Dane Miller’s 2022 Week 11 SuperWest Football Previews

The Game of the Week will take place in Eugene when No. 6 Oregon hosts No. 25 Washington

Posted on November 12, 2022

  By Dane Miller, SuperWest Sports

With nine matchups across the SuperWest this weekend, get ready for wall-to-wall action from Friday night through Saturday.

The Game of the Week is in Eugene when No. 6 Oregon hosts No. 25 Washington. But there are other matchups projected to be close, including San Jose State v. San Diego State to cap the weekend.

I preview all nine games here, and the picks of our writers and broadcasters appear at the bottom.

Colorado at No. 8 USC

Friday, November 11
6:30 pm PT, FS1

Questionably kept in the Top 10 of the College Football Playoff rankings, USC needs a convincing win to justify its spot.

There’s no excuse for an off night from any position group or individual player. The time for a blowout victory is now.

If the Trojans don’t win by 40 points or more, the No. 8 ranking could be deemed a farce. In fact, if Alex Grinch’s defense allows CU to post more than 20 points, the elite reputation of USC could all but vanish.

At least regionally.

Travis Dye runs in the end zone vs Cal | Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times

Nationally, it appears that the East Coast Media and Committee Members don’t even pretend to watch Pac-12 Football. Instead, they tend to rely on brand recognition, which likely has kept SC in its current sport.

On the field, Caleb Williams and the Trojan offense should have no trouble finding the end zone. The Buffs allow 40.2 points per game and are second-to-last in the nation at defending the run.

Travis Dye should have a field day at the Coliseum, and Austin Jones should get in on the action, too.

But the battle to watch is Grinch’s defense against Colorado’s struggling offense. The Buffaloes have coughed up 18 turnovers on the year, and Grinch’s group should generate at least two.

Fresno State at UNLV

Friday, November 11
7:30 pm PT, CBS Sports Network

In a late Friday night battle, two teams in the West Division of the Mountain West Conference collide.

It’s a de facto must-win game for Fresno State in its march to the Championship Game. While a defeat might not be the deciding result, it could make the path substantially more complicated.

UNLV’s offense has been rendered ineffective against the top teams in MWC, limited to a combined 24 points in the matchups against San Jose State, Air Force, and San Diego State.

The Bulldog defense is comparable, slotting in as the No. 4 scoring defense in the league.

Bulldog QB Jake Haener is healthy and winning games | Craig Kohlruss/The Fresno Bee

That indicates a potentially low-scoring game from UNLV, unless quarterback Doug Brumfield has an efficient night running the ball. He averaged less than a yard per carry against SDSU last week and will need a much stronger game for the Running Rebels to pull off the win.

And even if the UNLV offense is firing on all cylinders, its defense must contend with Jake Haener and the FSU passing attack. The healthiest the senior has been since returning from injury, Haener figures to carve up the Rebel “D” that’s seventh in Mountain West at defending the pass.

The result could be a convincing win for the Bulldogs.

Arizona State at Washington State

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

The Saturday action kicks off with an early-afternoon tilt on the Palouse.

Washington State is a different team with Nakia Watson in the backfield. Returning from injury last week, his addition makes the Coug Raid a true triple threat with a traditional ground game, quarterback runs, and passes.

Cam Ward arguably benefits the most from Watson’s return. It’s not a coincidence that Ward posted his highest yards per carry and wasn’t sacked for the first time all year with Watson back on the field last week.

If Wazzu’s offense were an engine, Watson is the fuel that makes it churn. And up against an ASU defense that has struggled, it’s fair to expect a productive day from the Coug Raid.

Coug RB Nakia Watson returned from injury and ran for 166 yards | Whitney Thornton/CougFan.com

The matchup to watch, though, is Jake Dickert’s defense against the revitalized Sun Devil offense.

Shaun Aguano has taken over the playcalling duties while introducing a more up-tempo attack that utilizes tight ends with greater emphasis. But, similar to Watson, the catalyst for Arizona State’s new offense is quarterback Trenton Bourguet.

The junior changes the dynamic of the system with his accurate passing and elite decision-making. He was beaten up a bit by the UCLA defense and struggled at times, presenting a fairly clear theme for Dickert to use: Blitz early, often, and hit him hard.

The result could be a rattled Bourguet that is unable to lead the Sun Devils on scoring drives.

No. 25 Washington at No. 6 OregonOregon Ducks Logo Pac-12

Saturday, November 12
4:00 pm PT, Fox

One of the most heated rivalries on the West Coast is renewed on national television.

The PrimeTime kickoff on the East Coast is a golden opportunity for Oregon to convince the Playoff Committee that it belongs in the CFP.

A strong start is pivotal, too, with a highly anticipated matchup between No. 4 TCU and No. 18 Texas likely to draw the Committee’s attention away roughly 30 minutes after the opening kick.

A quick start shouldn’t be a problem for Oregon facing a Washington defense that’s 74th in the nation in points allowed per game. More efficient at stopping the run, Kenny Dillingham figures to use Bo Nix’s arm to move the ball.

Husky QB Michael Penix leads the FBS in yards passing | Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

The Dawgs are tied for 110th in the FBS at forcing turnovers, giving the Oregon offense confidence to take shots down the field. Up against such an uncharacteristic Husky defense, Dillingham figures to delve deep into his playbook with an aggressive selection throughout the game.

Assuming UO’s offense does what it’s expected to do, one of the keys to the game will be slowing down Michael Penix Jr.

Kalen DeBoer’s offense is a perfect fit for UW’s personnel and the Duck defense has, at times, been inadequate. Staying disciplined in Washington’s presnap and post-snap movement will be pivotal, putting an oversized emphasis on film preparation during the week.

It will take a concerted effort for a full 60 minutes, but Oregon must like its chances.

California at Oregon State

Saturday, November 12
6:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

Returning to Reiser Stadium, the Beavers look to get back on track.

The Oregon State defense arguably did enough to win the game in Seattle last week, but its offense dropped the ball. That opens the door for Chance Nolan to return as the starter if he is healthy enough to play.

Whoever starts at quarterback will square up with a California defense that has not met expectations this season.

Thought to be the strength of the program, the group has given up 83 points over the last two games. And while those matchups were against Oregon and USC, it was the first time Cal had conceded back-to-back 40-plus point games in five years.

The bottom line is that Justin Wilcox’s defense is underperforming and is on track for its worst points allowed per game mark since 2017.

Oregon State QB Chance Nolan could start against Cal | Rick Bowmer/AP

That leaves no excuse for an offensive struggle from OSU.

But if the Beavers do struggle, California has a relatively capable offense. The Bears have been inconsistent on that side of the ball, but are statistically the second-highest scoring offense that Wilcox has had in Berkeley.

That opens the door for a potential upset.

In that sense, the battle to watch is OSU’s secondary against Jack Plummer with the deciding factor arguably coming down to containing Cal’s run game. If the Beavs make Cal one-dimensional through the air, they should produce enough turnovers to win the game.

Stanford at No. 13 Utah

Saturday, November 12
7:00 pm PT, ESPN

This game could get ugly, fast.

Stanford is dealing with an inordinate amount of injuries on both sides of the ball that prevent it from being competitive. Quarterback Tanner McKee has managed to escape the injury issues, but nearly every other position group has dealt with it to a certain extent.

And although the Utes aren’t realistically competing for a Playoff spot, a New Year’s Six Bowl is still a possibility with margin of victory remaining relevant.

It’s a recipe for disaster for the Cardinal.

RB Jaylon Glover was part of an overall 306-yard rushing attack vs Arizona | Trent Nelson/Salt Lake Tribune

In such a perceived mismatch, the storylines to watch can be counted on one hand. The Utes have been dealing with injuries of their own, but have been getting younger players some valuable experience.

The use of freshman quarterback Nate Johnson in various packages is an item to watch, along with the expanded use of junior tight end Thomas Yassmin. Freshman running back Jaylon Glover has mostly established his role, yet might see heavier use in what’s expected to be a blowout.

On the other side of the ball, expect to see plenty of less experienced players rotated in throughout the second half. Morgan Scalley may challenge his defense to hold Stanford to fewer than two touchdowns, but likely won’t pass on the opportunity to insert players that normally don’t play as often.

Boise State at Nevada

Saturday, November 12
7:30 pm PT, CBS Sports Network

Coming off the loss to BYU, the Broncos need a “get right” game.

Enter the Nevada Wolfpack.

First-year head coach Ken Wilson’s team has struggled on offense throughout most of conference play, while his defense hasn’t been strong enough to keep games within reach.

But the Wolfpack are coming off their top performance of the season, a 28-35 loss to San Jose State on the road. The momentum gained against the Spartans will be put to the test against one of the top defenses in the nation.

Boise State is No. 17 in the FBS in points allowed per game, No. 3 in passing yards allowed per night, and No. 12 in rushing yards allowed per contest. The Broncos’ opponents have been respectable, too, with games against Oregon State and BYU in nonconference play.

Bronco RB George Holani runs vs BYU | Steve Conner/AP

The result is a seasoned group that knows how to win games.

Taylen Green’s execution of the RPO offense has improved game over game, although his threat to run has been decreasing. If only to put fear into the remaining opposing defensive coordinators on the schedule, Green should keep the ball more regularly in this matchup.

Play calling has an impact, but with Wyoming, Utah State, and a potential clash with Fresno State in Mountain West Championship game left, it’s time to start playing mind games with the upcoming opponents.

The result could be a somewhat expanded BSU offense that scores 40 points or more.

Arizona football Pac-12Arizona at No. 12 UCLA

Saturday, November 12
7:30 pm PT, Fox

The Bruins get the 10:30 pm ET slot on Fox for a matchup against Arizona.

While the late start is not ideal, it does provide a bit more exposure than some give it credit for. As the primary after-dark game, the showdown with the Wildcats will be broadcast in thousands of bars around the nation.

And for the night owl Playoff Committee Members, the second-quarter will start just around the time the TCU-Texas matchup ends.

Bruin QB DTR will look to exploit Arizona’s defense | Ross D. Franklin/AP

On the field, Dorian Thompson-Robinson and the UCLA offense face one of the worst defenses in the nation. Led by former Bruin defensive line coach Johnny Nansen, the 4-2-5 base scheme has all the hallmarks of a Jerry Azzinaro system, but with a less serviceable linebacker corps.

The result is a group that’s No. 99 in pass defense, No. 125 in rush defense, and No. 128 in scoring defense.

Up against such a struggling unit, UCLA could legitimately score 60 points or more with 500 yards rushing. And while the Arizona offense is explosive, Jedd Fisch’s group is turnover-prone when playing from behind.

As always with the Wildcats, one of the only ways they can win is by forcing turnovers and converting the extra possessions into touchdowns. If the Cats aren’t able to do so, the game could turn into a glorified scrimmage for young players on both teams to gain experience.

San Jose State at San Diego State

Saturday, November 12
7:30 pm PT, FS1

In arguably the Game of the Week in the Mountain West, San Diego State hosts the 6-2 Spartans.

San Jose State has a strong defense, allowing 20 points or more just twice this season. The strength on that side of the ball figures to shine through against the struggling Aztec offense.

Jaylen Mayden has thrown three interceptions to just four touchdowns over the last three games and was shut down on the ground last week against UNLV. The effectiveness of his quarterback keepers figures to have an overweighted impact on this matchup while containing those runs is probably high on SJSU’s defensive game plan.

The X-Factor, then, is Mayden’s decision-making and accuracy in the passing game. With a defense concerned about his legs and defending SDSU’s traditional ground game, there could be open space on which to capitalize.

Aztec QB Jaylen Mayden leads his team against 6-2 SJSU | Denis Poroy/AP

Mayden has been somewhat inconsistent since taking over the role, but could arguably single-handedly win the game with a strong night through the air.

On the other side of the ball, the Spartans utilize a pass-heavy offense with a quarterback that can get scores on the ground. Chevan Cordeiro has seven rushing touchdowns on the season but averages just 2.0 yards per carry.

The short-run average indicates Red Zone Efficiency might be a deciding factor, which favors SDSU’s defense.

In such a close matchup, it may come down to a field goal in the final minutes of the game.

Game Picks from our Senior Writers and Broadcasters

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