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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)
» Arizona leading UNLV 14-0 after 1st quarter
» Live now: Fan chat during the UA vs. UNLV football game
» Photos: 'Childcats' show their UA spirit
» Free weekly Wildcat sports magazine

Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» Flaws lifts Illinois soccer to win over ASU
» No. 19 ASU runs away for win to open year
» Boivin: Renovations point to golden future
» Jaelen Strong has fast start to junior season

California (East Bay Tribune)
» Cal opens at Northwestern with a much different look on defense
» Fact box: Cal at Northwestern
» Cal's Cameron Walker matures at cornerback
» Wilner: New NCAA football playoff a recipe for controversy

Colorado (Denver Post)
» WATCH: The Post's Benjamin Hochman runs with Ralphie
» Live Blog: CU leads CSU 17-13 in third quarter
» CSU cuts early Colorado lead to 10-7 by halftime
» Colorado State's chances might be put on the line

Oregon (The Oregonian)
» Oregon Ducks open up Autzen Stadium doors for Fan Fest: Photo gallery
» College football top 25 updates: Full schedule, TV listings
» Connor Cook terrific, Michigan State Spartans beat Jacksonville State 45-7
» Jimmie Sherfy, former Oregon Ducks closer, headed to Arizona Fall League

Oregon State (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
» BeaversSalute program gives tickets to military personnel and veterans
» Beavers promote McCoy to assistant athletic director for equipment operations
» Oregon State hires longtime trainer hired Fred Tedeschi
» Beavers hire Mark Massari as deputy athletics director

Stanford (San Jose Mercury-News)
» Stanford opens 2014 season without a No. 1 tailback -- again
» Fact box: Stanford vs. UC-Davis
» Stanford prepares for UC Davis as memory of stunning 2005 loss lingers
» Stanford's Jordan Morris gets U.S. soccer call up from Klinsmann

UCLA (Los Angeles Daily News)
» UCLA Football Notebook: Running back Malcolm Jones loses appeal for extra season
» 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
» Pac-12 Media Day: Eyes on Anthony Barr for UCLA's 2013 hopes

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)
» Chris Petersen's first UW game: Prepare to be impressed
» Huskies' odd history with Hawaii includes Rainbows' titanic upset to open 1973 season
» Game prediction: Huskies should have all the answers against Hawaii
» Tristan Etienne exceeding early expectations

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» Grading the Rutgers game
» There is something about this that seems familiar
» Eastern football links
» Morning after links



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