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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: Thursday winners: Utah, USC

For the third year in a row, Utah will become the first Pac-12 football to kick off the season. USC also is in action Thursday night, with Arizona playing Friday. The picks for those games, with Saturday's schedule to come later:

Utah State at Utah, 6 p.m. MDT, Fox Sports 1

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The Utes have a lot to prove, coming off a 5-7 season. More than anything, they just need a victory over Utah State, which formerly was not an issue. Utah routinely handled USU for 12 games in a row, before losing 27-20 in overtime on the road last September. This game will be a good gauge of co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson's impact, quarterback Travis Wilson's growth and the offensive line's improvement. Utah's defense did a respectable job against USU quarterback Chuckie Keeton last year, allowing only two offensive touchdowns in regulation. Utah 24, USU 17.

USC at Hawaii, 9 p.m. MDT, CBS Sports Network

When the Trojans blasted Hawaii 49-10 in a 2012 opener, everybody figured USC was just that good. Turns out, Hawaii was just that bad. In any case, the Trojans should win by a similar score, with some combination of Cody Kessler and Max Wittek passing to Marquise Lee, who posted 197 receiving yards against the Warriors in Los Angeles. The trip to Honolulu creates some variables, but USC should be motivated enough to overwhelm Hawaii again. USC 49, Hawaii 14.

Northern Arizona at Arizona, 8 p.m. MDT Friday, Pac-12 Network

This is a good break-in game for Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker. Northern Arizona is an upper-half program in the Big Sky Conference, but not good enough to challenge a Pac-12 school. Above all, Arizona needs to show defensive improvement in this opener. Arizona 45, NAU 10.

PAC-12 Links
Links from around the Pac-12
Arizona (Tucson Citizen)
» By the numbers: UA's record-breaking win over Cal
» By the numbers: UA's record-breaking win over Cal
» Transcript: Fan chat during the Arizona vs. California football game
» UA football: WR Jones honored by Pac-12

Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» To beat UCLA, Sun Devils must put heat on QB
» ASU has prominent role in NCAA Final Four bid
» Devils expect QB Brett Hundley to play for UCLA
» Ex-ASU RB Marion Grice signs with Cardinals

California (East Bay Tribune)
» After one month, this is what we have learned about college football.
» Jeff Kent provides women's scholarship endowment to Cal athletics
» 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.

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
» Little change in this week's USTFCCC college cross country rankings
» Mark Helfrich on Pac-12 parity, Marcus Mariota and more: Pac-12 football coaches conference call
» Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota remains the one to beat for the Heisman Trophy

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)
» After one month, this is what we have learned about college football.
» Grading Stanford's week: Cardinal has a bye
» Local sports digest: Stanford, Cal in water polo showdown
» Stanford coach David Shaw goes digging

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 defensive coaches relish old-school, smashmouth football vs. Stanford
» UW's Travis Feeney on Stanford: 'I love playing these guys'
» After a week away, UW defensive lineman Joe Mathis returns to practice
» Video: UW's Andrew Hudson, DiAndre Campbell on Huskies' matchup with No. 16 Stanford

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» Going back in time thanks to a golden voice
» Tuesday morning Pac-12 links
» Quoting Cracraft, Peterson and Eklund
» Utah: WSU game notes



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