Pac-12 picks: Utah, Weber State involved in routs
The Pac-12 eases into the football season this weekend, with all 12 teams in action but only one of them facing another Power 5 school (California, visiting Northwestern). The list of opponents also includes five FCS teams, four Mountain West teams and two other FBS teams, spread over three days. A look at Thursday's schedule:
Idaho State at Utah, 5:30 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks.
Rice-Eccles Stadium already has become a traditional season-opening venue for the Pac-12 Networks. This is hardly a marquee matchup, but there's some intrigue about Ute quarterback Travis Wilson's return to the field (his last game was Nov. 9 vs. Arizona State) and the look of offensive coordinator Dave Christensen's fast-paced scheme. The final score is almost irrelevant, but Utah's first-half point total will give us some gauge of the offense's performance. Utah 59, Idaho State 14.<
This matchup might bring together the two most comparable teams of the entire Pac-12 opening weekend. Rutgers is just an average team from the American Athletic Conference, but should have enough strength to test the Cougars. The Scarlet Knights will have trouble dealing with WSU quarterback Connor Halliday and all of his receivers, however. Washington State 31, Rutgers 21.
Weber State at Arizona State, 8:30 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Networks
Back to the mismatches. Former Utah assistant Jay Hill make his head coaching debut in a tough venue. The last time he visited Sun Devil Stadium, the Utes lost 37-7 in 2012. That will approximate tonight's halftime score. Considering the Wildcats gave up 70 points each to Utah and Utah State last season, anything in the 60s will constitute improvement.
- Kurt Kragthorpe&n