By SEBASTIAN PYCIOR
The Pac-12 finished the first-half of their season, paving the way for an exciting second-half finish. The Cougars are still without a loss and coach Gary Anderson has already, albeit mysteriously, left the Oregon State program. The state of Washington finally anticipates an exciting Apple Cup this Thanksgiving, and while it will be great having an Apple Cup holding significance again, ticket prices for the game have already skyrocketed.
Barring some miraculous upset, things look to be relatively quiet this weekend for the northwest college football programs.
#8 Washington State at California:
The Cougars didn’t give up 300 yards on the ground to Oregon last week as I’d predicted would happen. Their defensive front made a big statement as they took advantage of a Ducks team without their starting quarterback. The Cougs stopped the Ducks’ running game easily, forcing the Oregon team into an inefficient passing game, which sealed the victory for Washington State.
Cougars’ quarterback, Luke Falk, had his difficulties in the game as some passes were thrown short, and he posted his worst QBR of the year against the Ducks. Falk has been sacked 19 times so far this season, so it’ll be interesting to see what solutions the team has to keep their quarterback safe and away from constant pressure, especially up against a solid defense.
All that said, California shouldn’t be a threat for the Cougars Friday night. Falk and Leach look to keep everyone involved on offense and this should easily elude California’s questionable defense. Of course, there’s always a possibility that the Cougars could “Coug’ it” Friday night, given their reputation.
#5 Washington at Arizona State:
The Huskies look to take advantage of a weak Arizona State team on Saturday. Running-back Myles Gaskin should post his best numbers of the year against this team, since Arizona State’s defense is relatively poor. ASU hasn’t been able to compete well this year, barely beating Oregon and New Mexico State, while losing every other game.
It’s likely another easy win for the Huskies this season. It’s imperative that they strive for a large-margin win to avoid any possible blemish on their resume, as they’ll be compared to the other teams contending for a national playoff spot.
Oregon at #23 Stanford:
Both Oregon and Stanford have been fighting for third in the PAC-12 North division, but Stanford has been looking better as of late. If the Oregon Ducks can’t get their running game going early on Saturday, then they’ll struggle to find another answer on offense. Their backup quarterback had trouble completing passes to keep drives moving against the Cougars, dismantling their game-plan. Since they were forced to punt the ball often, their defense stayed on the field longer, which resulted in them being tired early in the game. Stanford should be able to run and win this game with ease.
Colorado at Oregon State:
The Oregon State program is in disarray after their coach left unexpectedly in the middle of this season. He did leave near $12 million on the table for OSU, agreeing to get the rest of this year paid out before he goes. It’d be surprising if any players can muster the will to play hard against Colorado after this sudden coaching change. The team isn’t playing very well at all on the offensive or defensive side as it is, so it’ll be curious to see whether the interim coach can get something extra out of the players. The Buffalos should walk away this weekend with a win after a rough start to their conference schedule.