None too soon, the picks are back for another year.
It’s a year that can only (I hope/pray) goes better than last season, which was somewhat of a struggle in this department.
I went an acceptable 67-23 straight-up, meaning simply picking the winner of each game, including 12-1 on Washington games (the only UW game I missed on picking the winner was at Oregon State). But I was a ghastly (ghostly?) 36-53 against the point spread (about as bad as I am beating the spread around my mid-section).
So with much trepidation, here we go, once again using the the point spreads published in the Daily Line of the Seattle Times, except for games involving FCS teams, for which I will use Vegas Insider:
NORTHERN COLORADO AT UTAH (Utes by 42): As some of you know, and many of you have protested, I’m among those on board with the thought that Utah could be pretty darn good this year (not sure I’d call them a sleeper since the Utes did win eight games last year and are getting plenty of pre-season pub). And this will be a complete layup for the Utes against a team that went 0-11 last season. That’s still a lot of points to cover, though, for a Utah team that may play it rather conservative. UTAH 49, NORTHERN COLORADO 10.
NORTHERN ARIZONA AT ARIZONA STATE (Sun Devils by 27): This is a game ASU plays fairly regularly, and it seems like NAU always gives the Devils a bit more trouble than you’d think. With a new QB making his first start and working out the kinks in the first game for Todd Graham, I think that trend will continue. ASU 38, NAU 21.
UCLA AT RICE (Bruins by 16.5): Rice doesn’t project to be very good, so while this is sort of a weird road game for UCLA to be playing, the Bruins should get the win rather easily. Still, a road opener with a freshman quarterback and a new coach and you just never know. … UCLA 38. RICE 20.
WASHINGTON STATE AT BYU (BYU by 12.5): The opener for Mike Leach brings with it a lot of hope and hype. And count me among those who think that ultimately, Leach will make a big difference in Pullman and WSU will be vastly improved this season. But winning this game seems a lot to ask against a veteran BYU team that won 10 games a year ago. BYU 41, WSU 31.
SAN JOSE STATE AT STANFORD (Cardinal by 25.5): The Cardinal should just be able to use its still-punishing running game and defense to power to an easy win over the Spartans. If not, it’ll be an early warning of just how much Andrew Luck’s departure means. STANFORD 45, SJS 17.
NEVADA AT CAL (Bears by 11): Straight from Phil Steele — Bears have won 10 straight home openers by an average of 33 points. Nevada upset the Bears in Reno in 2010 and should be a decent team again this season. But Cal should be strong enough to pull away late. CAL 31, NEVADA 17.
COLORADO STATE AT COLORADO (Buffs by 6.5): More bad news for Colorado this week when it was announced that star WR Paul Richardson will indeed miss the season to recover from an ACL injury rather than try to play. Colorado projects as the only team in the Pac-12 for which a bowl game might be a real stretch. And CSU will show why by pulling the upset here. COLORADO STATE 31, COLORADO 27.
HAWAII AT USC (Trojans by 41): Where are Bryant Moniz and Colt Brennan when you need them? Norm Chow finally gets his head coaching shot and does so with a Hawaii team in severe rebuilding mode. USC, meanwhile, gets an opening breather before the schedule starts to get tricky. USC 52, HAWAII 7.
TOLEDO AT ARIZONA (Wildcats by 10): Toledo’s a solid program that annually seems to win a game like this. But with just eight returning starters, expectations aren’t real high for the Rockets this year. This should be a pretty soft landing for Rich Rodriguez in his Arizona debut and Matt Scott in his return to the QB spot. ARIZONA 38, TOLEDO 17.
ARKANSAS STATE AT OREGON (Ducks by 37): Here’s the one person in the world who thinks the Ducks might lose. The QB situation for Oregon will obviously be intriguing, but this one should be over early. OREGON 52, ASU 13.
And as always, I’ll reveal my UW pick in a separate entry on Friday.