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Pac-12 picks: UCLA over Utah; Irish over ASU
Last week, the narrowest margin of victory was 18 points in the five Pac-12 games. There should be some much closer contests this week, beginning Thursday night.
UCLA at Utah, 8 p.m. MDT Thursday, Fox Sports 1
In 2011, UCLA arrived at Rice-Eccles Stadium to find snow that covered the field in the first half. That was Oct. 29. So now it's Oct. 3 and what's the forecast? Rain and snow. That's a good omen for Utah, but not necessarily enough to slow down Brett Hundley and the Bruins. This is potentially a defining game for the Utes - but only if they win. UCLA 35, Utah 28.<
Washington State at California, 2 p.m. MDT, Fox Sports 1
This game is officially a toss-up, and both teams are coming off big losses to the Pac-12 North's elite teams. But I'm taking Stanford coach David Shaw's advice to "watch Washington State the rest of the year." Washington State 31, California 21.
Oregon at Colorado, 4 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks
If the Buffaloes could give up six touchdown passes at Oregon State last week, imagine what Oregon's offense could do to them. I'm already looking ahead to next week, when the Ducks should be tested by Washington's defense. Oregon 55, Colorado 17.
Arizona State vs. Notre Dame, 5:30 p.m. MDT, NBC
One way to look at ASU is the Sun Devils have scored 83 points in their last five quarters of Pac-12 play. Another viewpoint is they gave up 41 points to USC's formerly struggling offense. Notre Dame is even more of a mystery, going into this game at Arlington, Texas. The Pac-12 has been very good outside of the conference, but I like the Fighting Irish on a neutral field. Notre Dame 28, Arizona State 24.
Washington at Stanford, 8:30 p.m. MDT, ESPN
There will be something resembling a "game of the week" from here on out in the Pac-12, and this one is very intriguing. It's Washington's chance to show that there's some genuine substance to the 2013 Huskies, while Stanford defends its No. 5 ranking and tries to avenge a loss in Seattle last season. The Cardinal should be just a little better on both sides of the ball. Stanford 28, Washington 21.