A big weekend with big ramifications is on tap for the Pac-12 Conference.
In the South Division, there’s still plenty of sorting to do. Four teams in the division can gain bowl eligibility by winning this Saturday. Three teams in the division are still hunting for a spot in the Pac-12 title game, as are two in the North. One of those could be eliminated by Saturday night if it can’t take care of business against a heavy underdog.
Here’s how we see all six games playing out Saturday.
Utah at Colorado
Utah by 7 1/2: The confidence of the Buffaloes and their fan base is at an all-time low after five consecutive losses. The Utes, meanwhile, are playing for a Pac-12 title game. I suspect both of those things will show up this Saturday in Boulder. The pick: Utah 35, Colorado 24.
USC at UCLA
USC by 3 1/2: This is now the second-most exciting football rivalry game in California these days, especially given the form of two programs that have too much pride to share a combined record of 7-13. For now, one still has more talent and tradition than the other – and it’s the one I expect to prevail in Pasadena. The pick: USC 24, UCLA 14.
Oregon State at Washington
UW by 33 1/2: Former Washington offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith may know the Huskies better than any other coach in this conference, but don’t forget that they know him, too. It’s an unsuccessful game for the home team if Jake Browning, Myles Gaskin and the UW starters aren’t resting by the beginning of the fourth quarter. The pick: UW 48, OSU 14.
Stanford at Cal
Stanford by 2: This Northern California rivalry game should be more intriguing than the other one. Stanford found a breakout star in Colby Parkinson last weekend against Oregon State, but Cal has played better defense than anyone else in the conference these last three weeks. The pick: Stanford 27, Cal 20.
Arizona State at Oregon
Oregon by 3 1/2: A matchup of two 6-4 programs that are under the direction of first-year coaches will also feature the conference’s two best wide receivers. The guy throwing to Dillon Mitchell is better than the one throwing to N’Keal Harry, so I’m taking the Ducks over the Sun Devils in Eugene. The pick: Oregon 44, Arizona State 38.
WSU by 9 1/2: Khalil Tate shouldn’t be the focal point for the Cougars this time around – at least not the only one, as Arizona’s quarterback may have been during his mind-blowing sophomore season. J.J. Taylor has been one of the best running backs in the country over the past three games and is capable of blowing a game open by himself. Wait a couple of days for my prediction, but I doubt the Cougars will cruise into Apple Cup week without a test from the Wildcats. The pick: will be in Saturday’s paper.
Theo Lawson’s picks
Last week: 4-1 straight up, 3-2 against the spread
Overall: 54-19 straight up, 31-34 against the spread
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