Posted on November 24, 2022
The Territorial Cup is the standalone rivalry game of the day, when Arizona State heads to Tucson seeking their sixth-straight win over Arizona.
And while not a traditional rivalry showdown, UCLA heads to Berkeley to take on in-state opponent California for an early-afternoon kickoff.
Plus, Boise State hosts Utah State and Fresno State hosts Wyoming.
I preview all four games here, and the picks of our writers and broadcasters appear at the bottom.
Utah State at Boise State
Friday, November 25
9:00 am PT, CBS
Some coaches might take the view that resting the stars is the most appropriate action, while others would argue that nothing should be changed.
At the very least, it’s probably wise to avoid putting anything on film that could give the Fresno State coaching staff an advantage in preparing their game plan.
Yet, it’s still a regular season game and a higher win total is considered when bowl game representatives are formulating their invitations.
In that sense, there might not be any change in the BSU offense or defense, and the game will appear like a normal matchup.
Utah State has a struggling offense and a defense that gives up points. The Aggies could stall out against the Broncos’ elite “D” and probably won’t be able to contain Taylen Green.
The result should be a convincing Boise State victory that relatively boosts its postseason resume.
Arizona State at Arizona
Friday, November 25
Noon PT, FS1
The Sun Devils are on the brink of one of their worst seasons in program history, and a struggling defense is one of the primary reasons why.
Allowing 30.8 points per game, Arizona State’s scoring defense is its worst since the 2017 season.
Its offense is not much better, either. Only putting up 25.3 points per game, ASU fields its second-worst scoring offense since 2012.
That’s a problem facing a revitalized Arizona offense with a defense trending in the right direction.
Jayden de Laura leads the nation’s No. 5 passing attack while Dorian Singer and Jacob Cowing are both Top 10 in receiving yards.
But it’s defensive coordinator Johnny Nansen’s unit that has made strides as of late.
At one point his group gave up 45 points or more in five of six games, yet the Cats’ “D” has limited their last two opponents to an average of 29.5 points per night.
That may not seem like much of an improvement. But in fielding an explosive offense that puts up points, the uptick in defensive production is worth its weight in gold.
Assuming de Laura and the UA receivers shine as expected, the battle to watch is the Arizona defense against Trenton Bourguet and X Valladay. Bringing heavy pressure on Bourguet has worked for other teams and is likely part of Arizona’s game plan.
If Nansen’s players continue to show improvement, the Cats should take back the Cup.
No. 18 UCLA at California
Friday, November 25
1:30 pm PT, FOX
The two programs are in a juxtaposed state of momentum: Cal is fresh off its win in the Big Game while UCLA is riding a two-game losing streak.
Motivation from Chip Kelly’s squad shouldn’t be hard to come by, yet the elimination from the Pac-12 Championship Game is the elephant in the room.
The result could be a slow start from the Bruins and an early lead for the Bears.
But to pull off the upset win, Justin Wilcox’s team must slow down the UCLA run game. DTR is always a threat to run and Zach Charbonnet is arguably the top running back in the league.
Selling out to stop the run won’t work, either, with wide receiver Jake Bobo capable of popping off if given space.
It’s a difficult challenge and one that not many teams have solved.
Tackling in open space is key, as well as limiting the UCLA passing plays to short gains. But if Kelly’s offense gets into a rhythm, they are almost unstoppable.
If that happens, California might need to score 40 points or more, a feat the Bears have only accomplished one time this season.
On the other hand, if Wilcox’s defense contains the UCLA rushing attack, Cal could have a chance.
Wyoming at Fresno State
Friday, November 25
7:00 pm PT, FS1
Although the outcome is not meaningless, the true prize is up for grabs next weekend. That probably won’t change anything, though, with each team vying for better bowl opportunities.
Wyoming has a respectable defense but fields an offense that is not potent. Held to less than 20 points in five separate games, the group has failed to breach the 30-point mark in every conference game this year.
That spells trouble against Jake Haener and the Fresno State offense. Jeff Tedford’s unit has been reborn after the senior returned from injury, scoring 206 points over the last five games.
Generating turnovers could make it interesting, yet Wyoming doesn’t have the offensive firepower to win a shootout.
Look for Fresno State’s defense to contain the Cowboys and its offense to put up 30 or more.
Game Picks from our Senior Writers and Broadcasters
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