Big tests for Cal, Stanford

The Pac-12 South race tightened up with No. 13 Utah’s loss to Southern California last week, providing a glint of hope for teams that seemed to be out of the mix.

No. 8 Stanford is still in control of the Pac-12 North, but faces what has turned into a tough road game with Washington State’s resurgence. A loss by the Cardinal could throw that division into a bit of turmoil.

So, yeah, it’s kind of a big week in the Pac-12. Here’s what to look for:

GAME OF THE WEEK: USC at California. The Trojans kept their Pac-12 South hopes alive — while throwing the division into a jumble — by knocking off Utah at home in their best game of the season. The Bears are looking to get back on track after losses to Utah and UCLA. Cal needs Stanford to stumble to have any chance in the Pac-12 North and certainly can’t afford to lose another conference game. This one will also feature two of the Pac-12’s best quarterbacks: USC’s Cody Kessler and Cal’s Jared Goff. USC has won the last 11 meetings.

BEST MATCHUP: Stanford at Washington State. In most seasons, this would likely be another lopsided win by the Cardinal. But with Mike Leach’s Cougars playing well and second in the Pac-12 North, there’s a bit of extra intrigue. It also will be a contrast in styles. Stanford leads the nation in time of possession and likes to grind out drives by getting the ball to Christian McCaffrey, the FBS leader in all-purpose yards with 259.7 per game. The Cougars like to wing the ball all over the field behind quarterback Luke Falk, second in the nation with 415 yards passing per game.

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