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Pac-12 picks: Arizona State, Stanford face especially tall tasks in Week 3

UPDATED: Tue., Sept. 10, 2019, 6:13 p.m.

Spokesman-Review Washington State beat writer Theo Lawson picks Week 3 of the Pac-12 college football season.

Washington State at Houston

WSU by 8 (Fri. 6:15 p.m., ESPN): The Cougars prevail. The pick: Will be in Friday’s paper.

Air Force at Colorado

Colorado by 4 (Sat. 10 a.m., Pac-12): Nebraska did a fine job of taking Laviska Shenault Jr. away last Saturday, but the Cornhuskers also learned it takes more than that to beat the Buffaloes. Another wideout, K.D. Nixon, erupted for six catches, 148 yards and a touchdown in Colorado’s dramatic win – and put Air Force on notice while doing it. The pick: Colorado 41, Air Force 24.

Stanford at Central Florida

Central Florida by 7 1/2 (Sat. 12:30 p.m., ESPN): Defeating the Knights on the road would mark a big nonconference win for the Pac-12, but would do even more for a Stanford team that needs the confidence before hosting No. 15 Oregon a week later. The pick: UCF 35, Stanford 27.

USC at BYU

USC by 4 1/2 (Sat. 12:30 p.m., ABC): This time last week, I would’ve picked the Cougars and not thought twice about it. I’m still expecting BYU to present a challenge, especially after beating Tennessee at Rocky Top last weekend, but SC’s dominant win over Stanford reinforced my confidence in the Trojans, and why the Air Raid might work in L.A. The pick: USC 27, BYU 21.

Arizona State at Michigan State

MSU by 13 (Sat. 1 p.m., Fox 28): Jayden Daniels and the Sun Devils had their struggles last week against Sacramento State and were bailed out by kicker Christian Zendejas. This week, against another green team named State, it’ll take more than the heroics of a specialist. The pick: Michigan State 48, ASU 28.

Idaho State at Utah

No line (Sat. 1:15 p.m., Pac-12): Tyler Huntley, Zack Moss and the Utes should see plenty of rest after halftime in preparation for a colossal Pac-12 South battle against USC next week. The pick: Utah 45, Idaho State 17.

North Texas at Cal

Cal by 13 1/2 (Sat. 1:15 p.m., Pac-12): North Texas isn’t Washington, but the Mean Green should present another challenge for Cal at the quarterback position with senior Mason Fine, the all-time leading passer in Denton. The pick: Cal 28, North Texas 17.

Cal Poly at Oregon State

No line (Sat. 1:15 p.m., Pac-12): A Cal Poly team coming off a 41-24 loss to Weber State should be the perfect remedy for winless Oregon State. But the Beavers better enjoy this one. The pick: Oregon State 44, Cal Poly 24.

Hawaii at Washington

UW by 21 1/2 (Sat. 4:30 p.m., Pac-12): The Rainbow Warriors looked strong at home against Arizona and Oregon State, but their run against the Pac-12 should come to an end – probably an abrupt one – against a motivated Husky team. The pick: UW 38, Hawaii 20.

Oklahoma at UCLA

OU by 22 (Sat. 5 p.m., Fox 28): Two generations of offensive whizzes meet at the Rose Bowl. Pitting Lincoln Riley’s College Football Playoff-era Sooners against Chip Kelly’s blur-era Oregon Ducks would’ve made for an electric matchup. But this one? Not so much. The pick: Oklahoma 52, UCLA 24.

Texas Tech at Arizona

TTU by 2 1/2 (Sat. 7:30 p.m., ESPN): This matchup has offense written all over it. I’d all but guarantee at least 80 points are scored here, but picking the winner is much more difficult. Texas Tech hasn’t faced a true challenge in Year 1 of the Gary Wells era, so I’ll take Arizona by a field goal. The pick: Arizona 45, Texas Tech 42.

Montana at Oregon

No line (Sat. 7:45 p.m., Pac-12): If the Ducks can hang nearly 80 points on Nevada, one can only imagine what’s possible against FCS Montana. Granted, I’m not sure any Pac-12 team has hit the 77-point mark twice in a row. The pick: Oregon 62, Montana 14.

Theo Lawson’s records

Last week: 6-4 straight up; 0-7 against the spread.

Overall: 15-6 straight up; 6-12 against the spread.

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