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Pac-12 picks: Week two serves up USC-Stanford and a few marquee nonconference matchups

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 7, 2018, 12:12 p.m.

Come for Arizona vs. Houston. Stay for Colorado vs. Nebraska, USC vs. Stanford and Michigan State vs. Arizona State. And take your chances on UCLA vs. Oklahoma.

Here’s how we see the second week of Pac-12 football games playing out.

Arizona at Houston

Houston by 4 – Khalil Tate won’t play in many games this year in which he isn’t the most physically gifted player on the field. In fact, Saturday’s contest against Houston and projected No. 1 NFL Draft pick Ed Oliver, a junior defensive tackle, could be the only one. The pick: Houston 41, Arizona 31.

UCLA at Oklahoma

Oklahoma by 30.5 – Two offensive geniuses will go at it Norman this weekend. The reason the Sooners are favored by more than 30? Lincoln Riley has the personnel he needs to run his system, Chip Kelly doesn’t. The pick: Oklahoma 44, UCLA 17.

Portland State at Oregon

No line – In four meetings between the in-state opponents, Oregon has outscored Portland State – get this – 223-28. The backup to Justin Herbert’s backup could be in by the early stages of the third quarter. Oregon 52, Portland State 10.

Colorado at Nebraska

Nebraska by 5.5 – Scott Frost’s Pac-12 experience pays off here, but the Cornhuskers will presumably have to shake off some cobwebs after their season opener against Akron was canceled due to lightning. Still, Frost’s first win at Nebraska won’t be delayed for long. The pick: Nebraska 31, Colorado 24.

Utah at Northern Illinois

Utah by 10.5 – Northern Illinois may not pocket a win during the nonconference portion of its schedule – one that includes Iowa, the Utes and Florida State – but the Huskies are sure to pocket a few hefty paychecks along the way. The pick: Utah 45, Northern Illinois 10.

Southern Utah at Oregon State

No line – There’s probably more than a few FCS clubs capable of beating the downtrodden Beavers at the moment, but a Southern Utah team that recently lost its season opener to North Alabama probably is not among them. The pick: Oregon State 31, Southern Utah 14.

USC at Stanford

Stanford by 4.5 – Stanford running back Bryce Love probably needs to be the best offensive player in this game for the Cardinal to have a shot. From USC’s perspective, quarterback J.T. Daniels probably can’t make too many freshman mistakes against a talented Stanford secondary. The pick: USC 28, Stanford 24.

Michigan State at Arizona State

Michigan State by 6.5 – The Spartans’ Brian Lewerke and the Sun Devils’ Manny Wilkins may be two of the most underappreciated quarterbacks out there. Michigan State’s defense looked shaky in the opener against Utah State and Arizona State’s looked tough as nails against UTSA. So with that, we have our first bold prediction of the year. The pick: Arizona State 34, Michigan State 31.

North Dakota at Washington

No line – This was a tough task for the visitors before Washington lost to Auburn in the season opener at Atlanta. Think the Huskies will be fired up? The pick: Washington 48, North Dakota 14.

San Jose State at Washington State

WSU by 35.5 – Few teams are dealing with quarterback issues like San Jose State. One of them left the program days before the season opener and during said opener it only took the Spartans three tries to find their most effective option. The pick: will be in Saturday’s paper.

Theo Lawson’s record

Last week and overall: 9-3 straight up; 5-6 against the spread.


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