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Pac-12 Confidential

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

November 20, 2014 at 5:35 PM

Pac-12 picks, Week 13

Washington State (plus 16.5) at Arizona State — Brew the coffee strongly; this is a 10 a.m. (Pacific standard) kickoff Saturday. Two seemingly key factors here: Taylor Kelly and the Sun Devils’ state of mind. Kelly, who had a big game last year at WSU, has been a bit of an enigma for the Sun Devils, and the way he hurt the Cougars most a year ago — running the zone-read — didn’t seem to be a part of the playbook last week at Oregon State. If it becomes so Saturday, that’s not good for the Cougars. On the second point: It’s tough to guess how ASU reacts, now that its national-title hopes have been squelched. If WSU was better equipped to defend the pass, I’d be more inclined to think it hangs with the Sun Devils, but with Daquawn Brown sitting out a half, an inexperienced secondary becomes even more vulnerable. If ASU gets the passing game going, it might get its swagger back. Meanwhile, it’ll be interesting to see how WSU’s quarterback find, Luke Falk, handles the ASU defense. Arizona State 37, WSU 17.

Arizona (plus 3.5) at Utah — Anybody who watched Washington have its way physically with Arizona last week would have concerns about the Wildcats going up against another rugged bunch in the Utes, especially when the weather is supposed to be November-like. But any inclination to give those points is tempered by the uncanny series of close Utah games this year. Hard to buck that trend, so we’ll call for an Andy Phillips field goal to make the difference. Utah 26, Arizona 23.

Stanford (minus 5.5) at California — This one will tell how far the Cardinal (5-5) have sunk this year; if they find a way to lose, it will jeopardize post-season play, since they finish with UCLA. The initial take here was that no matter how poorly the Stanford offense has been performing, it will have an advantage on both lines of scrimmage here. True enough. But a hunch says that Cal finds inspiration in a 50-point Big Game loss last year, has a better frame of mind and gets enough done behind Jared Goff to make this interesting. Stanford 27, Cal 24.

Colorado (plus 32.5) at Oregon — Colorado has been competitive, but the Ducks may want to get Marcus Mariota some good numbers, keeping him in longer to hold Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon at arm’s length in the Heisman race — and of more importance, Oregon can’t let up on the gas with regards to the push for a playoff berth. So doing anything other than taking Oregon here, big, seems illogical. Oregon 52, Colorado 13.

USC (plus 3.5) at UCLA — One thing we know now: Jim Mora gets his team ready to play this game. The Bruins blew out a hot USC team last year by three touchdowns. The Bruins seem to be cooking at the right time, and at No. 9, can’t be completely counted out of the playoff hunt. I think USC is a little more versatile offensively, and the USC defensive line should cause UCLA’s offense some problems. USC 31, UCLA 28.

Oregon State (plus 6.5) at Washington — The Beavers awoke with a start last week, trumping Arizona State, and Mike Riley has made no bones of the fact he wants his team to remember the 69-27 pasting administered by Washington last year in Corvallis. Meanwhile, it’s been a fretful week for the Huskies since they blew the game at Arizona, one in which they played their most complete game of the season — for about 58 minutes. I think this matchup favors Washington clearly. OSU will have trouble running against the UW front, and Sean Mannion is just stationary enough that he’ll be a target for rushers like Hau’oli Kikaha. Washington 33, Oregon State 20.

Last week — 2-2 (1-3 versus the spread). Season — 54-24 (29-40-1 versus the spread).

 

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