Pac-12 week features unexpected marquee game
The Pac-12 has been filled with surprises and new teams rising toward the top. Two of those rising teams will meet Saturday in Utah, highlighting this week's games in the big conference out West.
A rundown of what to watch for in the Pac-12 this week:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 23 California at No. 5 Utah. This looked like a good game when the schedule first came out. Now that the Bears and Utes have become two of the biggest surprises of not just the Pac-12, but all of college football, it has become what could be a monumental showdown between undefeated teams. The Utes (4-0) received seven first-place votes in this week's AP Top 25, a week after pulling off a shocker by routing Oregon in Eugene. The Bears won a single game in their first season under coach Sonny Dykes and have made a rapid climb, opening the season 5-0 behind star quarterback Jared Goff.
BEST MATCHUP: Washington State at Oregon. The Ducks have two losses and are out of the AP for the first time in 98 weeks, but that may only add to the excitement of what should be an offensive show. Mike Leach's Air Raid offense is again churning out passing yards, with Luke Falk leading the Pac-12 and ranking fifth nationally with 364.8 yards per game. Oregon's defense is 114th nationally, allowing 287.2 yards per game, but the Ducks can still put up big numbers on offense so this could be fun to watch.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: No. 16 Stanford and No. 20 UCLA have a bye week. ... Washington leads the Pac-12 in scoring defense at 15.8 points allowed per game and faces the top-scoring team in the conference, USC, which averages 46.8 points per game. ... Utah punter Tom Hackett is fifth nationally, averaging 47.8 yards a punt, and opponents have returned just three for 19 yards.
IMPACT PLAYER: Colorado WR Nelson Spruce. The senior holds school records for career receptions (236) and yards (2,657), and needs 24 more catches to become the Pac-12's career leader. He also has caught at least one pass in 30 straight games and multiple catches in 25 straight.
Complied by AP College Football Writer John Marshall.