Oregon opens at No. 4 in CFP rankings, travels to Washington

Here are some things to watch this week in the Pac-12 Conference:

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 7 Oregon at Washington. There’s another layer of importance for the Ducks (7-1, 4-1), who earned the No. 4 spot in the initial College Football Playoff rankings of the season. The preseason predictions had this game underlined, circled and bolded as the one to possibly go a long way in deciding the Pac-12 North. A win by Washington (4-4, 3-2) would create a logjam near the top. A victory by Oregon would firmly put the Ducks in the driver’s seat. Oregon has won the last two meetings between the two rivals, and 14 of the last 16. Ducks QB Anthony Brown will try to carry his sizzling October into November. He led Pac-12 quarterbacks last month in completion percentage (71%), and total offense per game (308.8). He’s spreading the wealth around this season, too, throwing 10 of his TD passes to nine players.

MATCHUP OF THE WEEK

USC at Arizona State. At the outset of the season, this game figured to go a long way in deciding the Pac-12 South winner. The Trojans (4-4, 3-3) and Sun Devils (5-3, 3-2) both currently trail Utah (5-3, 4-1). Both have also lost to the Utes this season. The Trojans have won five of the last six games over Arizona State, including a thriller last season when quarterback Kedon Slovis tossed two TD passes in the final three minutes to rally for the win. USC will be without one of the country’s top receivers in Drake London, after he broke his ankle on a TD catch last weekend against Arizona.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

The Utes scored 44 points against the Bruins on the night they retired No. 22 in honor of Aaron Lowe and Ty Jordan. Lowe was killed in a shooting at a house party in September. Jordan died in an accidental shooting on Christmas 2020. … Oregon RB Travis Dye is one of three players in the FBS to lead their team in both yards rushing (609) and in catches (24). … Utah leads the conference in scoring offense (35.8) and touchdowns scored (24). … Stanford (3-5, 2-4) hosts the Utes on Friday. It’s the second time this season the Cardinal have played on a Friday. … Stanford is 56-7 under coach David Shaw when winning the turnover margin. … Cal (3-5, 2-3) tries for a third straight win when the Bears visit Arizona (0-8, 0-5). … Cal has held onto the ball for at least 32 minutes five times this season, including 38:30 against Colorado. … The Ducks are tied for second in the country with touchdowns on 77.78% (28 of 36) of their red-zone trips.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Utah running back Tavion Thomas. He rushed for a career-most 160 yards and scored four TDs in a win over UCLA. It was the most yards rushing in a game by a Utah player since Ty Jordan had 167 yards versus Oregon State in ’20. Thomas is a transfer from Cincinnati.

UPSET WATCH

Oregon State (5-3, 3-2) at Colorado (2-6, 1-4). It’s homecoming and Hall of Fame weekend at Folsom Field on Saturday. Nine Colorado athletes will be inducted, including running back Chris Brown. Oregon State rallied from a 31-3 deficit to win 41-34 in overtime during the last meeting at Folsom in 2018. The Beavers are one win away from becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2013. The Buffaloes need to win out to be considered for a bowl.

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