October 17, 2013 at 6:30 PM
Pac-12 picks, Week 8
Three more Saturday-night games, or almost half the schedule. These days, you need a No-Doz to get through the night.
Charleston Southern (no line) at Colorado — The Buccaneers are 7-0 and ranked No. 24 in the FCS poll, but obviously stepping up in class in a game hastily worked up to fill the hole on the Buffs’ schedule left by the flood-caused cancellation of the Fresno State game. This should be a good place to get confidence for the new starter at quarterback, Sefo Liufau of Bellarmine. Colorado 34, Charleston Southern 10.
UCLA (plus 6) at Stanford — This line has bounced all over, going from Stanford by seven, down to 4.5, and back up to six, which is unusual. The game represents a major moment for Stanford. Were the big expectations of early season unfounded, or does the Cardinal reach down and find a restorative effort? If it’s close, the possible absence of Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson (leg injury) could be pivotal. I’m going to think, very tentatively, that Stanford comes up big. Stanford 27, UCLA 20.
Washington (plus 3) at Arizona State — Hype and overstatement are regular visitors to the game, but this looks like a big spot for the Huskies. Win it, and they can redirect what they had with a 4-0 start. Lose, and now it’s a three-game skid with a couple of challenging road games ahead at UCLA and Oregon State. I see a high-scoring, wild night in the desert. Washington 41, Arizona State 37.
USC (plus 3) at Notre Dame — All is harmonic again in Trojanland under Ed Orgeron. But while there were many positive signs last week against Arizona — the multifaceted running game, the improvement by quarterback Cody Kessler — there were also a lot of alarming signals, like the 363 yards surrendered through the air. To help with that, USC will reinsert cornerback Anthony Brown, out since the opener with a hyperextended knee, as a starter. Also likely back is Marqise Lee at receiver. I think Notre Dame might outmuscle the Trojans. Notre Dame 24, USC 20.
Washington State (plus 39) at Oregon — In week two, I was convinced 21.5 points was too much for Oregon against Virginia. And I was wrong. In week six, I was sure 39 was too high for Oregon against Colorado. Wrong again. Last week, I thought 14 was too ambitious for the Ducks against Washington. Again, bad call. Now I’m telling you 39 is too much for Oregon against the Cougars. And you can take that for what it’s worth. Oregon 47, WSU 27.
Utah (plus 4) at Arizona — I would contend Arizona is still the most difficult team in the league to read — it had three relatively meaningless victories, a rain-soaked loss to Washington, and last week, a wild game at USC in which the Wildcats finally showed a passing game and might have been one stop away from reversing a three-touchdown deficit. Meanwhile, Utah looks to be getting better and better, coming off a signature win over Stanford. Having said all that, the Utes are venturing out of state for the first time this year, Arizona is desperate, and Ka’Deem Carey is the real deal. Arizona 33, Utah 24.
Oregon State (minus 10.5) at Cal — The Beavers are solid, though not as good as a 52-24 win at WSU would indicate. But Cal is 0-10 against the line since a victory in mid-October last year in Pullman. You don’t buck trends like that. Oregon State 35, Cal 20.
Last week — 5-1 (4-2 versus the spread). Season — 41-11 (24-18 versus the spread).
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