Game of the year finally got here, and relatively unscathed, with only Utah’s upset of Stanford tainting the Cardinal-Duck matchup tonight. And away we go . . .
Oregon (minus 10.5) at Stanford — A couple of thoughts: With all the even-keel, win-the-day stuff that comes out of Oregon, what’s it like there when there’s really a revenge factor, or at least a motive that grabs the Ducks and tells them that they can be had? You have to think that in spite of all the steady-as-she-goes rhetoric that comes out of Eugene, there’s a really sharp focus to this game and an acute look at what went wrong in last year’s Stanford upset in Eugene. On the other side, there’s a recognition that Stanford is a very gritty, resilient bunch that routinely plays, and wins, close games. True enough. But might we be mistaking that resolve for the notion that the Cardinal simply may not be that good? With a relatively tepid home-field disadvantage; Stanford defensive end Ben Gardner out for the season and returning Cardinal DE Henry Anderson coming off a long layoff because of a knee injury, I think Oregon comes out to prove a point and does. Oregon 34, Stanford 17.
USC (minus 16.5) at Cal — This might seem like a letdown sort of spot for the Trojans, but I don’t see the matchups as good at all for the Bears, who must deal with a good USC pass rush, as well as a revitalized Troy running game. Last week in Corvallis, Javorius Allen became the fourth Trojan to hit the 100-yard rushing mark this year. USC 38, Cal 16.
Arizona State (minus 7) at Utah — I must confess, I grossly underestimated the Sun Devils in a rash pick of Washington State last week (also grossly overestimating WSU’s ability to A, find the guy carrying the ball, and B, tackle him). This is a bit of a tricky game for ASU, though — a second game in a row on the road, Utes coming off a bye and needing the win to advance toward bowl eligibility, etc. Dennis Erickson, their co-offensive coordinator, might even be able to help with some knowledge of ASU personnel.Utah 34, Arizona State 31.
Colorado (plus 28) at Washington — The Buffs played respectably at UCLA, albeit in a spot where the Bruins were probably flatter than a tortilla after two grueling weeks. I think the Huskies handle business pretty routinely. Washington 42, Colorado 10.
UCLA (minus 1) at Arizona — Toughest game on the card, I think. ‘Zona has made quantum strides on defense, and while I’m anything but convinced that B.J. Denker can throw the ball, the Bruins haven’t always been a seamless outfit on offense, either. A field goal tilts it toward the Wildcats, who will be primed to avenge a 66-10 annihilation at UCLA last year. Arizona 30, UCLA 27.
Last week — 2-2 (1-3 versus the spread). Season — 54-14 (32-25 versus the spread).