(Photo Courtesy of Ohio State Engineering)
The Cal Bears welcome Urban Meyer and #4 ranked OSU into town on Saturday.

by Andrew Skaggs

Week 3 of the college football season is upon us and it could prove to be a pivotal weekend for the reputation of the Pac-12 conference. Six Pac-12 teams play BCS conference opponents this week (BCS Conferences consist of the ACC, AAC, Big 12, Big 10, and the SEC). Here is a breakdown of five of those matchups and the implications they could have on the rest of the season.

The Underdogs

No. 4 Ohio State at California – 4pm Pacific Time

The Bears welcome the 4 th -ranked team in the country to Memorial Stadium this weekend. Ohio State was one of the preseason favorites to make the National Championship this season and will be a tall task for a young Cal football team. Led by Head Coach Urban Meyer and Heisman hopeful QB Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes have an explosive offense predicated on the dual-threat abilities of Miller. Cal has an explosive offense of their own, led by true freshman QB Jared Goff, who has thrown for 935 yards through two games this season. Simply keeping this game competitive would be a great showing for Cal and the Pac-12.

No. 20 Wisconsin at Arizona State – 7:30pm Pacific Time

One of the better non-conference games of the weekend pits perennial Big Ten powerhouse Wisconsin against upstart Arizona State. Neither team has given up a point on defense this season, albeit against cupcake opponents. The Sun Devils defense, led by All-American DT Will Sutton, will be tasked with stopping a powerful Wisconsin running game that features two backs that have over 250 yards apiece in just two games. Unlike Cal, Arizona State has a pretty good shot at pulling an upset over a Big Ten foe. A win would likely bolt the Sun Devils into the Top-25 and give the conference a nice reputation boost over the Big Ten.

The Favorites

No. 16 UCLA at No. 23 Nebraska – 9am Pacific Time

The second-best game of the weekend features two Top-25 teams, another Pac-12 vs. Big Ten matchup. UCLA has had two weeks to prepare for the one-two punch of QB Taylor Martinez and RB Ameer Abdullah for Nebraska. UCLA is led by redshirt Sophomore QB Brett Hundley, who accounted for over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Bruins’ opening week victory over Nevada. The winner of this game will get a significant boost in the rankings, probably near the Top-10. As the theme of week 3 goes, the Pac-12 and Big Ten will test their reputations against each other.

Tennessee at No. 3 Oregon – 12:30pm Pacific Time

The Ducks welcome an SEC opponent into Autzen Stadium in a game that they are favored by 27.5 points. Tennessee is led by first-year head coach Butch Jones and face a murderer’s row of five ranked opponents in their next six games. Oregon has scored over 59 points in each of their two games this season. QB Marcus Mariota and RB De’Anthony Thomas have each run for over 200 yards in the Ducks’ explosive offense. This game might be competitive in the first half, but Tennessee should be no match for Oregon at home. Wins against the SEC always bolster a conference’s reputation, regardless of the opponent.

No. 19 Washington at Illinois – 3pm Pacific Time

The last of the Pac-12/Big Ten matchups features the Huskies versus the Fighting Illini. Washington jumped into the Top-25 after an impressive season-opening win over Boise State. Illinois is typically among the bottom tier of the Big Ten, but are coming off a big win against Cincinnati last week. Washington has more talent on both sides of the ball, but a road game in the Big Ten is no easy task. If they want to prove themselves as a legit Top-20 team, they can’t lose this game to Illinois.

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