Pac-12 picks: USC over Arizona, Stanford (barely) over Utah
The Pac-12's first six-game schedule of conference play is launched Thursday night, with a very mysterious game. Meanwhile, Washington takes a shot at further validation and Stanford and UCLA try to stay unbeaten in advance of their meeting next week. On to the picks:
Arizona at USC, 8:30 p.m. MDT Thursday, Fox Sports 1
Who knows how to evaluate these teams? Arizona has played only one conference game and USC has an interim coach. The Wildcats outlasted USC in a wild adventure in Tucson last October, when both offenses were much more capable. The Trojans should get a temporary jolt from interim coach Ed Orgeron, much as Tim Kish initially helped Arizona in 2011. That gives them my slight edge. USC 24, Arizona 21.
Oregon at Washington, 2 p.m MDT, Fox Sports 1
The Huskies fell short in an emotional contest at Stanford last weekend and now have to turn around and deal with the Ducks. That's asking a lot, although coach Steve Sarkisian's theory is that the rivalry should help his team shake off any lingering disappointment. This will be Oregon's first test against a genuinely good defense, although the Ducks had no trouble with Washington last October. It just means their run of 50-point productions will end. Oregon 42, Washington 31.
Stanford at Utah, 4 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks
The Cardinal come to Salt Lake City between high-profile games with Washington and UCLA, which should work in Utah's favor. The Utes also may be physical enough to match up well with Stanford. Could it all converge in Utah's first signature win as a Pac-12 member? Probably not, but it should be interesting. Stanford 28, Utah 24.
Colorado at Arizona State, 8 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks
The Sun Devils can be overwhelming at home, as USC knows, and now they're angry after a loss to Notre Dame. Arizona State 52, Colorado 28.
California at UCLA, 8:30 p.m. MDT, ESPN2
Cal quarterback Jared Goff should be able to rack up some yardage against UCLA, even though the Bruins intercepted six passes at Utah last week. But in their beaten-down state, the Bears can't stop UCLA. It doesn't help that the Bruins remember last year's stunning 43-17 loss in Berkeley.
Oregon State at Washington State, 8:30 p.m. MDT, ESPNU
It's amazing to think that OSU beat the Cougars 19-6 last season. These teams will combine for 25-plus points in the first quarter in Pullman and just keep scoring. The Beavers should have just enough of a defensive advantage. Oregon State 45, Washington State 38.
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Links from around the Pac-12
Arizona (Tucson Citizen)
» Arizona basketball: How long will the Wildcats hold on to No. 1?
» Arizona Wildcats in AdvoCare V100 Bowl: Running backs are the story
» Arizona football: Wildcats still have multiple bowl options
» My final regular-season AP college football ballot
Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» ASU women's basketball get it done again in OT
» ASU football will play Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl
» Softball season still a way off, but ASU's new coach is already delivering big pitch
» ASU football falls in polls after loss to Stanford
California (East Bay Tribune)
» For Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett, a long strange trip
» Cal falls just short of College Cup, loses to Maryland
» College basketball: Cal men lose to Santa Barbara
» Missy Franklin helps Cal dominate Winter Nationals
Colorado (Denver Post)
» Bill McCartney keeps standing on the rock as life keeps changing
» CU Buffs men's basketball rank 21st, first time both teams in poll since '97
» Askia Booker hits buzzer 3-pointer for CU Buffs' win over Kansas
» Bill McCartney's next mission is in Detroit, his former home
Oregon (The Oregonian)
» Oregon tight end Pharaoh Brown is suspended for Alamo Bowl for role in campus snowball fight
» Heisman finalists: Florida State's Jameis Winston joined by 5 others, but not Marcus Mariota
» Will the Pac-12 go 9-0 in bowl games? And which matchup is the best? (polls)
» Bowl game swag: iPad Minis for Ducks, sunglasses and aloha shirts for Beavers
Oregon State (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
» OSU rugby: Men's, women's team both headed to National Sevens tournament
» OSU rugby: Alumni match set for Saturday
» OSU announces hire for compliance position
» OSU volleyball: Ducks have upper hand in season's 1st meeting between rivals
Stanford (San Jose Mercury-News)
» For Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett, a long strange trip
» Wilner on college football: San Jose State's bowl snub should not have been a surprise
» Rose Bowl matches similar teams in Stanford, Michigan State
» Stanford Cardinal headed back to Rose Bowl
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)
» Jim Lambright on UW's Chris Petersen: 'He will bring a great foundation to this program, and he will win'
» Chris Petersen: Leaving Boise for UW was 'a gut decision'
» Pac-12 Player of the Week: Askia Booker
» Video: Chris Petersen's UW press conference
Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» It was a loss but it was not a bad loss
» Monday morning Pac-12 links
» New Mexico Bowl Tickets
» An early look at Colorado State
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