Pac-12 picks: Halloween could produce a real thriller
This is a weird week in the Pac-12, with only four games scheduled and four teams off. What’s more, two of the games are booked for Thursday and Friday. That’s the nature of college football in 2013, one of those years when teams have 14 weeks to play 12 games. On to the picks:
Arizona State at Washington State, 8:30 p.m. MDT, ESPN
This is an intriguing game for Utah fans, involving two of the Utes’ next three opponents. Something similar occurred Oct. 10, when USC hosted Arizona — and then both teams beat Utah this month.
In any case, this is a defining game for each team. ASU needs to win to stay alone atop the Pac-12 South and the Cougars need every victory they can get for bowl eligibility. It’s difficult to imagine this being anything other than a wild adventure in Pullman, lasting late into Halloween Night. Arizona State 50, Washington State 38.
USC at Oregon State, 7 p.m. MDT, ESPN2
This is the worst team USC has taken to Corvallis in a long time, which is bad sign. Some very good Trojan teams have lost in their last three appearances at Reser Stadium. USC’s defense should be strong enough to subdue the Beavers’ great offense, particularly if the Trojans can pressure quarterback Sean Mannion as much as Stanford did. But USC probably lacks enough offense to keep up with OSU. Oregon State 24, USC 17.
Arizona at California, 1:30 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks
Arizona’s win over Utah has some merit, considering the Utes were coming off an upset of Stanford. Otherwise, the Wildcats can become bowl-eligible this weekend via an unimpressive set of three nonconference wins, plus defeats of Colorado and Cal. The Bears might be able to put up some points against Arizona, but the league’s worst defense won’t be able to stop B.J. Denker, Ka’Deem Carey and the Wildcat offense. Arizona 45, California 24.
Colorado at UCLA, 5:30 p.m. MDT, Fox Sports 1
The Buffaloes like to think they’re competing for bowl eligibility at 3-4, but there’s only one California on their schedule. The biggest variable in this game is the mind-set of the Bruins, after losses at Stanford and Oregon. The offense scored a total of 24 points in those games. UCLA remains on track for a big season and can win the South title, but only if the offense gets cranked up again. UCLA 35, Colorado 17.