Earlier this week, we took a look at three (non Pac-12) hate week game to watch. We discussed the War on I-4, The Game, and clean old fashioned hate. These games all have the playoff hopes on the line for at least one of the participants.
But all of those games are east of the Mississippi, and there’s a pretty major conference to the west of it that has some rivalry games going on this weekend.
For this article, the decision was made to only look at the rivalry games that pit conference teams against each other. Which means the Holy War won’t be talked about in detail — Utah should win this one in blowout fashion — and the matchup between and underperforming USC squad against No. 3 Notre Dame — the Trojans’ discipline issues lead to some stupid penalties late that help sustain some drives by the Fighting Irish. Both of those games have the potential to turn into rout, or be surprisingly close with the underdogs staying within striking distance until the very end.
We also won’t be counting the Stanford-UCLA game, while those two teams don’t like each other; they also don’t have a trophy on the line…which means it’s not a true hate week match-up.
The Civil War – Oregon vs. Oregon State, Nov. 23rd on FS1 at 1 PM
This game is between one team jockeying for better position in a bowl, while the other team is just trying to close out its first season under its new head coach on a high note. For Mario Cristobal, this season has been one of up and downs for a program that has struggled to find its footing since Marcus Mariota left for the NFL. And 2018 has been no different for the program, despite having a talented quarterback in Justin Herbert.
The Ducks offense has struggled to find anyform of consistent footing this season, even struggling against an overmatched San Jose State squad, to score points. This inconsistency has led them to struggle in halves of games; as a result, they’ve often gotten buried behind multiple scores early in a couple of games. Those games were losses, even though the offense got in gear in the second half.
As for OSU, the Beavers have started to figure out some of their offensive issues as the season has gone along. Jake Lutton has been efficient during the last few games and its lead to a near upset over USC. The new-found strength of the offense matches up perfectly with Oregon’s defensive weakness; but their porous defense has been a problem, especially on the ground.
This game goes back and forth for a while, but I like Lutton to make some plays late and Oregon State picks up a huge win in the Civil War while continuing to turn the program around.
The Territorial Cup – Arizona State vs. Arizona, Nov. 24th at 12:30 PM on FS1
Both of these squads had a shot at the South Division title, that is until Arizona State lost in Eugene, Ore. last week. Now this game only has pride and bowl positioning on the line. Kevin Sumlin’s squad is coming off of an embarrassing 69 (nice) – 28 loss to the No. 8 Cougars in Pullman, Wash. So both squads are looking to right the ship and get another W before heading into their bowl game.
Arizona’s offense has been limited because Khalil Tate has been battling an ankle injury all season long. It’s forced the dual threat quarterback to be more of a pocket passer and that’s limited his effectiveness. Even when he’s been able to get out of the pocket, Tate has lacked the explosiveness that made him such an effective weapon last season. It wouldn’t be surprising to see ASU take a page out of WSU’s book and leave one of its linebackers in a spy role, while the rest of the coverage drops back to keep the play in front of them.
As for the Sun Devils’, the offense has thrived under senior quarterback Manny Wilkins — he’s only throwing interceptions on 1.2% of his attempted passes; it also helps that he has N’Keal Harry lined up wide to throw to. The fact that first year head coach Herm Edwards has been able to use both of these incredible athletes so effectively has been a pleasant surprise; the problem is going to be replacing them both next season.
I like Arizona State to win this one late on a bomb to Harry.