Week 9 in the Pac-12: What to watch for

More deserving of playoff spot: Louisville or Washington? (1:01)

As we inch closer to the first College Football Playoff rankings on November 1st, Heather Dinich and Ryan McGee look at which team, Louisville or Washington, is more worthy of one of the four playoff spots. (1:01)

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

Get up for GameDay! ESPN's GameDay is headed to Salt Lake City for what could be a preview of the Pac-12 championship game. No. 4 Washington puts its 10-game winning streak (tied for second longest in the nation) on the line against No. 17 Utah. Offensively, the Utah running game has been revitalized with the un-retirement of Joe Williams, who is coming off a four-touchdown, 332-yard rushing performance last week against UCLA. Washington counters with quarterback Jake Browning, who moved up to No. 2 in the ESPN Heisman voting this week with 26 touchdowns to just two interceptions on the season.

That sets up a fun showdown with the Utah defense, which ranks first in FBS this year with 22 forced turnovers. Of those 22, 14 have come by way of interceptions, which is tied for the FBS lead. Washington's defense has been equally efficient, if not more. The Huskies lead the Pac-12 in scoring defense, allowing just 14.6 points per game. Adding more intrigue to this game, Utah quarterback Troy Williams started his career at Washington.

Quarterback questions: Stanford, which has dropped three of its past four, will turn to quarterback Keller Chryst in an attempt to jump-start its floundering offense. The Cardinal have scored just three offensive touchdowns during that stretch and only 25 offensive points in the past four games (not counting defensive scores). They travel to Tucson, Arizona, where the Wildcats hope to have Brandon Dawkins, Anu Solomon or some variation of both back in the lineup after the bye week. Solomon hasn't played since the season opener against BYU. Dawkins has been in and out of the lineup because of injuries, leaving Khalil Tate to take a lot of reps.

Home vs. road: Since winning their neutral-site game in Australia to open the year, the California Bears have won all three home games and lost all three road games. They've alternated wins and losses all season: W, L, W, L, W, L, W. Cal is the only 4-3 team (out of 20) to follow that pattern. Coach Sonny Dykes said his team needs to find a way to win on the road, because that is what separates good programs from great programs. Plus the Bears have to go from playing a Friday night game to a Thursday night game -- on the road -- against a team coming off a bye week in USC. So the scheduling gods were not particularly kind to Cal this week. The Trojans have won all three games at home this year and need a win to keep pace with Utah and Colorado in the Pac-12 South.

Looking to bowl: Arizona State, which started out the year 4-0, has dropped three of its past four. The Sun Devils will look for win No. 6 this week at Oregon before closing out the year at home to Utah and then on the road at Washington and Arizona. Quarterback Manny Wilkins, who left in the first quarter of last week's loss to Washington State, will be a game-time decision, head coach Todd Graham said. The Ducks haven't been eliminated from the bowl picture yet, but they'll need to win four of their last five to reach the six-in mark. The Ducks have dropped five straight.

Washington State has rolled off five straight wins after an 0-2 start and the Cougars are one of just two undefeated Pac-12 teams along with Washington. They are both 4-0 in conference play for the first time since 1997, when both started 5-0. The Cougars travel to Oregon State this week with a chance to lock up bowl eligibility for the second straight year and the third time in four years.

See you next week: Colorado and UCLA are on bye this week before the Buffs and Bruins meet up next Thursday night in Boulder. At 6-2, Colorado is bowl eligible for the first time since 2007. The Buffs bring the league's No. 2 scoring defense (18.1 points per game) into the bye week. UCLA will try to sort out its offensive woes during the off week. Specifically, the anemic rush offense has slipped to one of the worst in the country. The Bruins have just one rushing touchdown during their three-game losing streak.