<
>

10 things to watch in the Pac-12: Colorado's Spruce in pursuit of receptions record

Here are 10 things to keep an eye on this week in the Pac-12.

  1. Thursday night frights: Thursdays haven't been very good to the Oregon Ducks, who visit Tempe to take on Arizona State. The Ducks are just 4-4 in regular season Thursday night games since 2007. That said, they have won eight straight over the Sun Devils. This is the first meeting between the two teams since 2008 that neither has been ranked.

  2. Padding the stats: ASU's D.J. Foster is one of five players in FBS history to record at least 2,000 rushing yards and 2,000 receiving yards in his career. Noteworthy, however, that his touches per game have decreased this season. Over his first three seasons he averaged almost 14 touches per game. This year it's down to 8.6. Obviously, he's not getting as many carries since moving to receiver. But the coaching staff has said they need to get him the ball more.

  3. An interesting pickle: Saturday's almost-College GameDay showdown between Washington State and Stanford has a fascinating statistical sidebar to it. Under Mike Leach, Washington State has thrown the ball 87 percent of the time in games against Stanford. Over the last four seasons, Stanford is 43-6 when forcing opponents to pass on more than 50 percent of their plays. The Cardinal are 5-7 when teams run more than 50 percent of the time.

  4. Tough sledding for Beavers: According to ESPN's FPI metrics, Oregon State has the third-highest chance of any FBS team to lose the rest of its games (63 percent chance). That doesn't bode well with a trip to Utah, where the No. 13 Utes are 14-1 at home when ranked in the AP Top 15, including an 11-0 mark against unranked teams.

  5. QB showdown: Two of the league's premier quarterbacks take center stage Saturday when USC travels to Berkeley to face the Bears. Cal quarterback Jared Goff ranks ninth in the nation with 20 passing touchdowns while USC's Cody Kessler is tied for 11th with 18. Their receivers are pretty good, too. The Trojans' JuJu Smith-Schuster is tops in the league with an average of 128.7 receiving yards per game and has eight touchdowns. Cal's Kenny Lawler averages 71 yards per game and has nine touchdown receptions.

  6. Bowl eligibility: Stanford (6-1) became the Pac-12's second bowl eligible team last week with a win over Washington. Utah (6-1) was the first. Four teams are on the brink with five wins. Washington State, Cal, UCLA and Arizona will all try to become bowl eligible this week. Oregon, ASU and USC are two games off. The Huskies and Colorado need three wins.

  7. Healthy line, happy line: Only three schools have started the same five offensive linemen in every game this season -- Oregon State, Stanford and Washington State. Unfortunately, that number will be down to two after this week with OSU left tackle Sean Harlow out for the rest of the year because of an ankle injury.

  8. Record in reach: Colorado wide receiver Nelson Spruce is just four catches away from becoming the Pac-12's all-time leader in career receptions. Mike Thomas (2005-2008) of Arizona has the record at 259 and ASU's Derek Hagan (2002-2005) is second with 258. Spruce sits third with 256. The Buffs travel to UCLA this week.

  9. Record in reach take 2: UCLA's Ka'imi Fairbairn, the toast of the special teams world last week for drilling a 60-yard field goal, is within reach of the Pac-12 scoring record. He has 373 points in his career, and is just 17 points behind the record of 390, held by fellow Bruin John Lee (1982-1985).

  10. Bye-bye, bye: The bye weeks are done. From here on out we have every Pac-12 team in action through the rest of the season -- with one exception. Arizona gets its bye week in Week 13 … after the Wildcats have already played 12 straight games.