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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)
» UA football: QB Patterson decommits from Arizona
» Hansen's Sunday Notebook: Tucson's streetcar leads to soccer
» UA football: 3-star lineman commits to Cats
» Future Cat Roth sets HS steeplechase record

Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» ASU football overview: Defensive backs
» Why is Sendek watching film of VCU, Louisville?
» ASU adds linebacker from Purdue
» Randall expected to compete for All-Pac-12 honors

California (East Bay Tribune)
» Local digest: Former Stanford star Kerri Walsh Jennings wins World Series of Beach Volleyball
» Internazionale Milan scores 3-2 shootout victory over Real Madrid
» Kerri Walsh Jennings reaches final of World Series of Beach Volleyball
» Former Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour hired as Penn State AD

Colorado (Denver Post)
» Changes in college football a cause of excitement and concern
» Pac-12 media days: Colorado eager to turn things around
» Colorado's MacIntyre at Pac-12 media days: "We will be improved"
» Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott: league "well positioned" for playoffs

Oregon (The Oregonian)
» Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota's only two classes this fall are golf and yoga
» University of Oregon can keep secret its records from sexual assault investigation, district attorney rules
» Colt Lyerla contending for Green Bay Packers roster spot, putting Oregon Ducks trouble behind him
» Oregon Ducks kicker Hayden Crook won't return to team this fall

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)
» Local sports digest: Former Stanford star Kerri Walsh captures World Series of Beach Volleyball
» Local digest: Former Stanford star Kerri Walsh Jennings wins World Series of Beach Volleyball
» Kerri Walsh Jennings reaches final of World Series of Beach Volleyball
» Stanford's Carol Zhao advances in Bank of the West tennis qualifying

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 to open three fall-camp practices to the public
» Mike Anderson stars in summer-league game
» UW releases another teaser video
» Huskies fall camp position preview: Defensive line

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» Catching up in time for fall camp
» EWU sets 2017 game at Texas Tech
» Something just clicked last night
» Depth gives Indians an edge



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