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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)
» Transcript: Fan chat during the Arizona vs. California football game
» UA football: WR Jones honored by Pac-12
» UA football: Your stories from the 'Hill Mary'
» Hansen's Sunday Notebook: Caldwell's pin count goes into record books

Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» Ex-ASU RB Marion Grice signs with Cardinals
» ASU football has a new enemy: Drake
» ASU-USC to be late-afternoon or night game
» ASU's rivalry with UCLA takes center stage

California (East Bay Tribune)
» Grading Cal's 49-45 loss to Arizona
» Cal's game at Washington State on Oct. 4 to kick off at 7:30 p.m.
» Jeff Kent provides women's scholarship endowment to Cal athletics
» Cal athletics store celebrates football victory prematurely

Colorado (Denver Post)
» Speedy freshman Donovan Lee gives CU Buffs another playmaker
» Colorado coached to avoid coin-toss glitches, MacIntyre says
» Colorado's MacIntyre gratified Buffs practiced hard Monday
» CU Buffs tackle Jeromy Irwin might play vs. Hawaii after concussion

Oregon (The Oregonian)
» Oregon Ducks open up Autzen Stadium doors for Fan Fest: Photo gallery
» Devon Allen and Keanon Lowe appear to have a bottle thrown at them during Oregon Ducks' win over Washington State
» Is Oregon's Marcus Mariota the nation's best player? His coaches are biased, but say so
» Oregon Ducks shut out in Pac-12 Player of the Week awards and nominations

Oregon State (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
» Oregon State roundup (Sept. 19)
» OSU men's basketball: Tinkle says positive steps being made
» Spencer to become new AD at Evansville
» BeaversSalute program gives tickets to military personnel and veterans

Stanford (San Jose Mercury-News)
» Grading Stanford's week: Cardinal has a bye
» Local sports digest: Stanford, Cal in water polo showdown
» Stanford coach David Shaw goes digging
» Cal, Stanford Pac-12 men's basketball schedules announced

UCLA (Los Angeles Daily News)
» UCLA Football Notebook: Running back Malcolm Jones loses appeal for extra season
» 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
» Pac-12 Media Day: Eyes on Anthony Barr for UCLA's 2013 hopes

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 opponent: Stanford
» UW's Chris Petersen on Stanford's defense, John Ross' injury, Cyler Miles' passing and more
» Chris Petersen confirms top quarterback recruit Jake Browning has signed with the Huskies
» UW senior running back Jesse Callier out for the season

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» Quoting Cracraft, Peterson and Eklund
» Utah: WSU game notes
» Mike Leach Monday press conference
» Cal game set for 7:30



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