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Pac-12 picks: Pair of ranked matchups should help determine divisional front-runners

The Spokesman-Review’s Theo Lawson picks Week 8 of the Pac-12 Conference football season.

UCLA at Stanford

Stanford by 7 1/2 (Thur. 6 p.m.; ESPN) – The Bruins had their best win of the Chip Kelly era in Week 4 at Washington State. Two weeks later, UCLA suffered what was its worst loss of the coach’s tenure, dropping a 48-31 decision to Oregon State. Stanford, meanwhile, is trending the other way and the Cardinal could – and should – win their third straight after losing three in a row. The pick: Stanford 41, UCLA 21.

Oregon State at Cal

Cal by 10 1/2 (Sat. 11:30 a.m.; Pac-12) – Oregon State would love to have Cal’s defense, and Cal probably wouldn’t mind Oregon State’s offense. The Golden Bears should win this one, but they won’t score enough to run away with it. The pick: Cal 20, Oregon State 10.

Oregon at Washington

Oregon by 3 (Sat. 12:30 p.m.; ABC) – Presumably, we’ll look back at this as the game of the year in the Pac-12 North. The Ducks lost an important weapon in tight end Jacob Breeland and the Huskies finally showed some offensive aptitude in a 51-point outing at Arizona. I’ll pick UW to shake up the North, if only for a weekend. The pick: UW 27, Oregon 24.

Arizona State at Utah

Utah by 14 (Sat. 3 p.m.; Pac-12) – It’s been a nice stretch for the 17th-ranked Sun Devils, but the defensive-minded Utes will have an answer for Jayden Daniels and Brandon Aiyuk. With Zack Moss back in the fold for Utah, Kyle Whittingham’s offense might have its way, too. The pick: Utah 38, ASU 24.

Colorado at Washington State

WSU by 13 (Sat. 4 p.m.; Pac-12) – Steven Montez has historically struggled against the Cougars, but the Cougars have struggled with every quarterback they’ve faced in Pac-12 play. Both teams have quality wide receivers that should make the opposing secondary squirm. Both teams need this win badly. So what gives? The pick: Will be in Saturday’s paper.

Arizona at USC

USC by 10 (Sat. 6:30 p.m.; Pac-12) – If the Trojans are legitimate Pac-12 contenders, they’ll have to win here. The Wildcats have had fits defending Washington State’s Air Raid offense over the years and USC will be motivated to score early and often after putting up just 41 combined points against Washington and Notre Dame. Expect a big game from Kedon Slovis, Michael Pittman and Amon-Ra St. Brown. The pick: USC 45, Arizona 28.

Theo Lawson’s records

Last week: 5-0 straight up; 3-2 against the spread

Overall: 37-13 straight up; 17-31 against the spread