Key games in division races highlight the week in the Pac-12
The Pac-12 South race tightened up with No. 13 Utah’s loss to Southern California last week, providing a glint of hope for teams that seemed to be out of the mix.
No. 8 Stanford is still in control of the Pac-12 North, but faces what has turned into a tough road game with Washington State’s resurgence. A loss by the Cardinal could throw that division into a bit of turmoil.
So, yeah, it’s kind of a big week in the Pac-12. Here’s a few things to look for:
GAME OF THE WEEK: USC at California. The Trojans kept their Pac-12 South hopes alive – while throwing the division into a jumble – by knocking off Utah at home in their best game of the season. The Bears are looking to get back on track after losses to Utah and UCLA. Cal needs Stanford to stumble to have any chance in the Pac-12 North and certainly can’t afford to lose another conference game. This one will also feature two of the Pac-12’s best quarterbacks: USC’s Cody Kessler and Cal’s Jared Goff. USC has won the last 11 meetings.
BEST MATCHUP: Stanford at Washington State. In most seasons, this would likely be another lopsided win by the Cardinal. But with the Cougars playing well and second in the Pac-12 North, there’s a bit of extra intrigue. It also will be a contrast in styles. Stanford leads the nation in time of possession and likes to grind out drives by getting the ball to Christian McCaffrey, the FBS leader in all-purpose yards with 259.7 per game. The Cougars like to wing the ball all over the field behind quarterback Luke Falk, second in the nation with 415 yards passing per game.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Pac-12 kickers are 7 for 9 on field goals of 50 yards or more. … Oregon State, Stanford and Washington State are the only teams to have the same five starting offensive linemen all season, but the Beavers will drop off that list after left tackle Sean Harlow went out for the season with an ankle injury against Colorado last week. … The home team has won the last seven meetings between Arizona and Washington. … Colorado receiver Nelson Spruce has 256 career receptions, leaving him behind only Arizona’s Mike Thomas (259) and Arizona State’s Derek Hagen (258) on the Pac-12’s all-time list.
IMPACT PLAYER: UCLA kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn. That’s right, we’re spreading some kicker love this week. Fairbairn set a school record with a 60-yard field goal against Cal last week and is bearing down on the all-time Pac-12 scoring record. He enters Saturday’s game against Colorado 17 points behind the record of 390 set by UCLA’s John Lee from 1982-85.
Complied by AP College Football Writer John Marshall.