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Pac-12 picks: USC over USU, Utah over BYU
This is a weird weekend in the Pac-12. Saturday's schedule pits two the Washington schools against two Idaho teams, while USC and UCLA host opponents named the Aggies. Four schools are off, and there's only one intra-conference game - but it's a good one. On to the picks:
Idaho State at Washington, 1 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks.
This game will decided in time for someone to drive to Pullman and make the Washington State-Idaho kickoff. Washington 59, Idaho State 7.
Utah State at USC, 1:30 p.m. MDT, ABC
This was scheduled as a "money" game, but so were USU's visits to Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Auburn and Wisconsin in recent years, and those turned into genuine four-quarter contests. This one should fit that description, although BYU's defense held USU quarterback Chuckie Keeton to three points last year and the Trojans' improved unit should be in that class. Conversely, USC's offense will struggle to top 24 points, so this one should be close. USC 24, Utah State 17.<
Stanford hardly was overwhelming at Army last weekend, while ASU outplayed Wisconsin - which is not to say the Sun Devils deserved to win, profiting as they did from officiating errors at the end. In any case, this is the country's best matchup of the day, with Stanford's defense trying to slow down ASU's fast-paced attack. Actually, it should resemble the ASU-Wisconsin game. Stanford 33, Arizona State 32.
Oregon State at San Diego State, 5:30 p.m. MDT, CBS Sports Network.
Mike Riley will enjoy returning to Qualcomm Stadium with a superior team, having formerly coached the San Diego Chargers. Oregon State 44, San Diego State 24.
Utah at BYU, 8:15 p.m. ESPN2
The rivalry will take two years off after this meeting, which means BYU will go from 2009 until at least 2016 without beating the Utes. BYU was very impressive against Texas, but the Utes will have sound defensive strategy. Utah 24, BYU 21.
New Mexico State at UCLA, 8:30 p.m.. Pac-12 Networks.
Unlike driving across Washington, it would be tough to get from the Coliseum to the Rose Bowl in time for this kickoff. Regardless, this game will not be nearly as intriguing as USC-Utah State. UCLA 50, New Mexico State 14.
Idaho at Washington State, 8:30 p.m. Pac-12 Network.
These schools are separated by eight miles and, as of Saturday night, 28 points. Washington State 38, Idaho 10.