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Pac-12 picks: Mountain West opponents will fall Friday

First Published      Last Updated Aug 29 2014 04:35 am

Other than forgetting Rutgers' move to the Big Ten and underestimating the Scarlet Knights' offense, I came through with some solid insight on the opening night of the Pac-12 football schedule Thursday.

Not that Utah or Arizona State did anything extraordinary in beating Big Sky Conference opponents by a total of 73 points. Meanwhile, Rutgers' 41-38 win over Washington State at CenturyLink Field in Seattle was surprising. It took some cooperation from the Cougars, who led 38-34 before fumbling a punt at midfield in the middle of the fourth quarter.

On to Friday's games - against Mountain West schools, in each case:


p class="TEXT_w_Indent">Colorado vs. Colorado State at Denver, 7 p.m. MDT, Fox Sports 1

The Buffaloes took control in the fourth quarter of Mike MacIntyre's first game as their coach, winning 41-27 last September. This game should be similarly competitive, because CSU improved considerably and beat Washington State in the New Mexico Bowl.

Colorado also believes it is making progress, with quarterback Sefo Liufau having established himself. The Buffs are not at the level of blowing out any opponent, but they should have enough talent to handle CSU. Colorado 28, Colorado State 21.

UNLV at Arizona, 8:30 p.m. MDT, ESPN

Much like Colorado State, UNLV became a better team as the 2013 season progressed. The Rebels looked horrible in a 58-13 home loss to Arizona in September, which Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez dismissed as a case of everything going right for his team and wrong for UNLV. Of course, he has to say that.

The intrigue of this game involves how redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon will perform for Arizona, having won the starting job over a group of transfers from other schools. The Wildcats don't have Ka'Deem Carey toting the football anymore, but they should remain productive offensively and the defense is improving. Arizona 35, UNLV 17.

- Kurt Kragthorpe