home team last week, kept several talented RBs on the bench, is bleeding recruits, and in the midst of all this struggle, he gets to lead the Huskies into one of the toughest environments in all of football. What’s at stake here is jobs- Maybe not Lake’s, but John Donovan has to do more than put together one scripted TD drive, and he’s going to have to do it with a QB in Dylan Morris who turned the ball over three times last week. Good luck.

Our Picks: Ralph and Bryant have Michigan -6.5, George and Rob have the Huskies +6.5

San Diego State at Arizona

Kickoff: 7PM Pacific

Broadcast: Pac-12 Network

Opening Odds: Arizona -1

What’s at stake: Jedd Fisch was laughed at when he was hired, and has spent the last several months turning the narrative about the naivete of his hire on its head, turning up the dial on recruiting, alumni relations, media accessibility, and fan relations. The fact remains, however, that Arizona hasn’t won a game in almost two years, and while this isn’t Rocky Long’s San Diego State, the Aztecs have never been an easy out for any Pac-12 team. Jedd Fisch literally went door to door this week recruiting students to fill out the “Zona Zoo” student section, and if those kids show up and witness a loss, he might not get them back. The Wildcats are in a must-win situation.

Our Picks: Ralph, George, Bryant and Rob are all in on Arizona -1

#21 Utah at BYU

Kickoff: 7:15PM Pacific

Broadcast: ESPN

Opening Odds: Utah -1

What’s at stake: Utah fans aren’t going to like this, because I know how much it means to them to have a stranglehold on this rivalry, but absolutely nothing is at stake. The Utes have built up enough respect and goodwill in the Holy War, and while they’d certainly be sore about leaving Provo with an L, no one is going to lose their job, nothing is going to change as far as their chances within the Pac-12 South, and it would have a negligible impact on recruiting. All that being said, the conference needs this win to keep the Utes in the Top 25.

Our Picks: Ralph and Bryant have Utah -7, and George and Rob are on BYU +7

UNLV at #23 Arizona State

Kickoff: 7:30PM Pacific

Broadcast: ESPN2

Opening Odds: Arizona State -32.5

What’s at stake: Generational trauma. There’s absolutely no way Arizona State loses to the Rebels, but because it happened in 2008 when the Sun Devils were looking ahead to a visit from Georgia, there’s a paranoia that exists within the Sun Devil fan base that only a blowout win will help exorcise. As far as on-field stakes, RB Rachaad White has an outside shot at national recognition and awards if he can stay healthy, and it would be nice to see ASU lean into that.

Our Picks: Ralph and Bryant are on ASU at -32.5, while Rob and George have UNLV covering the spread

Stanford at #14 USC

Kickoff: 7:30PM Pacific

Broadcast: FOX

Opening Odds: USC -17

What’s at stake: Stanford just took an ugly loss against Kansas State, and people are still completely unconvinced that Clay Helton can cover a 17-point spread. So much so, that the line has moved three whole points to 14 over the last few days. David Shaw’s uncharacteristic public optimism about this Stanford team heading into 2021 threw a lot of people off who thought that the drop in recruiting and increase in grad transfers were contributing to the demise of the Cardinal, but after last week’s loss, people are questioning if Shaw’s tenure in Palo Alto is reaching its twilight- especially since he seems unsure about the best way forward at the QB position. On the other side, no one believes Clay Helton is going to blow out Stanford, so all he has to do to maintain the same level of perpetual discontent that has existed amongst the Trojan fan base for the last 5 years is not lose the game.

Our Picks: All of us are on Stanford +17

Hawaii at Oregon State

Kickoff: 8PM Pacific

Broadcast: FS1

Opening Odds: Oregon State -11

What’s at stake: Jonathan Smith’s charm has seemed to make him immune to criticism from Pac-12 fans. No one expects Oregon State to win, as long as the offense continues to innovate and maximize lesser talent for our entertainment, we ignore the scoreboard. But Purdue seemed to have Smith’s number, and if Todd Graham, who has an awful history in Corvallis, comes in and frustrates the Beavers, public opinion might start to shift. Oregon State not only needs to defend homefield and get a win, they need to settle the quarterback question once and for all so they can rally behind someone ahead of conference play.

Our Picks: The Apostles take Oregon State (Ralph and George), 12Pac takes Hawai’i +11 (Bryant and Rob)

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.

Pac-12 Apostles Podcast: Power Shift- The Rise of UCLA and the Fall of the North

In this episode of the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast, George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden get into all of the action in week one, including a disastrous showing by the schools up north, though George thinks the Pac-12 at least outperformed the ACC. Who put on the worst coaching clinic- Justin Wilcox, Nick Rolovich, or Jimmy Lake? The guys get into their Pac-12 power rankings, and are unified at the top after UCLA’s dominant performance against LSU. Finally, Previews and picks for the upcoming week 2 slate of games.

Apple Podcasts // Spotify // PocketCasts // Google Play // Stitcher // RadioPublic // iHeart

Make sure you like and subscribe to the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast with George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden on any podcasting app.

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.

The Best Pac-12 NFL Players: Week 11 Top Performers From Each School

New Pac-12 NFL Blood

This wee, only one Pac-12 NFL player repeated from Week 10’s Best Pac-12 NFL list. Finally, we get some fresh faces and new players on here. Let’s see who joined the ranks of the best!

Arizona

Nick Folk – New England Patriots

It’s not often that a place-kicker joins the best of Pac-12 NFL players. Yet here we are. With the New England offense moving slowly, their defense and special teams are picking up the slack. 

In a tight, 17-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Nick Folk scored the majority of the Patriots’ points. He went three-for-three with field goals of 35, 22 and 39 yards.

Arizona State

Lawrence Guy – New England Patriots

Although his three tackles don’t seem like much, Lawrency Guy was a key-cog in the Patriots’ defensive win. Against the Eagles, his two biggest were:

  • Penetrating tackle on Miles Sanders on the one-yard line (shown in above Tweet)
  • Fumble recovery after the strip-sack by Danny Shelton

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Cal

Cameron Jordan – New Orleans Saints

Through 10 games, Cameron Jordan’s racked up:

  • 18 quarterback hits
  • 8 tackles for a loss
  • One fumble recovery (and one should-be touchdown)
  • And 10 sacks

On Sunday, he managed to hit quarterback Jameis Winston four times, get 1.5 sacks and add a tackle for a loss. It was another All-Pro game for Cameron Jordan. His stats and 82.0 PFF grade are why he is still among the best Pac-12 NFL players in the league.

Colorado

Josh Tupou – Cincinnati Bengals

Although the Cincinnati Bengals lost to the Oakland Raiders, Josh Tupou played very well. It was by-far his best game of the season. Tupou compiled seven tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, one stuff and one forced fumble.

In his third season, he’s regularly seeing playtime. Keep in mind, Tupou accounted for just 10 defensive snaps in 19-percent of defensive snaps in Week 1. In Weeks 10 and 11, he earned 30 (67-percent) and 39 (56-percent) snaps. It’s a mild breakout for the Colorado product.

Oregon

Kenjon Barner – Atlanta Falcons

Honestly, is there anything better to watch than a special teams touchdown? They are rare, special and should be treated as such.

In the first quarter, up 3-0, Kenjon Barner fielded the punt from Younghoe Koo at the Atlanta 22. He then took it 78 yards to the house. The seventh-year journeyman just earned his first, NFL punt/kick return touchdown. Of course, his highlight-touchdown is worthy of praise.

Oregon State

Jordan Poyer – Buffalo Bills

Yes, their game was against the hapless Miami Dolphins. Nonetheless, the Buffalo Bills won by 17 and Miami finally couldn’t cover the spread. 

In this game, Jordan Poyer did his usual damage as a reliable tackler. He totaled six tackles (four solo) and also added a fumble recovery. On the season, Poyer now has 72 tackles, one sack, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries and an interception. 

Stanford

Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers

Somehow, even though he compiled nearly 200 yards from scrimmage, the Carolina Panthers only scored three points. How on Earth is that possible? What else does Christian McCaffrey have to do?

In their Week 11 matchup, our Pac-12 NFL superstar turned 14 carries into 70 rushing yards and also caught 11 balls for 121 yards. 191 yards from scrimmage. Yet, only three points for the Panthers. This team needs to get a viable quarterback or send the Stanford star to another team. His play deserves the playoffs.

UCLA

Eric Kendricks – Minnesota Vikings

Eric Kendricks is elite. Right now, he’s playing the best football of his career. He currently owns a 90.5 PFF grade. Last week, he earned a spot on the top Pac-12 NFL list with his fourth-down heroics. 

Because of his stellar form, the Vikings have utilized Kendricks in pass coverage this season. He’s stepped up to the challenge with 12 pass break-ups. Eric Kendricks, with 85 tackles and 12 pass breaks-ups, is playing like a top-three linebacker.

USC

Sam Darnold – New York Jets

Though his 43.7 (No. 25) QBR on the season is uninspiring, Sam Darnold played his best game this week. He displayed an excellent passing ceiling with 293 yards and 4 touchdowns. Yes, he still took two sacks and threw an interception against Washington. But, this was one of the better games for Darnold and his 6-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio since returning from illness is promising.

Also, keep in mind these two things before putting down Darnold:

Utah

Marcus Williams – New Orleans Saints

Heading into Week 11, Marcus Williams already was PFF’s top safety. That’s already praise enough for a Pac-12 NFL player. But then, he went and showed out in Week 11. Games like this show why he is the best of the best. Not only did he record three tackles and two pass break-ups. But, he also took an interception to the house.

There’s nothing like a pick-six for football fans. Especially defense enthusiasts. Marcus Williams is having a career year.

Washington

Danny Shelton – New England Patriots

Down ten to six with just over two minutes left in the first half, Danny Shelton came up big. His strip-sack of Carson Wentz put the Patriots in excellent field position. Unfortunately, as is the case this year with the Patriots’ offense, they came away with three points. Though they started at the Eagles 22, they couldn’t score a touchdown. It’s a shame.

But, what isn’t a travesty is the New England Patriots’ defense. They look like one of the greatest defenses of all time. If players like Danny Shelton can keep bailing out the offense, they might win yet another Super Bowl.

Washington State

Jalen Thompson – Arizona Cardinals

As most know, the Arizona Cardinals need help in their secondary. Their pass-defending is among the worst in the league. However, Jalen Thompson got his first interception this week.

Additionally, he also had his first pass break-up. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for the rookie out of Washington State.

Miss Week 10’s Best Pac-12 NFL Performances?

https://unafraidshow.com/the-best-pac-12-nfl-players-week-10-top-performers-from-each-school/

The 12 Offensive Pac-12 Breakout Players You’ll Know By Season’s End

Pac-12 breakout players Offensive 2019

Pac-12 Breakout Players

Each season, college athletes “come out of nowhere” to impress fans, coaches, scouts and media alike. In 2019, there are a large number of Pac-12 breakout players on offense. The conference is loaded with talent and opportunity. Get ready to watch these players turn heads and find the pay-dirt in 2019.

University of Arizona: Cedric Peterson

WR, Redshirt Senior

https://twitter.com/AZAuthority/status/1161656456283770883

In 2018, the University of Arizona’s top-four receivers in receptions and yards were Shawn Poindexter, Tony Ellison, Shun Brown and Devaughn Cooper. Now, the team is without each of them. Cooper was dismissed for violating athletic-department policy and the other three were redshirt seniors in 2018. Clearly, the University of Arizona football needs someone to step up.

To fill the void, Cedric Peterson will likely step up in 2019.

“Now I’m the head guy in the room, now I’m the leader for the first time,” he said to the assembled media. “It’s a little nerve wracking but I’m ready for anything. I’ve been preparing for this my whole life.”

Cedrick Peterson

Peterson is one of two returning receivers with at least one career reception for the University of Arizona. He is the only scholarship receiver with at least one game started for the Wildcats. Additionally, outside receivers coach Taylor Mazzone believes that Peterson will replace Poindexter. As an outside receiver in 2018, Peterson gathered multiple receptions in 7 of 12 games, was praised for his “sturdy” blocking (which helped the Pac-12’s best rushing team). All in all, he’s the guy with the most experience and the clearest opportunity to step up.

Arizona State University: Jayden Daniels

QB, Freshman

Jayden Daniels has already broken a record for Arizona State University. At the start of the season, he will be ASU’s first true freshman to open the season at quarterback.

“I think he manages the game really well,” Edwards said. “He doesn’t make a lot of bad throws, to be quite honest. He doesn’t turn the ball over. He’s got a lot of poise.”

ASU Coach Herm Edwards

In high school, Daniels was impressive. For Cajon High School, he had 1,389 pass attempts for 14,007 yards, 170 touchdowns, and 25 interceptions. Additionally, he added 562 carries for 3,645 yards and 41 touchdowns. Because of his excellence, he is Southern California’s high school career holder for passing yards and passing touchdowns (he’s second in California state history to Jake Browning). He’s also the state record holder for total offensive yards in a single season. As far as high school careers go, he was an all-star quarterback.

Now, as the starter of a Pac-12 collegiate team, he has to grow, learn and improve to the speed of the game. Because he’s already impressing coaches with his decision making, look for him instantly join other Pac-12 breakout players and remain relevant for his collegiate career.

Cal: Christopher Brown Jr.

RB, Sophomore

Cal’s lead back, Patrick Laird, left for the NFL. He vacates 223 carries and 51 receptions from 2018. Now Christopher Brown Jr. has the chance to take over the lead-back role. At 6-foot-1, 230lbs, Brown has feature-back size. Additionally, he showed that he can carry the load for Cal when Laird exited in the Cheez-It Bowl against TCU. In that game, Brown rushed for 57 yards, while adding 3 receptions for 14 yards.

Also, Brown is known for breaking through arm-tackles and avoiding contact for long gains. Because of his powerful and elusive skill set, he’s a threat to take any rush to the house. Look for Brown to take over and become the feature of Cal’s offense in 2019.

UCLA: Chase Cota

WR, Sophomore

Chase Cota, didn’t hesitate to start producing for UCLA football. As a true freshman, he instantly made a splash. The 4-star recruit played in all 12 games and showed versatility as both a receiver and on special teams. He earned 13 catches for 168 yards and was 5th in team targets. On the field, Cota gained praise for his speed, intelligence, route running, and hands. What more could you want from a receiver?

In high school, he gathered experience on both sides of the ball, playing as receiver and defensive back. Additionally, his father is Chad Cota, former Oregon star and an 8-year retiree of the NFL. In 2019, Cota should be inserted into a starting rotation and will quickly gain trust from Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

Colorado: Jaren Mangham

RB, Sophomore

Another 4-star recruit, Jaren Mangham is set for big opportunities in 2019. Colorado football lost Travon McMillian and Kyle Evans. As a recruit, ESPN ranked Mangham as the No. 37 athlete in the nation and Rivals ranked him as the No. 14 running back. Mangham is 6-foot-2, 215lbs. At Cass Tech High School, he notched 31 touchdowns in his senior season. 26 rushing, 2 receiving and 3 kickoff returns. He has excellent talent, size, and versatility.

Currently, he is the third running back behind Alex Fontenot and Deion Smith. However, Mangham is sparking interest in fans and coaches alike. In an April spring game, Mangham added three touchdowns and 149 yards with his rushing prowess. Without major talent or experience ahead of him, Mangham will set himself apart by season’s end.

University of Oregon: Sean Dollars

RB, Freshman

Yet again, the University of Oregon recruited top talent. This time, the Ducks signed the Nation’s No. 1 All-Purpose back recruit, Sean Dollars. Dollars is fast and elusive. Though he is 5-foot-10, 185lbs, his versatility in the running and receiving game will earn him precious snaps in Oregon’s high-octane offense. Dollars already impressed at spring and fall camps.

With highlights like those, it’s clear why Dollars made it on our Pac-12 breakout players list. With his diverse skillset and natural athletic talent, Sean Dollars will make an immediate impact with Oregon’s offense.

Oregon State University: Jesiah Irish

WR, Redshirt Freshman

When it comes to speed, Jesiah Irish has it. At Oregon State University’s pre-camp “combine in March, Irish unofficially ran a 4.26 40-yard dash. Also, as a top-baseball prospect, Irish recorded the fastest time running from second base to home for his age group. He has blazing speed. Downfield or after the catch, Irish is a danger to opposing defenses.

“He can take the top off the coverage,” Smith said. “It helps everything. In the run game, if you can put a guy out there who can roll, the safety better back up. You take a couple guys out of there, that’s a few less guys to tackle the running back.”

Jonathan Smith

Though his role still might go under-appreciated in 2019, Irish should still make enough plays to become a well-known name for Oregon State University football. Blazing speed makes for impressive plays and highlights, which is why he earned his spot on our Pac-12 breakout players set.

USC: Markese Stepp

RB, Redshirt Freshman

Ahead of Stepp are two solid talents: Vavae Malepeai and Stephen Carr. Malepeai, a former 4-star recruit and currently a redshirt junior, led the team with 8 rushing touchdowns last season. He is Hawaii’s high school leader for both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. The 6-foot, 200lb back is known for strength and power. Additionally, Stephen Carr is the talent that has yet to hit. The former 5-star recruit and current junior battled injuries in both of his first seasons. Now, supposedly healthy, Carr has his chance to shine.

But, with Carr’s injury history and Malepeai’s current knee injury from an early-August practice, opportunity is there for the taking. Leaving behind recency bias, Markese Stepp will be the go-to power-back for this offense. He’s got a smash-mouth running style and has health on his side. Sometimes, all a player needs is a healthy body in order to earn snaps and glory. His big deficiency is in his receiving skills. He lacks experience and stats to show that he is versatile enough to be a bell-cow in Graham Harrell’s Air Raid offense. Nonetheless, Stepp has a big chance to slip ahead of the oft-injured Carr and currently injured Malepeai.

Stanford: Colby Parkinson

TE, Junior

Colby Parkinson is a big boy. At 6-foot-7, 250lbs, he’s all the tight end a team needs. But, in addition to his size, Parkinson was an excellent deep threat for Stanford football. In 2018, he recorded 29 receptions for 485 yards and 7 touchdowns. His 16.7 yards per reception average displays his big-play ability. He’s not just a big body. Parkinson showed that he is a quality downfield option.

Additionally, it is important to remember that Stanford lost JJ Arcega Whiteside, Trenton Irwin, and Kaden Smith. Parkinson is their leading, returning receiver. With rapport, experience, size and big-play ability on his side, Parkinson is going to turn NFL scout heads in 2019.

Utah: Jaylen Dixon

WR, Redshirt Sophomore

Redshirt sophomore Jaylen Dixon is ready to build on his redshirt freshman campaign. Last season, he garnered 32 receptions for 589 yards and 18.4 yards per catch. Like Jesiah Irish, Dixon makes his money (even though college athletes aren’t actually paid) with his speed. He is an explosive playmaker that the Utes will definitely utilize going forward.

Most impressive was that Dixon posted a near 75% catch rate last season. With his large depth of target, displaying a catch rate that high is an exceptional talent. Get ready for big plays and a big-time breakout into the Pac-12.

University of Washington: Sean McGrew

RB, Junior

Myles Gaskin, the most productive running back in University of Washington football history, is gone. He leaves behind 259 carries and 21 receptions. Behind him are capable backs that spelled Gaskins in 2018. Salvon Ahmed is the early leader to take over the feature-back role for UW. However, McGrew showed excellent efficiency in 2018 and is poised for a breakout season. His 50 carries for 226 yards and 1 touchdown show good running. But his 6 receptions for 110 yards display an elusive, satellite-back.

Recall that McGrew had 10.56 100-meter-dash speed out of high school. He was a 4-star recruit for good reason. The 5-foot-7 back is quick. When it comes to football, McGrew is explosive. Elite offenses need explosive playmakers. Look for McGrew to compliment Ahmed’s power-back role with his own explosive, satellite-back role. The duo will turn heads in 2018 and McGrew will transform into UW’s version of Tarik Cohen.

Washington State: Max Borghi

RB, Sophomore

Washington State University football’s Max Borghi rounds out the breakout candidates for 2019. WSU lost James Williams to the NFL Draft. He left behind 122 rush attempts and 83 receptions. Williams was utilized in all situations for WSU football.

Last season, Borghi already showed excellent skills when spelling Williams. He tied WSU’s freshman touchdowns record. Last season, he had 72 carries for 366 yards (5.1 YPC) and 8 rushing touchdowns. Borghi also had 53 receptions for 374 yards (7.1 YPR) and 4 touchdowns. He is just finding his form and Williams leaves behind ample opportunity.

At 5-foot10, 197lbs, Borghi isn’t a diminutive satellite-back. He has feature-back size for a collegiate football team. Borghi is powerful with excellent hands. His versatile skill set will impress Pac-12 viewers and earn him a spot in the 2020 draft.

Follow Jeremy McCarthy on Twitter to see how the Pac-12 Breakout Players do this season.

Oregon Ducks vs. Oregon State Beavers: The Not So Civil War Game

Civil War Game

The Jokes

Breaking News: It is being reported that Oregon State head football coach Jonathan Smith will only be able to dress twenty players for the Oregon game. The rest of the players will have to get dressed by themselves!!
 
Eugene and Corvallis are separated by one highway, but the separation between the Green/Gold and the Black/Pumpkin Orange is much greater. In Eugene we have a saying, if you see a Beaver with a Championship ring, call the Police, He’s a thief!!

The Rivalry

2019 marks the 123rd  meeting between the two schools. The Ducks lead the series 65-47-10

The Civil War, Ducks vs. Beavers, is not so civil!!! There couldn’t be bigger differences between the two schools that are only about 47 miles apart. The rivalry is like Big Brother vs. Little Brother, the Haves vs. the Have-Nots, or the popular vs. the unpopular kids. The Beavers look at themselves like blue-collar, hard workers who are the meat and potatoes of this country. They feel they earn everything they get, but we get everything handed to us on a silver platter. So when the Beavers play the Ducks, they have a big chip on their shoulder, because they live in the humongous shadow of the “O.”

If the Beavs feel the Ducks look down on the kids that play for Corvallis, they should. We do! OSU is a team to be respected and never taken lightly, but Duck players and fans feel we should never lose to “little brother.” The guys from Corvallis take our hand-me-downs and left-overs. We didn’t want Orange, so they took it. We get the newest uniforms; they get what is left. We get nationally televised games; they get the occasional regional broadcast plus radio. The Ducks are striving higher for National Championships while the Beavers are trying to climb from the Pac-12 cellar.

 
Why is my disdain for the Beavers so great? Simple. I’m a Duck. During my four years at Oregon, the Beavers beat us twice!!! That includes a 45-24 Shellacking in Corvallis my last year at Oregon. Until 3 days ago I had blocked that memory out of my mind. Honestly, until I was reminded I really thought we won (I’m blocking, I know lol). It still haunts me. So yes, we should run up the score like the 69-10 beat down last year if given the opportunity. I assure you the Beavers would if they could.

Classic Civil War Story

One time during the week of the civil war Samie Parker, Onterrio Smith and I were in Red Robin, and I saw TJ Housh “Your daddy” Houshmandzadeh (OSU wide receiver) sitting there with his wife and daughter. I had our waitress deliver him a note that said we were gonna beat the breaks off of him. TJ is a friend of mine now and a great guy. I was talking to him about that before the season started and he said, “man, I thought I was gonna have to fight ya’ll with the family there.” LOL, it was all done in good fun. TJ got the last laugh tho, Oregon State won the game.

 
What makes the “Un”-Civil War so great? You never know who is gonna win. What’s on the line in this game? BRAGGING RIGHTS! Two great programs are competing with their whole heart and soul to represent the state of Oregon. If you win, no one can say a word to you, but if you lose, you have a year of heckling to deal with. Both schools alumni have so much pride and love for our perspective schools that a loss is devastating. In recent years, this game had gotten coaches fired (Helfrich), and determined which team would go to the Rose Bowl.
 
2018 may not be the Biggest game in UO/OSU history, but it is important for both schools. Oregon’s head coach Mario Cristobal cannot afford a loss to the 2-9 Beavers. And the Beavers would love nothing better than to make Ducks fans question their future. The Ducks have been to multiple Rose Bowls and National Championships in the last 10 years. The Beavers haven’t been to the Rose Bowl since 1965… but that only makes the game that much more important for both schools. The Ducks want to keep their little brother in his place, and Oregon State wants to knock some of their big brother’s shine off. The intensity in Reser Stadium will be nothing less then ELECTRIFYING!!!!

Fun Fact:

The 1983 Civil War game is commonly referred to as the ‘Toilet Bowl’ because of the poor quality of play in the game. There were eleven fumbles, five interceptions, and four missed field goals. It was the last Division I football game to end in a scoreless tie.
See where these teams are in the Pac-12 Power Rankings week 13.

Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 10: Nobody is Safe From the Upsets

Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 10

What a crazy week in the Pac-12. Betters everywhere probably lost a mint with all the upsets in week 10. Oregon State beat Colorado. Arizona destroyed Oregon. And Cal beat Washington without scoring an offensive touchdown. The Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 10 is based on three things: quality wins, schedule played, and dominance. The “eye test” and preseason rankings are not factored into the Unafraid Show’s rankings. I know some of you are used to the biased rankings, but you won’t find those here.

You can see last weeks rankings here.

Pac-12 Bowl Projections are after the rankings.

Send all your questions, comments, and grievances to: Immad@unafraidshow.com

12. Oregon State (2-6)

(W) 41-34 Colorado

I apologize to the Beavers. Last week I said, “The Beavers blew their last shot at a Pac-12 win in 2018.” I was wrong. Jonathan Smith inserted Jake Luton at quarterback after halftime, and he torched Colorado’s defense. I know that game is an outlier, but there is part of me that believes the Beavers can beat USC this week.

11. Colorado (5-3) 

(L) 34-41 Oregon State

Oregon State is undoubtedly the worst defense in the Pac-12. Colorado lost a 21 point lead 3rd quarter lead Oregon State and ultimately lost the game. They were still without mid-season All American wide receiver Lavishka Shenault (toe), but there are no excuses for that loss. The Buffaloes have lost three straight games and will need a fantastic effort to get a win against Arizona.

If Mike MacIntyre can’t coach his team to a bowl game his seat will go from warm to scorching hot.

10. UCLA (2-6) 

(L) 10-41 Utah

After winning two consecutive games UCLA ran into the Utah buzzsaw. It didn’t help that they were without their electric true freshman quarterback Dorian Thompson Robinson. We don’t know if he will be back this week against Oregon. Chip Kelly will likely pull out all the stops as he returns to Oregon for the first time as an opposing coach. Everyone in the stadium should be prepared for fireworks. UCLA has to believe they can win the game after they saw what Arizona did to Oregon. However, if DTR is not in the lineup, the Bruins don’t stand a chance of walking out of Autzen Stadium with a win.

I will be in attendance at this game and cannot wait. 

9. USC (4-4)

(L) 34-38 Arizona State

It almost feels like Clay Helton is coaching on borrowed time. He has taken over playcalling duties for the Trojans. So, now there are no more excuses allowed for USC’s offense to struggle. They head to Corvallis Saturday to play the Beavers. I would say there is no chance USC loses this game, but Oregon State did beat Colorado last week. There is good news though. USC gets starting quarterback JT Daniels back from concussion protocol for this weeks’ game.

Fans are disappointed, and Athletic Director Lynn Swann may be painted into a corner. He may have to make a change at head coach on the tarmac at the airport (Lane Kiffin style) if the Trojans fall this weekend.

8. Arizona State (4-4)

(W) 38-34 USC

Arizona State had their most impressive offensive performance of the season against USC. N’Keal Harry showed up and showed out. He caught for a touchdown, returned a punt for a touchdown, and made one of the most difficult catches of the 2018 season.

Herm Edwards has his team sitting at 4-4, with a chance to win the Pac-12 South. The future is extremely bright for the Sun Devils. This week a red-hot Utah team comes to Tempe. Will they be able to continue the Pac-12 upsets and defeat the Utes?

7. Washington (6-3)

(L) 10-12 Cal

The Huskies are light years away from the team many people expected to compete for a national championship. Their defense has been the only thing keeping them in games. If not for stout defensive play this team would be 3-5 instead of 5-3. Washington’s offense is painful to watch. Jake Browning has been underwhelming. And the offense has been unable to dominate rushing the football whether Miles Gaskins is in the lineup or not.

Washington gets a chance to bounce back against Stanford. Chris Peterson will have his team prepared, and this will be a heavyweight title fight.

6. Cal (5-3)

(W) 12-10 Cal

If I told you Cal would beat Washington without scoring an offensive touchdown you would have called me a crazy fool. But, the Golden Bears did just that. The job Justin Wilcox and his staff have done with this defense is remarkable. They don’t have 4 and 5* athletes at every position, but they are well coached and play hard. Cal has the top-ranked defense against the pass in the Pac-12. However, they have to travel to Pullman to play the top passer in the nation, Gardner Minshew. Something has to give.

If Cal wins, they will be bowl eligible. That would be a huge accomplishment for the team to make a bowl game out of the most competitive division in college football.

5. Oregon (5-3)

(L) 15-44 Arizona

What on earth happened to the Ducks last week in Tucson? Oregon’s loss to Arizona would have been the most shocking result of the week had Colorado not lost a 21 point halftime lead to Oregon State.

Oregon’s offense has been virtually non-existent the first half of the last two weeks. They have punted nearly 15 times in two games. That is a far departure for the offense that was leading the conference in scoring. Coach Mario Cristobal and offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo need to right the ship this week against UCLA. The Ducks must run the football early and often so Justin Herbert can get open passing lanes for play-action passes.

The next 4 games are crucial to cementing Ducks fans trust in this coaching staff.

4. Arizona (4-5)

(W) 44-15 Oregon

The Pac-12 is insane. How else can you explain Arizona losing to UCLA in week 9, then beating Oregon badly the very next week? The Arizona defense had their most outstanding performance of the year against Oregon. They were fast and extremely physical which was a departure from the swiss cheese defense they displayed through their first eight games.

Now the biggest question is will the Wildcats return back to the team that earned a sub .500 record or have they turned a corner. This week they get Colorado on Friday night.

3. Stanford (5-3)

(L) 38-41 Washington State

David Shaw proved again why he is a great coach. Stanford had been unable to run the ball as effectively as they had in the past. Instead of continuing to beat his teams’ head against a wall, Shaw decided to throw the football a lot. Stanford was extremely successful throwing the ball against Washington State, which is one of the top pass defenses in the conference. KJ Costello threw the ball 43 times for 323 yards and four touchdowns.

Stanford is tough and consistent even in defeat.

2. Utah (6-2)

(W) 41-10 UCLA

The Utes are continuing to steamroll through Pac-12 opponents. They disposed of UCLA pretty easily at the Rose Bowl. Utah’s defense is one of the best in the nation. Zack Moss carried the Utah offense on his back. He finished with 211 rushing yards and three touchdowns. If Utah can run the ball this successfully, they will be tough to beat.

The recipe to beat the Utes is stopping their running game. SOmeone can force Tyler Huntley to throw the ball 30+ times he will throw a few interceptions.

1. Washington State (7-1)

(W) 41-38 Stanford

At this point, I am rooting for the Cougars to finish the season 12-1 including the Pac-12 Championship. The conference needs a representative in the College Football Championship and Washington State is the last hope. It is increasingly frustrating for Pac-12 fans to see the conference with the most parity to consistently be dismissed in conversation.

Mike Leach is an offensive genius, and it will be interesting to see his ‘Air Raid’ offense against the likes of Alabama and Clemson. Gardener Minshew is lighting up the stat sheet for nearly 400 passing yards per game. They will get a real test this week from the stingiest pass defense in the Pac-12.

This could be Leach’s last season in Pullman if the USC job or other top jobs become available.

BOWL PROJECTIONS

via-USA TODAY

Rose Bowl– Michigan vs. Washington State

Holiday– Iowa vs. Washington

San Francisco– Northwestern vs. Stanford

Sun– Boston College vs. Oregon

Alamo– Texas vs. Utah

Texas– Texas Tech vs. Colorado

Cheez-It– Baylor vs. USC

Las Vegas– Utah State vs. Arizona State

Pac-12 Football Predictions Week 6: Make or Break Matchups

Pac-12 Football Predictions Week 6

Conference Play is in Full Swing

Welcome to the Unafraid Show Pac-12 Football Predictions Week 6 by SportsPac12. If you are a Pac-12 fan, aside from Unafraid Show, SportsPac12 is the twitter feed you need to follow! Former sportswriter & columnist who has covered three different Pac-12 schools provides up to date stats and information on every team in the Conference of Champions.

See where all the teams stand in the Unafraid Show Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 6.

Pac-12 Football Predictions Week 6

Arizona State (3-2) at #21 Colorado (4-0)

Saturday, October 6, 1:00 p.m., Pac-12 Network

Folsom Field, Boulder, CO

Straight-Up: Arizona State in a Close Win

Against the Spread: Arizona State (+3)

Having dispatched four teams with a combined 1-16 mark, it’s time for the Buffs to prove they’re worthy of their ranking. CU quarterback Steven Montez leads the nation in completion percentage, and his connection with wideout Laviska Shenault has been deadly. But Montez has yet to be pressured the way he’s likely to be pressured by ASU’s Merlin Robertson, Malik Lawal, and Darius Slade, who have three sacks each on the season. Collectively, ASU defenders average nearly four sacks per game. The Devils also have the advantage of having played in three big games already. Arizona State’s defense should limit Colorado’s explosive offense just enough to prevail in a close, back-and-forth game.

Notes: The Sun Devils lead the all-time series 8-1, with the lone loss coming in Boulder in 2016, and are averaging 38.9 points per game against the Buffs. Remarkably, no ASU running back has lost a fumble (or even put the ball on the ground) in 669 consecutive carries, over 24 straight games. Colorado is 4-0 for the first time since 1998. Under Mike MacIntrye, the Buffs are 16-0 when holding opponents to 17 points or less. Shenault leads the nation with 9.5 receptions and 145.3 yards per game.

Pac-12 Football Predictions Week 6

#10 Washington (4-1) at UCLA (0-4)

Saturday, October 6, 4:30 p.m. PT, FOX

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA

Straight-Up: Washington  in a Blowout Win

Against the Spread: Washington  (-21.5)

History suggests Washington could struggle at UCLA on Saturday: The Huskies have lost eight straight in Pasadena, dating back to 1995. But UW coach Chris Petersen wouldn’t know anything about that, having never coached in the Rose Bowl. Nor would he care. The Bruins will be outmanned at nearly every position, despite having recruited nearly equivalent talent, based on stars and ratings. In actuality, this might be the biggest Conference mismatch of the season, giving Jake Browning a chance to extend his school records in passing and total offense, while enabling Myles Gaskin to pop off a 200-yard game. Unless, unless . . . Chip Kelly has at least one trick up his sleeve this year, doesn’t he?

 

Notes: The Bruins lead the all-time series 40-31-2, but lost last year’s meeting in Seattle, 44-33. The winning team has scored 40+ points in the last three games. By contrast, Washington hasn’t given up more than 35 points in 49 straight contests—dating back to when the Dawgs surrendered 44 points to UCLA in 2014. Gaskin needs just seven yards to move past Chris Polk into second on the all-time UW rushing list. UCLA will be looking to avoid a 0-5 start for the first time since 1943.

Pac-12 Football Predictions Week 6

Washington State (4-0) at Oregon State (1-4)

Saturday, October 6, 6:00 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Network

Reser Stadium, Corvallis, OR

Straight-Up Pick: Washington State in a Comfortable Win

Against the Spread: Washington State (-17)

The Cougars showed some welcome defensive maturity last week against Utah, and that figures to be a problem for the Beavers. Oregon State is a year or so away from being able to match any team stop-for-stop. The Beavs would prefer a high-scoring shootout, giving Jermar Jefferson a chance to run wild like he did in Tempe. Both teams are likely to trade big plays at some point, with Gardner Minshew and Easop Winston getting the better of the exchange. Expect OSU to keep it close for a quarter or so, only to watch WSU pull away in the second half. Whatever the outcome between these two loose and confident-playing teams, it should prove entertaining.

Notes: The Cougars lead the all-time series with the Beavers 52-47-3, and have won four straight after posting a 52-23 victory in Pullman last season. With their 28-24 win over Utah, the Cougars have won 10 straight home games for the first time since 1933. OSU relied heavily on Jefferson’s 254 yards against Arizona State, allowing him to break his own Pac-12 single-game rushing record for freshmen, set earlier this season against Southern Utah.

Pac-12 Football Predictions Week 6

Cal (3-1) at Arizona (2-3)

Saturday, October 6, 7:00 p.m. PT, FS1

Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ

Straight-Up: Cal in a Close Win

Against the Spread: Cal (-2.5)

Fast and shifty Cal quarterback Brandon McIlwain showed he can be as dangerous as Khalil Tate last week, running the ball for 123 yards against Oregon. Given Arizona’s defensive woes, that comparison could be on full display this week in Tucson, provided McIlwain can pass well enough to keep Chase Garbers off the field. The Wildcats, meanwhile, struggled to put up 20 points on a mistake-prone and porous USC defense. They’ll need Tate to run and throw much better than his sub-50 completion percentage and 38 yards on the ground to score as much or more against a tougher Cal defense. The Bears are giving up points on less than 20% of their opponents’ possessions.

Notes: Arizona leads the all-time series 17-14-2, having won the last four. The last two have come down to the final play, including last year’s double-overtime contest in Berkeley. Look for Cal to strike early, having scored first in all four games this season. Arizona forced three fumbles Saturday against USC, recovering all three, marking the first time the Wildcats have recovered three fumbles in a single game since 2016. Bears linebacker Evan Weaver posted a career-high 14 tackles against Oregon; he leads the Conference with 13.2 tackles per game.

Pac-12 Football Predictions Week 6

Utah (2-2) at #14 Stanford (4-1)

Saturday, October 6, 7:30 p.m. PT, ESPN

Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA

Straight-Up: Utah in a Close Win

Against the Spread: Utah (-4)

Who needs this game more? A loss could prove disastrous for Utah, whereas Stanford runs the risk of a Notre Dame hangover: The classic elements of a trap game. As good as K.J. Costello and JJ Arcega-Whiteside have been, the Cardinal appear to have become too pass-dependent with Bryce Love struggling. Utah’s defense, which held the Cougars to 0 yards rushing last week, could cause Stanford more problems than the Irish. Offensively, Tyler Huntley played more like a dual-threat quarterback against WSU, rushing and throwing for a combined 206 yards, while freeing up Zach Moss to post his second 100-yard game. Don’t be surprised if Utah hangs around, stealing this one by a field goal.

Notes: The all-time series between the two teams is tied 4-4, though Utah has won three of the last four. Stanford ended a three-game losing streak to the Utes last year with a 23-20 victory in Salt Lake City. The Cardinal has an active 11-game home winning streak—the longest since a 17-game streak from 2011 to 2014—but the Utes are 3-0 in Stanford Stadium. In good hands: The Cardinal have not lost a fumble through the first five games, one of only four teams in the nation to do so. Huntley’s season-high 88 yards rushing against WSU matched his career high.

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