Good grief, can we really be nearing the halfway point to the regular season? Time flies when you’re trying to figure out which conference everybody’s in . . .
On to the week’s prognosticating (though I’d like to see a quarter or so of the Oregon-Cal game Thursday night before settling on a score):
Cal (plus 24) at Oregon — No doubt Oregon, and coach Chip Kelly, are tired of hearing how Cal played the Ducks close last year in Berkeley, losing 15-13. And this one is at Autzen Stadium, where there will have been a significant pre-function for the occasion. So there’s lots of sentiment for a blowout by the Ducks. But I’m taking note of how the Bears were successful against the run at Washington, and how they’ve got playmakers in Isi Sofele, Marvin Jones and Keenan Allen. I think they make this a game, at least vaguely. Pick: Oregon, 38-27.
Washington State (plus 3 1/2) at UCLA — Watching the Bruins last week, it seemed to me they invested a lot at Stanford (and still got romped on). That ought to favor the Cougars, with whom the Bruins have no particular gripe. But what I see is WSU having some problems dealing with UCLA’s athletes, and especially, a solid ground game. I can even envision Richard Brehaut taking some advantage of WSU selling out to stop the run. Finally, there’s the factor of the Cougars perhaps getting a little road-weary after three straight trips. Pick: UCLA, 34-23.
Arizona (minus 1 1/2) at Oregon State — More than any other offering on the schedule this weekend, this is the one that has me most tied up. Logic points — in a wan sort of way — to Arizona, and the fact Nick Foles is something the Beavers don’t have on their side. But the Wildcats are also giving up a ton of yards (albeit to good teams), and I can’t persuade myself that the Beavers aren’t ready to give it a big effort. We’ll side with the home team to break through. Pick: Oregon State, 29-27.
Colorado (plus 29 1/2) at Stanford — Seems like a ton of points, but the Buffs may be losing their grip on the season, as five players have been suspended (four of them defensive-backfield reserves), possibly for the year. And morale couldn’t have been perky this week after the late-game meltdown against Washington State. The Colorado secondary was already shaky, and now it faces Andrew Luck. I think the Cardinal names the score here. Pick: Stanford, 49-13.
Arizona State (minus 4) at Utah — Have to believe it’s been a grim week around the Utes’ program, after the comeuppance administered by Washington last Saturday. I see a resolute Utah team making this interesting, perhaps even winning it. But even with ASU facing the possible loss of two offensive linemen (in a season in which the injuries just keep on coming), it’s hard to see first-time starter Jon Hays of Utah engineering a surprise. Pick: Arizona State, 27-24.
Last week: 3-2 (3-2 vs. spread). Season: 33-9 (18-16 vs. spread).