First week of heavy conference play. Only four non-league games remain — the three with Notre Dame for Stanford, Arizona State and USC, and an odd-ball late-season matchup between Cal and BYU. Those are, however, games that could have major meaning for the league’s profile with the college-playoff selection committee.
UCLA (minus 4) at Arizona State — This one’s thorny, but the fact we think Brett Hundley will play and Arizona State’s Mike Bercovici is far more unknown makes it logical to side with the Bruins. The caveat is that the UCLA offense, for the most part, has been a no-show, and there’s always the possibility Hundley’s limited status in practice has hurt preparation. UCLA 31, Arizona State 24.
Colorado (plus 13.5) at California — Too many points here, given Cal’s recently fragile state, especially coming off the stake-in-the-heart loss at Arizona. California 30, Colorado 21.
Stanford (minus 8) at Washington — In the Daily Line in the Times, the odds have risen from 4.5 to 8, an unusually big jump. I think it’s too much, given a good UW defense and a Stanford offensive line that’s still growing. I think this could be kind of a grinder, in the form of the Husky win at CenturyLink Field two years ago. But the best unit on the field is Stanford’s defense. Stanford 20, Washington 16.
Washington State (plus 13.5) at Utah — This seems like too much, especially given the way the Cougars pushed Oregon last week. But two factors give me pause: WSU must prove it’s mature enough to come off a salty effort and give the same kind of performance on the road. And second, Utah has superlative special teams and is likely to come away with a significant edge there. Utah 38, Washington State 24.
Oregon State (plus 9) at USC — The line has taken some interesting turns, starting at 10, rising to 11 and as of Thursday, dropping back to 9. I’d like the Beavers a lot more if flanker Victor Bolden were playing, but I’ve got a feeling the OSU defense may be high-quality enough to stand in with the Trojan offense. It is a concern, though, that OSU has allowed eight sacks. USC 27, Oregon State 21.
Last week — 6-0 (5-1 against the spread). Season — 31-6 (14-15 against the spread).