The nights are frostier, and the days feel more like football weather. Bring it on.
Arizona (plus 6) at USC — I’m governed by two impulses on this one: First, I’m unconvinced about Arizona. What do we make of its resume? Second, all I can remember is when Mike Stoops got fired two years ago in mid-season at Arizona, and on a Thursday-night game, Rick Neuheisel brought a woefully unprepared team to Tucson and it got splattered by a rejuvenated ‘Zona team (when it wasn’t fighting the Wildcats), 48-12. I don’t see that kind of one-sidedness, but I do think Ed Orgeron’s presence will lift USC. So will the return of running back Silas Redd. USC 27, Arizona 16.
Oregon (minus 14) at Washington — Tuesday, UW coach Steve Sarkisian was clearly tired of the Stanford-faking-injuries issue, and I’m guessing he wishes he’d never brought it up publicly, because it was all that was talked about for the first few days this week. Whether that distracts his players in any way, who knows? I see this game as a case of Washington doing something which Oregon is still better at. I’m interested to see whether the Ducks, and their excellent corners, stop the Huskies. I see a competitive game with the Ducks putting just enough distance between them and Washington down the stretch. Oregon 38, Washington 27.
Stanford (minus 9) at Utah — Kyle Whittingham gets the Utes to play hard every time out, despite the lack of reward in two discouraging Pac-12 losses. Everything being equal, I’d think Stanford wins comfortably. But something tells me the two extra days Utah has to prepare, plus Stanford’s taxing, late-Saturday game against Washington (and a couple of banged-up Cardinal defenders), makes this interesting. Stanford 30, Utah 24.
Colorado (plus 25) at Arizona State — This looks like a game between the ears (at least insofar as the point spread). Colorado is trying to give effort every week, which is hard to do when the reality sets in that you’re not all that good. Arizona State is coming off four rugged games, with Washington up next week. A lean toward the Buffaloes in that dynamic. Arizona State 41, Colorado 24.
California (plus 24.5) at UCLA — I just saw Cal last week, and it’s a train wreck in the making, a team converting to the ways of a new coach, and more than that, one decimated by injuries, especially in the secondary. That, plus the Bruins have the carrot of having lost 43-17 in Berkeley last year, the low point of the season. Brett Hundley will have open receivers all night. UCLA 48, Cal 14.
Oregon State (plus 1) at Washington State — If you follow the Cougars, you might have two distinctly different recollections of OSU quarterback Sean Mannion. In 2011, he absolutely strafed WSU at CenturyLink Field in a 44-21 Beaver win. Last year, WSU collared him pretty well in Corvallis, and he got hurt in a sluggish, 19-6 OSU victory. But WSU needs to expect the better version, and it should also be aware of this: Mike Riley teams are 8-3 since 2003 coming off a bye and facing a conference opponent. This has the feel of a good one. Oregon State 38, WSU 31.
Last week — 3-2 (2-3 versus the spread). Season — 36-10 (20-16 versus the spread).