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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 27, 2011 at 10:46 PM

Picking the Pac — Week 9

I have to admit, I’m running out of much new insight on this league — and yes, I’m making the possibly faulty assumption I ever had much to begin with.

Oregon and Stanford look a lot better than everyone else and there remains no reason to think whoever wins their Nov. 12 battle won’t win the conference.

USC and Arizona State look like they are in the second tier a little ahead of Washington. Colorado is at the bottom, with WSU a little ahead of the Buffs, and maybe Utah right there, as well. Everybody else is bunched in between. It seems like those bunched-in-between teams can beat each other — the rest of the games are just a matter of picking the higher team over the lower team. So far, much more to form than just about any year in the Pac-12 I can remember — which means it’s inevitably about to go crazy soon.

Anyway, on with this week’s picks:

OREGON STATE AT UTAH (Utes by 5): All of the heat being heaped locally on Paul Wulff for the Beavers dominating the Cougs last week may be missing the point that OSU is getting a lot better. Joe Halahuni, Malcolm Agnew and James Rodgers — who may be OSU’s three best non-QB skill players — are all now healthy (or close to it) and playing well, something they weren’t a month ago. And Sean Mannion looks like the real deal at QB. OSU’s defense has been respectable all year. As Lee Sterling might say, it feels like the wrong team is favored in this one. OREGON STATE 28, UTAH 17.

CAL AT UCLA (Bears by 5): If UCLA has any desire to A, make anything of the season; and B, have Rick Neuheisel remain its coach, it will try a little harder in this one than it did last week at Arizona. Cal, meanwhile, is its usual erratic self, blowing out Utah just when its season seemed on the brink (which probably mostly says a lot more about the Utes than it does the Bears). Anyone who claims to really know what either of these teams is going to do in this one is lying. For some reason, I think the Bruins make a last stand for Neuheisel. UCLA 27, CAL 24.

WASHINGTON STATE AT OREGON (Ducks by 35): Not much analysis needed of this one other than wondering if the Cougars can beat the spread.With two big road games coming up —- at UW and then at Stanford — the Ducks will want to end this one early and get everyone out of there. OREGON 55, WSU 21.

COLORADO AT ARIZONA STATE (Devils by 31): Even ASU, which still seems at danger of being prone to letdowns, probably can’t let down enough to be in any danger in this one. Buffs are being outscored an average of 44-15 in Pac-12 games. ASU 44, COLORADO 10.

STANFORD AT USC (Cardinal by 8): The game of the week in the conference, and one that got even more intriguing with USC’s win last week at Notre Dame. And somewhat quietly, the Trojans are beginning to play some defense, ranking fourth in the conference in both scoring defense (22.6) and total defense (356.3). USC’s run defense is second in the Pac-12 behind only Stanford. Still, I see that being the difference in this one. While there will be a lot of emphasis on the Andrew Luck-Matt Barkley battle, Stanford’s ability to run should be the difference in this one. It may take a while, but the Cardinal will eventually grind this one out. STANFORD 34, USC 24.

Last week: Straight up, 4-2; against the spread, 2-4

Season to date: Straight up, 48-12; against the spread, 27-32.

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