Pac-12: Week 13 Preview and Predictions

By Lucas M.

It was difficult to think and talk about college football last weekend without bringing up the Pac-12. The conference continually finds itself at the center of national discussion, and this week is no different: USC looks to upset Notre Dame and prevent them  from heading to a national championship while Oregon looks to maintain some shred of dignity after their own brutal upset against a similarly feisty Oregon State squad. Let’s get to the best Week 13 matches in the Pac-12 conference.

Game of the Weekend

No. 1-ranked Notre Dame at USC

Man, how the tides have turned. At the beginning of the season, USC was expected to be playing for a national championship and Notre Dame was expected to have yet another hum-drum season. Things change quickly in college football, sometimes so quickly that the coaches involved don’t even know what to make of it.

“You wouldn’t think we would lose this game with a senior quarterback versus a freshman,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said after USC’s 38-28 loss to UCLA last weekend. “We’re extremely disappointed with this season. We’re too talented to have that many losses.”

USC actually has the offensive weapons to make some noise against Notre Dame, but the offense will have the keys handed over to freshman quarterback Max Wittek making his first career start. The Fighting Irish’s ferocious defense could eat him for lunch, but if he can get the ball to Marqise Lee and Robert Woods the young gun could make things interesting. Still, the Irish will be psyched up beyond belief and hungry for a win against the Trojans. They know what’s at stake if they win, and the more experienced Notre Dame squad should leave The Coliseum with a victory.

“I don’t think they look at USC and think of dominance,” Kelly said. “They felt like last year they let a game slip through their hands with sloppy play. Beat them at their place. So, no, our guys are excited about playing a rival in USC. But there’s no trepidation. There’s a great deal of respect for USC and what they’ve done. But our guys are very confident in themselves as well.”

Take the Irish here. I don’t think there’s any way they’ll let this soft Trojans squad stop them now.

No. 5-ranked Oregon at No. 15-ranked Oregon State

This game will prove crucial to Oregon’s hopes of a national championship appearance, which aren’t dead but are certainly on life support. Oregon State’s defense will have something to say in the matter, however: they are ranked 14th in the country against the run and will find ways to contain Kenjon Barner on the ground like Stanford did last weekend. It’s going to be a heck of a Civil War game, one of the best since Chip Kelly took over the reins at Oregon and made it decidedly more lopsided.

“It’s great to be where we are,” Oreogn State head coach Mike Riley said. “We try not to be surprised by success, we work for that hard. But I am proud of the turnaround in this team and the work they did in the offseason and what they’ve accomplished to this point. It’s much more fun and exciting to be going into the Civil War at 8-2 rather than 3-8.”

I think Oregon will get back on track and win this game, though it will be a narrow one. They know they control their own destiny and can’t afford to drop a crucial game against their in-state rivals like this. “It’s not going to be easy, but we understand that we have a couple of more games and whatever plays out plays out,” Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota said. “We just have to control what we can control.”

Take the Ducks here.