Last week my record picking Pac-12 games was 8-2. Most were obvious picks with three FCS squads visiting Pac-12 campuses. I was surprised at the level of play of the Stanford Cardinal who rose up to defeat the USC Trojans. I whiffed on that prediction big time picking Troy to win going away. The Utah Utes showed more guts than I gave credit in the Holy War, beating a good BYU team.
This week the non-conference schedlue is over so we are officially into the meat and potatoes of the 2012 Pac-12 season. Only one conference game is in the books and already we’ve seen a big time rankings shakeup.
Below are my humble projections for the fourth week of college football.
Oregon State (1-0) at 19 UCLA (3-0) 12:30pm Pacific
Due to a hurricane the Oregon State Beavers are only one game into their season, while the UCLA Bruins have three under their belt. It is hard not to be impressed with the Bruins thus far as quarterback Brett Hundley has played exceptionally well for a freshman. Running back Johnathan Franklin is Heisman worthy.
Mike Riley’s squad has had two weeks to prepare for this trip to Pasadena which should benefit the Beavers who are coming off an emotional win against Wisconsin. I like the athleticism of of UCLA on both sides of the ball and expect the Bruins to defend home field.
Prediction: Oregon State 24 UCLA 37
Colorado (0-3) at Washington State (2-1) 1pm Pacific
It is no secret that Mike Leach’s transition to Pullman has been less than impressive thus far. Quarterback Connor Halliday was effective in place for the injured Jeff Tuel. UNLV isn’t exaclty the best test for any offense, but the Cougars scored the most they have all season. Whomever starts this weekend, Tuel or Halliday, will likely find the endzone as easily.
If the Colorado Buffaloes still have a shot at avoiding an 0-12 season, it would be this Saturday. After WSU, the schedule gets tougher than uncooked brisket for Jon Embree and his struggling roster. A 69-14 shellacking at Fresno State gives thee little hope in an upset. I expect CU to go down swinging if they haven’t quit on the second year coach.
Prediction: Colorado 24 Washington State 37
California (1-2) at 13 USC (2-1) 3pm Pacific
Both schools are coming off of a loss. Credit the Cal Bears who played Ohio State tough in Columbus, showing off a plethora of talent in the skill positions. The Trojans were less than stellar on the road as they proved a lack of team depth especially on the offensive line.
Saturday in the Coliseum, speedy Cal is a better match-up for USC than a physical Cardinal squad. I like the Trojans at home to get back on track.
Prediction: California 24 USC 38
Utah (2-1) at Arizona State (2-1) 7pm Pacific
Even with a bad case of premature celebration, the Utah Utes held on against in-state rival BYU in the 2012 Holy War. Most prognosticators left Kyle Whittinghams’ team for dead after a Utah State loss and quarterback Jordan Wynn’s retirement due to injury.
Credit to the Utes for circling the wagons. Backup QB Jon Hays is a senior with plenty of experience so don’t expect much of a descent. Todd Graham’s Arizona State Sun Devils are adapting admirably to the offensive scheme. I want to pick the Devils at home but something tells me the Utes match up well, especially on the defensive line. Slight edge to Sparky in a tough call.
Prediction: Utah 24 Arizona State 26
22 Arizona (3-0) at 3 Oregon (3-0) 7:30pm Pacific
This is Rich Rodriguez’s “welcome to the Pac-12” game. So far so good for the new coach and his Arizona Wildcats. Offensively the Cats have been extremely effective with the passing and running ability of senior quarterback Matt Scott. Rodriguez’s 3-3-5 defensive alignment is a favorable match-up against Oregon’s spread attack, but has looked vulnerable against the run.
Chip Kelly is at it again proving his coaching prowess. Freshman QB Marcus Mariota has looked extremely comfortable in the system and is a perfect fit. Too much talent for the Ducks to lose at home.
Prediction: Arizona 29 Oregon 55
James Gomez is a Pac-12 and Mountain West columnist for Rant Sports and member of the Football Writers Association of America
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