What to watch: No. 18 UCLA vs. Washington State

With just one more home game at the Rose Bowl, UCLA remains on track for the Pac-12 South title.

However, Washington State looks like a different squad than the one that dropped a season opener to FCS opponent Portland State, and still sits in second place in its division after a two-point loss to No. 7 Stanford.

After three consecutive wins, the No. 18 Bruins (7-2, 4-2) can clinch a spot in the Pac-12 Championship by winning three more. Keeping that path clear will require navigating past a resurgent Cougars squad eager to pull an upset at 7:45 p.m. tonight.

When UCLA has the ball

It might be time for Paul Perkins to grab everyone’s attention again.

The redshirt junior has run for only two touchdowns since injuring his knee more than three weeks ago, but was healthy enough to carry the ball 23 times last Saturday — the tailback’s heaviest workload since September. WSU has allowed 18 rushing scores and 5.1 yards per carry, both of which stand as bottom-three marks in the Pac-12.

But the Cougars (6-3, 4-2) could open the game by stacking the box, as many other teams have done in an effort to neutralize Perkins. If that happens, UCLA will need some creative playcalling early and use Josh Rosen to stretch open the field. Continue reading

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Which players have the best names in the Pac-12?

By now, you’ve read many of the lists that have proliferated in college football’s dry summer months. The best 100 players. The freakiest players. The best coaches, best offseasons, best uniforms.

But this? This is the most important of them all. With Pac-12 Media Days — schedule here — kicking off this morning, I have compiled the five best names from each team in the conference.

Without further ado …

Arizona: Sir Thomas Jackson, Antonio Smothers, Tra’Mayne Bondurant, Brogan Kemmerly, Abraham Mendivil

Not great depth here, as the latter two names sacrifice catchiness in favor of length. Still, Sir Thomas Jackson alone is an MVP candidate.

Arizona State: Ezekial Bishop, Demetrius Cherry, Zane Gonzalez, Jaxon Hood, Jaelen Strong

A solid quintet that lacks a superstar.

Cal: Hardy Nickerson, Avery Sebastian, Bryce Treggs, Brennan Scarlett, Maximo Espitia

A nice throwback in Hardy Nickerson, bookended by a name that makes me want to re-watch Russell Crowe take on a despotic Joaquin Phoenix. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Utah quarterback Travis Wilson struggling

— Once a rising star, Utah’s sophomore quarterback Travis Wilson doesn’t look the same these days.

— A strong column from the Arizona Daily Star’s Greg Hansen, on the Wildcats’ loss to UCLA.

— After a stint at Louisiana-Monroe, Arizona State defensive back Robert Nelson is living the dream in Tempe.

— Does the Pac-12 need an injury report? Seattle Times columnist Bud Withers says yes, citing the status of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. Continue reading

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