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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 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

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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.

Saturday's games

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.

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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