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Pac-12 Week 8 game picks: Can USC keep its playoff hopes alive?

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Who wins, USC or Notre Dame? (0:47)

USC and Notre Dame meet in what is essentially a playoff elimination game. Can Sam Darnold help the Trojans earn a signature win, or will the Irish rushing attack prove too physical? (0:47)

With Washington and Washington State ending their undefeated runs in clumsy fashion against unranked teams, there's a narrative out there that the Pac-12 is on thin ice when it comes to the College Football Playoff. Yes, the Pac-12's chances certainly took a hit with the state of Washington imploding in front of our eyes, but you're crazy if you think that the conference is done.

Look at Clemson.

Look at Oklahoma.

Look at Ohio State.

If the Pac-12 has a one-loss champ, chances are the conference won't be left out of the playoff. Nonconference bores with Washington and Washington State ain't great to look at, but all should be forgiven with a conference championship next to one of their names. Oh, and USC could have a monster win for the playoff committee to look at if the Trojans upset (weird, right?) No. 13 Notre Dame this weekend.

All is not lost, West Coasters. But all is lost with our buddy Kyle. The Left Coast native now finds himself in a two-game hole in the picks to the southern gentleman.

Sad.

You let the kid who spelled "Wazzou" take a lead in the Pac-12 picks. Man, that has to sting.

On to the picks! Visit our college football PickCenter page for additional information on these games and many more.

Arizona State (3-3) at Utah (4-2)

Kyle Bonagura: Any talk about ASU coach Todd Graham being on the hot seat was put on pause after last week's upset of then-No. 5 Washington. A win for the Sun Devils in Salt Lake City would completely change the trajectory of their season, but the Utes will find a way to snap their two-game skid. Utah 24, ASU 23

Edward Aschoff: So we were supposed to believe that this would be Graham's last season with the Sun Devils? Now, he's 3-3 with a win over Washington. Utah just played a hell of a game against USC and made the right call by going for a two-point conversion to win the game. They won't need to go for two this weekend. Utah 30, ASU 20

Oregon (4-3) at UCLA (3-3)

Bonagura: This is an interesting matchup because it features a team that can't stop the run (UCLA) against a team that can only run (at least while quarterback Justin Herbert is out). The Bruins are giving up an alarming 7.31 yards per carry in conference play, but after watching Oregon's 42-7 loss to Stanford last week, it probably won't matter. UCLA 38, Oregon 34

Aschoff: Oregon is having a heck of a time trying to replace Herbert. The Ducks can still run the ball, but in the past two games, Oregon has turned it over six times. Jim Mora said that it "rips his guts out" to see how bad his rush defense is. It will probably happen again this Saturday, but at least it will happen with a winning smile. UCLA 41, Oregon 35

No. 11 USC (6-1) at No. 13 Notre Dame (5-1)

Bonagura: Once upon a time, USC quarterback Sam Darnold and Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush both attended a camp at Stanford. The Stanford staff preferred Wimbush and offered him a scholarship, but not Darnold. Darnold will outplay Wimbush in this one, but can USC finally put together a complete performance? Notre Dame 34, USC 31

Aschoff: Clay Helton laughed when asked how you try and stop Notre Dame Josh Adams. With how thin USC's defensive line is, sometimes you gotta laugh to keep from crying. But this one will come down to Darnold, who is getting more and more comfortable with his receivers. This one could be one for the ages, and Darnold will again lead the Trojans' to a strong fourth quarter. USC 31, Notre Dame 28

Arizona (4-2) at California (4-3)

Bonagura: Cal's Justin Wilcox and Arizona's Rich Rodriguez are building their cases for Pac-12 Coach of the Year. The Bears shut down the Air Raid last week, can they do the same to breakout star Khalil Tate this week? Probably not, but they can still do enough to find a win. Cal 31, Arizona 28

Aschoff: I don't even need to write much here. I'm riding this Rich Rod/Khalil Tate train until it flies off the rails both beautifully, sensationally and tragically in front of our eyes. Arizona 34, Cal 30

Colorado (4-3) at No. 15 Washington State (6-1)

Bonagura: The Cougars rose to No. 8 in the AP poll, flamed out in spectacular fashion and saw their athletic director Bill Moos, a former WSU team captain, leave for Nebraska all in the span of a week. They'll right the ship against reeling Colorado, but what a bizarre stretch in Pullman. Washington State 41, Colorado 28

Aschoff: Man, having to exchange "Clemsoning" for "Couging" that quickly came as a shock. But according to folks around here, that's on me. Washington State isn't out of the Pac-12 race or the playoff race, and they won't be, as Mike Leach so eloquently put it, "pathetic" on defense this weekend. Washington State 34, Colorado 17

2017 picks records: Aschoff 44-10, Bonagura 42-12