EL PASO, Texas – More big games, surprises and upsets littered the Pac-12 and ACC last week. Every game matters as teams compete for postseason bowl games and we look at some games involving potential Hyundai Sun Bowl opponents.
After losing two consecutive games, No. 24 Stanford earned a 20-13 win over Arizona State. No. 14 Washington State upset then No. 12 Oregon 34-20, setting up an intriguing matchup between the Cougars and Stanford. A week after losing to Oregon, No. 15 Washington defeated Colorado 27-13. California earned its first Pac-12 win, defeating Oregon State 49-7. No. 23 Utah won its third consecutive game with a 41-28 win against USC, while UCLA continues to build momentum with a 31-30 victory over Arizona, its second straight win.
The Pac-12 is a wide-open conference. Every team has at least one conference loss and there are still several marquee matchups coming up in 2018. Here’s a few intriguing games happening this week.
No. 23 Utah at UCLA (Friday)
No. 23 Utah (5-2, 3-2 Pac-12) enters play coming off a 41-28 victory over USC. The Utes’ defense allowed just 205 yards to the Trojans. Offensively, the Utes gained 541 yards, their most against an FBS opponent this season. Utah’s defense ranks first in the nation against the run and 10th in total defense. UCLA (2-5, 2-2 Pac-12) is coming off a 31-30 victory against Arizona. After losing its first five games, UCLA has won its last two. The Bruins are averaging 34 points and 404 yards of offense in the two wins, up from 18 points and 334 yards a game in their five losses.
Arizona State at USC
Arizona State (3-4, 1-3 Pac-12) lost its last contest 20-13 to Stanford. The Sun Devils gained 437 yards of offense, which was 79 more yards than the Cardinal, but the three turnovers committed were too much to overcome. It was the Sun Devils’ first loss at home this season. USC (4-3, 3-2 Pac-12) returns home after a 41-28 defeat to Utah. The Trojans jumped out to an early 14-0 lead against the Utes but struggled to find consistent success against the Pac-12’s top defense. The Trojans may be down to their third quarterback against the Sun Devils as starter JT Daniels and backup Matt Fink were injured against Utah. If Daniels doesn’t clear the concussion protocol it will be Jack Sears going against ASU.
No. 14 Washington State at No. 24 Stanford
The No. 14 Cougars (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) enter this week coming off a 34-20 upset win over then No. 12 Oregon. WSU led 27-0 at halftime and were able to shut the door on the Ducks who tried to make a comeback in the second half. Washington State averages 400 passing yards a game which ranks first in the nation. It ranks second in the nation in total passing offense. No. 24 Stanford (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) finds itself back in the AP Top 25 after a 20-13 win over Arizona State. The Cardinal dominated time of possession with their running attack, gaining 127 yards on the ground and keeping the ball for over 38 minutes. Stanford also saw the return of running back Bryce Love, who missed the game against Utah with an ankle injury.
Other Pac-12 Games
Oregon State (1-6, 0-4 Pac-12) @ Colorado (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12)
No. 15 Washington (6-2, 4-1 Pac-12) @ California (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12)
No. 19 Oregon (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12) @ Arizona (3-5, 2-3 Pac-12)
No. 3 Clemson dominated No. 16 NC State 41-7, maintaining its spot as the top team in the ACC. Syracuse got back on the winning side with a 40-37 overtime win against North Carolina. Virginia defeated Duke 28-14, keeping momentum up after its win over then No. 16 Miami. Florida State is back over .500 after a 38-17 victory over Wake Forest.
All ACC teams are playing this week after several of them had last week off. Clemson may be the best team in the conference, but no one else’s spot is guaranteed. Here are some of the games that could have Sun Bowl implications this week.
Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech (Thursday)
Both teams head into this game coming off bye weeks. In its last contest, Georgia Tech (3-4, 1-3 ACC) lost 28-14 to Duke. The Yellow Jackets struggled to get their running game going and were held to 229 yards on the ground. They have averaged 352 rushing yards a game, which ranks first in the nation. Virginia Tech’s (4-2, 3-0 ACC) last contest was a 22-19 victory over North Carolina. The Hokies scored the game-winning touchdown with 19 seconds left in the fourth quarter. They struggled to slow down the Tar Heels’ offense, giving up 522 yards of offense, including 235 yards on the ground. With two weeks to prepare the Hokies’ defense looks to rebound against the Yellow Jackets.
Miami at Boston College (Friday)
Both teams enter this contest coming off their bye weeks. In its previous game Miami (5-2, 2-1 ACC) suffered its first ACC loss, 16-13 to Virginia. The Hurricanes struggled to find consistency in the passing game, gaining 190 yards through the air. Despite the loss, the Hurricanes still boast the nation’s top overall defense. Boston College (5-2, 2-1 ACC) earned a 38-20 victory over Louisville in its last game. The Eagles earned 430 yards of offense, with 251 of those yards coming on the ground. They are averaging 447 yards a game, while the Hurricanes are allowing just 237.
Duke at Pittsburgh
Duke (5-2, 1-2 ACC) comes into this week after a 28-14 loss to Virginia. The Blue Devils got off to a slow start and fell behind 14-0 by halftime and couldn’t complete a comeback in the second half. The Blue Devils’ defense is allowing just 19 points a game, and only 15 points in their five wins. Pittsburgh (3-4, 2-1 ACC) enters this game coming off its bye week. Its last game was a 19-14 loss at No. 3 Notre Dame. Offensively, the Panthers are averaging 24 points and 337 yards a game but improve to 34 points and 381 yards a game in their three wins this season.
Other ACC/Independent Games
No. 2 Clemson (7-0, 4-0 ACC) @ Florida St. (4-3, 2-3 ACC)
Wake Forest (3-4, 0-3 ACC) @ Louisville (2-5, 0-4 ACC)
North Carolina (1-5, 1-3 ACC) @ Virginia (5-2, 3-1 ACC)
No. 22 NC State (5-1, 2-1 ACC) @ Syracuse (5-2, 2-2 ACC)
No. 3 Notre Dame (7-0) @ Navy 2-5
Visit www.sunbowl.org for a chance to win tickets to the 2018 Hyundai Sun Bowl. A team from the ACC/Notre Dame will take on a team from the Pac-12 on Dec. 31, 2018 at noon in El Paso, Texas.
by Michel Lujan on behalf of the Sun Bowl Association