Utah-UCLA game most likely to be affected by COVID-19 concerns
The Pac-12 Conference heads into its second week of action, hoping to play a full slate of games after having a pair of games canceled last weekend due to COVID-19 concerns. As entertaining as that weekend turned out to be, conference officials and fans alike are hoping to see ALL of its teams in action Saturday. Here’s a look at Saturday’s scheduled games:
USC at Arizona, 12:30 pm on FOX
The 20th-ranked Trojans not only have the upper hand in talent, but in live game action as well. USC (1-0) came from behind last weekend to beat Arizona State, but Arizona had to sit in a holding pattern as its game against Utah was canceled. QB Grant Gunnell and the Wildcats will have to get off to a fast start and shake off the rust early if they want to keep up with USC. Despite turnover and tackling issues, the Trojans showed their resolve and planted a firm foothold at the top of the South Division.
Colorado at Stanford, 12:30 pm on ESPN
It would be selfish to ask for the same production from Colorado QB Sam Noyer and RB Jarek Broussard (Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week) following their brilliant debuts last week against UCLA. But the Buffs (1-0) will need the pair to stand out again if they want to get to 2-0. Stanford (0-1) would like nothing more than to get back to business at home and do what they do best – grind opponents down with a balanced attack. This might end up being the conference’s best game of the weekend. For live coverage, follow @cliffcgibson on Twitter.
Oregon at Washington State, 4:00 pm on FOX
I’m interested to see just how the Cougars (1-0) do against 11th-ranked Oregon (1-0) with true freshman Jayden de Laura getting his first real test, one week after passing for 227 yards, rushing for 43 and accounting for a pair of scores. Meanwhile, the Ducks chewed up yardage on the ground against Stanford, with CJ Verdell leading the way with 105 yards and QB Tyler Shough adding 85. The Ducks are 14-0 under Mario Cristobal when holding opponents under 25 points.
California at Arizona State, 7:30 pm on ESPN2
The Sun Devils (0-1) were the better team last week against USC for 56 minutes, forcing turnovers and gashing the Trojans with the run game. But the inability to close it out cost them dearly and will likely keep ASU out of the conference title game. QB Jayden Daniels ran for 111 yards, marking the fifth time in school history a QB has eclipsed the 100-yard mark. Cal will be rearing to go after having its season-opener with Washington canceled due to quarantine protocol in Berkeley last week. However, the program is discussing relocating for the remainder of the season and seems unlikely they won’t be affected by the lingering distractions.
Utah at UCLA, 7:30 pm on FOX
Of the six games scheduled this weekend, this one seems the most likely to fall victim to a COVID-19 cancellation, seeing how there are still concerns with at least six positive cases reported by the Utah program. If the Utes are able to finally open their season, they’ll have their hands full containing UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who passed for 303 yards through the air and 109 on the ground, the first player in UCLA history to accomplish that feat. Despite a valiant second-half effort, the Bruins (0-1) turned the ball over five times in the first half and fell in a 28-point hole.
Oregon State at Washington, 8:00 pm on FS1
Had it not been for the City of Berkeley’s strict COVID protocols, the Huskies would’ve played their scheduled opener last week at Cal. Instead, Jimmy Lake’s head coaching debut was pushed back a week, and now it’s at home where Washington will take on the Beavers (0-1) in a #Pac12AfterDark matchup. However, it’s still uncertain (and is expected be a game-time decision) who will get the start at QB for the Huskies. Jacob Sirmon, Kevin Thomson, Ethan Garbers, and Dylan Morris are all in the mix. Oregon State was torched at home by Washington State, allowing 229 yards on the ground and 227 through the air. For live coverage, follow @cliffcgibson on Twitter.