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Pac-12 and the Next Best 3, Week 9

It's a bit early to talk about bowl season, but it's late enough to see a few things developing. For the second year in a row the Pac 12 is at risk of not filling all of its bowl slots. The conference is contracted to seven bowl games. At the moment there are two bowl eligible teams (Stanford and Oregon) and two teams with five wins. (Southern California would also be eligible were they not on probation) In contrast, the Big Ten currently has six bowl eligible teams, with one other team with five wins. Chances are extremely good that Arizona State and Washington will become eligible in the next few weeks. California also has a good shot at eligibility. But, given the schedule, at most one other team will become eligible, leaving one bowl (the New Mexico Bowl, as they choose last) out in the cold. Who will get the last spot? Washington State, Utah, and Oregon State have all shown potential. But it will most likely go to the winner of one of the matchups being played this weekend--between Oregon State and Utah.

Pac-12 Game of the Week

Stanford (7-0, 5-0) at Southern California (6-1, 3-1)

This one has it all. Two great quarterbacks. Strong defenses...well, for the Pac-12 at any rate. One team vying for a spot in the BCS championship if it keeps winning. Another team out to prove that NCAA sanctions might have slowed them down but they have not defeated them. And one massive case of role reversal. Any other year Southern California would be the team with visions of a BCS championship berth. The fact that it's Stanford that's the favorite has to be a little confusing for USC fans. The Trojans may not have a bowl game to play for, but given their recent history with Stanford they would love nothing than to derail their season.

The Bottom Line

Both teams are coming off big wins last week. Stanford obliterated Washington behind 446 yards on the ground. If there was a weakness revealed in the 65-21 beatdown it was an occasional inability to tackle well. Washington's Chris Polk scored on two long touchdowns runs against the Cardinal. Southern California pasted Notre Dame with a reasonably well balanced attack and a stifling defense. That defense was very solid against the run, but the secondary was a bit suspect. Not a good thing when you have to face Andrew Luck. The Trojans will need to start fast and put points on the board early to have a chance. Stanford tends to wear you down as the game goes on. The Cardinal owns the nation's longest winning streak at 15 games, and have won their last 10 games by at least 25 points. They'll extend the win streak, and possibly might even extend the point differential streak as well. Stanford 52, Southern California 24

Oregon State (2-5, 2-2) at Utah (3-4, 0-4)

It's almost like the transitive property applies to football. Utah destroyed Brigham Young. Brigham Young beat Oregon State. Therefore Utah should be beat Oregon State. Well, maybe. With the game in Salt Lake let's say definitely. Utah 28, Oregon State 24

Washington State (3-4, 1-3) at Oregon (6-1, 4-0)

The only question about this game is whether or not Darron Thomas and LaMichael James will return from injury to play. They won't be needed. Washington State might be getting better, but they can't compete with Oregon. Oregon 55, Washington State 24

Colorado (1-7, 0-4) at Arizona State (5-2, 3-1)

Colorado is just too beat up to mount much of a challenge. The Sun Devils had the week off to prepare for this one. Poor Buffaloes. Arizona State 65, Colorado 21

California (4-3, 1-3) at UCLA (3-4, 2-2)

The Rick Neuheisel death watch continues. With five UCLA players suspended after brawling with Arizona last week the Bruins have almost no chance. Call looked sharp against Utah. Look for signs that UCLA's players have quit on Neuheisel. Especially in the second half after the game is out of reach. California 42, UCLA 17

Arizona (2-5, 1-4) at Washington (5-2, 3-1)

This will actually be the second best conference game of the weekend. Arizona's not dead yet, and really beat up on UCLA last week. Washington had a largely forgetable day at Stanford. Their defense will have to put it out of their minds when facing Nick Foles and the Wildcats. The good news of the Huskies is that Arizona also has a few suspended players on defense. I'm sure Chris Polk is drooling. But the Huskies spit the dummy at home. Arizona 34, Washington 31

The Next Best 3

Michigan State at Nebraska

Michigan State is on a roll. Ranked teams play the Spartans at their own risk. Behind Taylor Martinez, Nebraska doesn't have much of a chance of wearing down the Michigan State defense. Michigan State 34, Nebraska 21

Baylor at Oklahoma State

Prior to last week's upset of Oklahoma at the hands of Texas Tech I might not have looked at this game too closely. But RGIII hasn't cooled off much, and the Cowboys defense can be had. Baylor has a shot, so let's call it close. Oklahoma State 31, Baylor 27

Georgia at Florida

This one could well determine the SEC East, given the injury situation at South Carolina. Florida still needs consistant play at quarterback, and with their starter returning from injury they should have some hope of that. Still, it's a rivaly game and it's in Gainesville. And I still don't give the Gators a chance. Georgia 30, Florida 17

October 28, 2011  07:25 AM ET

Good read. The only game I really disagree with is I have Nebraska over MSU.

October 28, 2011  02:02 PM ET

I really hope there is some way Stanford can make it to the BCS NC game after losing this Saturday. Stanford is a great team and deserves a shot, but I doubt a 1 loss PAC team gets in.

Oh yeah, Troy is gonna beat Stanford; if I hadn't seen last weeks game I woulda said no, but with the running game coming alive...

October 28, 2011  04:13 PM ET

Stanford 52-24 over USC? Methinks not. I think USC covers the spread (+9 last I checked) and may have an outside chance at a W.

October 28, 2011  04:23 PM ET

re: Az vs. UDub:

Stanford beat up on Washington's defense on the ground, but the pass defense did fairly well against Luck--receivers were generally well-covered and I don't think Foles can routinely make the throws into coverage that Luck can.

Since Arizona doesn't have 'hand off' in their playbook, defending against Foles passing is all Washington needs to do to win. I agree that Zona is better than their record, but I think they still lose this game.

October 28, 2011  04:24 PM ET

Utah 28, Oregon State 24

Utah finally wins a Pac 12 game!

Comment #6 has been removed
 
November 1, 2011  12:38 AM ET

Loving the comments guys! USC is clearly a better team than when they played ASU, which was really the basis for the outrageous score I chose for that one. In the end it was an incredible game. And from my perspective, the right team won. ;-) But overall my picks really sucked. I'll have more time for research this week so hopefully better picks are on the way.

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