Dane Miller’s Week 13 Pac-12 Football Previews

Posted on November 25, 2021

  By Dane Miller, SuperWest Sports

Thanksgiving weekend provides seven Pac-12 games, including two nonconference matchups against ranked opponents.

Two games kickoff on Friday, and five on Saturday.

Pac-12The Apple Cup, Territorial Cup, and the Oregon-Oregon State rivalry formerly known as the Civil War all take place in the last week of the regular season.

Along with the traditional Conference rivalry games, Stanford plays Norte Dame and USC takes on BYU.

I preview all seven matchups here, and the picks of our football writers appear at the bottom.

Colorado at No. 19 Utah

Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT
Friday, November 26
1:00 pm PT, Fox

Whether or not the Utah-Colorado matchup is a true rivalry game or an arranged shotgun wedding is a debate for another time.

On Friday, the two programs square off under circumstances that arguably take meaning away from the game.

The Utes have wrapped up the Pac-12 South and the Buffaloes can’t reach bowl eligibility.

Colorado’s Brendon Lewis | (Cliff Grassmick/ColoradoDaily

Yet, that doesn’t make any difference to the seniors on Colorado’s roster. Depending on their use of the extra year of eligibility, this might be their last game in a CU uniform.

That’s a special type of X-Factor that could keep the game close in the first half, even if the Buffs are outclassed on paper.

But the Utah defense should shut down Brendon Lewis and the Colorado run game, leading to a blowout victory in the second half.

Washington football pac-12Washington State at Washington

Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA
Friday, November 26
5:00 pm PT, FS1

The Apple Cup returns after it was called off last season, generating an extra degree of anticipation for a matchup that lost some of its luster due to last week’s results.

The Cougars are bowl eligible and the Huskies are locked into a losing season.

But Washington has won seven-straight against Washington State, and for all intents and purposes this is the Dawgs’ bowl game.

Washington’s Dylan Morris | The Athletic

Dylan Morris must take care of the ball against Jake Dickert’s defense, while the UW run game needs to get going early.

If WSU is able to force the Husky offense into a one-dimensional passing attack, Washington could be in trouble.

Yet, if Jayden de Laura gets sloppy with his decision-making and throws interceptions, the Dawgs can get the job done at Husky Stadium.

Oregon Ducks Logo Pac-12Oregon State at No. 11 Oregon

Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR
Saturday, November 27
12:30 pm PT, ESPN

The rivalry without a name kicks off just after noon at Autzen Stadium, as the Ducks look to bounce back from their disappointing loss in Salt Lake City.

The Beavers got the better of UO last season in Corvallis, but in many ways what happened last year doesn’t matter.

Oregon is motivated to put last weekend behind it, and Jonathan Smith’s squad just happens to be on the other sideline.

The OSU defense has struggled at times, giving up 30 points or more in five games. And in those five contests, the Beavs are 1-4.

Oregon’s Travis Dye | Boyd Ivey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On the other hand, the Oregon offense has scored 30 points or more in seven games and is undefeated when it does.

With the magic number in hand, if Smith’s team is able to keep the UO ground game in check and hold the Ducks to less than 30 points, the chances of OSU pulling off the upset increase.

But if Travis Dye and Anthony Brown run amuck on the Beavers, the Ducks should emerge with the win.

Arizona football Pac-12Arizona at Arizona State

Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ
Saturday, November 27
1:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

The Territorial Cup kicks off amidst an unfamiliar set of circumstances.

The Sun Devils are eliminated from contention in the South and locked into a bowl game, while Arizona enters the day 1-10 with nothing to lose.

The psychological factors seem to favor the Wildcats, but the talent discrepancy tips heavily towards Arizona State.

How the two factors balance out is what makes this rivalry one of the best in the country: It doesn’t matter what the records are, either team can win.

Arizona State’s Rachaad White | Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The key to the game figures to be ASU’s rushing attack against UA’s run defense.

Arizona defensive coordinator Don Brown is leaving the program after the matchup, making this showdown his lone experience in the Duel in the Desert.

His defense has struggled to stop the run all season, and the flaws in his scheme might be exposed by Zak Hill’s commitment to the ground.

But if Arizona’s defensive line gets consistent penetration into the backfield, the Cats might keep the game within reach.

No. 6 Norte Dame at Stanford

Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA
Saturday, November 27
5:00 pm PT, Fox

The 2021 season couldn’t end sooner for the Cardinal, and this matchup with No. 6 Norte Dame could be the exclamation point on what’s been a miserable year.

The Irish remain in contention for the College Football Playoff and want a statement win for the Committee in the last weekend of the regular season.

On paper, Stanford is outmatched across the board and seemingly doesn’t have a chance to pull off the upset.

Norte Dame is allowing just 18.6 points per game, and has given up a combined nine points over the last three contests.

Stanford’s Elijah Higgins | Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Perhaps indicating what is to come, the Tree haven’t scored more than 14 points in a single game over the last four outings.

That could spell disaster on the Farm, where a shutout at home could be in the cards. The only way David Shaw’s team stays competitive is if his running backs have a strong day.

If the Stanford backs efficiently move the ball on the ground, the passing game should open up, leading to touchdowns from the opening drive.

usc logoNo. 13 BYU at USC

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, November 27
7:30 pm PT, ESPN

The Trojans’ recruiting keeps taking hit after hit, as the search for its next head coach drags on.

But the off the field problems must be cast aside on Saturday night at the Coliseum.

BYU is undefeated against Pac-12 programs this season, having already dismantled Arizona, ASU, Utah, and Washington State.

And after upsetting USC in 2019, the Cougars are confident in their ability to get the job done.

USC’s Jaxson Dart | Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jaren Hall and Tyler Allgeier are BYU’s one-two, quarterback-running back punch, as the duo have combined for 39 touchdowns on the year.

The task is on Todd Orlando to slow them down and provide extra possessions to the USC offense.

Forcing turnovers figures to be one way to pull off the upset, but a key play or two on special teams may also be needed.

Yet, with a staff that may be focusing on finding a new job, it’s fair to wonder what type of performance USC will produce on ESPN.

California at UCLA

Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena, CA
Saturday, November 27
7:30pm PT, FS1

The road to bowl eligibility remains narrow, but the Bears aren’t giving up. Needing two wins to reach .500, the effort and commitment California plays with at the Rose Bowl should be unmatched by the Bruins.

Yet, the job security of Chip Kelly and his staff isn’t solidified and there’s no room for overlooking this matchup.

Jerry Azzinaro’s defense must have a scheme to contain Chase Garbers, possibly by bringing pressure on the senior in an attempt to force interceptions.

Cals’ Chase Garbers | Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Consistent blitzing could be utilized to get the job done. But no matter how it’s accomplished, UCLA can’t sit back and allow Garbers to wheel and deal.

If the quarterback is given time, he figures to light up the Bruins’ secondary while his running backs take advantage of a hesitant front seven.

Setting aside the hangover from the blowout over USC, Kelly and his team must be ready to go against a California roster that will leave everything on field.

SportsPac12 Football Writers Week 13 Game Picks

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