We're taking a look at the can't-miss games of the 2013 Pac-12 season. The Ultimate Road Trip continues.
Welcome to Week 13
Saturday, Nov. 23
Oregon at Arizona
Arizona State at UCLA
USC at Colorado
Utah at Washington State
Washington at Oregon State
California at Stanford
My choice: Arizona State at UCLA
Why: There are some really good games on the schedule this week. I think Utah at Washington State is going to be a tight, interesting game. Washington at Oregon State could have huge bowl game implications and there is, of course, The Big Game. Stanford and Cal fans are excused this week. Rivalry games trump road trips.
But this series tries to look at the conference as a whole, and with the Pac-12 South Division potentially on the line, it makes sense that we're staying in Los Angeles for ASU's trip to the Rose Bowl to face the Bruins.
Last year's game was a classic and easily one of the top five most exciting games of the 2012 Pac-12 season. And that says a lot, because there were some pretty thrilling games last year. (Was thinking that's a good poll, but I looked back and saw we already hit that back in January).
I vividly recall sitting in my hotel in Seattle waiting to head out to the Oregon State-Washington game watching the drama play out. I also remember watching the fourth quarter thinking the future of quarterbacking in the Pac-12 looks awful bright.
First, trailing 42-36, Taylor Kelly led his team on a 6-play, 56-yard touchdown drive with 1:33 left in the game, giving the Sun Devils a 43-42 lead. He was 3-for-3 on the drive, including the 7-yard touchdown to D.J. Foster. Kelly also rushed for 35 yards himself. He was nails.
Then it was Brett Hundley's turn. He took over with 1:33 left and, starting from his own 25, was equally icy in his scoring drive. He was 5 of 7 and led the Bruins down to the ASU 15 with two seconds left. That set the stage for Ka'imi Fairbairn's 33-yard game winner as time expired.
It was thrilling.
This year's contest figures to be equally exciting. For starters, Kelly and Hundley are back leading their respective offenses. The teams are considered neck-and-neck frontrunners for the South Division, but this game also features the two frontrunners for the league's defensive player of the year: UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr and ASU defensive tackle Will Sutton.
Chances are the South Division won't be locked up until the following week when UCLA travels to USC and Arizona State hosts Arizona. Then again, maybe this is the game that clinches the division for one of these two teams. Whatever the scenario, this game is likely to have massive implications for the division, the league and with some of the league's marquee playmakers squaring off, promises to be another thriller.
Next week we close out the year with rivalry week. The Pac-12 blog has no idea where it's going to go yet and needs the weekend to psyche itself up for the inevitable backlash.