Hitting the home stretch for 2012, as most teams are now 75 percent of the way through their schedules. Not much to be decided in the league — only whether it has a team in the national-championship game, whether Oregon State can get to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 48 years, and for the others, bowl positioning.
Colorado (plus 30.5) at Arizona — There will be a decidedly new look for both teams, which are expected to start new quarterbacks this week. Matt Scott is probably out with a concussion for ‘Zona, ushering in JC transfer B.J. Denker, and Colorado is benching Jordan Webb in favor of Connor Wood or Nick Hirschman. Courtesy of Buffzone.com, Webb, in his last 28 possessions directing CU, has led the Buffs to just two field goals, with 15 punts and seven turnovers. The Wildcats are probably smarting from the thrashing they took at UCLA last week, while Colorado has to be hurting in a big way from the accumulated losing. It’s supposed to be 70 percent chance of rain in Tucson Saturday. Arizona 42, Colorado 10.
Arizona State (plus 9) at USC — This is the attitude bowl; it matches two teams that have combined for five straight losses. Don’t forget that Arizona State has the best-rated pass defense in the Pac-12 (161.6 yards a game). I expect ASU to keep it close. USC 30, Arizona State 26.
Oregon State (plus 4) at Stanford — The switch of Stanford quarterbacks is intriguing — not because Josh Nunes has been displaced, but because it’s unusual for such a move with lots still on the line as the Cardinal could play in the Rose Bowl. Mark Banker, the OSU defensive coordinator, no doubt has a lot of tricks up his sleeve for Stanford RS freshman Kevin Hogan. Meanwhile, Stanford also plays a little defense — leading in three major national categories — and something tells me the Beavers may have to go back to Sean Mannion in this one (eventually) over Cody Vaz. Oregon State 21, Stanford 20.
Utah (minus 1.5) at Washington — I’m biased. The Utah team I saw pummel Washington State last week resembled one that’s in the hunt for the BCS title game. Of course, the Utes aren’t that good, but they do have a salty defensive front, and if that front is too much for the UW offensive line to handle, the Huskies are in trouble. Remember, Utah allowed Oregon State only 226 total yards (in Corvallis) three weeks ago, and the Utes are playing better now. A skimpy vote here for the UW, on the basis of facing a freshman QB, Travis Wilson, even though he’s improving. Washington 19, Utah 17.
Oregon (minus 28) at Cal — Yeah, yeah, I know. Oregon faces a letdown, yadda, yadda, yadda. I’m not buying it. This is an offense that doesn’t seem vulnerable to letdowns, and on the other side of the ball, the Duck defense is facing a backup quarterback in Allen Bridgford, who has a career 35-percent passing percentage (and he’s 4 of 16 this year). Oregon 45, Cal 12.
UCLA (minus 15.5) at WSU — After a tumultuous few days starting with the Utah game last week, the Cougars are at a crossroads: Do they show fight after being severely questioned by Mike Leach, or do they lie down and get thrashed here? They should get some help from the weather, which is supposed to be in the low 20s, probably not to the liking of the Bruins. The sobering reality for the Cougars is that in each team’s last four teams, UCLA has scored 149 points, WSU only 46. My guess is, the Cougars show up and play hard, but the Bruins have too much. UCLA 31, WSU 20.
Last week — 5-1 (5-1 versus the spread). Season — 52-19 (35-28 versus the spread).