While most eyes will be zeroed in on Pullman this Saturday for a crucial duel in the Pac-12 North between No. 12 Oregon and No. 25 Washington State, there’s an appealing game taking place down South, too.
USC-Utah doesn’t have quite the luster of Oregon-WSU – especially given ESPN College GameDay’s cameo – but it could be equally important in determining which teams will meet in late November for the conference championship game.
We predict Utes-Trojans and four other games around the conference this weekend.
Stanford at Arizona State
Stanford by 2 1/2: It sounds like Bryce Love will get at least a few carries in Tempe. Probably not as many as Arizona State sophomore Eno Benjamin, though. Three straight losses for Stanford? It’s possible. The pick: Arizona State 31, Stanford 24.
Colorado at Washington
Washington by 16 1/2: This isn’t a difficult one to pick. The Huskies are still angered by a loss to Oregon that kicked them out of the College Football Playoff picture. The Buffaloes could be playing one of the nation’s top defensive secondaries without the Pac-12’s top receiver. The pick: Washington 44, Colorado 21.
California at Oregon State
Cal by 7: Neither of these teams is any good at the quarterback position, but one is significantly better at running back. I’d probably go with the Golden Bears in Berkeley, but will take the Beavers in Corvallis fresh off their bye week. The pick: Oregon State 35, Cal 31.
Oregon at Washington State
WSU by 3: Both defensive secondaries should have their hands full this Saturday in Pullman. WSU’s Gardner Minshew leads the Pac-12 in passing touchdowns, with 19, but Oregon’s Justin Herbert isn’t too far behind, with 17. One or two turnovers could swing this game between the country’s 12th- and 25th-ranked teams. The pick: will be in Saturday’s paper.
USC at Utah
Utah by 6: One of these two is probably emerging as the champion of the Pac-12 South and this game could go a long way in determining that. Both teams are hot – the Trojans have won three straight, the Utes have won two in a row – so I’ll leave it to the home-field advantage. The pick: Utah 28, USC 24.
Arizona at UCLA
UCLA by 8: Khalil Tate, who has nursed an ankle injury most of the season, has finally been shut down by Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin. I imagine the final score of Saturday’s game at the Rose Bowl will be a direct reflection of that. The pick: UCLA 40, Arizona 30.
Theo Lawson’s records
Last week: 2-2 overall, 0-4 against the spread
Overall: 41-12 overall, 21-23 against the spread
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