The Pac-12’s final two undefeated teams lock horns Saturday in Salt Lake City when No. 20 California visits No. 5 Utah. Cal brings the nation’s No. 8 scoring offense at 43.4 points per game; Utah boasts the nation’s 30th scoring defense at 18.8 points per game, setting up an intriguing matchup that ESPN’s College GameDay will attend.
“These guys only get to play 12 games a year and heck, they work about 340 days just trying to get ready for 12 opportunities so I think they’re all big and they’re all important,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “But obviously Utah and us have both gotten off to a good start. That makes it a big game.
“The one comforting thing is our guys have played pretty well on the road. We’ve played in front of big crowds. Our guys have some confidence right now, particularly playing on the road.”
Cal already has wins at Texas and Washington. Utah already has wins over No. 18 Michigan and Oregon at Autzen Stadium. Neither the Bears nor the Utes has won its respective division in the four prior years since the conference split into the North and South divisions (Utah has only been in the conference since 2011). Cal’s last outright conference title came in 1958. It has split titles with UCLA (1975) and USC (2006) since, but it was the lower ranked team n both cases while the Bruins and Trojans earned Rose Bowl bids.
JACK LEAVES UCLA
UCLA linebacker Myles Jack announced on Tuesday that he is leaving the program to focus on rehabbing his knee injury in preparation for his pre-NFL Draft workouts.
A torn meniscus ended Jack’s junior season after just three games. UCLA coach Jim Mora expressed surprise that Jack has chosen to leave the program, rather than rehabbing on campus and remaining with the team, but he understood the logic.
“He doesn’’t see any point in staying in school. He’s going to go and get some personal training,” Mora told ESPN. “He’ll get very in depth, detailed, aggressive, focused rehab and training. He doesn’t have to worry about going to school, his grades – although he’s done well in school — so he’s taking his chips and shoving them into the middle and we hope that he draws a good hand.
“I think it’s risky to do this. Having been on that side, there’s going to be a lot of speculation as to what he is and where he fits,” Mora said. “And as I told Myles on Sunday, NFL teams are very, very conservative and if there’s any question whatsoever, they’ll pass on you in heartbeat.
“You just hope, I hope, that he’s put enough out there that they can get a true evaluation because if they can’t get a true evaluation of you, they’re not going to take you. They’re just not. They don’t take on speculation, not in the first round, at least. Maybe in the later rounds, ‘Maybe we’ll take a flier on this guy.’ But there is no such thing as an NFL GM that says, ‘Hey, we’ll take a flier on a first-rounder. I’ve never heard that.”
Mora clearly has a quarter century of NFL experience informing his opinion, but Jack also has two years of tape to show teams and he has played at a high level. Mora may be overstating the concerns a bit.
LEACH ON TRUMP
Washington State coach Mike Leach has always been a bit of a loose cannon, which can make for some interesting quotes and perspective. Leach joined Oregonian columnist John Canzano on his radio show this week, and weighed in on the upcoming Presidential election and the candidacy of Donald Trump.
“I think we value people’s feelings over solutions to problems. I think for good or bad, I think Donald Trump … the thing that he brings to the election that’s most important of all is the fact that he is not politically correct,” Leach said. “He’s against political correctness. I think that’s the important issue. I think it’s the most important issue because problems can’t be solved unless we develop a mentality and an environment where people speak honestly among themselves.”
— Stanford’s defense was the only one among the four winners last weekend ranked in the top half of the league against the rush. California (seventh) limited Washington State to 14 yards on 25 carries (0.6 avg). Arizona State (10th) held UCLA to 62 yards on 28 carries (2.2 avg). Oregon (eighth) held Colorado to 77 yards on 36 carries (2.1 avg). Stanford held Arizona to 118 yards on 34 carries (3.5 avg).
— Four Pac-12 quarterbacks rank among the FBS top 20 in passing efficiency. USC’s Cody Kessler Cody Kessler (89 of 122, 15 TDs, I INT, 1,297 yards) is second at 201.2; Cal’s Jared Goff (125 of 178, 15 TDs, 4 INT, 1,630 yards)
is seventh at 170.5; Stanford Kevin Hogan (81 of 120, 9 TDs, 2 INT, 1,155 yards) is eighth at 169.8; and Arizona Any Solomon (75 of 115, 11 TDs, 0 INT, 845 yards) is 20th at 158.5.
— Utah will wear throwback uniforms for Saturday’s game against California. The interlocking UU logo on the throwback helmet, jerseys and pants is from the 1960s, the font for the numbers is from the 1970s and the stripes on the jerseys adorned Utah uniforms from the 1970s-1990s. Oregon will salute the state as it introduces the new Oregon Pioneers uniform against Washington State, which emphasizes Oregon state history. A silhouette of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark appears on the helmet.
“I’m not going to apologize for the expectations. I’m not going to ask our players to work like they do and have any other expectations than winning championships. On the same end, I don’t blame our fans for being upset. They should be. We haven’t played very good. I’m pissed about. We’re pissed. We came out tonight and played pissed. Maybe we need to play pissed more often.” — Arizona State coach Todd Graham on his team’s early season struggles and its stunning win Saturday at then No. 7 UCLA
The Pac-12 has five or more teams in the AP Top 25 for the eighth consecutive week: No. 5 Utah, No. 16 Stanford, No. 17 USC, No. 20 UCLA, No. 23 California.
Washington at USC
Oregon State at Arizona
Washington State at Oregon
Colorado at Arizona State
California at Utah