Pac-12 Football Week 4 Breakdown

Pac-12 Week 4 Breakdown


Game of the Week:

#21 Southern California @ #25 Arizona State

After a tough loss at Illinois last week, Arizona State will look to get off on the right track against USC and their balanced offensive attack. ASU quarterback Brock Osweiler is off to a great start with 871 passing yards and eight total touchdowns (two rushing). These numbers rank the Sun Devils in the top 20 in passing offense.  Under normal circumstances the weather could play a factor in this matchup (temperatures expected near 100 degrees at kickoff), but the sun will set soon after the opening whistle and should resemble Southern California temperatures for the remainder of the game.

USC junior quarterback Matt Barkley has thrown ten touchdowns to only one interception in three games so far. He has spread the ball around by throwing the touchdowns to five different receivers. If the USC offensive front can keep the blitz-happy Sun Devils at bay, Barkley should have plenty of time to find his favorite receiver, Robert Woods, who has four touchdowns to date.

Expect a close game through halftime with Southern Cal defending a small lead coming out of the locker rooms. Shorty thereafter, Barkley will put two more in the end zone and USC wins by 21.

Honorable Mention:

California @ Washington

The Huskies, even with a 13-point loss to Nebraska last week, have been putting up fantastic offensive numbers. Sophomore quarterback Keith Price has found a way to pass for three or more touchdowns in his first three contests, with four against Hawaii and Nebraska. His eleven touchdowns are paired with a mere three interceptions, and his completion percentage is an impressive 65 percent. Now healthy, Chris Polk is beginning to carry more of the workload for the purple and gold, and has amassed over 100 yards in all three starts this season.

California demolished a weak Presbyterian team last week 63-12. The Golden Bears’ defense allowed only 48 total yards and no offensive touchdowns. They will face a much more powerful opponent this week, and may find their 3-0 start difficult to maintain.

Both teams will be playing their first conference game, as Cal’s contest against Colorado was not considered so for 2011. A 1-0 start will bode well for either team that can earn it. Expect the Huskies’ Price to continue his string of strong passing performances and add three more touchdowns. Polk will help out with another and the Huskies win 28-14.

Do Not Overlook:

UCLA @ Oregon State

Both of these programs are off to a rough start in 2011, totaling one win between them. UCLA managed a victory against a downtrodden San Jose State team and Oregon State suffered an expected loss to #4 Wisconsin and a disappointing one to Sacramento State. OSU has yet to throw a touchdown pass this season, and have only managed 28 points in the first two games, all of which were scored in one game. If the Beavers expect to win more than three games this year, UCLA will most certainly have to be one of them.

The Bruins’ main threat is running back Johnathan Franklin. He has not seen more than 16 carries in any game this season, but should expect a heavier workload this week against a weak Oregon State defensive unit. Franklin should find the end zone for the third, and fourth time this season and lead UCLA to a 24-13 victory.


Upset Alert:

Arizona @ #11 Oregon

Conference leading passer Nick Foles leads the Wildcats in a home game against the powerful Ducks of Oregon. Foles has completed 75.4 percent of his passes this season and tallied seven touchdowns, with no interceptions. He has already accumulated 95 completions for over 1,000 yards. With an average of 364 yards per game, Foles ranks fifth in the FBS in passing yardage. The glaring weakness for the Wildcats offense is their inability to protect Foles from an opposing pass rush. He was sacked five times last week against Stanford, which is well above their 2010 average of two sacks allowed per game.

Oregon opponents, including Missouri State and Nevada, are averaging a 54 percent completion rate against the Ducks’ defense. Even when Foles’ completion percentage is generously averaged with the Ducks’ percentage, it arrives at 64.4 percent, leaving the Wildcats with an advantage that could easily translate to a win.

If Arizona can limit the number of sacks to four or less, Foles should have enough time to work the ball to wide receivers Juron Criner and Dan Buckner. The Wildcats passing attack puts up more than 300 yards and three touchdowns, in addition to a defensive score, resulting in a 31-30 win in overtime. 


Players to Watch:

RB Malcolm Agnew, OSU: Strong start for the freshman from Chesterfield, Missouri. He tallied five touchdowns and 323 yards on a mere 33 carries (6.8 yards per carry) and could explode against a suspect UCLA defense.

DB Marques Flowers, AZ: Totaled an astonishing 14 tackles against Stanford last weekend. With a big-play threat like Oregon coming to town, expect an equal performance this week.

TE Paul Richardson, CO: Quietly making a huge impact on the Buffaloes offensive unit. The sophomore has 360 yards receiving and four touchdowns entering the weekend.

WR Aaron Pflugrad, ASU: Brock Osweiler’s main target in Tempe. In his first two games this season he managed 230 yards and four touchdowns. Expect no less than six catches for 110 this week against the USC secondary.

Football Week 4 Breakdown