I'll introduce myself as the John L. Smith of the Pac-12 beat, with Bill Oram's becoming The Tribune's Jazz beat writer resulting in my
promotion as the interim Pac-12 blogger.
My credentials? Well, how many writers can claim to be a son of a former Pac-10 Coach of the Year? So here we are, 23 years after Dave Kragthorpe's award-winning 4-7-1 season with Oregon State, and the Beavers are the conference's surprise team. With that, here are Saturday's picks:
Arizona State at Cal, 2 p.m. MDT, FX
Can the Sun Devils possibly be as good as they looked last weekend against Utah? Ute fans sure hope so. This becomes a pivotal game -- especially for Cal, with its about on the verge of crumbling. ASU did not play well in its only road game, losing to Missouri, but should perform better in Berkeley. The enduring image of all those ASU receivers running free against Utah makes it impossible for me to go against the Devils. Arizona State 35, Cal 24.
UCLA at Colorado, 4 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks
Good thing we all piled on Colorado last week, because now that the Buffaloes are the Pac-12 South's co-leaders, they're exempt from the jokes for the moment. That fourth-quarter comeback at Washington State was amazing, but let's face it, that required some cooperation from the Cougars. And it's difficult to picture a September when Sacramento State wins at Folsom Field and UCLA loses there. The Bruins lost some of their shine in a home defeat against Oregon State, but quarterback Brett Hundley will thrive against Colorado. After next Thursday's Utah-USC game, UCLA is the Utes' next opponent.
UCLA 31, Colorado 17.
Oregon State at Arizona, 8 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks
This is the conference's most intriguing game of the week, just because we really need to find out more about these teams. Then
there's the October schedule that pits OSU against BYU and Utah, so there's plenty of incentive for local viewing. Going against
Arizona's offense will be a good test for OSU's defense, disregarding how the Wildcats were shut out by Oregon last weekend. Arizona moved the ball decently, but invented all kinds of ways to score. The Beavers' defensive improvement is stunning, after I witnessed BYU and Utah run the ball right through them last October, so I'm picking them until proven otherwise. Oregon State 28, Arizona 21.
Oregon at Washington State, 8:30 p.m. MDT, ESPN2
This game actually is at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, where the Cougars have booked their annual home date with Oregon or Oregon
State. That obviously creates the potential for a lot of green and yellow in the seats. The Ducks showed last week that they just may have a defense to go with that prolific offense, and nothing suggests that Mike Leach's WSU offense is ready to match Oregon's
explosiveness. Oregon 49, Washington State 21.
– Kurt Kragthorpe
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