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Pac-12 Weekly Preview

The Pac-12 has always been known as an ultra-competitive conference as that’s been evident again this year. With each week, come more close finishes and shocking upsets. What Pac-12 teams are ready to make a move this week? Here are two key matchups involving Pac-12 schools for week seven and what we can look forward to out of the wild west come Saturday.

#17 Stanford (4-1) at #7 Notre Dame (5-0)

Can Stanford find the endzone against the stingy ND defense?

Some might say it’s been an up-and-down year for the Cardinal so far in 2012, but at 4-1, it’s been mostly up. Stanford is coming off an incredible fourth quarter comeback win against Arizona and has proven itself worthy in big games such as this after prevailing over the USC Trojans earlier this season. Yes, the road has been bumpy at times. Stanford suffered a demoralizing loss to the Washington Huskies just two weeks ago and hasn’t looked so sharp in some of its victories. However, with quarterback Josh Nunes coming into his own and with Stepfan Taylor in the backfield, the Cardinal currently possesses a top 50 offense, scoring just over 31 points per game.

Notre Dame’s strength, one of many, has resided on the other side of the ball. After five games, the Irish are allowing just 7.8 points per game, good for a number two ranking in the country in that category. And those games include wins over Michigan State, Michigan and Miami. The Hurricanes quarterback set an ACC record for passing yards two weeks ago, but when he faced the Irish last week, the Canes scored just three points. The other bad news for the Cardinal is obviously that they will be in South Bend for this one, where the Irish are 4-0 this season.

Notre Dame is a seven point favorite here, but I like them by more than that. Even with Taylor, the Cardinal rushing attack has not been as proficient this year compared to last. Expect the Irish to dominate the line of scrimmage and in turn, the game. Take Notre Dame to cover -7 points at home against Stanford.

#11 USC (4-1) at Washington (3-2)

Will USC be able to outgun UW this week?

The Trojans will march into CenturyLink Field to battle the Huskies on a two-game winning streak since their tough road loss to Stanford earlier this season. Southern Cal quarterback Matt Barkley has endured some trying times this season, but overall has performed to expectations, throwing for more than 1300 yards in five games with a 3/1 TD-INT ratio. The Barkley-led attack is currently ranked in the top 50 in the country in scoring, passing yards and total offense. It will certainly be loud in Seattle and a tough road challenge, but it’s nothing that the Trojans haven’t seen before.

The 2012 Huskies, much like teams of recent seasons, are a squad that can contend with the best and then get blowout a week later. Basically, they have talent, but you never know which Washington team will show up come Saturday. This is the team that beat Stanford, but got absolutely smoked by LSU and Oregon this season. However, the Huskies strength is in pass defense, an area which they will need to rely on against the pass-heavy Trojans. Washington is currently ranked 13th in the country, allowing just 173.8 yards per game through the air.

The spread this week generously favors the Trojans by 13 points on the road. Obviously USC should win this matchup, but by 13? This is a USC team that only beat Utah on the road by 10 points last week. And when you add in the fact that Washington’s strengths counteract the USC’s, this game should end much closer than by 13. Take Washington to cover +13 at home in this one, albeit in a loss to USC.

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