Southern California players celebrate after a win over Washington State during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Competition in Pac-12 heats up

At the halfway point of the college football season, and for the fourth straight week, the Pac-12 has four teams in the Top 25. USC coming in at No. 7 and has been in the Top 10 all season. UCLA jumped seven spots to No. 11 this week, while Oregon sits at No. 12. Utah fell in the rankings after opening the season in the Top 10 and is now No. 20.

Pac-12 on the Radar

This is the first time since 2019 that the Pac-12 has four teams ranked this late in the season. It has two teams that are 6-0 (USC and UCLA) for the first time since 2005. Oregon has won five games in a row and the defending champion Utah is still fighting to make it back to the Pac-12 Championship for the fourth time in five years.

A pair of matchups in the next two weeks will continue to sharpen the nation’s focus on the Pac-12. It will also give some insight into who might be squaring off in the Pac-12 Championship later this season.

This week both UCLA and Oregon are on bye weeks, but there will be a Top 25 Pac-12 matchup as USC travels to Salt Lake City to take on the Utes.

Next week, UCLA will travel to Oregon in another Top 25 showdown.

No. 7 USC versus No. 20 Utah

USC enters this matchup with a perfect record through itsย  first six games. This is the team’s first 6-0 start since 2006, however, that season it lost its seventh game to Oregon State. Utah has dropped two games, one to Florida and UCLA, but a win in this game will help Utah get back on track.

Utah’s offensive line has only allowed less than a sack a game, and its defense has not been far behind. Both units, however, must be on their A-game this week because in order for them to win this game they must keep Caleb Williams off the field and from running the ball consistently.

USC will look for Williams to continue playing like he has all season as he is in the talks for winning the Heisman Trophy this year. It will also look to put pressure on Utah’s offense with its defensive front being led by Tuli Tuipulotu, who leads the nation with seven sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss.

This game will likely have a big impact on the conference championship game with how competitive the Pac-12 is this season. The loser of this matchup may find itself out of the picture when the regular season wraps up.

About Kate Caranante

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