Dane Miller’s 2022 Week 10 SuperWest Football Previews

ASU looks to upset UCLA and Boise State faces BYU in what could be a season-defining tilt

Posted on November 5, 2022

  By Dane Miller, SuperWest Sports

Nine games are on the docket for Week 10 in the SuperWest.

Kicking off the action, No. 23 Oregon State battles Washington on Friday, while Fresno State and Hawaii are the Saturday night cap.

But in what might be the Game of the Week in the region, Boise State hosts BYU in a season-defining tilt.

I preview all nine contests below, and the picks of our Senior Writers and Broadcasters appear at the bottom.

No. 8 Oregon at Colorado

Saturday, November 5
12:30 pm PT, ESPN

Say it louder for the people in the back: Bo Nix is a legitimate Heisman candidate.

The Oregon quarterback is putting together an elite season, leading the nation’s No. 3 offense in yards per game and No. 5 offense in points per game. Individually, Nix is No. 2 overall in points responsible for and is tied for first among FBS quarterbacks with 11 total touchdowns.

If Eugene was located anywhere east of the Mississippi River, the national media would already have crowned Nix as this year’s Heisman Trophy winner.

But there’s no time for crying over circumstances that are out of everyone’s control.

Duck QB Bo Nix is a legitimate Heisman candidate | John Hefti/USA TODAY

The Buffs present a challenge on their home field and Dan Lanning’s team can’t look past this game. Establishing the ground game early and often figures to be the primary aspect of UO’s game plan, followed closely by maintaining a quick tempo throughout the contest.

On the other sideline, Colorado’s Owen McCown’s status appears doubtful. The freshman quarterback was injured earlier in the season, and reports out of Boulder indicate the CU staff could be preserving his redshirt by holding him out the rest of the year.

That would leave J.T. Shrout to contend with the Oregon defense that’s fresh off one of its better performances of the year. The game might turn into a blowout, but if the Buffaloes find early success running the ball, the halftime score could be closer than expected.

Washington State at Stanford

Saturday, November 5
12:30 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

Two struggling offenses collide in what may be the lowest-scoring Pac-12 game of the weekend.

The Coug Raid is rudderless without Nakia Watson in the backfield, becoming overly reliant on screenplays and throws behind the line of scrimmage. Unquestionably one-dimensional, opposing coordinators have hours of film to effectively diagnose WSU’s passing scheme and design an appropriate game plan to stop it.

The result is an ugly offense that can’t put up points.

On the other hand, Stanford has similarly dealt with injuries to its running backs. E.J. Smith and Casey Filkins are both out indefinitely, forcing the Cardinal to be more pass-heavy than David Shaw would prefer.

Cougar LB Daiyan Henley will help lead the defense at Stanford | WSU Athletics

Without an effective ground game, opponents can key in on Stanford’s relatively uncreative passing scheme and shut down the entire offense.

Something’s gotta give.

The Cougs have a stronger defense, but a weaker offensive line. At the same time, the Cardinal have committed just as many turnovers as Wazzu. The analytics are close but slightly favor Washington State.

In such tight matchups, turnovers tend to change the game.

Whichever quarterback makes fewer mistakes likely leads his team to victory. And with WSU’s Cameron Ward possessing more of a dual-threat, it’s reasonable to expect a Cougar win.

UNLV at San Diego State

Saturday, November 5
4:00 pm PT, CBS Sports Network

The Aztecs face a crossroads: Bowl eligibility remains a possibility, but a defeat to UNLV would complicate the path.

With its postseason hanging in the balance, San Diego State lines up against a Running Rebel offense that has struggled as of late.

Averaging 11.6 points per game over the last three contests, UNLV has been without the services of starting quarterback Doug Brumfield for two-straight games. But the sophomore is expected back after clearing concussion protocol.

Brumfield’s return figures to re-energize an offense that was putting up points through the first half of the season. With a relatively balanced attack, the return of a capable running quarterback should make the offense substantially more effective.

A converted safety, QB Jalen Mayden has been a spark for SDSU | Gary Kazanjian/AP

But, the strength of SDSU this year has once again been its defense. And the group is probably chomping at the bit to make amends for the end of the Fresno State game.

The clash of motivation and momentum should produce a close battle. The deciding factor figures to come down to the production of Jalen Mayden.

The Aztec quarterback has grown into his role since taking over the position and projects to have his top game of the year against the Rebels. Combined with a late-afternoon kickoff at home, it’s safe to expect a San Diego State victory.

BYU at Boise State

Saturday, November 5
4:00 pm PT, FS2

In what might be the Game of the Week in the SuperWest, Boise State hosts struggling BYU.

Kalani Sitake’s defense has been embarrassing at times this season, giving up a combined 93 points to Arkansas and Liberty. The issues on “D” haven’t been fixed by Sitake’s play calling, either, which he took over responsibility for after the defeat to the Razorbacks.

His group may have taken a step forward in the second half against East Carolina last week, but Boise State fields a more potent offense.

QB Taylen Green has his Broncos undefeated in the MWC | Idaho Statesman

Ever since Hank Bachmeier left the program, the Broncos’ attack has been revitalized. Taylen Green is a constant threat to run, forcing opponents to compensate for his speed and willingness to keep the ball.

That creates an extra moment of hesitancy every play, and new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter knows it.

Operating a fairly basic Run-Pass option scheme, Green’s athleticism and decision-making have saved BSU’s season. With three-straight wins over the most respected programs in the Mountain West, the Broncos are flying high.

Look for Boise State to utilize the RPO plays with devastating effectiveness, getting what they want on the ground and gashing the Cougars over the top with consistency.

BYU hasn’t proven capable of slowing down similar systems and facing a style of quarterback that’s been their kryptonite, this game could turn ugly.

Arizona at No. 14 Utah

Saturday, November 5
4:30 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

Returning to Salt Lake City, the primary question surrounding this matchup is: Will Cam Rising play?

The unexpected need to go with backup Bryson Barnes on the road in Pullman came out of left field, and the status of Rising remains questionable. If he can’t go, Barnes will face off against an Arizona defense that’s among the worst in the nation.

The Wildcats are No. 126 in scoring defense, No. 125 in yards allowed per game, and No. 123 in run defense. Utilizing a 4-2-5 base scheme, the Cats don’t have the personnel to execute it effectively.

The result is players playing out of position and a defense that can’t generate tackles for loss.

Arizona’s Dorian Singer leads arguably the best receiving corp in Pac-12 | Rick Scuteri/AP

Coming into the season, UA’s defensive line was expected to be a strength. But the move to the new scheme has rendered it relatively ineffective. And matched up against Utah’s offensive line, it’s fair to project the Ute offense to move the ball with ease.

Yet, the Arizona offense is dangerous.

Jedd Fisch revamped his personnel over the offseason, producing the country’s third-best passing attack and No. 20 offense in yards per game. Jayden de Laura arguably has the top receiver corps in the Pac-12 to throw to, along with a capable running back room with variable size and speed.

But with such an underperforming defense, the only way Arizona could win is if it forces turnovers and turns the extra possessions into touchdowns.

California at No. 9 USC

Saturday, November 5
7:30 pm PT, ESPN

Needing a wide margin of victory to impress the Playoff Committee members, No. 9 USC hosts a beat-up California team.

Bear quarterback Jack Plummer is expected to start, but he’s been hampered by injuries due to a porous offensive line. Cal is tied for 11th in the Conference in sacks allowed per game and sits in sole possession of 11th in tackles per loss allowed per contest.

That leaves Plummer in a tenuous position that has led to the Bears’ four-game losing streak. And matched up against one of the nation’s top turnover producing defenses, it could be another long game for Cal.

WR Tahj Washington has become a primary target for Caleb Williams | USC Athletics

The Trojans might return some firepower, too, after wide receiver Jordan Addison and Mario Williams missed last week’s matchup. Even if the two wideouts don’t return, USC has the depth to solider on.

Kyle Ford and Tahj Washington had breakout games in the desert and could be primed for another strong night. It doesn’t seem to matter who Caleb Williams is throwing to, anyway. The scheme is effective even without his top receiving threats, indicating the defining role Williams plays in Lincoln Riley’s offense.

Unless Cal can engineer a 40-point offensive performance, it seems unlikely that the game will remain competitive in the second half.

No. 12 UCLA at Arizona State

Saturday, November 5
7:30 pm PT, FS1

Dorian-Thompson Robinson and UCLA head to Tempe where they are 3-3 in the Pac-12 era.

The Sun Devil defense has been below-average this year, slotting in at No. 83 in the nation in points allowed per game. The ASU linebackers are the team’s strength, but its secondary and defensive line are questionable.

The defense held Stanford to 15 points two weeks ago but has otherwise conceded 30 points or more to every FBS opponent they have faced.

The program has been re-energized, though, by new starting quarterback Trenton Bourguet.

The Arizona native has played efficient in two games, posting six touchdowns and a 73.4 percent completion rate. The improved passing game has directly benefited running back Xazavian Valladay, who is averaging 4.9 yards per rush and two touchdowns per night in the games Bourguet has played.

ASU’s Xazavian Valladay has 760 yards on the season | David Zalubowski/AP

But Bourguet faces the toughest defense he has seen this season. Bill McGovern’s command of the UCLA “D” has arguably transformed their season, contributing to the 7-1 start and victories over two ranked opponents.

The former linebackers coach for the Chicago Bears, McGovern figures to have a special game plan for the inexperienced Bourguet. Complex pre-snap movement could be utilized, along with packages that show blitz but are fundamentally designed as pass coverage plays might be employed.

In a matchup where UCLA’s offense is expected to roll, the game figures to come down to the Bruins’ containment of Bourguet and Valladay. With the junior quarterback yet to display a run threat, pressure could be applied on him from the opening drive.

Hawaii at Fresno State

Saturday, November 5
7:30 pm PT, FS2

On a path to the Mountain West Championship game, Jake Haener and the Bulldogs aim for a more straightforward night against Hawaii.

The last-minute heroics against San Diego State were historic achievements, but there’s no excuse for a close matchup against the Warriors. Hawaii’s defense has been improving since the start of October but hasn’t faced a potent scheme since it faced Michigan in early September.

Haener’s injury could still be affecting him, but the pass-first Fresno State offense should run up the score.

Bulldog QB Jake Haener returned from injury vs SDSU | Fresno State Athletics

One of the storylines to watch, though, is the effectiveness of running back Jordan Mims. The senior was wholly ineffective against the Aztecs, putting up just 2.5 yards per rush on 13 carries.

Jeff Tedford will need more production out of his No. 1 running back moving forward, regardless of the caliber of opponent.

On the other side of the ball, Hawaii is averaging just 18.3 points per game. Lined up against such a struggling group, it’s fair to expect the Bulldogs to limit UH to less than two touchdowns.

If things go as planned, the final score should display a blowout.

Washington 24, No. 23 Oregon State 21Washington football pac-12

Friday, November 4
7:30pm PT, ESPN2

In a matchup of strengths, Washington’s potent passing attack faces what might be the top secondary in the Pac-12.

The Beavers have forced 10 interceptions this season and lead the league in pass-efficiency defense. But Jonathan Smith’s team hasn’t faced an offense like this before.

Kalen DeBoer’s scheme eviscerates opponents before the snap, utilizing motion to intentionally move defenders out of position. The pre-snap changes and route trees are designed to get receivers into open space, allowing them to utilize their speed before and after the catch.

And with one of the most talented wide receiver corps in the Conference, the scheme is a perfect fit for UW’s personnel. Combined with Michael Penix Jr.’s decision-making, mobility, and accuracy, the Huskies have the complete package.

Beaver freshman RB Damien Martinez | Amanda Loman/AP

Yet, Mother Nature would like a word.

With rain forecasted, the explosive passing offense that UW employs could be somewhat negated. If that happens, moving the ball on the ground could be the deciding-factor.

Advantage Oregon State.

Even with Ben Gulbranson lacking a run-threat, the Beaver offense has been effective on the ground in large part due to Damien Martinez.

If the weather plays an oversized role on Friday night, it might be the Beavers’ game to lose. But if the conditions are drier than expected, OSU defensive coordinator Trent Bray may call a blitz-heavy game to force Penix into mistakes.

Either way, the Friday night showdown in Seattle is the Pac-12’s Game of the Week.


Game Picks from our Senior Writers and Broadcasters

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