Posted: 2:32 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013
By Jack Follman
Game of the Week - Oregon at Washington - Saturday 1 p.m. FOX Sports 1
AK - Washington has proven now that they can go head-to-head with smashmouth Stanford. Can they combine their tempo and their much improved defense to outrun Oregon?
JF - This game is long overdue to produce an entertaining matchup and with homefield advantage, an improved team and quickened tempo this just might be the year that Washington is able to make it competitive. If Washington can go toe-to-toe with Oregon's speed, or hold their offense down a little bit and make it close, this could end up being one of the games of the year in the Pac-12.
2. Arizona at USC - Thursday 7:30 p.m. FOX Sports 1
AK - Arizona and USC have the same problem: Dysfunctional offense. The Trojans will probably come out with fresh energy in the first game of the post Lane Kiffin era, so the Wildcats will have to hope Ka'Deem Carey and the spread and shred are ready for action.
JF - The Wildcats are painfully one-dimensional on offense, but so are the Trojans so this could end up being a low-scoring ground battle. Watch for an inspired effort from USC as teams always seem to respond very well the game after shaking off an unpopular coach. Also, there is a lot at play here with both teams slugging it out to save themselves from falling out of the race for the Pac-12 South in early-October.
3. Oregon State at Washington State - Saturday 7:30 p.m. ESPNU
AK - Air it out. Oregon State and Washington State have proven offenses, but the Beaver defense still has a lot to learn. Can Sean Mannion shred a strong Cougar front?
JF - Ugh, Time Warner makes me buy a "Variety" package to get ESPNU even though I already pay for a "Sports" package, but nevermind, back to the game. This is the most important game for the Cougars played in Pullman in six or seven years so expect an electric atmosphere in Martin Stadium. Both of these teams can throw it around as well as anyone in the country so the ball will be getting tossed around all night and it could quickly turn into a high-scoring shootout as both teams fight for supremacy in the bottom half of the Pac-12 North.
4. Stanford at Utah - Saturday 3 p.m. Pac-12 Network
AK - Utah has proven that they will give any Pac-12 team at home an intense battle. Their toughest foe on the season comes in the form of the Cardinal, who probably can't wait to power it down the throats of the Utes.
JF - The Utes showed that they ready to compete at the top level in the Pac-12 last week by giving UCLA a real fight in Salt Lake City and now they get an even stronger team. The good news here is that the Cardinal looked very vulnerable against Washington last week so this one could end up being a better game than it appears on paper if Travis Wilson can protect the ball and avoid pressure from Stanford's fearsome front seven.
5. Cal at UCLA - Saturday 7:30 p.m. ESPN2
AK - Dysfunctional 3-9 Cal beat UCLA last year, but now it's injured + dysfunctional Cal this season on the road. A repeat upset appears unlikely.
JF - This one looks like it should be ugly with Brett Hundley going against Cal's paper thin defense, but hey, Cal somehow blew out UCLA last year when they shouldn't have, so you never know.
6. Colorado at Arizona State - Saturday 7 p.m. Pac-12 Network
AK - Colorado might get a win sometime in the Pac-12 this season, but I doubt it's this week against a Devils team that played Notre Dame tight and is probably hungry to take out their frustration on someone at home.
JF - Another one that looks terrible on paper, but I don't think this one is necessarily as lopsided as you would immediately assume. Arizona State's defense hasn't looked very good thus far this season and Colorado's offense has looked really improved so they might be able to put up some points in Tempe. I'm not calling for an upset watch here, but Colorado might make it more competitive than expected.