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It’s rivalry week.

NCAA Football: California at Stanford
Is Stanford a legit contender for the PAC 12 championship?
Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Rivalry week has gotten a bit watered down since the onset of the “12” era in the PAC. The scheduling peculiarities that come with the California schools all needed to play one another every season means that the last week of the regular season cannot 100% be reserved for those games.

Nevertheless, the arrival of rivalry week opens up one of the oldest and most difficult questions to answer about our conference: What is the “best” rivalry of the PAC?

Is it the Territorial Cup?

The Territorial Cup is certified by the NCAA as the oldest trophy awarded in a rivalry game. It’s roots go all the way back to 1899, before Arizona was even a state (thus, the name).

Besides being the oldest, the Wildcats and the Sun Devils might have the most competitive of all of the rivalries. Arizona leads it all time by a margin of 49-40-1. However, if you start counting when ASU became ASU (in 1945), the Sun Devils have a couple of game lead in the series.

It is always one of the more unpredictable rivalry games, but it is somewhat watered down by the fact that there have been so few Territorial Cups played where a conference championship or postseason berth was on the line.

The Big Game?

Stanford and Cal have an emotional if not quite as evenly matched rivalry as some others. Stanford holds a commanding all-time of 63-46-11.

Interestingly, Cal for a short while referred to their game against Washington as “the Big Game”.

Maybe its the Civil War?

This one definitely gets my vote as the most nasty of all of the rivalry games in the PAC (I’m excluding the Utah-BYU rivalry here). These two schools have a history of hatred that makes tensions between Christians and Muslims look like child’s play.

Oregon v Oregon State
Ryan Nall led Oregon State to a Civil War win last season.
Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The frustrating thing about this rivalry is that it is rare that both teams are good at the same time. As such, there have been many a blowout.

What about the Apple Cup?

We all love us some Apple Cup. But is it good enough to be known as the “greatest” rivalry in the PAC?

Maybe. It has had its fair share of meaningful games (those with postseason implications), upsets and crazy moments. You also will have a hard time finding such a radical dichotomy between two fan bases as you will find between the smug, pinky-out, cabernet sippers of Seattle and the thick, cow-tipping, natty lite chuggers of Pullman.

Could it be UCLA-USC?

If your rivalry game isn’t even important enough to name, how can we consider it one of the best of all time?

We can’t.

If I had to pick, it would be a close call between the Civil War and the Apple Cup. The argument might change if I were to scope in adjacent rivalries such as Stanford-Notre Dame, Washington-Oregon, USC-Notre Dame and the Holy War.

Regardless, we can count on some good football this weekend. Even if some of those rivalry games have already been played.


Game of the Week

#8 Notre Dame at #21 Stanford

(Sat, 5pm, ABC, Stan +2, o56.5)

Stanford has already done everything that it can do to get into the PAC 12 championship game. The rest of their journey is in the hands of the Washington Huskies now.

Whether or not Stanford is perceived to be a “legit” Pac 12 North division champ is within their control. It is pretty simple. Beat a top 10 Notre Dame on Saturday and prove that it was near defeat to Cal last week that was the fluke more so than the win over Washington the week prior.

Navy v Notre Dame
QB Brandon Wimbush is a dual-threat in the high-octane Notre Dame offense.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Certainly, the Cardinal have the talent required to go toe-to-toe with the Irish. Their offensive line matches up pretty well and Bryce Love, even a little hobbled, appears to have a great big advantage as a rusher.

Things do even out for the Irish when they have the ball. Their own offensive line matches up very well against the Stanford d-line, even if Harrison Phillips is at the top of his game. Notre Dame is going to emphasize its rushing attack which takes away to some degree, the advantage that the dinged up Stanford secondary has against most teams.

It works out well for Stanford that this game is at home. That will give QB KJ Costello a more comfortable setting in which to settle into a rhythm. If he can quickly make some connections with a couple of his big receivers, he might be able to get the Irish guessing on his way to one of his best outings of the year.

If he can’t and Stanford becomes one-dimensional, look out. Notre Dame is the best offense the Cardinal will have seen all season and could easily have 30 on the board before David Shaw even knows what hit him.

In fact, that is kind of what I think is going to happen.

Gekko’s Pick: Notre Dame 34, Stanford 20

Rest of the PAC

Arizona at Arizona State

(Sat, 1:30p, PACN, ASU +2, o74.5)

Has the steam in the Arizona engine started to vaporize? In his last three games, Arizona QB Khalil Tate has averaged just 6 yards per attempt passing compared to nearly 11 per attempt in his previous four. In addition, he was bottled up to just 32 yards rushing last week by an Oregon team whose defense isn’t really all that much better against the run than the Sun Devils.

The question as to whether or not Khalil Tate can lead a team from behind is one that is on the table. Fortunately, ASU has the kinds of offensive weapons in QB Manny Wilkins, WR N’Keal Harry and RB Demario Richard that can set them up with an early lead. But can they?

I’m not sure. ASU seems like a team that is running on fumes themselves. The end of the Todd Graham era seems imminent. The fact that this game is a home game doesn’t seem to matter that much.

Gekko’s Pick: Arizona 49, ASU 38

Cal at UCLA

(Fri, 7:30pm, FS1, UCLA -7, o66)

Every time I think about this game, I think about the UW bowl game against BYU that became Marques Tuiasosopo’s claim to fame as a head football coach. Substitute coaches can often get something more out of their team than the preceding head coach when the pressure to win is removed from the equation.

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at UCLA
Jedd Fisch will lead UCLA on Friday night.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This is what I think happens tonight against the Bears. QB Josh Rosen has a beaten and battered cast to work with, but there is still enough talent here to put up a big game.

This isn’t a knock on the Bears. They’ve had a great year in exceeding expectations in every way possible. But a bowl game just isn’t in their future as far as I can see.

Gekko’s Pick: Cal 28, UCLA 41

Oregon State at Oregon

(Sat, 4:00p, ESPN2, Oregon -25, o63)

Wow. Oregon with a 25 point line seems excessive. Except that it isn’t.

Justin Herbert and Royce Freeman should be able to do some serious damage in a game that has the potential to be the last game of the Willie Taggart era.

Or not.

Gekko’s Pick: OSU 13, Oregon 42

Colorado at Utah

(Sat, 7pm, FS1, Utah -10.5, o56.5)

One of these two teams is going to go bowling.

And it’s going to be Utah.

Sorry Colorado fans. But I just can’t see the scenario where your disappointing season suddenly takes a turn for the better by going into Salt Lake and taking out a Utah team that seems to be gelling more with every coming week.

I like this one to be close, mind you. But I think that Tyler Huntley and the Utes take advantage of a couple of extra possessions thanks to Buff turnovers and win it.

Gekko’s Pick: Colorado 24, Utah 27

Friday Schedule

Matchup Time (PT) TV Streaming
Matchup Time (PT) TV Streaming
Western Michigan at Toledo 8:30 AM ESPNU WatchESPN.com
#2 Miami at Pittsburgh 9:00 AM ABC WatchESPN.com
Baylor at #12 TCU 9:00 AM FS1 FoxSportsGo.com
Northern Illinois at Central Michigan 9:00 AM CBSSN CBSSports.com
Navy at Houston 9:00 AM ESPN WatchESPN.com
Ohio at Buffalo 10:00 AM None WatchESPN.com
Missouri at Arkansas 11:30 AM CBS CBSSports.com
South Florida at #15 UCF 12:30 PM ABC WatchESPN.com
New Mexico at San Diego State 12:30 PM CBSSN CBSSports.com
Texas State at Troy 1:00 PM None WatchESPN.com
Iowa at Nebraska 1:00 PM FS1 FoxSportsGo.com
Western Kentucky at Florida Intl 4:00 PM beIN Sports None
#25 Virginia Tech at Virginia 5:00 PM ESPN WatchESPN.com
Texas Tech at Texas 5:00 PM FOX FoxSportsGo.com
California at UCLA 7:30 PM FS1 FoxSportsGo.com

Saturday Schedule

Matchup Time (PT) TV Streaming
Matchup Time (PT) TV Streaming
#7 Georgia at Georgia Tech 9:00 AM ABC WatchESPN.com
#9 Ohio State at Michigan 9:00 AM FOX FoxSportsGo.com
Kansas at #19 Oklahoma State 9:00 AM FS1 FoxSportsGo.com
East Carolina at #20 Memphis 9:00 AM ESPNU WatchESPN.com
Florida State at Florida 9:00 AM ESPN WatchESPN.com
Louisville at Kentucky 9:00 AM SEC Network WatchESPN.com
Indiana at Purdue 9:00 AM ESPN2 WatchESPN.com
Connecticut at Cincinnati 9:00 AM ESPNews WatchESPN.com
Tulane at SMU 9:00 AM CBSSN CBSSports.com
Boston College at Syracuse 9:20 AM ACC Network WatchESPN.com
Duke at Wake Forest 9:30 AM ACC Network WatchESPN.com
North Texas at Rice 10:00 AM None WatchESPN.com
UTEP at UAB 10:00 AM None CUSA.tv
Appalachian State at Georgia State 11:00 AM None WatchESPN.com
Florida Atlantic at Charlotte 11:00 AM None Facebook.com
Southern Mississippi at Marshall 11:30 AM KYMS WatchStadium.com
Old Dominion at Middle Tennessee 12:00 PM None WatchESPN.com
Arkansas State at Louisiana Monroe 12:00 PM None WatchESPN.com
UNLV at Nevada 12:00 PM AT&T Sports Net None
#1 Alabama at #6 Auburn 12:30 PM CBS CBSSports.com
#5 Wisconsin at Minnesota 12:30 PM ABC WatchESPN.com
#10 Penn State at Maryland 12:30 PM BTN BTN2Go.com
#23 Boise State at Fresno State 12:30 PM CBSSN CBSSports.com
North Carolina at NC State 12:30 PM ESPNU WatchESPN.com
Iowa State at Kansas State 12:30 PM ESPN2 WatchESPN.com
West Virginia at #4 Oklahoma 12:45 PM ESPN WatchESPN.com
#16 Michigan State at Rutgers 1:00 PM FOX FoxSportsGo.com
#22 Northwestern at Illinois 1:00 PM FS1 FoxSportsGo.com
Vanderbilt at Tennessee 1:00 PM SEC Network WatchESPN.com
Temple at Tulsa 1:00 PM ESPNews WatchESPN.com
Idaho at New Mexico State 1:00 PM None WatchESPN.com
Arizona at Arizona State 1:30 PM Pac-12 Networks Pac-12.com
Georgia Southern at Louisiana-Lafayette 2:00 PM None WatchESPN.com
Wyoming at San Jose State 2:00 PM None WatchESPN.com
Oregon State at Oregon 4:00 PM ESPN2 WatchESPN.com
#3 Clemson at #24 South Carolina 4:30 PM ESPN WatchESPN.com
Texas A&M at #18 LSU 4:30 PM SEC Network WatchESPN.com
UT San Antonio at Louisiana Tech 4:30 PM ESPNU WatchESPN.com
#8 Notre Dame at #21 Stanford 5:00 PM ABC WatchESPN.com
#13 Washington State at #17 Washington 5:00 PM FOX FoxSportsGo.com
BYU at Hawai'i 6:00 PM CBSSN CBSSports.com
Colorado at Utah 7:00 PM FS1 FoxSportsGo.com
Utah State at Air Force 7:15 PM ESPN2 WatchESPN.com