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Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon
Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon cover the Pac-12 for The Salt Lake Tribune.

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Pac-12 picks: Playing favorites with Oregon, Stanford

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Rather than claiming great insight, I'll acknowledge there have been few surprising results in the Pac-12 since I took over this blog three weeks ago. One notable exception was Oregon State's 42-24 win at BYU last weekend, when the teams blew past my forecast of 27 total points by early in the second quarter. Here goes another round of conservative picks:

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Thursday's game

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

Any game against Oregon is a checkpoint for a Pac-12 team, and here comes a barometer for Arizona State. The Sun Devils have looked good against Utah, Cal and Colorado, but this is a different dynamic. Oregon will face a revved-up atmosphere at Sun Devil Stadium and this game should be close for a while, but the Ducks' opponents tend to wear down on both sides of the ball as the game goes on. Oregon 38, Arizona State 21.

Saturday's games

Stanford at Cal, 1 p.m. MDT, Fox

Everybody's had several months to adjust to the idea of the Big Game being played in October. What's most shocking right now is Stanford's being only a three-point favorite, considering the perception of these teams as of a month ago. Have the Bears improved that much? The biggest variable actually is Stanford's offense, which scored 48 points in regulation against Arizona and then failed to produce a touchdown against Notre Dame. If quarterback Josh Nunes is effective at all, the Cardinal should win. Stanford 24, Cal 17.

Colorado at USC, 4 p.m., Pac-12 Networks

Let's just say Stanford-Cal should be close enough in the fourth quarter that not many viewers will switch in time for the kickoff of this game. Of course, that risks missing the decisive plays. Colorado actually showed some life against Arizona State before crumbling in the second half. But the Buffaloes will be facing a USC offense that wants to re-establish itself after a barely satisfactory effort at Washington last weekend. USC 41, Colorado 14.

Washington at Arizona, 8 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks

Arizona might be the most fascinating team in the Pac-12, with an exciting offense and a horrible defense. The Wildcats' games are particularly interesting when the opponent has a good defense and a lousy offense, like Washington. So can the Huskies' defense slow down UA quarterback Matt Scott? Can UW's Keith Price suddenly get things going? No, and yes. Look for a lot of yards and points on each side. Arizona 42, Washington 38.

Utah at Oregon State, 8:30 p.m. MDT, ESPN2

Who would have imagined that the biggest issue surrounding this game is Oregon State's ability to avoid a letdown? The Beavers arrived on the 2011 schedule just in time to help the Utes salvage their season, but this October's situation is much different. Then, as now, Utah is searching for offensive solutions. But OSU's defense is much improved, and will provide a tough test for freshman quarterback Travis Wilson. On the other side, if the Beavers protect their quarterback as well as they did last week at BYU, receivers Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton could have big nights. Oregon State 28, Utah 14.

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PAC-12 Links
Links from around the Pac-12
Arizona (Tucson Citizen)
» UA football: Cats take turn in Hollywood spotlight
» Hansen's Sunday Notebook: Mermuys makes NBA coaching leap; Johnson nears deal
» Arizona football: Hill named to another watch list
» Freshman facts, Part II

Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» Ranking 50 best college basketball players
» ASU is hard to figure for Pac-12 poll
» ASU can win enough shootouts for 2nd in South
» ASU releases football practice schedule

California (East Bay Tribune)
» Live udpates: Pac-12 Football Media Day 1, Wednesday at 8 a.m.
» Local digest: Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry in hunt at Lake Tahoe golf tournament
» Cal women's basketball to host Louisville in 2014-15
» Cal interim AD Williams is on the job

Colorado (Denver Post)
» Greg Henderson ready to etch name with list of CU's four-year starters
» CU's MacIntyre knows what to expect from new safety addition
» Rick George: CU Buffs should play bowl game this season, Pac-12 championship by 2016
» Frei: Rick George moves CU athletics forward but has work to do

Oregon (The Oregonian)
» Pac-12 Media Days live stream, chat: Watch the press conferences here and ask your questions
» Oregon's Greatest Athlete: Round of 64 Day 3 (vote)
» Pac-12 Media Days schedule: What to watch for Oregon Ducks fans
» Camas' spectacular Alexa Efraimson faces decision; Cameron Scarlett has Oregon Ducks on short list: The Oregonian sports top 5

Oregon State (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
» Oregon State hires longtime trainer hired Fred Tedeschi
» Beavers hire Mark Massari as deputy athletics director
» Oregon State hands out Bennys to top athletes, coaches and teams
» OSU fishing: MacDonald, Martinez win conference tournament

Stanford (San Jose Mercury-News)
» Live udpates: Pac-12 Football Media Day 1, Wednesday at 8 a.m.
» WNBA All-Star game: Chiney Ogwumike gets even with sister
» Local digest: Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry in hunt at Lake Tahoe golf tournament
» Stanford graduates Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike meet again as WNBA all stars

UCLA (Los Angeles Daily News)
» UCLA Football Notebook: Running back Malcolm Jones loses appeal for extra season
» College Football: Position coach Adrian Klemm says UCLA offensive line a work in progress
» COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Improving UCLA has questions to answer during preseason football camp
» COLLEGE FOOTBALL: UCLA's prized recruit Eddie Vanderdoes cleared to play by NCAA after leaving Notre Dame

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)
» Huskies fall camp position preview: Offensive line
» Pac-12 football media day live, July 23
» Jahmel Taylor looking to bounce back from tough first year at Washington
» Setting the stage for Pac-12 media days

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» Pac-12 Media Day (live stream)
» Petrino, Idaho at Sun Belt media day
» College football is just around the corner
» It's not too long now



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