Pac-12 picks: Utes over Cal; Sun Devils over UCLA
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Still pleased with myself for not following the popular trend of taking Cal over Stanford last week, I'm here with another round of Pac-12 picks. For the first time this season, the schedule features six conference games, all on Saturday:
Colorado at Oregon, 1 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks
The less effort, ink and cyberspace wasted on this game, the better. Oregon 50, Colorado 14.
UCLA at Arizona State, 1 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks
Now this is an intriguing game. UCLA is coming off a bye; ASU is coming off a big letdown after all the buildup to last week's game with Oregon. The winner will establish itself as a strong contender in the Pac-12 South. If defensive tackle Will Sutton missing all but one play of the Oregon game with a knee injury, ASU will have a much better chance of stopping UCLA's running game. On the other side, Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly will have to regroup after a shaky performance. But I like ASU at home. Arizona State 28, UCLA 24.
USC at Arizona, 1:30 p.m. MDT, ABC/ESPN2
Last October's 48-41 victory for USC sure looks like the blueprint for this game. USC's defense is improved, but so is Arizona's offense. The key will be whether Arizona's defense can play anywhere near the level of its performance last week against Washington, because USC quarterback Matt Barkley feasts on bad defenses, as evidenced by his six touchdown passes against Colorado. Arizona will make it interesting, but it's hard to believe the Wildcats have advanced to the point of beating the Trojans. USC 42, Arizona 31.
Washington State at Stanford, 4:15 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks
Washington State's approach of not even bothering to run against the Cardinal will work in its favor, but the Cougars will have trouble scoring enough points, no matter what they do. This may not be the automatic blowout everyone would expect, however, with Stanford coming off the Big Game against Cal and WSU coming off a bye. Stanford 35, Washington State 17.
Cal at Utah, 7:45 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks
The biggest flaw in thinking Utah is poised for a recovery against the Bears is the evidence of last October's game, which Cal dominated. Ute coach Kyle Whittingham keeps insisting his team is close to breaking through, and he has to be right one of these weeks. While everyone's still scarred by the 2010 "Blackout" game against TCU, played in the afternoon, the Utes have won their three night games under such circumstances. As for actual factors in this game, Utah's issues are finishing drives and containing Cal receiver Keenan Allen, as Stanford managed to do last week. Utah 21, Cal 17.
Oregon State at Washington, 8:15 p.m. Pac-12 Networks
The Beavers looked vulnerable last week against Utah; then again, Washington hardly resembled a team capable of upsetting a Top 10 opponent. The Huskies should bounce back and deliver a much better effort than they did at Arizona, but I'm sticking with OSU until proven otherwise. Oregon State 24, Washington 17.