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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)
» Rich Rod press conference after UNLV
» UA football: Report card for UNLV game
» Free weekly Wildcat sports magazine
» Watch Arizona Stadium fill up in time lapse

Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» Rewind: Looking back at ASU's win
» Flaws lifts Illinois soccer to win over ASU
» No. 19 ASU runs away for win to open year
» Boivin: Renovations point to golden future

California (East Bay Tribune)
» Cal opens at Northwestern with a much different look on defense
» Fact box: Cal at Northwestern
» Cal's Cameron Walker matures at cornerback
» Wilner: New NCAA football playoff a recipe for controversy

Colorado (Denver Post)
» CSU roars back to beat CU 31-17 in Rocky Mountain Showdown
» CU-CSU Briefs: Rams' defense tightens up after poor start
» Garrett Grayson overcomes slow start to guide CSU Rams past CU Buffs
» CU receiver Nelson Spruce shines in loss

Oregon (The Oregonian)
» Oregon Ducks open up Autzen Stadium doors for Fan Fest: Photo gallery
» College football top 25 updates: Full schedule, TV listings
» Pac-12 football updates: Full schedule, TV listings
» Oregon vs. South Dakota State: Fans' guide to Ducks game day

Oregon State (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
» BeaversSalute program gives tickets to military personnel and veterans
» Beavers promote McCoy to assistant athletic director for equipment operations
» Oregon State hires longtime trainer hired Fred Tedeschi
» Beavers hire Mark Massari as deputy athletics director

Stanford (San Jose Mercury-News)
» Stanford opens 2014 season without a No. 1 tailback -- again
» Fact box: Stanford vs. UC-Davis
» Stanford prepares for UC Davis as memory of stunning 2005 loss lingers
» Stanford's Jordan Morris gets U.S. soccer call up from Klinsmann

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)
» Washington volleyball opens with win
» Chris Petersen's first UW game: Prepare to be impressed
» UW vs. Hawaii: Chris Petersen era set to begin
» Photo gallery: Huskies visit Pearl Harbor

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» The M's are sinking in the West
» Saturday morning Pac-12 links
» Everyone gets in act for Indians
» Grading the Rutgers game



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