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Pac-12 Confidential

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

August 28, 2014 at 8:55 AM

Pac-12 picks, week one

College football may do a lot of things wrong, but this isn’t one of them: It doesn’t have preseason games. I’ve never met anybody yet who covered a fall camp who wasn’t ready for the season to start. So let’s start it.

Thursday night

Idaho State (no line) at Utah —  Big season for the Utes and coach Kyle Whittingham. Unfortunately, they won’t find out anything about their team from this game. Idaho State has a 43-game road losing streak and Utah is 36-0 all-time against the Big Sky. Utah 67, Idaho State 13.

Weber State (no line) at Arizona State Todd Graham seems genuinely excited about the possibilities of this ASU team. Weber went 2-10 last year and is under new management in ex-Utah assistant Jay Hill. Arizona State 63, Weber State 14.

Rutgers (plus 8)-Washington State at CenturyLink Field — Usually it’s not a great idea to lay significant points with teams that aren’t used to winning big. I’ll make an exception here, figuring that Connor Halliday against a shaky Rutgers pass defense will make up for WSU’s deficiencies in the back end. WSU 41, Rutgers 27.

Friday night

Colorado (minus 3)-Colorado State in Denver — Buffs always get CSU’s best shot in this one, and as WSU found out in the New Mexico Bowl, the Rams have weapons. But the best of them have moved on, so the guess here is that CU wins a game it almost has to have to entertain bowl aspirations. Colorado 27, CSU 20.

UNLV (plus 24) at Arizona — Lots of new parts for Arizona, including QB Anu Solomon of Las Vegas and replacements for running back Ka’deem Carey. But Solomon should be able to just get out of the way and get the ball to some excellent receivers. Arizona 40, UNLV 14.

Saturday

UCLA (minus 21) at Virginia — Funny, but this is virtually the same scenario that faced Oregon (23.5-point favorite) when it came back to face the Wahoos in Charlottesville last year. Oregon buried them and with a quarterback of similar capabilities to Marcus Mariota’s, Brett Hundley, I think the Bruins have the speed to make this a mismatch, too. UCLA 42, Virginia 17.

California (plus 11) at Northwestern — Bears, as you know, have all sorts of streaks to expunge, while Northwestern is coming off an off-year of its own, in which it trudged through a seven-game losing streak before beating Illinois. Cal will feature a lot of new people on defense, a new defensive coordinator and I think the Bears’ speed at receiver keeps this close. Northwestern 30, Cal 27.

Cal-Davis (no line) at Stanford — Not a lot of hope here that the Aggies can repeat their stunner of 2005 over Stanford, since the Big Sky’s head coaches picked them ninth. Stanford 45, Cal-Davis 7.

Portland State (no line) at Oregon State — PSU came close at Cal last year, and the Beavers are notorious for their early-season stumbles. But they also have Sean Mannion. Oregon State 44, Portland State 13.

Fresno State (plus 21.5) at USC — Bulldogs couldn’t keep up with USC in the Las Vegas Bowl last year with Derek Carr, so how will they do it without him? I don’t know, but Tim DeRuyter is a good coach, and the Josh Shaw incident this week at USC is the kind of thing that’s almost inevitably a distraction. USC 31, Fresno State 21.

Washington (minus 17) at Hawaii — Hard to know what to make of the rumblings that the Rainbow Warriors could drop football down the road. They debut a new quarterback, further clouding things, but the Huskies are doing the same thing under a new coach. The guess here is that Hawaii hangs around much of the game, not so much toward the finish. Washington 41, Hawaii 21.

South Dakota (no line) at Oregon — The only question here is, will the Ducks, with Michigan State ahead next week, show more than one formation? Of course they will. They’re the Ducks. Oregon 65, South Dakota 10.

Last year — 68-24. Against the spread — 46-35.

 

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