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Pac-12 Confidential

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

October 23, 2014 at 8:38 PM

Pac-12 picks, week 9

Awful performance last week, worst one I’ve experienced. Got to pick it up . . .

Friday night

Oregon (minus 18.5)-California in Santa Clara, Calif. — The Ducks have caught fire in a big way the past two weeks, just as they were being written off (here and elsewhere), or at least questioned. I don’t expect they’ll face much of a home-field disadvantage, playing in the new Levi’s Stadium,where they’re likely to return for the Pac-12 title game in December. Here’s what seems strange: The Ducks are a couple of points less a favorite than they were last week against Washington — which thoroughly throttled Cal, 31-7, two weeks ago.  But the guess here is that Oregon isn’t razor-sharp for this one. That’ll be plenty good enough to win, but not to cover the spread. Oregon 48, Cal 31.

Saturday

UCLA (minus 13.5) at Colorado — All you need to know about this one is that UCLA is 1-6 against the spread this year coming off a summer of high expectations. Somehow the Bruins haven’t lived up to their billing, and I don’t expect this is where that changes. There’s enough of an athletic difference not to pick an upset, but I see an alley fight here. UCLA 33, Colorado 31.

Oregon State (plus 13.5) at Stanford — The number seems high, no doubt based on OSU’s offensive woes and the fact Stanford’s defense will get after the quarterback, Sean Mannion. True in both cases, but Stanford’s offense is no bargain, either. Stanford 20, Oregon State 13.

Arizona (minus 2.5) at Washington State — Like a lot of WSU games, this one figures to see a ton of points. The youthful Cougar secondary will have its hands full with Arizona’s big receivers, and ‘Zona hasn’t exactly been formidable against the pass, which WSU will try, oh, maybe 70 times. Whichever defense can get the occasional stop will win this one. I’ll figure it’s the Cougars, in front of a Dad’s Weekend sellout crowd. WSU 44, Arizona 38.

USC (minus 1) at Utah — Everything that the Arizona-WSU game augurs, this one figures to be just the opposite — a low-scoring grinder probably decided by a key play or a turnover. Utah has been uncanny winning essentially without a passing game, and that has to change if it’s to keep succeeding. Travis Wilson has been reinstated as the starter in Utah’s on-again-off-again quarterback rotation. On the other side of the ball, Utah’s pass rush — the Utes top the nation in sacks with 33 — figures to keep Cody Kessler off-balance.  Utah’s superior special teams make the difference. Utah 20, USC 16.

Arizona State (minus 3.5) at Washington — The Pac-12 team that’s most enigmatic to me is the one closest at hand. Little could be gleaned about the Huskies through the first four games. Then they went limp offensively against Stanford (no crime there), looked positively title-worthy at Cal, and just when you thought they were feisty enough to play with Oregon, went completely south in Eugene, never in the game after a quarter. Now they’re contending with quarterback uncertainty and running back injuries, which hardly leads to a robust outlook against ASU. Taylor Kelly comes back for the Sun Devils, but I’m reminded of Sean Mannion’s return from injury two years ago here, when Mannion was rusty, threw four interceptions and Washington upended an unbeaten OSU team. Somehow, I think Washington survives this. Washington 27, ASU 23.

Last week — 3-2 (0-5 versus the spread). Season — 42-15 (20-28-1 versus the spread).

 

 

 

 

 

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