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Pac-12 picks: Stanford vs. Oregon not what it once was, but the stakes are high nonetheless

UPDATED: Wed., Oct. 11, 2017, 10:56 p.m.

Oregon running back Royce Freeman (21) scores a touchdown against Stanford in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, in Eugene, Ore. Stanford beat Oregon 52-27. (Thomas Boyd / Associated Press)
Oregon running back Royce Freeman (21) scores a touchdown against Stanford in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, in Eugene, Ore. Stanford beat Oregon 52-27. (Thomas Boyd / Associated Press)

Washington and Washington State continue to be the bullies of the Pac-12 North and for the moment, Stanford and Oregon are the ones vying for bronze. That would’ve seemed impossible five years ago, when the Cardinal and the Ducks were running the table in the North, generally dominating everyone in the South. Both teams have had to readjust expectations, but they should take some solace in knowing that third place in the competitive North dvision is nothing to groan about.

Stanford will still get a crack at the Huskies and Cougs later this year, but beating Oregon in Palo Alto probably wraps up no worse than a third-place finish in the North.

Down South, USC and Utah have their own dispute to settle, although it isn’t exactly a fair fight. The Utes will play without starting quarterback Tyler Huntley and may have to concede the South division title because of it.

Here are the picks for the week:

Washington State at Cal

WSU by 14.5 – By the numbers: Golden Bears quarterback Ross Bowers has completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,437 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions whereas Cougars quarterback Luke Falk has hit 72 percent of his passes for 2,000 yards 19 touchdowns and two interceptions. The pick: will be in Friday’s paper.

Oregon at Stanford

Stanford by 10.5 – The running back aficionados out there will enjoy the showdown between Royce Freeman and Bryce Love, but Braxton Burmeister isn’t ready to lead the Ducks to victory in Palo Alto. The pick: Stanford 34, Oregon 27.

Colorado at Oregon State

Colorado by 11.5 – Would anybody condemn the Beavers for just skipping this game altogether? The pick: Colorado 38, Oregon State 10.

Utah at USC

USC by 12.5 – The Utes seem the only team halfway capable of pushing the Trojans in the Pac-12 South, but if they can’t cause an upset on Saturday, might as well give USC an automatic pass to the conference title game. The pick: USC 35, Utah 28.

UCLA at Arizona

UCLA by 1 – Can you imagine a quarterback with Josh Rosen’s arm and Khalil Tate’s feet? The hot-seat coaches make this game newsworthy and the opposing signal-callers should make it entertaining. The pick: UCLA 45, Arizona 41.

Washington at Arizona State

UW by 17 – Historically, the desert hasn’t been a great destination for the Washington schools. The Huskies needed overtime to dispatch a pretty dismal Arizona team last year and the Sun Devils are coming off a bye. UW wins, but it won’t be a runaway. The pick: UW 41, Arizona State 31.

Theo Lawson’s records

Last week: 4-1 straight up, 3-2 against the spread

Overall: 40-8 straight up, 18-22 against the spread