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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

November 1, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Pac-12 picks, Week 10:

Friday night

Washington (plus 4) at California — I’ve waffled on this one, and was all set to conclude that the mercurial Bears were ready to make a last-chance, last-stab stand to save their season. And they still may. But the news that Keenan Allen is out (coupled with a questionmark on another receiver, Bryce Treggs) tilts me back toward the Huskies. Got to say I’m not overwhelmed by the UW’s offense, nor its oh-so-skimpy road resume. But they ought to be able to run on the Bears, which should set up some things in the passing game. A shaky vote for the UW. Washington 26, Cal 22.

Saturday

Washington State (plus 11 1/2) at Utah — Popular sentiment seems to be that the Cougars play this one close, and that would represent continued improvement, coupled with an exciting finish last week at Stanford. I’m not so sure it plays out that way. Utah still has a physical, punishing defense, and it seems to be getting better on offense behind Travis Wilson. This will be a test of how much two straight road games takes out of a visitor. Utah 31, WSU 17.

Stanford (minus 28) at Colorado — WSU reinforced the prevailing wisdom on Stanford; the Cardinal is a outfit with a strong defense, a potent offensive line but without perimeter playmakers. You’d think that would be a little more to the struggling Buffs’ liking after they were outplayed in space by Oregon last week. But I’m not convinced either style is an elixir for a program that has to be beaten down at this point. And Stanford, unhappy with how it performed last week, should be sharper. Stanford 42, Colorado 7.

Oregon (minus 8) at USC — This is the biggest spread on a visitor to USC since 1997, when Florida State came an 11-point favorite over the Trojans. It seems like a ton of points, until you start considering that USC’s national-title dreams are dashed; that Troy’s clock-management and penalty problems don’t exactly reflect well on Lane Kiffin’s hold on the program; and that the Ducks may simply be a special team. I’d feel better about it if I knew the Ducks had Dion Jordan and Kiko Alonso at full health, but I’m going with them anyway. Oregon 45, USC 31.

Arizona State (plus 4.5) at Oregon State — I wonder if Mike Riley’s quarterback moves recently haven’t somewhat boxed him into a corner. Big picture, he clearly prefers Sean Mannion; that’s who got the job over Cody Vaz more than a year ago, and Riley turned to him again after he was recovered from his recent knee injury. But it complicated things when Mannion struggled against Washington. Riley has returned to Vaz, and I guess my question is, what happens if Vaz has some difficulties against Arizona State? That’s quite possible, given that ASU has one of the better defenses in the league, and that Vaz was pretty average in his last start against Utah. I’m inclined to think Arizona State makes this a cliff-hanger, although it would be much better-positioned to do so if DT Will Sutton can play. He’s questionable. Arizona State 24, Oregon State 23.

Arizona (plus 3.5) at UCLA — A matchup of two teams that captured pulsating victories last week in the desert. Both are far from out of it in the Pac-12 South race. ‘Zona can take it if it keeps winning and USC loses a game. UCLA controls its destiny. The Bruins figure to do some business on the ground, and Johnathan Franklin is only 20 yards from Gaston Green’s (1984-87) UCLA career rushing record of 3,731 yards. UCLA 35, Arizona 30.

Last week: 3-3 (4-2 versus spread). Season: 47-18 (30-27 versus spread).

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