Two months ago, Cameron Rising was a backup quarterback for a Utah team that appeared headed for a middle-of-the-pack finish in the Pac-12 Conference. A quarterback switch changed everything and led to the Utes’ rise.
With Rising as the starter, Utah is 6-1 in conference play and leading the league in scoring offense at 38.4 points per game. Rising has 14 touchdown passes and has not thrown an interception in the past 18 quarters (a span of 129 attempts) while leading the way to key victories over Arizona State and UCLA.
Next up is No. 3 Oregon, the Pac-12’s only hope for a potential spot in the College Football Playoff, on Saturday night in Salt Lake City. The teams are likely to play a second time in the conference championship game on Dec. 3 in Las Vegas.
The Ducks need dual-threat quarterback Anthony Brown to be a dynamic playmaker, just as he was in an early-season upset of Ohio State. Rising is a better passer, though he does not run as well as Brown. In what should be a high-scoring shootout, may the better quarterback win — and that should be Rising.
The pick: Utah -3
Wake Forest (+ 4.5) over CLEMSON: Led by quarterback Sam Hartman and his 30 touchdown passes, the Demon Deacons (9-1) are the only FBS team to score at least 35 points in every game this season. Wake’s fast-paced attack will be a stress test for the ACC’s best defense.
It’s not going to be a surprise if Clemson’s defense makes the difference in a win. However, winning by a significant margin is a lot to ask of the Tigers, who have stumbled on offense and are without top wide receiver Justyn Ross.
UCLA (-3) over USC: The Bruins are rightly favored in this rivalry for the first time since 2014. The Trojans limp in with a 2-3 home record and freshman quarterback Jaxson Dart will make his first start. Dart will do so without injured wide receiver Drake London, the team’s top player.
USC’s defense has problems stopping the run, so this matchup plays into UCLA coach Chip Kelly’s hands. The Bruins, who rolled up a season-high 502 yards against Colorado last week, will use quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and star running back Zach Charbonnet to pound the Trojans on the ground. Kelly has been a flop in too many big spots, but he’s got no excuses now.
HAWAII (+ 2.5) over Colorado State: As Honolulu dogs, the Warriors are 3-0 ATS, including an upset of Fresno State. Hawaii, looking to bounce back from a bad loss at UNLV in which quarterback Chevan Cordeiro struggled, often looks like a totally different team at home.
Colorado State coach Steve Addazio is 4-10 in his second year. The Rams have dropped four in a row and have not done enough to justify being road favorites.
Last week: 2-2
Notre Dame (W), Penn State (L), Tennessee (L), Nevada (W)