You know it’s a hard league to call when you’re going 1-5 straight-up for a weekend . . .
Washington State (plus 17) at Stanford — I don’t know how WSU is going to cover Stanford’s big receivers (it failed famously last year), but my hunch is that this is a game. Notwithstanding Stanford’s very good defense, the Cougars should have at least sporadic success offensively — I’m guessing enough to keep them around. A concern for WSU is keeping Connor Halliday upright. Last year Stanford devoured him with the rush (albeit with people now departed like Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov) and inflicted a hip pointer. Stanford 31, WSU 23.
Oregon (minus 2) at UCLA — For me, this is as hard a game to call as I’ve seen in a long time in the league. Both offensive lines have been bad, Oregon’s primarily because of injuries, so a major factor is going to be which one of those units has an edge. I think UCLA has the better defense, but I’d also give an edge to Marcus Mariota over Brett Hundley — if Mariota is healthy, and there seem to be questions about that. There’s also the overarching concern about Oregon’s mental state: Was last week’s loss to Arizona an out-of-the-blue aberration, or do we take it as an alarming sign of what’s to come in a very competitive conference? Without any conviction at all . . . UCLA 38, Oregon 31.
Washington (plus 3.5) at Cal — Been a funny season so far for the Huskies, who just haven’t been on the conference radar much. First, they played four nondescript opponents (apologies to Eastern Washington, which is a terrific FCS outfit), then fell to Stanford, then had a bye. Meanwhile, Cal has been roaring, has four wins, and I see the Bears getting the two more along the way they need to be bowl-eligible. But not starting here. Washington has much better tools with which to bother Jared Goff than WSU did, and somehow I think the Huskies piece together enough of an offense, running the ball and using Cyler Miles in a controlled passing game, to get it done and put an iffy season on course. Washington 34, Cal 30.
USC (minus 2.5) at Arizona — As many have pointed out, it’s odd to see the Trojans favored in this game, since Arizona is ranked No. 10 and is at home. USC is a bit of an enigma, a team whose talent everybody raves about, but one that has been riddled by the run at Boston College and strafed by passes from Arizona State’s Mike Bercovici. As impressed as I was with Arizona at Oregon, this simply seems like a league in which you’re bound to suffer hits after big breakthroughs. USC 35, Arizona 28.
Last week — 1-5 (2-4 versus the spread). Season — 36-12 (19-21 versus the spread).