clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What does each Pac-12 football team need to do to win their final two games?

The ability to execute these key factors could make or break Pac-12 teams down the final stretch.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona: Get Anu Solomon back on track

The past three games have arguably been Solomon's three worst of the season moving the ball through the air, punctuated by a 17-39 game with two interceptions and no touchdowns last week against a suspect Washington secondary. The Wildcats' offense has stalled in November as he has looked inaccurate and they will likely lose out if he cannot get back to being on point.

The Wildcats might be able to solve the problem by utilizing Solomon's athleticism running more (it worked very well against Colorado) which would put less pressure on him to have to pass as much, but also change the way defenses defend him, possibly opening up some passing lanes.

Arizona State: Patch up their run defense

Todd Graham and company have done an excellent job of reloading an inexperienced defense on the fly and getting the most out of their unit, but the gambling and patching busted open a little bit up in Corvallis to the tune of letting Storm Woods and Terron Ward run wild on them. The Beavers caught the Sun Devils in blitzes and gashed their defense ending the Sun Devils' Playoff hopes.

The Sun Devils gave up more than half of the yards they gave up on the ground to Oregon State on 65-yard-plus runs, so they might want to limit how much they attack up front going forward to avoid giving up big runs in chunks that lead to scores.

Cal: Score, score, score

The Bears pass defense is god awful and there is no way they are going to fix that in the next two weeks and it won't matter that much as they face two struggling pass offenses anyways. I would not be that scared of the opposing offenses that Cal faces so the key to them winning at least one of their final two should simply be maintaining what they have been able to do and put up points on the board.

If the Bears can convert in the red zone and hit some big passing plays, I think they can't get around 30 points and that should be enough for them to win against opponents like Stanford who struggle to score a touchdowns against even questionable defenses.

Colorado: Reignite Nelson Spruce

The Buffs are not going to suddenly turn their defense around against Oregon and they probably have a decent enough defense to reign in an average Utah offense enough to give their offense a shot, so it will be all about getting their offense rolling and the key to that could be getting Spruce hot again. Spruce started off red hot this season but cooled against better competition and has had just one 100-yard game and one touchdown since September.

The key could be trying to go deep to Spruce as he was putting up a lot more yardage on longer plays earlier in the season and the Buffs really have nothing to lose at this point in regards to taking risks down the field against heavy favorite opponents.

Oregon: Stay up

The Ducks are really banged up, but they just got a bye week and play their final two games against heavy, heavy underdogs without ever having to leave the state of Oregon. Even if the Ducks have their issues, they should be able to beat Colorado and Oregon State without too much trouble as long as something doesn't go drastically wrong.

The Ducks simply need to keep up their intensity and respect their final two regular season opponents and they should head to the Pac-12 Championship Game with their Playoff hopes intact.

Oregon State: Maintain offensive line play

The Beavers bounced back from being the worst team in the North by getting their offensive line up to snuff against Arizona State and it made them a completely different team. Getting the run game going made it so the weight of the world wasn't on Sean Mannion and so defenses couldn't just smother Oregon State's average receivers.

Going with the unit that they used against the Sun Devils and putting a focus on running the ball will go a long way towards having the Beavers control the game against Washington along with keeping Oregon's red hot offense off of the field in The Civil War.

Stanford: Create some turnovers

The Cardinal offense is a lost cause at this point, but their defense is still pretty good, they just don't create turnovers which is strange. They have created just nine turnovers all season, which fails to help out their struggling offense and forces their defense to have to make offenses punt or turnover on downs, to things that are very tough in this day and age of college football.

Stanford may want to attack the ball more and put a larger focus on the stripping the ball, even if that goes against their rock solid, fundamental game that has turned them into a power.

UCLA: Keep front seven strong

The Bruins were expected to have the Pac-12's best front seven going into the season but their guys up front have been a major disappointment much of the season. However, the group has started to play a little closer to what they were expected in the past couple games, slowing the run and getting after passers and it has turned the Bruins into a different team.

Whether it be rushing linebackers or simply getting the most the most they can out of their front four, the Bruins will likely be headed to Santa Clara if they can pressure Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan and slow USC and Stanford's running games.

USC: Be consistent

It must be frustrating to be a Trojan fan this season. They flash the ability to be an elite team one quarter but then spend the next quarter looking like a flawed team that could lose to anyone in the Pac-12.

I am sure it is not simple, but the Trojans must find a way to put together full games with their lack o depth and not fade towards the end of games or they could easily drop their last two against UCLA and Notre Dame.

Utah : Get back to stopping the run

The Utes were at their best and upsetting teams when their front seven was stopping opponents from running on them, but in the past three games, they have went from holding opponents to around 2 yards per-carry to allowing them five plus per-carry (even struggling Stanford in a win).

Things should get easier for the Utes against the run since they won't be facing the running attacks of Oregon, Arizona State and Stanford so run defense improvement might work organically, but either way, they might want to stack the box a little more against Arizona and Colorado.

Washington: Keep the running game going

The Huskies had been relying on linebacker Shaq Thompson to get their running game going, but true running back Dwayne Washington came back from injury against Arizona and exploded, really opening things up for a Washington offense that was struggling horribly.

The Huskies have spread the ball around with a lot of backs, but they might want to focus on handing it off to Washington letting quarterback Cyler Miles keep running to keep their offense consistent and keep Oregon State and Washington State's offenses off the field.

Washington State - Keep Luke Falk protected

Luke Falk looked excellent filling in for Connor Halliday and there is no reason to expect that his performance will drop off unless his line cannot protect him as the Cougars have a great system and a deep stable of capable receivers.

Things might not be that easy from Falk down the stretch though as the Cougars face an attacking Arizona State defense and a Washington defense that is as good as any in the nation at getting after the quarterback. The Cougars might want to double down on protection at the end of the season to keep Falk comfortable and healthy.