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Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon
Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune.

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Pac-12 picks: BYU over Beavers, UCLA over Utah

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Saturday will be fun and challenging for fans of BYU and Utah. Besides having their own teams play in the early afternoon television window, there's the opportunity to check out the next opponents of the Cougars (Notre Dame) and Utes (Oregon State) at roughly the same time.

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Here are this week's Pac-12 picks:

Thursday's game

Arizona State at Colorado, 7 p.m. MDT, ESPN

The issue dogging the Sun Devils is that none of the four teams they've beaten – including Utah – is particularly distinguished. That's not going to change with a win over Colorado, obviously. But ASU can add to its momentum going into next week's game with Oregon with a good showing in Boulder, while the Buffaloes try to get something going, beyond their recent win over Washington State. ASU's offense should be too much to handle. Arizona State 35, Colorado 21.

Saturday's games

Utah at UCLA, 1 p.m. MDT, Fox

There's some intrigue in how the Utes will try to mix in freshman quarterback Travis Wilson, trying to spark the country's No. 114-ranked offense. There's also the history of how the Utes inserted a southern California native into a game at the Rose Bowl in 2006, when Tommy Grady immediately threw a pass that UCLA returned for a touchdown. The offense is struggling, but it is equally important for Utah's defense to re-establish itself, having allowed an average of 472 yards to Arizona State and USC. The Bruins, meanwhile, are eager to bounce back from a loss at Cal last weekend. UCLA 21, Utah 14.

Oregon State at BYU, 1:30 p.m. MDT, ABC

Taysom Hill's knee injury ended the controversy regarding how BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall would work quarterback Riley Nelson back into the lineup, while Sean Mannion's knee injury makes junior Cody Vaz a first-time starter for Oregon State. Each defense is much improved from last season, when BYU took a 38-28 victory in Corvallis. It's tough to picture either offense having much success. This could resemble the 10-7 win that OSU earned in Provo in 1986, when Mendenhall was an OSU safety. BYU 14, Oregon State 13.

Stanford at Notre Dame, 1:30 p.m. MDT, NBC

With every passing week, Notre Dame's resurgence gains more credibility. The No. 7 Fighting Irish were especially impressive in pounding Miami last weekend and are looking to remain unbeaten in advance of BYU's visit. Stanford broke out offensively against Arizona, escaping with a 54-48 overtime win, but this will not be that kind of game. These teams should match up pretty evenly, but Notre Dame is regaining its home aura. Notre Dame 24, Stanford 17.

USC at Washington, 5 p.m. MDT, Fox

Washington was unable to follow its upset of Stanford with a good performance at Oregon and will be trying again to prove that it belongs in the Pac-12's top tier. USC is still stung by its loss to Stanford, but has played much better in wins over Cal and Utah. The Trojans should have plenty of offense to overcome the tough atmosphere in Seattle. USC 31, Washington 17.

Cal at Washington State, 8:30 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks

In its quest for bowl eligibility, Utah needs to beat both of these teams. So it is probably better for the Utes that Cal fails to separate itself from the league's lower tier, after the Bears impressively beat UCLA. Washington State's self-image was not enhanced by coach Mike Leach referring to some of his seniors as "zombies," going through the motions. Cal 35, Washington State 24.

Kurt Kragthorpe

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PAC-12 Links
Links from around the Pac-12
Arizona (Tucson Citizen)
» Who is winning the Arizona quarterback competition?
» Witts' sister act a highlight of UA's first sand volleyball season
» Hansen's Sunday Notebook: Miller's good day
» Arizona Wildcats Video Extra: UA football

Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» ASU hockey tops Robert Morris to claim ACHA crown
» ASU baseball drops series against Tennessee
» Cancer fails to pin ASU's Eskam or derail his big plans for life
» Late errors doom ASU baseball in tough loss to Tennessee

California (East Bay Tribune)
» Cal football gets first two oral commitments for 2015
» Cuonzo Martin adds two former Tennessee assistants to Cal staff
» Cal women's tennis team stuns host Stanford, claims first Pac-12 title.
» Cal's Sonny Dykes gets advice from veteran coaches after 1-11 first season

Colorado (Denver Post)
» Colorado Classics: Darian Hagan, former CU Buffs quarterback
» CU Buffs backup QB Jordan Gehrke impresses during spring drills
» Fleet freshman receivers shine in CU Buffs' spring game
» Spring games are important, Colorado's Mike MacIntyre says

USC (Los Angeles Daily News)
» USC Football Notebook: Marqise Lee's injury not too serious
» USC Football Notebook: QBs Max Wittek, Cody Kessler present dilemma for Trojans coach Lane Kiffin
» USC FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel thinks Trojans might not miss QB Matt Barkley
» USC FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Dion Bailey says it's 'now or never'

Washington (Seattle Times)
» UW's Bishop Sankey to debut on ESPN's 'Draft Academy' today
» Q&A with Lorenzo Romar, Part I
» Morning links: Wrapping up UW's spring season
» California avoids sweep, beats Huskies in baseball

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» Vijil helping train Shock players
» The changing of the guard continues
» Spring Practice Report: Day 12
» Kent lands his first recruit



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