The Cardinal are probably not going to be celebrating Saturday night. - Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
In the penultimate week for the conference, the South winner will be decided between USC and UCLA and the North winner might be as well if Oregon beats Stanford. Arizona State will try to reach bowl eligibility and Utah will try to avoid being eliminated from the same. Oregon State attempts to keep their slim hopes for the Rose Bowl alive while Cal plays under the cloud of Coach Tedford's shaky job status.
There are two clear marquee games for the conference this week, but the rest of the games have implications as well. There is still a chance the conference could produce 9 bowl-eligible teams if everything breaks right, and the choices that the conference-affiliated bowls could well be difficult ones. On to the picks!
Saturday, Noon PST, Fox: USC 34, @ UCLA 28
The Bruins have closed the gap with their L.A. rivals. Talent was less of an issue than getting the most out of that talent, and Mora and his staff have done a good job getting production out of the guys Neuheisel recruited. Both teams are very effective on offense (though with different styles), both are moderately good on defense if a bit disappointing. The key for me is the difference in pass protection - UCLA is bad at it, USC (aside from the Stanford game) is quite good at it. I see Matt Barkley getting enough time to find Marqise Lee for big plays, and the Trojans getting just enough pressure on Brett Hundley to force him into some mistakes (though he will probably burn them a few times on scrambles). USC will keep their dreams alive for a rematch with the Ducks.
Saturday, Noon PST, P12N: @ ASU 42, WSU 17
The Sun Devils should have little trouble with the Cougars. Expect to see Jeff Tuel/Connor Halliday getting sacked early and often behind a paper-thin line as ASU clinches bowl eligibility while WSU packs it in and looks ahead to their post-Turkey Day "bowl" game.
Saturday, 5:00PM PST, ABC: @ Oregon 51, Stanford 27
There's a bit of intrigue in this one due to injury concerns with the Duck defense, but I don't think it will matter. Stanford just isn't built to handle the athleticism and style of the Oregon offense and will get gashed worse than they did vs. Arizona, and the Cardinal offense is just not nearly explosive enough to keep up. They'll get some points, but the Ducks will be focused and brutally efficient and win going away as they usually do.
Saturday, 7:00PM PST, ESPNU: Arizona 37, @ Utah 30
With Matt Scott listed as "probable" in this one, I think Arizona rolls. Their passing game is too good with Scott at the controls for a decent, if overrated Utah defense to cope with. The Wildcats have too many weapons to stop with Ka'Deem Carey and a good group of WR's. The Ute offense will get some points on Arizona and they'll try to control the tempo by leaning on John White IV and the run game, but they simply won't be able to keep up.
Saturday, 7:30PM PST, P12N: @ Oregon State 27, California 17
It'll be interesting to see how inspired the Bears look; with a meeting already scheduled Sunday between AD Barbour and Coach Tedford, it would appear the writing is on the wall. Will the Bears go out in a blaze of glory for their seemingly doomed coach? I think they'll keep it relatively close, but the Beavers are just a better team and have more to play for, and are at home.