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Pac-12 Confidential

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

October 31, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Pac-12 picks, week 10

On to November. Should be fun.

Washington (minus 4) at Colorado — Logic would lean to the Buffs here, since the Huskies have been limited offensively, and Colorado seems to play most teams tough. But CU is allowing 5.6 yards per rush, more than a yard worse than anybody in the league, and even against Washington’s dinged-up backfield, that’s a bad sign. If Chris Petersen indeed means to have Shaq Thompson play exclusively running back, I have to believe the opponent here has something to do with it. Washington 34, Colorado 24.

USC (minus 7) at WSU — Weather forecast is for a high of 46 degrees and 90 percent chance of rain, which should be just a peachy afternoon for the TroyBoys. I have to believe WSU turns out an improved performance over the dismal events of the Arizona game, but I wonder whether (a) the Cougar defense can contain a balanced attack, and (b) whether the WSU coverage teams can keep explosive players like Nelson Agholor and Adoree Jackson under wraps. It’s close, but USC breaks it open late. USC 41, WSU 31.

Stanford (plus 8) at Oregon — It’s strength against strength (Oregon offense against Stanford defense) and weakness against weakness. I have to think the Ducks have heard enough about Stanford being their nemesis, and my sense is that the Cardinal defense, while very good, isn’t quite the ilk of the past two years. Plus, it’s going to be without nose tackle David Parry and safety Zach Hoffpauir. In Royce Freeman, a big, fast back, the Ducks have what Stanford doesn’t. Oregon 33, Stanford 20.

Cal (plus 3) at Oregon State — The Beavers have been facing some of the league’s best defenses — Utah, Stanford — and now they get a Cal outfit that’s allowing 533 yards a game, worst in the league. OSU’s defense hardly covered itself with glory at Stanford, but I see a rebound here. In a difficult season, Sean Mannion surpasses Matt Barkley as the league’s all-time passing leader. Oregon State 38, Cal 27.

Arizona (plus 6.5) at UCLA — The 2014 Pac-12 season almost requires some counter-intuitive forecasting. You know, the league is so unpredictable that sometimes what seems like an illogical pick might actually make the most sense. By that thinking, UCLA would be the choice here (they’re 1-7 against the spread this year) but the Bruins have been so consistently tepid other than the big breakout at Arizona State a month ago that I have to side with the Wildcats. ‘Zona seems more consistent, they’re achieving at a high level, and the Bruins just don’t seem to be on all cylinders. Strange as it might sound, I like the way Anu Solomon is playing more than Brett Hundley. Arizona 34, UCLA 30.

Utah (plus 6) at Arizona State — A couple of high-achieving outfits meet in Tempe, but Utah comes without top receiver Dres Anderson, who’s out for the season. ASU was questioned for its defense early in the year, but Todd Graham spoke very confidently this week about how far that unit has come, and I wonder if it might render Utah too one-dimensional, especially with Anderson out. Meanwhile, Taylor Kelly, assuming that the hit he took late in the Washington game hasn’t limited him too much this week, should be better with more work since he was declared ready. The points look like the play in what should be a physical, fourth-quarter game. ASU 29, Utah 24.

Last week — 4-2 (3-3 versus the spread). Season — 46-17 (23-31-1 versus the spread).

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