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Pac-12 Games to Watch: Week 3

NCAA Football: UNLV at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Losing to BYU after over a decade of dominance was a hard pill to swallow, especially because the typically competitive contest was almost completely controlled by the Cougars. On the bright side, one loss out of conference isn’t enough to derail the season and a Rose Bowl bid is still on the line, the Utes will just need some help from the rest of the PAC-12 to make that happen.

Minnesota vs Colorado - Saturday 11:00 AM MT - PAC-12 Network

Minnesota was able to keep things close for three quarters against Ohio State in their opener, yet nearly lost to Miami (OH) in week two, while Colorado nearly shocked the former #5 Texas A&M Aggies in a 7-10 loss at Mile High Stadium. Both teams are capable of playing close games against better competition, but who the better team really is, is up for debate. The Buffaloes are -2.5 favorites, and the Utes would benefit from a CU victory to help bolster their strength of schedule once the Rumble in the Rockies rolls around at the end of the season, assuming Utah can get back on track with a win against San Diego State this week.

USC vs Washington State - Saturday 1:30 PM MT - FOX

The Clay Helton era at USC is over seemingly just as soon as it started. After an embarrassing loss to Stanford to open conference play, the Trojans are already facing an uphill battle to regain their footing as the South’s top-dog and interim head coach Donte Williams has been tapped with the unenviable task of restoring the luster in USC’s fading gold. He’ll have his first chance in a Saturday tilt against woefully bad Washington State Cougars. The Trojans enter Pullman as -7.5 favorites, but back-to-back losses against lesser competition from the North division would help put Utah in an even better position to jockey for the top seed in the South before even playing a conference foe.

#19 Arizona State vs #23 BYU - Saturday 8:15 PM MT - ESPN

Utah should benefit regardless of whoever wins this game. Before the season started, the Utes were pegged as a potential division champ, alongside ASU, USC, and darkhorse UCLA. Now through two weeks, UCLA looks to be the top team in Los Angeles, Utah needs a bounce-back win before conference play starts, and the Sun Devils are -4 point favorites against a BYU team that is undefeated against the PAC-12 in 2021. This game should be seen as a measuring stick as to how good BYU really is, and how competitive the Utes can be when they eventually face ASU on October 16th. A BYU win could help justify Utah’s loss while improving their strength of schedule, but an ASU victory would do much of the same, save for helping fans feel better about the sloppy loss to their oldest rival.