UCLA can alter Pac-12 outlook
By RALPH D. RUSSO
The Pac-12’s game of the year has been tentatively scheduled for Nov. 7 between Stanford and Oregon on The Farm.
Stanford’s loss at Utah last week put a dent in those plans. No. 9 UCLA can totally blow them up Saturday by handing the 13th-ranked Cardinal a second straight loss.
That would turn the Oregon-UCLA game Oct. 26 into a top-10 — maybe even top-five — Pac-12 matchup, and make the Bruins a national championship contender in late October for the first time in a while.
“We’re only thinking about this week and playing Stanford,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said. “It’s an opportunity for us to go on the road and play a very, very good football team. A team that beat us in the Pac-12 championship game. A team that we have a ton of respect for.”
A Bruins victory could also send quarterback Brett Hundley surging up those Heisman Trophy watch lists.
The last time UCLA was ranked higher than this was 2001. Those Bruins reached No. 4, and then dropped four straight, starting with a late October loss to Stanford.
The Atlantic Coast Conference game of the year came off as planned. No. 5 Florida State at No. 3 Clemson on Saturday, the first top-five matchup of ACC teams since 2005 (No. 5 Miami 27, No. 3 Virginia Tech 7) and only the fourth in league history.
“It’s great for our conference,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “We’re the only league that’s got three undefeated teams.”
No. 10 Miami will try to stay that way today at North Carolina.
Barring some big upsets down the road, Clemson-Florida State should settle the Atlantic Division race. Florida State does play Miami in a couple weeks, which could be an old-school ‘Canes-‘Noles game, featuring two top-10 teams. Neither the Tigers nor Seminoles have No. 19 Virginia Tech on the schedule.
If a game of the year does exist in the American Athletic Conference, it could very well be Friday night at Louisville. Teddy Bridgewater and the eighth-ranked Cardinals face Central Florida (4-1). The Knights are probably the most talented team on Louisville’s schedule, led by quarterback Blake Bortles and linebacker Terrance Plummer. If they can’t derail the Cardinals’ perfect season, who can?
No. 5 Florida State (minus 3) at No. 3 Clemson
Jameis Winston is about to become even more famous … FLORIDA STATE 42-35.
No. 6 LSU (minus 7½) at Mississippi
Three of last four meetings decided by a touchdown or less … LSU 35-31.
No. 24 Auburn (plus 13½) at No. 7 Texas A&M
Tigers ranked for first time since late 2011 … TEXAS A&M 52-35.
No. 9 UCLA (plus 5) at No. 13 Stanford
Bruins can attack edges of Cardinal D like Utah … UCLA 31-24.
UCF (plus 12) at No. 8 Louisville, Friday
Bridgewater vs. Bortles is second-best quarterback matchup of weekend … LOUISVILLE 28-21.
No. 22 Florida (minus 3) at No. 14 Missouri
Tigers turn to redshirt freshman QB Maty Mauk … MISSOURI 24-20.
No. 20 Washington (plus 3) at Arizona State
Huskies have type of tough defensive front that gives Sun Devils problems … WASHINGTON 35-28.
No. 10 Miami (minus 8½) at North Carolina, Thursday … MIAMI 24-17.
No. 11 South Carolina (minus 7½) at Tennessee … SOUTH CAROLINA 28-17.
No. 15 Georgia (minus 8½) at Vanderbilt … GEORGIA 35-23.
No. 16 Texas Tech (minus 7) at West Virginia … WEST VIRGINIA 31-28.
TCU (plus 7) at No. 21 Oklahoma State … OKLAHOMA STATE 30-21.
No. 23 Northern Illinois (minus 17) at Central Michigan … NORTHERN ILLINOIS 28-20.
Tar Heels are desperate. Second straight road game for Gamecocks; Vols, meanwhile, were off last week. Road trips and injury concerns for Georgia and Texas Tech. Horned Frogs and Cowboys are hard to figure. Five of six games for Huskies have been decided by 14 or less.
Arkansas (plus 28) at No. 1 Alabama … ALABAMA 42-10.
Washington State (plus 38) at No. 2 Oregon … OREGON 58-17.
Iowa (plus 16½) at No. 4 Ohio State … OHIO STATE 35-14.
Iowa State (plus 31½) at No. 12 Baylor … BAYLOR 56-21.
UNLV (plus 23½) at No. 17 Fresno State … FRESNO STATE 45-20.
No. 18 Oklahoma (minus 23½) at Kansas … OKLAHOMA 35-10.
Last week: Record straight: 18-4; vs. points 7-10.
Season: 121-17; 56-58-3.
Best bet: 3-3-1.
Upset special: 3-3.
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