EL PASO, Texas – The 2018 College Football regular season has wrapped up for most teams. There are conference title games still left to be played to crown conference champions, but many are waiting to see where they’ll be heading this bowl season. Bowl selections will happen Sunday, Dec. 2, so we’re just days away from finding out who will be traveling to El Paso to play in the Hyundai Sun Bowl on Dec. 31.
Here’s the action going on this week in the Pac-12 and ACC.
No. 17 Utah knows its opponent for the Pac-12 Conference Championship game. No. 10 Washington earned its seventh straight Apple Cup victory, defeating No. 13 Washington State 28-15, earning it the right to play the Utes. After an up-and-down season, Oregon ended on a high note, defeating rival Oregon State 55-15. USC gave No. 3 Notre Dame all it could handle but fell 24-17. Utah earned 35-27 comeback victory over BYU. UCLA battled Stanford until the end, eventually losing 49-42. Arizona State defeated rival Arizona 41-40. Colorado ended the season with seven consecutive losses, losing 33-21 to California.
The Pac-12 Conference Championship game isn’t the only game this weekend with bowl implications as Stanford and California will take the field this week to make up their postponed matchup. Both games will influence the Pac-12 standings and who will be heading where come bowl selections on Sunday.
No. 17 Utah vs. No. 10 Washington (Friday)
The North and South divisions clash this Friday in Santa Clara, Calif. as No. 17 Utah (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12) meets No. 10 Washington (9-3, 7-2) to determine the Pac-12 Conference Champion. This game will serve as a rematch as the Huskies defeated the Utes 21-7 back on Sept. 15.
Utah is coming off a 35-27 win over rival BYU. A key difference in its game against Washington this time will be quarterback Jason Shelley, who didn’t play against the Huskies last time. Shelley took over the starting role after Tyler Huntley went down with an injury against Arizona State. The Utes are 3-0 and averaging 32 points a game in Shelley’s three starts. Defensively, Utah is allowing just 19 points and 316 yards a game. The Utes also rank fifth in the country in rushing defense, allowing just 100 yards a game on the ground.
The Huskies enter the game coming off a 28-15 victory over then No. 8 Washington State, giving them a share of the Pac-12 North title. This marks the second time in three seasons that Washington will compete for the Pac-12 Conference Championship. Under quarterback Jake Browning, the Huskies average 28 points and 421 yards a game. They also shine defensively, surrendering 17 points and just 311 yards a game. This game has the potential to be a defensive battle like the first encounter, but this time the reward is a date at the Rose Bowl.
Stanford at California
Stanford (7-4, 5-3) travels to take on California (7-4, 4-4) in a game that will still have an effect on the Pac-12 standing, potentially influencing who could be playing in the Hyundai Sun Bowl this year. The game was originally scheduled for Nov. 17, but poor air quality forced it to be rescheduled. The Cardinal enter this game after defeating UCLA 49-42 last week. It was a game won through the air as quarterback K.J. Costello threw for 344 yards and five touchdowns on the day. They are averaging 30 points and 401 yards of offense a game. The Golden Bears also come into the game off a victory, defeating Colorado 33-21. California scored two touchdowns defensively, both interception returns, in the first quarter, setting the tone for the rest of the game. For the season, the Golden Bears’ defense allows just 21 points and 319 yards a game.
The stage is set for the ACC Championship game between No. 2 Clemson and Pittsburgh and while the Panthers are entering the game off a loss, anything can happen in those 60 minutes. Virginia Tech defeated Virginia 34-31 and play Marshall this week in a makeup game with bowl eligibility on the line. Georgia Tech lost to in-state rival No. 4 Georgia 45-21. Florida State failed to earn bowl eligibility, losing to No. 9 Florida 41-14. Louisville’s season came to an end with a 56-10 loss to No. 15 Kentucky. No. 20 Syracuse defeated Boston College 42-21. NC State defeated North Carolina 34-28 and will play a makeup game against East Carolina this week in hopes of improving its record. Wake Forest earned bowl eligibility, defeating Duke 59-7.
The standings in the ACC are virtually set as there’s only one game left between conference opponents. Still, ACC competition has been all over the place this season, so the championship game has the potential to provide some late-season fireworks and drama.
No. 2 Clemson vs. Pittsburgh
The ACC Championship game is set between No. 2 Clemson (12-0, 8-0 ACC) and Pittsburgh (7-5, 6-2) in Charlotte, N.C. Clemson kept its undefeated season alive defeating rival South Carolina 56-36 last week. It was the most points surrendered by the Tiger defense all season. Clemson’s defense allows just 14 points and 283 yards a game, ranking fourth and seventh, respectively, in the nation. The Tigers also have the third-ranked offense in the country, gaining 539 yards and scoring 46 points a game.
Pittsburgh enters this championship game coming off a 24-3 loss to Miami. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Panthers where they were averaging 41 points a game. On the season Pittsburgh is averaging 28 points and 386 yards a game. It leans heavily on the running attack, averaging 233 rushing yards a game.
Other ACC Games
East Carolina (3-8) @ NC State (8-3, 5-3)
Marshall (8-3) @ Virginia Tech (5-6, 4-4)
Visit www.sunbowl.org for a chance to win tickets to the 2018 Hyundai Sun Bowl. A team from the ACC/Notre Dame will take on a team from the Pac-12 on Dec. 31, 2018 at noon in El Paso, Texas.
by Michael Lujan on behalf of the Hyundai Sun Bowl
Sun Bowl Association
4150 Pinnacle Street
El Paso, Texas 79902