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Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon
Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams 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)
» Arizona Wildcats Video Extra: UA football
» Greg Hansen's Video Notebook
» Arizona Wildcats Video Extra...Arizona football makes the most out of Spring practice
» Video collection: NBA decision day at McKale

Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» ASU hockey tops Robert Morris to claim ACHA crown
» ASU baseball drops series against Tennessee
» Cancer fails to pin ASU's Eskam or derail his big plans for life
» Late errors doom ASU baseball in tough loss to Tennessee

California (East Bay Tribune)
» Cal football: Espitia hopes he's found home at linebacker
» Local digest: Longtime Stanford diving coach Rick Schavone is retiring
» Local digest: Saint Mary's men's golf leads at WCC tournament
» Cal names Tennessee's Cuonzo Martin as new basketball coach

Colorado (Denver Post)
» Colorado Classics: Darian Hagan, former CU Buffs quarterback
» CU Buffs backup QB Jordan Gehrke impresses during spring drills
» Fleet freshman receivers shine in CU Buffs' spring game
» Spring games are important, Colorado's Mike MacIntyre says

Oregon (The Oregonian)
» Canzano: Oregon Ducks coach Mark Helfrich says there is no user's manual to being a head coach
» Oregon Ducks sprinters make noise at Mt. SAC Relays
» Defensive play becoming key for Oregon softball (Video)
» Oregon softball finding its groove as No. 1 team in the country

Oregon State (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
» OSU men's basketball: De Carolis statement on men's basketball
» Oregon State's tournament success caps a remarkably quick turnaround
» OSU gymnastics: Beavers headed to Penn State for NCAA regionals
» OSU wins seventh straight racquetball national title

Stanford (San Jose Mercury-News)
» Stanford's Olympic diving coach Rick Schavone retires
» Local digest: Longtime Stanford diving coach Rick Schavone is retiring
» Local digest: Saint Mary's men's golf leads at WCC tournament
» Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike is WNBA's top overall draft pick

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)
» Deontae Cooper, Lavon Coleman, Jeff Lindquist shine in UW spring game
» Videos: Deontae Cooper, Jonathan Smith after UW's spring game
» UW's Trevor Simsby starring again after overcoming slump
» Video: UW's Chris Petersen after the spring game

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» Spring Practice Report: Day 11
» Video: Idaho's Petrino after scrimmage
» Shock clash with unbeaten Gladiators
» There are some shining lights out there

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