This week gives us another dose of “good news, interesting news” in the Pac-12.
The good news is that the conference has two teams in this week’s College Football Playoff poll with the Washington Huskies joining the rival Washington State Cougars in the rankings. The interesting news is this week provides a ton of trap games for contenders in the conference.
Even in the way they’re structured, the first three games on the Pac-12 schedule are the biggest “trap games” of the week. Here’s a closer look at Saturday’s games:
UCLA at Arizona State (11 a.m. on Pac-12 Network)
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After Arizona State defeated the Utah Utes last week, the floodgates of the Pac-12 South division have been open; four teams fighting for the divisional title. One of those teams is Arizona State, so pat Herm Edwards on the back for overachieving this season. His next challenge is an UCLA team has a poor record of 3-7 but has steadily improved and become more competitive in Chip Kelly’s first year as coach.
Must see rating, 4.5 / 10: This game is in a weird spot, there’s not much going on before it so it could catch a few eyes if its good early on. However, if Arizona State gets it going then there may not be much to watch before the afternoon/evening window of games.
Washington State at Colorado (12:30 p.m. on ESPN)
A top-10 team going to Boulder in the middle of November? Absolutely, this is a trap game.
The Cougars survived a wild one with Cal at home last week and now they put their Pac-12 North division lead on the line vs. the Buffs. Colorado, after a promising 5-0 start, is sliding deeper into the pool of mediocrity each week. They’ve lost four in a row and things have got worse each week. So, it’s a trap game. Why? A red-hot Washington State team with a lot to play for against a Colorado fighting for their lives, this is nothing short of delicious.
Must see rating, 6.4: Washington State is the must-see team in the conference, and it is the Cougs final road test against a desperate team. Add it up and you’ve got the best game of the week.
Oregon at Utah (2:30 p.m. on Pac-12 Network)
Speaking of November and college football, it’s the Utah Utes!
I’ve talked about Utah’s struggles in November before and Saturday’s loss to Arizona State puts Utah on a true hot seat as the month goes on. Then you have the Oregon Ducks; they’ve faded out of the Pac-12 race but still can become bowl eligible with a win over the Utes.
Must see rating, 5.3: At one point, this game could’ve been a preview to the Pac-12 title game, but that was in September. Now? Not so much.
Oregon State at Stanford (6 p.m. on Pac-12 Network)
Arguably, the conference’s biggest disappointment this season has been Stanford. One win away from bowl eligibility and now senior day vs. Oregon State will not come with the pomp and circumstance that it could, and maybe should have, been. As for the Beavers, if they can make it competitive like they did against USC last week then it could be an interesting watch.
Must see rating, 4.1: There will be much better games on, trust me.
Cal at USC (7:30 p.m. on ESPN)
Clay Helton’s got a very tough few weeks ahead, which could decide his future as the head coach at USC. Cal, UCLA, Notre Dame and possibly a Pac-12 title game will be at the Trojans doorstep if they can take care of business and get some help. While Utah and Arizona State are ahead of them in the standings, they’re also ahead of them in the playing order for Saturday. So by the time the Trojans take the field, they will know just what they have to do in the wild South division.
Must see rating, 4.9: USC hasn’t been great but a crazy South division and a coach on the hot seat makes this game worth sticking around for.