Week 4 of the Pac-12 season is upon us, and that means its not only Thanksgiving week but it's "rivalry" week as well. The conference has two in-state rivalries taking place when No. 15 Oregon 45-minutes north to face Oregon State while Stanford travels across the Bay Bridge to face Cal.
And then in a Saturday night primetime showing, Utah squares off against Washington in a meeting featuring two teams that has developed some sort of rivalry after four of their last five meetings have resulted in one score games. Utah is just 1-4 in those games, winning 33-28 last season in Seattle.
Colorado also lucked out after nearly missing its second game of the season despite being fully healthy. After USC pulled out on Thanksgiving day due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Buffaloes have rebounded and will in return host San Diego State on Saturday afternoon.
14-3 — I went a perfect 4-0 last week, albeit incorrectly predicted the way the Oregon-UCLA and Utah-USC games would go. While I had both the Ducks and Trojans winning, I figured the Utes would put up a much bigger fight against USC rather than the way the Bruins did against Oregon.
Here are my Pac-12 predictions for the five conference games taking place this weekend...
Cal (0-2) vs. Stanford (0-2)
Time: 2:30 p.m. MT (Friday)
Without a doubt, 'The Big Game' has lost its flavor due to both teams entering winless. But that doesn't mean this game doesn't matter, as a loss would eliminate the loser from postseason play while a win would keep hope alive for a possible bowl game. Stanford was on an eight-game winning streak in the series until the Golden Bears won 24-20 last year.
I fully expect head coach Justin Wilcox and Cal to to make last year's victory the beginning of a streak come away with the win. Stanford quarterback Davis Mills keeps it close but Cal quarterback Chase Garbers accounts for three scores and is ready to take advantage of a struggling Stanford defense. Stanford has no answer for Cal wide receiver Kekoa Crawford who scores in the first and fourth quarters for the win.
Prediction: Cal 31 — Stanford 27
No. 15 Oregon (3-0) vs. Oregon State (1-2)
Time: 5:30 p.m. MT (Friday)
The 'Civil War' — it's actually looking at being renamed something different — is going to be interesting.
Oregon enters the game undefeated as the Pac-12's best chance of getting into the College Football Playoffs, but all three victories have been less-than-impressive. The offense shows spurts of being dominant while the defense is giving up far too many big plays to be effective. Oregon State is coming off its first win of the season, but have been highly competitive in all three games thus far as running back Jermar Jefferson has been unstoppable thus far.
The Ducks have won the past three meetings by an average score of 49-12, but I expect this contest to be much closer. The Beavers will have to be creative in their play-calling as they won't be able to just line up and have Jefferson run down Oregon's throat.
Even with the creativity, the Ducks have too much talent on either side of the ball. Quarterback Tyler Shough has been very good thus far and this team rarely makes mistakes. They have weapons all over the field and I expect the defense, which was young, to continue to improve. Oregon State keeps it close in the beginning before the Ducks fly away with the game in the second half as Shough throws for four scores and adds another on the ground.
Prediction: Oregon 45 — Oregon State 34
Colorado (2-0) vs. San Diego State (3-2)
Time: 3 p.m. MT (Saturday)
TV: Pac-12 Network
It was almost a disastrous weekend for the Buffaloes as their game with USC was canceled on Thanksgiving day. It would've been the second week in a row Colorado couldn't play despite being fully healthy as last week's contest against Arizona State was canceled. But they rebounded as San Diego State, who was searching for an opponent as well, agreed to make the trip on short notice.
Colorado has gotten off to a great start as the offense is far better than expected. Running back Jarek Broussard is averaging 154 rushing yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game. Quarterback Sam Noyer is averaging 256 passing yards, 50 rushing yards and three total touchdowns per game for an offense putting up 41.5 points per game.
The Aztecs enter Saturday coming off a narrow loss to undefeated Nevada last weekend. The offense wants to run the ball, averaging 246 yards per game as Greg Bell averages 113 yards per game.
The Buffaloes, especially in the cold weather, should roll to an easy victory. I expect the offense to get going early on and the defense load the box and force the Aztecs to win through the air. Colorado will head into its final two games of the season undefeated after demolishing the Aztecs on Saturday.
Prediction: Colorado 52 — San Diego State 20
Washington (2-0) vs. Utah (0-1)
Time: 5:30 p.m. (Saturday)
It may not officially be a rivalry game but the games between the Utes and Huskies have been jam-packed with action and always coming down to the wire. Four of their past five meetings, including one in the 2018 Pac-12 championship game, have been decided by one score or less. Unfortunately for Utah, they've lost four of those five battles, ending their four-game losing streak with a 33-28 win last season.
In last week's loss to USC, the Utes offensive line was atrocious and it led to USC controlling the line of scrimmage. Utah cannot have that happen again as the Huskies have been known for their success in the trenches.
This is going to be a close game as I believe Utah makes a massive jump from its first to its second game, however I don't know if it'll be enough to take down a Washington team playing well.
Utah finds more success on offense as the offensive line holds it own, and the defense continues to see improvement. But Washington is playing better right now and that eventually leads to the win at home. Washington uses a big third quarter and then forces a Jake Bentley interception in the fourth quarter to hold on for the win.
Prediction: Washington 30 — Utah 24
UCLA (1-2) vs. Arizona (0-2)
Time: 6 p.m. MT (Saturday)
The Bruins found something last week when they nearly pulled off the massive upset up in Eugene. They should get a big boost with the return of Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback while the defense is slowly making strides.
Arizona looked good against USC in its season opener two weeks ago but then got absolutely demolished by Washington last week, trailing 37-0 at the half. The offense can explode in bursts, scoring 27 points in the fourth quarter to make it respectable.
UCLA gets to .500 on the season when Saturday is over as the offense puts up big number. Thompson-Robinson scores four total touchdowns and Demetric Felton adds two more as the Bruins score early and often for the win. Arizona attempts to make it respectable in the second quarter and early third, but it's not enough in the end.
Prediction: UCLA 48 — Arizona 24
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