My first week of picks was sort of like the play in the Pac-12 itself — I won, but not in impressive fashion.
In terms of just picking winners I was just fine, going 10-1, missing only on Cal-Nevada (a game that proved that whatever you think of Zach Maynard, he’s a lot better than anything else Cal has at QB).
But in terms of the spread, I was pretty much a disaster, going just 4-7 — among my misses was UW, as well as a game in which the team I picked was ahead 50-3 in the second quarter (Oregon’s game with Arkansas State serving as exhibit A of why actually making money at this stuff isn’t all that easy — the mood swings of people who bet heavily on Oregon might have been fairly entertaining to watch Saturday).
As the coaches all say, the most improvement is made from week one to week two. I can only hope (and as always, the lines are from the Daily Line in the Seattle Times). …
UTAH AT UTAH STATE (Utes by 7): As Seahawks fans know, Utah State can turn out some players (Bobby Wagner, Robert Turbin). And there’s still some pretty decent talent there including underrated QB Chuckie (don’t call me Alex P.) Keaton And as should be obvious, this is also something of a rivalry with the Aggies in the nothing-to-lose role. But I’ve made it clear I think Utah is the real deal this year. If so, it wins this one. UTAH 27, UTAH STATE 17.
EASTERN WASHINGTON AT WASHINGTON STATE (no line): This game got a lot more interesting in the last week with WSU’s disastrous showing at BYU and Eastern going to Idaho and winning pretty easily. UW fans found out all-too-well how dangerous Eastern can be. But if you also go on the theory that you shouldn’t make sweeping judgments after one week, then you’ve still got to give WSU some benefit of the doubt that maybe BYU’s pretty good, that was just a bad night, etc. WSU 35, EWU 21.
SACRAMENTO STATE AT COLORADO (no line): Sacramento State won at Oregon State last year. But it also lost 49-19 last week at New Mexico State. Colorado should get well here. COLORADO 45, SAC STATE 17.
SOUTHERN UTAH AT CAL (no line): One thing Southern Utah has is the International Club of Pancakes (sign me up!) What it doesn’t have is a chance in this game. Cal was not great last week (though Nevada might be a little better than you think — Chris Ault’s a perennially underrated coach). But hard to fathom it could lose this one, as well, to a Southern Utah team that lost 34-3 to the aforementioned Utah State last week. CAL 41, SOUTHERN UTAH 17.
USC AT SYRACUSE (Trojans by 27.5): This game is at East Rutherford, N.J. and is the return for USC’s 38-17 win over the Orange last year in Los Angeles — and the last time a Barkley scored this many points in that city he was playing for the Phoenix Suns. Given the way Syracuse can throw the ball, though, this spread seems a little on the high side. USC 48, SYRACUSE 21.
WISCONSIN AT OREGON STATE (Badgers by 8): Fun little gamesmanship this week as Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema wouldn’t give Oregon State his film since the Beavers didn’t play last week and had no film to give back — or maybe he just didn’t want anyone else see the fact that the Badgers could beat Northern Iowa only 26-21 last week. My Times colleague Bud Withers has called Oregon State his surprise team in the conference this year, and being competitive in this one would go a long way toward validating that thought. I think the Beavs come up just short. WISCONSIN 27, OREGON STATE 21.
FRESNO STATE AT OREGON (Ducks by 34): Fresno State shouldn’t fall behind 50-3, but hard to see this one ultimately being a whole lot closer. OREGON 52, FRESNO STATE 17.
NEBRASKA AT UCLA (Cornhuskers by 5): One of the real revelations of last weekend in college football was Taylor Martinez’s improved passing. He spent some time working alongside Keith Price this summer so who knows? Maybe some of that rubbed off. This is also a homecoming for Martinez, and the first home game for Jim Mora. The Bruins showed signs of life with the win at Rice. And it’s somewhat ominous that Rex Burkhead is questionable. But something tells me Nebraska gets it done, kickstarting Martinez’ seemingly annual Heisman campaign. NEBRASKA 35, UCLA 31.
DUKE AT STANFORD (Cardinal by 14.5): Stanford looked pretty shaky against San Jose State — everyone knew Andrew Luck would be hard to replace, but the first impression is that it might he harder than thought. Still, it shouldn’t be so hard that the Cardinal can’t win this one comfortably. STANFORD 31, DUKE 10.
ILLINOIS AT ARIZONA STATE (Devils by 1.5): I think the Huskies may end up being really glad they don’t have Arizona State on the schedule. It may just have been Northern Arizona, but ASU looked pretty impressive last week. This game will obviously tell a lot more, and the Devils catch a break with Illini QB Nathan Scheelhaase still questionable. ARIZONA STATE 31, ILLINOIS 21.
OKLAHOMA STATE AT ARIZONA (Cowboys by 13.5): I’m sort of tempted to pick Arizona, whose performance last week may have been a little overlooked because of the score — a 24-17 win over Toledo. Arizona had 624 yards, second-most in school history, to just 358 for Toledo, indicating that RichRod’s offense is working a little bit. We’ll see how much in this one, which on paper should easily topple the 1,000-yard combined total. Ultimately, though, I think the Cowboys prevail. OSU 45, ARIZONA 35.
And as always, I’ll make my UW-LSU pick in a separate entry later.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: 4-7.
And as always, I’ll reveal my UW pick in a separate entry on Friday.