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Pac-12 picks: Big Saturday in Oregon
It's a big Saturday in the Willamette Valley, with Oregon hosting UCLA and Stanford visiting Oregon State in seven consecutive hours of ESPN programming in the evening. And it all starts early in the morning with ESPN's "GameDay" crew in Eugene. The combined records of these four teams is 24-3, so it will be a defining day for everybody involved. On to the picks:
Utah at USC, 2 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks
Competing theories are in play for Utah at the Coliseum. The Utes went 5-1 the past two seasons against schools that would fire their coach at the end of the year, or already had done so. And now they face USC with an interim coach. Then again, the Utes are 3-7 on the road as conference members, and each of those road wins required some good breaks. They're also only 3-9 against Pac-12 South rivals. Utah should match up well with USC's physical nature, much like the Stanford game. The biggest variable is the health of these teams; Utah may have an edge if quarterback Travis Wilson's passing hand is fully functional. Utah 21, USC 17.<
As was the case with UCLA-Stanford last week, this game loses some value with UCLA coming off a loss. But it will be intriguing, as UCLA coach Jim Mora and his defensive staff take their shots at stopping the Ducks' offense. The Bruins also will need a big performance from Brett Hundley's offense, after Stanford held UCLA to 266 total yards and 10 points. This should resemble a typical Oregon performance, in the end. Oregon 45, UCLA 24.
Arizona at Colorado, 6 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks
If Arizona finishes 6-6, the Wildcats will have traveled a very easy road to bowl eligibility. Their victory over Utah was meaningful, but their three nonconference wins were pretty much guaranteed and they get to play Colorado and California. The only intrigue here involves Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey, who ran for 366 yards against the Buffaloes last season. Arizona 42, Colorado 28.
Stanford at Oregon State, 8:30 p.m. MDT, ESPN
These teams staged a great game at Stanford last year, with the Cardinal winning 17-13. Look for more points this time, as OSU quarterback Sean Mannion tries to validate his amazing season against Stanford's defense. The Cardinal re-established themselves defensively in last week's defeat of UCLA and should be able to overpower the Beavers on offense, but this will be another good one. Stanford 28, Oregon State 24.
California at Washington, 9 p.m. MDT, Fox Sports 1
Cal arrives just in time on Washington's schedule. The Huskies are reeling after three straight losses, including a 53-24 defeat at Arizona State last weekend. Falling to Stanford and Oregon while being competitive was acceptable, but Washington crumbled in Tempe. Cal, meanwhile, keeps having stretches of games where everything falls apart. Washington 35, California 17.