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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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Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly (10) passes as Notre Dame defensive lineman Kona Schwenke (96) watches during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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:

Thursday’s game

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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.

Friday’s game

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.

Saturday’s games

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.

PAC-12 Links
Links from around the Pac-12
Arizona (Tucson Citizen)
» UA sports Throwback Thursday: Lowell-Stevens Football opens
» Wildcats earn academic honors
» Photos: UA's smartest athletes 2013-14
» Wildcats: Who's gonna be the QB?

Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» 5-star linebacker Houston checking out ASU
» Top 2016 tight end Naseir Upshur likes ASU
» ASU football overview: Defensive backs
» Why is Sendek watching film of VCU, Louisville?

California (East Bay Tribune)
» Wilner: 49ers, Levi's Stadium pursue college football's potential
» Levi's Stadium: Three college football games this year
» College football: Key dates for Cal, Stanford, San Jose State
» Cal's injury-plagued defense mended, ready to go

Colorado (Denver Post)
» Pac-12 living up to tradition as tops in quarterbacks
» 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"

Oregon (The Oregonian)
» Oregon Ducks say signee Ray Kasongo isn't expected to join basketball team
» Ducks' freshman denied admission, Damian Lillard's rivals praise his game: The Oregonian sports top 5 at 5
» Super Bowl title makes former Oregon Duck Max Unger's offseason one to remember
» Brianne Theisen Eaton claims the heptathlon gold medal in the Commonwealth Games

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)
» Wilner: 49ers, Levi's Stadium pursue college football's potential
» Levi's Stadium: Three college football games this year
» Stanford receiver Ty Montgomery says he's close to being ready
» College football: Key dates for Cal, Stanford, San Jose State

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 fall camp position preview: Linebackers
» Morning links: More love for Huskies' Shaq Thompson
» Morning links: Pauley Pavilion flooded
» Huskies to open three fall-camp practices to the public

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» Looking at the WSU pre-camp depth chart
» Washington works on body, mind
» Wednesday WSU chat
» To paraphrase Frank, it was a very good day



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