EL PASO, Texas – Several teams improved their chances of a postseason bowl game by earning their sixth win and becoming bowl eligible last week. As teams become eligible it will help paint a better picture of who will end up where, including the matchup we’ll get to see at the Hyundai Sun Bowl. There’s some good football coming up this week in the ACC and Pac-12, so let’s look at some of the upcoming action.
The Pac-12 conference is up for the taking and you never know where the big upset will come from each week. Last week it was Arizona State upsetting then No. 15 Utah 38-20. No. 8 Washington State avoided an upset, defeating California 19-13 in the final minute. Colorado’s struggles continued as it lost to Arizona 42-34. Oregon got back to its winning ways with a 42-21 victory over UCLA. Washington played poor host, defeating Stanford 27-23. USC aims for bowl eligibility and picked up its fifth win, 38-21 over Oregon State.
Washington State is the only one-loss team remaining in the Pac-12 and the playing field is even among most teams. Plenty of intriguing games are coming up in November, including several this week that are worth keeping an eye on.
No. 8 Washington State at Colorado
Washington State (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) scored a touchdown with 32 seconds left in the game to give it a 19-13 victory over California. The Cougars lead the nation with 397 passing yards a game, and quarterback Gardner Minshew leads all quarterbacks with 3,517 passing yards this season. They take their passing attack on the road to take on a Colorado team (5-4, 2-4) that has lost its last four games. Last week, the Buffaloes dropped a game at Arizona 42-34. Offensively, the Buffaloes gained 343 yards passing, but they struggled defensively, giving up 566 total yards to the Wildcats.
Oregon at No. 15 Utah
Oregon (6-3, 3-3) defeated UCLA 42-21 last week, getting back to its winning ways since dropping two consecutive games. The 492 yards gained by the Ducks were the most since week four of the season when they played Stanford. They’ll try to keep the offense rolling on the road against a Utah (6-3, 4-3) defense that allows just 314 yards a game. The Utes are coming off an upset loss to Arizona State 38-20, where they struggled defensively giving up 536 yards of offense, the most they’ve allowed all season.
California at USC
California (5-4, 2-4) comes into this game after losing to No. 8 Washington State, 19-13. The Cougars average 38 points a game but were held to their lowest score by the Golden Bears’ defense. California’s defense is allowing just 323 yards and 22 points a game. After dropping two consecutive games, USC (5-4, 4-3) got back on the winning side with a 38-21 victory over Oregon State. The Trojans gained 509 yards offensively, their best output of the season.
Other Pac-12 Games
UCLA (2-7, 2-4) @ Arizona State (5-4, 3-3)
Oregon State (2-7, 1-5) @ Stanford (5-4, 3-3)
Bye Weeks: Washington, Arizona
No. 2 Clemson kept its hold over the Atlantic Division, defeating Louisville 77-16. No. 17 Boston College defeated Virginia Tech 31-21. No. 13 Syracuse moved up in the AP Top 25 rankings earning a 41-24 victory over Wake Forest. No. 22 NC State defeated Florida State 47-28. Unlike the Atlantic Division, the Coastal Division is up for the taking. Pittsburgh finds itself in first place this week after defeating then No. 25 Virginia 23-13. Georgia Tech earned a 38-28 victory over North Carolina. Duke earned bowl eligibility, defeating Miami 20-12.
Several ACC teams are still trying to earn bowl eligibility, while many still have a chance to play in the ACC Championship Game at season’s end. Here’s some of matchups that could have bowl implications at the end of the year.
Miami at Georgia Tech
Miami (5-4, 2-3 ACC) enters this game having lost three consecutive games, including a 20-12 defeat to Duke last week. Offensively, the Hurricanes have struggled lately, averaging 13 points a game in their last three contests, however they did manage to gain 300 yards rushing against the Blue Devils. Miami still boasts the second-ranked defense in the country, allowing just 265 yards a game. That defense will be put to the test against Georgia Tech (5-4, 3-3). The Yellow Jackets average 377 yards rushing a game, which leads the nation. They ran past North Carolina 38-28 in their last game, rushing for 461 yards.
North Carolina at Duke
North Carolina (1-7, 1-5) enters this week coming off a 38-28 defeat to Georgia Tech. The Tar Heels struggled defensively against the Yellow Jackets, surrendering 565 yards of total offense. Despite the record, the Tar Heels have lost by an average of 6.5 points a game in their last four contests and are averaging 405 yards of offense a game. Duke (6-3, 2-3) plays host this week coming off a 20-12 road victory against Miami. It marked the first time Duke had won at Miami since 1976. The Blue Devils surrendered 411 yards defensively, but held Miami scoreless in the second half.
Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh
Virginia Tech (4-4, 3-2) lost to No. 22 Boston College 31-21, marking its second consecutive loss. Offensively, the Hokies are averaging 431 yards and 31 points a game, however they’ve struggled defensively allowing 421 yards and 28 points a game. Pittsburgh (5-4, 4-1) finds itself atop the Coastal Division after a 23-13 upset victory over then No. 25 Virginia. The Panthers ran their way to victory, gaining 254 rushing yards against the Cavaliers. Defensively the Panthers allowed just 249 yards of total offense, including shutting down the Cavaliers’ running attack, surrendering just 44 yards on 26 carries.
Other ACC/Independent Games
Wake Forest (4-5, 1-4) @ No. 21 NC State (6-2, 3-2)
Louisville (2-7, 0-6) @ No. 19 Syracuse (7-2, 4-2)
Liberty (4-4) @ No. 25 Virginia (6-3, 3-3)
Florida State (4-5, 2-5) @ No. 4 Notre Dame (9-0)
No. 2 Clemson (9-0, 6-0) @ No. 22 Boston College (7-2, 4-1)
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 Micheal Lujan on behalf of the Hyundai Sun Bowl