Dane Miller’s 2022 Week 7 SuperWest Football Previews

Saturday's slate features seven games with a handful of programs idle on bye weeks

Posted on October 15, 2022

  By Dane Miller, SuperWest Sports

The SuperWest features seven games on Saturday with a handful of programs on bye weeks.

The top games of the day are No. 7 USC at No. 20 Utah and Arkansas at BYU.

The matchup in the Pac-12 could catapult the Trojans’ Playoff hopes, while the showdown with the SEC foe could boost the Cougars’ national reputation.

Later in the day, Oregon State hosts Washington State in a game that could indicate the trajectory of the remainder of the season for both teams.

I preview all seven games here, and the picks of our Senior Writers and Broadcasters appear at the bottom.

California at Colorado

Saturday, October 15
11:00 am, PT, Pac-12 Network

Coming off a bye week, Colorado’s incremental offensive improvement will be put to the test against a respectable California defense.

In Owen McCown’s two starts, the true freshman has put up more points than CU scored in the first three games of the year combined.

But he faces a Bear defense that has something to prove. After allowing 59 points over the last two games, Justin Wilcox’s group is rearing to line up against a struggling offense.

Colorado has had problems running the ball this year, sitting 108th in the nation and averaging just 113.0 yards rushing per game.

Keeping the CU running backs in check figures to be one of the keys to California securing its first win in Boulder since 2011.

Cal RB Jaydn Ott carries the ball against WSU | Young Kwak/AP

On the other side of the ball, Jaydn Ott projects to eviscerate Colorado’s defense. The Buffs are dead-last in the nation at defending the run, allowing 294.2 yards rushing per night.

With an obvious weakness to exploit, the Cal offense figures to establish itself on the ground and produce chunk plays through the air.

Look for Ott to run for 200 yards or more, and Jack Plummer to have his most efficient passing game of the year to date.

Unless Colorado has success running the ball, this matchup could turn ugly.

Arkansas at BYU

Saturday, October 15
12:30 pm, PT, ESPN

For the first time in history, Arkansas and BYU face off in the opener of their home-and-home series.

SEC teams rarely venture out west, creating a unique opportunity for the Cougars to gain national respect.

The Razorbacks operate a run-based offense with a roughly 2-to-1 split, keeping the ball on the ground twice as often as putting it in the air. It’s been effective, too, with Arkansas boasting the nation’s No. 11 rushing offense.

Arkansas RB Raheim Sanders has run for 695 yards & five TDs | Michael Woods/AP

Raheim Sanders leads the way with five touchdowns and 695 yards rushing on the year. But the ground game is predicated on quarterback KJ Jefferson’s willingness to keep.

The redshirt junior has four rushing touchdowns this season on top of 9 scores through the air. And he’s thrown just a single interception, creating a sizable task for the BYU defense.

Hampering Jefferson is Objective No. 1 and any failure to do so will likely ensure a Cougar defeat. If Kalani Sitake’s defense can force Arkansas to be one-dimensional, Jaren Hall should put up enough points at home to secure the win.

It’s a Pick Your Poison dilemma, but forcing Jefferson to beat them through the air could be the top option. Look for BYU to sell out defending the run and make the Arkansas quarterback beat them with his arm.

Arizona football Pac-12Arizona at WashingtonWashington football pac-12

Saturday, October 15
2:30 pm, PT, Pac-12 Network

Jayden de Laura returns to Seattle for the first time since planting the Washington State flag on the field after last season’s Apple Cup.

The disrespectful action will undoubtedly motivate Washington’s struggling defense to exact some revenge, adding an extra layer of intrigue to the matchup.

The Wildcats may have one of the worst defenses in the country, but their offense is capable of putting up enough points to win.

Jedd Fisch’s scheme is more effective passing the ball with de Laura under center and Jacob Cowing in the slot. But the play calling is fairly balanced and UA has running backs capable of making plays.

Arizona WR Jacob Cowing stiff-arms a Colorado defender | Rick Scuteri/AP

In what figures to be a high-scoring affair, any empty possessions could be devastating. Arizona is incapable of stopping the run, with players struggling to tackle or missing their gap assignments.

Facing Kalen DeBoer’s motion-heavy spread, the UA players figure to get burnt for chunk plays and gashed for wide-open throws.

One of the few factors that could keep the game interesting is Arizona’s passing defense and Washington’s poor rushing offense. The Cats have the No. 3 passing defense in the Pac-12 and the Dawgs are No. 86 in the nation in rushing yards per game.

Still, UA defensive coordinator Johnny Nansen has yet to prove his schematic acumen and his defense could be lit up by DeBoer’s system.

Stanford at Notre Dame

Saturday, October 15
4:30 pm, PT, NBC

Traveling to Indiana to face Notre Dame, the Cardinal are once again expected to be missing offensive linemen.

Starters Walter Rouse and Levi Rogers won’t be available, although starter Myles Hinton is set to return.

The issues up front have forced the Stanford offense to be even more conservative, hampering an already unimaginative game plan.

Tanner McKee will need running back Casey Filkins to have a productive night for the Tree to pull off the upset. Forced into the starting role, Filkins is trending in the wrong direction.

Cardinal RB Casey Filkins runs away from a Husky defender | Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

Averaging fewer yards per carry than the game prior for the last two matchups in row, the Cardinal offense has once again dissolved into a one-dimensional attack.

Yet, McKee continues to pull his weight and put the team within striking distance of victory.

The Notre Dame defense is No. 31 in the country at defending the pass, limiting opponents to 194.6 yards per game. But the Irish don’t force interceptions and are tied for last in the nation with just one on the year.

That opens the door for the Cardinal to feel comfortable taking some shots downfield, potentially making this matchup closer than some may expect.

It may take a shootout, but if Stanford can run the ball effectively its offense could hang around long enough to contend for the win.

No. 7 USC at No. 20 Utah

Saturday, October 15
5:00 pm, PT, Fox

In one of the top matchups of the Pac-12 season, USC takes on Utah in Salt Lake City.

This game was circled by many during the offseason as one of the contests that will define the year for both teams. The Utes have fallen short of expectations so far, but can save their season with a victory.

The Trojans, on the other hand, are ahead of schedule with a strong defense that has surprised many. Second in the nation in turnovers forced, Alex Grinch has engineered a group that makes USC a Playoff contender.

But SC’s schedule has been relatively weak and the matchup at Rice-Eccles Stadium is easily the toughest game of the year so far.

Utah RB Tavion Thomas takes a handoff vs UCLA | Laura Seitz/Deseret News

The Utah offense isn’t as deadly after the loss of tight end Brant Kuithe for the season, yet Cam Rising’s threat to run makes Kyle Whittingham’s team dangerous.

Establishing the traditional running game figures to be pivotal, however, and the Utes need Tavion Thomas to take care of the ball.

Any turnovers could be capitalized on by USC’s deadly offense, and an untimely fumble could turn the tide of the game.

But, if Thomas, Micah Bernard, and Jaylon Glover find success on the ground, Rising should gash the Trojan defense with effective throws and quarterback runs.

Still, if the Utah defense plays as poorly as it did against UCLA last week, it might not matter how effective Rising and the Ute offense are.

Washington State at Oregon State

Saturday, October 15
6:00 pm, PT, Pac-12 Network

Chance Nolan appears to be a game-time decision for Oregon State’s matchup with the Cougars.

The status of the second-year starter could determine the outcome of the game after backup Ben Gulbranson needed last-minute heroics to topple Stanford.

The added running dimension is what separates Nolan from Gulbranson, making the Beaver offense substantially harder to defend with Nolan in the game.

And facing a defensive mastermind in Jake Dickert, a less-dimensional offense is not ideal.

Beaver QB Chance Nolan is a game-time decision vs WSU | OSU Athletics

But the Oregon State secondary matches up well with the Coug Raid. Cam Ward has thrown seven interceptions on the year and WSU leads the Pac-12 with 12 total turnovers this season.

Starting Washington State running back Nakia Watson is expected to miss the game, taking away another threat for Ward to lean on.

Backup Jaylen Jenkins is ready to take over the starting job, though. Matched up with a dangerous secondary, Jenkins’ production on the ground could be the difference between a Cougar win and a disappointing loss.

Turnovers promise to play a role, yet if Washington State has success running the ball, Ward should have a more efficient day through the air.

Look for a close game that comes down to the wire.

San Jose State at Fresno State

Saturday, October 15
7:45 pm, PT, FS2

In another game without Jake Haener, Fresno State could get shut down by San Jose State’s defense.

Logan Fife isn’t ready to be the starting quarterback and has yet to throw a touchdown since taking over the job.

Matched up with an SJSU defense that’s allowing just 14 points per game, the Bulldogs could be in for another ugly result.

Brent Brennan’s offense has been humming the last three games, too, averaging 35.6 points per night over the stretch.

Bulldog RB Jordan Mims will be key vs the Spartans | gobulldogs.com

With a struggling freshman quarterback, Jordan Mims becomes the key. The running back hasn’t been effective against Boise State or Connecticut but faces a Spartan defense that’s average at defending the run.

If Mims returns to his form from earlier in the season, the Fresno State offense should be able to move the ball up the field.

An improved ground game would substantially benefit Fife, too, while also providing more space to FSU’s wide receivers.

But if San Jose State hampers the Bulldog rushing attack and keeps Jeff Tedford’s offense one-dimensional, Fife could turn the ball over too many times to secure the win.

Game Picks from our Senior Writers and Broadcasters

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