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Pac-12 picks: UCLA over Stanford, Notre Dame over USC
Stanford's loss to Utah last week somewhat diminished the Pac-12's best matchup of Saturday's schedule, but it's still intriguing. And thanks to Colorado's rescheduling efforts, all 12 teams are in action. On to the picks:
Charleston Southern at Colorado, noon MDT, Pac-12 Networks
After the Buffaloes' game with Fresno State was postponed in September due to the flooding in Boulder, Colorado needed a 12th game. Charleston Southern was able to fill the Buffs' open date. Because this is their second FCS opponent, the Buffs will need an NCAA waiver to count it as a sixth win for bowl eligibility. Let's just say that won't become an issue. Just beating the Buccaneers (7-0) will be tough enough for CU. Colorado 34, Charleston Southern 24.<
This is a rematch of a highly competitive Pac-12 championship game last December, with Stanford taking a 27-24 victory. The Cardinal have been vulnerable defensively the last two weeks against Washington and Utah, and the Bruins will present another big challenge. Stanford's offense should have some success as well, although it produced only two touchdowns against Utah. UCLA 34, Stanford 31.
Washington at Arizona State, 4 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks
This is what I love about October and November in the Pac-12: There are so many matchups that appear even. Based on the way these teams played at Stanford, Washington would seem to have the edge here. But ASU is a different team at home. This should be a wild adventure, with lots of yards and points. Could the Huskies really lose three games in a row? Arizona State 38, Washington 35.
USC at Notre Dame, 5:30 p.m. MDT, NBC
USC remains the Pac-12's biggest mystery. Was last week's performance against Arizona merely a case of a one-time jolt from interim coach Ed Orgeron? Or have the Trojans truly found themselves? This is an intriguing game for Utah and BYU fans, considering the Utes visit USC next week and BYU visits Notre Dame next month. The Trojans have won five straight games in South Bend, a remarkable streak. Based on Notre Dame's victory over ASU, I'm taking the Irish. Notre Dame 27, USC 24.
Utah at Arizona, 8 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks
Until last week, Washington was the most recent Pac-12 team to beat Stanford. How did the Huskies follow up that victory last season? By losing to Oregon, USC and Arizona in succession. So as much as the Utes would like to sustain their momentum, it won't be easy. Arizona is happy to be home after a road-heavy first half of the season. The Utes won in Tucson in 2011, but that was against a Wildcat team with an interim coach. The biggest variable in this game is Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker, who's not considered a great passer, even though he threw for 363 yards against USC. The pressure is on the Ute offense to score 35 points, after being held to 24 by a poor Arizona defense last November. Utah 35, Arizona 28.
Washington State at Oregon, 8 p.m. MDT, Fox Sports 1
Oregon is easy to take for granted, racking up huge numbers very week. This game will be no exception, and then the Ducks should get a better test next week against UCLA. The Cougars crumbled in the fourth quarter of a 52-24 loss to Oregon State last week and need to avoid turnovers to stay remotely close to the Ducks. Oregon 52, Washington State 28.
Oregon State at California, 8:30 p.m. MDT, ESPN2
It's amazing to think the Beavers will be bowl-eligible by Oct. 19, after they lost to Eastern Washington in a season opener. But in its weakened state, Cal's defense can't stop Sean Mannion and the OSU offense. Oregon State 45, California 24.&n