A nugget from last week’s edition of the Pac-12 picks: “The oddsmakers aren’t anticipating too many riveting games across the Pac-12 landscape this weekend.”
And neither were we.
But the conference spoiled its viewers – something that hasn’t happened much this season – and churned out four thrillers and four upsets. So after wrongly predicting USC-Arizona State, Colorado-Oregon State, Cal-Washington and Oregon-Arizona, we’re picking with caution this week.
Colorado at Arizona
Arizona by 3 – Khalil Tate won’t catch the Buffs by surprise like he did last year when he rushed for 327 yards and four touchdowns in Boulder, but the Arizona quarterback is starting to round into form again after dealing with ankle injuries. Colorado could still have the best skill player Friday in Tucson, but Laviska Shenault is questionable and could miss his third straight game. The pick: Arizona 38, Colorado 34.
Utah at Arizona State
Utah by 7 – Zack Moss and Tyler Huntley can be the conference’s most potent running back-quarterback duo when they’re clicking. Those two have been responsible for 12 Utah touchdowns and 1,234 offensive yards in the last three games and don’t show any signs of regressing. The Utes, I predict, will take another step toward a Pac-12 South title this weekend. The pick: Utah 35, Arizona State 21.
UCLA at Oregon
Oregon by 10 – Many of the best moments of Chip Kelly’s career came within the confines of Autzen Stadium, but I don’t suspect he’ll be adding Saturday’s game to that list. The Ducks, coming off losses to Washington State and Arizona, will be playing angry and the Bruins won’t have the firepower to keep up. The pick: Oregon 41, UCLA 24.
Stanford at Washington
Washington by 9 1/2 – Two teams that came off disappointing losses last week probably need to win here to keep themselves in the Pac-12 North race, especially if Washington State beats Cal. The Huskies’ offense needs to get on track – ideally with Jake Browning playing under center – and the Cardinal need to reestablish their run game with Bryce Love. My thought? Neither happens and we get a low-scoring one on Seattle. The pick: Washington 14, Stanford 10.
USC at Oregon State
USC by 16 – Jake Luton operated a much more efficient Oregon State passing game last weekend at Colorado, and if the senior’s arm continues to work in tandem with Jermar Jefferson’s legs, the Beavers could have another explosive game on offense. But so could the Trojans, with quarterback JT Daniels back in the mix after clearing concussion protocol. The pick: USC 45, Oregon State 38.
Cal at Washington State
WSU by 10 1/2 – Despite Beau Baldwin’s prior success against Washington State, California’s offense may not be as much of a threat as it was last year, or even as dangerous as Eastern Washington’s when Baldwin’s Eagles upset the Cougars in 2016. Cal’s defense is stout, but the Golden Bears have seen just one team ranked top 25 in scoring offense. That was Oregon, which hung 42 points on the Golden Bears in Berkeley. The pick: will be in Saturday’s paper.
Theo Lawson’s records
Last week: 2-4 overall, 2-4 against the spread
Overall: 46-17 overall, 25-29 against the spread