No. 3 Utes facing huge challenge against Trojans
The races in the Pac-12’s two divisions are starting to fall into place, with two clear-cut favorites. But Utah and Stanford can’t book their trips to Santa Clara for the Pac-12 championship game just yet.
There’s still six weeks left until the conference title game and plenty of hurdles to overcome, including a big one for the Utes this week.
Here’s a few things to look for in the Pac-12 this week:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 3 Utah at Southern California. The Utes moved up a spot in the latest AP Top 25, their highest regular-season ranking as a program. Oddsmakers were not impressed. Despite Utah’s rise and USC playing under an interim coach, the Trojans are 3 1/2-point favorites at home. USC (3-3, 1-2) arguably has the most talent on offense – maybe overall talent, too – in the Pac-12 and will be playing at home. The Utes (6-0, 3-0) blew out Oregon on the road, so playing in a hostile environment is no big deal to them.
BEST MATCHUP: Washington’s defense vs. Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey. Washington has the Pac-12’s best defense, allowing 345.3 yards and 16.8 points per game. The Huskies will have their hands full trying to slow McCaffrey. The Cardinal sophomore running back leads the nation with 253 all-purpose yards per game and had an FBS-high 369 total yards against UCLA last week.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Oregon and Arizona State have the week off before playing each other next Thursday. … The Pac-12 has had nine different teams ranked in the AP Top 25 over the past two seasons. … McCaffrey isn’t the only Pac-12 player among the top 10 in FBS all-purpose yards. … Oregon’s Royce Freeman is eighth with 168 yards per game and Utah’s Devontae Booker is ninth at 165.17.
IMPACT PLAYER: Arizona RB Jared Baker. The senior rushed for 207 yards and two touchdowns against Colorado last week to become the fifth Pac-12 running back to eclipse 200 yards this season. Baker is averaging 10 yards per carry the past two games heading into Saturday’s game against Washington State.
Complied by AP College Football Writer John Marshall.