Picks, Predictions and Prognosis for Every Week 8 Pac-12 Football Game
Stanford's Week 7, upset loss at Utah took some of the shine off the marquee Week 8 showdown between the Cardinal and UCLA Bruins.
Nevertheless, there are major conference and BCS implications on the line in this rematch of the 2012 Pac-12 championship. Both the Bruins and Cardinal face what could reasonably be considered a must-win: Stanford's title hopes hinge on running the remainder of the table, while UCLA seeks to avoid a 0-1 hole to start an important, two-game road swing against the conference's last two champions.
Stakes are similarly high for Washington at Arizona State in the weekend's other high-profile matchup. Another loss for the Huskies puts them in a 1-3 hole. A loss for the Sun Devils makes their road to contention in the Pac-12 South doubly difficult.
All lines are courtesy of VegasInsider.com.
Record Last Week: 5-1 (Against the Spread: 5-1)
Record on the Season: 46-5 (Against the Spread: 34-17)
Charleston Southern at Colorado (NL)
Saturday, Oct. 19, 2 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
Colorado's third non-conference game was originally supposed to be Fresno State, undefeated and ranked No. 19 in the Associated Press Top 25. The flooding that ravaged Boulder, Colo. last month nixed that game, but the Buffs found another undefeated, nationally ranked replacement.
Charleston Southern is 7-0 and No. 24 in the Football Championship Subdivision Coaches Poll. Okay, so it's a bit of a difference. And that difference should translate to the scoreboard. Colorado was brought back to reality from its 2-0 start with three lopsided losses in conference play. Saturday is an opportunity to score one more sizable win before returning to the grind of the Pac-12.
Prediction: Colorado 42, Charleston Southern 14
No. 9 UCLA at No. 13 Stanford (-7)
Saturday, Oct. 19, 3:30 ET, ABC
These two programs are getting to know each other quite well. Saturday marks their third meeting in less than 11 months.
UCLA gave up 35 and 27 points in its two meetings with Stanford last November, which were also two of quarterback Kevin Hogan's initial collegiate appearances.
Stanford seemed to have its offensive issues ironed out, but the Cardinal's last two games have seen them fail to reach 300 total yards in one and score just 21 points in the other. It gets no easier against the outstanding linebacker corps of UCLA.
Likewise, Brett Hundley and the UCLA offense must work for every point they can get. Stanford's defense bends—it gave up over 400 yards to both Washington and Utah—but it doesn't break.
Expect a defensive slug-fest.
Prediction: Stanford 27, UCLA 24
No. 20 Washington at Arizona State (-3)
Saturday, Oct. 19, 6 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
A dog is most dangerous when it's cornered, so says the old cliche. Saturday in Tempe, Ariz., Arizona State will find out just how true that adage is when it hosts No. 20 Washington.
This is head coach Steve Sarkisian's best Husky team since taking over five years ago, but a third straight loss could send Washington reeling to another 7-6 finish.
Quarterback Taylor Kelly must limit mistakes and keep an excellent Washington defense back on its heels. Oregon was able to wear down the Huskies by the fourth quarter a week ago; Arizona State must do the same.
The Huskies have one huge advantage against the Sun Devils: running back Bishop Sankey. Arizona State has struggled with the run, and Sankey is the nation's leading rusher.
Prediction: Washington 38, Arizona State 31
USC at Notre Dame (Pick)
Saturday, Oct. 19, 7:30 ET, NBC
Tommy Trojan's sword is firmly planted in the turf of Notre Dame Stadium. USC has won five straight games there, dating back to 2003.
Making it six in a row means aggressively pursuing Fighting Irish quarterback Tommy Rees and forcing him into turnovers.
Notre Dame's offensive dynamic would be different with Everett Golson running it. As it stands, Notre Dame lacks the speed necessary to spread the USC defense as Arizona and Arizona State did in the Trojans' previous two outings.
The Fighting Irish defensive front will make USC's multifaceted running attack work. Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt are the keys the nation's No. 23-ranked rush defense.
This should be a low-scoring affair. The team that capitalizes on an error is the winner—and given Rees' track record, look for it to be USC.
Prediction: USC 24, Notre Dame 21
Utah at Arizona (-4.5)
Saturday, Oct. 19, 10 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
Utah is riding high after knocking off No. 5 Stanford but cannot afford a letdown at Arizona.
This is another Week 8 tilt that could be considered must-win for both sides. The Utes notched an impressive victory, but a loss drops them to 1-3 in the Pac-12; Arizona is seeking its first conference win after road losses at Washington and USC.
Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey gutted the Utes at a 7.8-yard per carry clip last season for 204 total yards. The Wildcat offense lost some of its punch of a season ago with the departure of quarterback Matt Scott, but Carey has not slowed down.
Completely stopping Carey is not likely, but Utah's prolific sack-creators up front can harass quarterback B.J. Denker, which was Washington's key to slow down the Wildcats.
If Denker finds a rhythm, Arizona showed last week in the second half against USC it can be dangerous.
Prediction: Arizona 28, Utah 24
Washington State at No. 2 Oregon (-37.5)
Saturday, Oct. 19, 10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
Poor Washington State. The Cougars face one of the nation's most explosive offenses fresh off surrendering 28 points in the last quarter it played, last week vs. Oregon State.
Turnovers have grounded Washington State's air-raid offense recently. Quarterbacks Connor Halliday and Austin Apodaca have combined to throw 15 interceptions.
That doesn't bode well for Washington State against a Ducks defense ranked second in the nation in turnover margin.
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota's Heisman Trophy campaign should roll along without a hitch against a Cougars defense surrendering 53.5 points per game in its two conference losses.
Prediction: Oregon 56, Washington State 17
Oregon State (-11) at Cal
Saturday, Oct. 19, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
It gets no easier for a Cal defense that, one Saturday after another, continues to draw explosive offenses.
This week, it's Oregon State and the Beavers' nation-leading passing attack, behind junior quarterback Sean Mannion and junior wideout Brandin Cooks.
Cal head coach Sonny Dykes said on Tuesday's Pac-12 coaches teleconference that sometimes, "the last step [in a rebuilding process] is winning on Saturday." The Golden Bears are taking their lumps in that process and will continue against streaking Oregon State.
Prediction: Oregon State 45, Cal 27