EL PASO, Texas – The 2018 college football season is close to the end. Most teams have just two games left on their schedules to finish strong and earn a postseason spot. There are plenty of predictions as to where teams will end up, including who will play at the Hyundai Sun Bowl, and we’ll look at several of those potential teams and their matchups this week.
No. 8 Washington State kept rolling, earning a 31-7 victory over Colorado. Arizona State earned bowl eligibility with a 31-28 victory against an improving UCLA team. Oregon led early in the fourth quarter against Utah, but were unable to hold on, losing 32-25 on the road. Stanford snapped its losing streak with a 48-17 win against Oregon State. California fell behind early but rallied to win 15-14 in a defensive battle with USC.
The season is winding down and there are still several Pac-12 teams fighting for a postseason bowl berth, while others look to improve their position and even earn a place in the Pac-12 Championship game. Here are some of the teams that could be playing in El Paso in December.
USC at UCLA
USC (5-5, 4-4 Pac-12) enters its rivalry week coming off a hard-fought 15-14 loss to California. The Trojans found success in the first half, leading 14-0 at halftime, but struggled against the Golden Bears’ defense in the second half. Defensively, the Trojans allow 370 yards a game, but held California to just 207 yards. USC looks to become bowl eligible as it gets set to take on UCLA (2-8, 2-5) this week in the Rose Bowl. UCLA enters play coming off a 31-28 loss to Arizona State, which marked the Bruins third consecutive loss. Despite the loss, the Bruins’ offense continued making strides, gaining 439 total yards, up from their average of 370 yards a game.
Stanford at California
Stanford (6-4, 4-3) is coming off a 48-17 victory over Oregon State last week, snapping a two-game losing streak and becoming bowl eligible. The Cardinal gained 596 total yards, a season-high, including 244 yards on the ground. Defensively, they were able to shut out the Beavers in the second half. California (6-4, 3-4) earned bowl eligibility last week in a 15-14 victory against USC. The Golden Bears’ defense allowed just 277 offensive yards to the Trojans, and only 40 yards in the second half. In the last four games, California is allowing just 13 points a game.
Arizona State at Oregon
Arizona State (6-4, 4-3) earned bowl eligibility under first-year head coach Herm Edwards with a 31-28 victory against UCLA last week. Defensively, the Sun Devils struggled to slow down UCLA’s offense, allowing 439 yards on the day. The offense provided support, however, gaining 480 yards, including 281 on the ground. Arizona State can win the Pac-12 South if it manages to win out, but standing in the way this week is Oregon (6-4, 3-4). The Ducks play host this week after losing 32-25 on the road to Utah last week. In the loss, the Ducks managed 405 yards of offense against the Utes’ defense. Defensively, they’ll look to bounce back after allowing 494 yards of offense to the Utes.
Other Pac-12 Games
No. 19 Utah (7-3, 5-3) @ Colorado (5-5, 2-5)
Oregon State (2-8, 1-6) @ No. 18 Washington (7-3, 5-2)
Arizona (5-5, 4-3) @ No. 8 Washington State (9-1, 6-1)
Wake Forest completed the upset, defeating then No. 14 NC State 27-23. Louisville’s struggles continued, losing to No. 12 Syracuse 54-23. Georgia Tech won its third straight game, defeating Miami 27-21. No. 2 Clemson dominated defensively, defeating then No. 17 Boston College 27-7. Florida State was unable to keep up with No. 3 Notre Dame, losing 42-13. Duke won a shootout with North Carolina 42-35. Virginia won its non-conference game against Liberty 45-24. Virginia Tech’s defensive struggles continued, losing to Pittsburgh 52-22.
The ACC is full of teams that are on the verge of earning bowl eligibility, but time is running out. Here’s several games that could have Sun Bowl implications by season’s end.
Miami at Virginia Tech
Miami (5-5, 2-4 ACC) dropped its fourth consecutive game, losing 27-21 to Georgia Tech last week. The Hurricanes’ offensive struggles continued against the Yellow Jackets gaining just 299 yards of offense and losing three fumbles. In the four losses, the Hurricanes are averaging just 15 points a game. Virginia Tech (4-5, 3-3) lost its third consecutive game 52-22 to Pittsburgh. The Hokies’ struggles have come on the defensive end, as they surrendered 654 yards to Pittsburgh. They’ve allowed 44 points a game in their last three losses.
Pittsburgh at Wake Forest
Pittsburgh (6-4, 5-1) earned its third consecutive victory last week, defeating Virginia Tech 52-22. Pittsburgh’s offense found success all day, gaining 654 yards of offense, including 492 rushing yards. Both season-highs. The Panthers gained 634 yards of offense and 484 rushing yards against Duke three weeks ago, so their offense is clicking as they head into the final games of the season. Wake Forest (5-5, 2-4) earned an upset victory over then No. 14 NC State, 27-23 last week. Quarterback Jamie Newman made his first start for the Demon Deacons and passed for 297 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown with 30 seconds left in the game. Wake Forest’s defense held NC State to 47 rushing yards on 27 attempts.
No. 20 Boston College at Florida State
No. 20 Boston College (7-3, 4-2) enters this week coming off a 27-7 loss to No. 2 Clemson. The Eagles struggled offensively gaining just 113 yards of offense and were held to only nine yards rushing on 33 attempts. The Eagles average 407 yards a game and 34 points a game but ran into a tough matchup with the second-ranked defense in the nation. They’ll try to rebound against Florida State (4-6, 2-5) who are coming off a 42-13 loss to No. 3 Notre Dame. The Seminoles surrendered two first-half turnovers and found themselves in a 32-6 hole at halftime that they were unable to climb out of. Florida State will need to win its final two games to earn bowl eligibility.
Other ACC/Independent Games
NC State (6-3, 2-8) @ Louisville (2-8, 0-7)
No. 12 Syracuse (8-2, 5-2) vs. No. 3 Notre Dame (10-0) (Game played at Yankee Stadium)
Western Carolina (3-7) @ North Carolina (1-8, 1-6)
Virginia (7-3, 4-2) @ Georgia Tech (6-4, 4-3)
Duke (7-3, 3-3) @ No. 2 Clemson (10-0, 7-0)
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.
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