Now the positioning begins in earnest for the divisional titles, and this weekend, a lot of savants (using the term loosely) are putting a couple of leaders, Oregon State and USC, on upset alert. We’ll see.
Colorado (plus 45.5) at Oregon — Get the women and children off the streets; this one could be very ugly. But the Ducks’ standout linebacker, Kiko Alonso, is likely out with a wrist injury, and that has to speak to the Oregon mantra for this one — don’t get anybody hurt a week before the big game at USC. So the guess is, the Ducks call off the dogs early and the Buffs, who actually moved the ball on USC last week, do some second-half damage. Oregon 51, Colorado 17.
UCLA (plus 6.5) at Arizona State — The Bruins come in fresh off a bye week, while Arizona State’s frame of mind is hard to gauge after its thumping by Oregon last Thursday night. The status of Will Sutton is huge; if the standout ASU defensive tackle doesn’t play, Johnathan Franklin has a lot more room to run, and freshman Brett Hundley has more time to throw against a grudging pass defense. An upset isn’t out of the question. ASU 27, UCLA 23.
USC (minus 6.5) at Arizona — The last five in this series have been decided by seven points or less, and there are indicators this one will be, too. Arizona is vulnerable defensively (despite Washington not having proved it last week), both to the run and to the pass. But the Wildcats also have moved the ball on just about everybody, and — a week before USC gets Oregon — this might be another time it happens. I’ll figure it goes to the wire. USC 42, Arizona 40.
Washington State (plus 24.5) at Stanford — The time-and-place circumstances would suggest the Cougars might hang around; they’re coming off a bye and Stanford has just been through two highly charged games against Notre Dame and Cal. The problem with that line of thinking is, Stanford is so superior on both lines that a blowout is highly possible. WSU has to get the ball to receivers in space, but the question is whether Jeff Tuel will have time. Stanford 33, WSU 17.
Cal (plus 1) at Utah — Life-preserver game here, with Cal at 3-5 and looking at dim chances for a bowl game, and Utah at 2-4 and winless in the Pac-12 South. So it seems to depend on which team plays with more heart. I’m guessing that’s the Utes, who were clobbered last year on the Bears’ temporary turf at AT&T Park. Utah 30, Cal 13.
Oregon State (minus 4) at Washington — I have no doubt we’ll see a renewed effort by the Huskies this week after all the outside questioning of the program this week. But I don’t see this as a place Washington gets well. The unbeaten Beavers are sure to have a clear sense of what’s at stake, and they’re sound on both sides of the ball. Oregon State 23, Washington 17.
Last week — 5-0 (2-3 versus spread). Season — 44-15 (26-25 versus spread).